Sunday, November 23, 2014
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Comment réformer le système financier et monétaire ?

HONG KONG – Ainsi que le montrent l'Asie dans les années 1990 et une décennie plus tard les USA et l'Europe, les systèmes financiers peuvent s'effondrer. Le coût en terme d'interruption de croissance et de chômage en est énorme.

Mais en l'absence de consensus international sur un certain nombre de points essentiels, il n'y aura probablement pas de réforme, ou alors de portée minime. La liberté de mouvement des capitaux, des marchés financiers et des individus - et par conséquent celle d'échapper à la réglementation et aux impôts - est peut-être un frein acceptable et même utile pour se prémunir d'une intervention excessive de l’Etat, sauf quand la course à la dérégulation empêche l'adoption des normes éthiques et prudentielles nécessaires.

Il faut surtout une stratégie cohérente pour faire face à la faillite imminente des institutions "d'importance systémique". Les contribuables et les Etats sont fatigués de sauver des créanciers par crainte d'une contagion destructive des faillites - alors que les plans de secours poussent à une prise de risque excessive.

Aux USA, une nouvelle réglementation enjoint de ne pas aider les firmes en difficulté, que ce soit sous forme de vente, de fusion ou de liquidation. Mais son succès dépendra des stratégies qui seront appliquées ailleurs, notamment au Royaume-Uni et dans les principaux centres financiers.

Mais il n'est pas nécessaire que la réglementation soit strictement la même partout. Ainsi le Royaume-Uni et les USA pourraient adopter des stratégies différentes pour protéger les banques commerciales lors des opérations de courtage pour compte propre quand elles deviennent trop spéculatives. Les mesures de ce type pourraient s'avérer moins urgentes dans les pays où les habitudes de travail des banques ne sont pas les mêmes et les transactions plus limitées. Mais il ne faudrait pas que la réglementation mise en œuvre dans un pays soit rendue inefficace par d'autres pays.

La réforme du système monétaire international est en rapport direct avec ces mesures. On peut d'ailleurs légitimement se demander s'il existe véritablement un "système", en comparaison de la simplicité apparente de l'étalon-or ou ultérieurement des accords de Bretton Woods. Aujourd'hui aucune institution n'est en position d'exercer de manière cohérente une autorité systématique et il n'existe pas de devise internationale reconnue.

Il est devenu plus difficile de concevoir un régime monétaire international idéal, efficace et bien défini, car la taille des marchés a augmenté et l'intensité des flux de capitaux a redoublé et ils sont les uns et les autres devenus imprévisibles. On entend souvent dire que l'économie mondiale s'est développée et que les pays émergents ont monté en puissance en l'absence d'un système véritablement organisé.

On ne porte pas suffisamment attention au fait que le désordre monétaire international est à la racine des crises financières depuis les années 1990 et qu'il a joué un rôle encore plus marquant dans la crise qui a débuté en 2008. Les déséquilibres persistants, et en un sens complémentaires, aux USA et en Asie en sont une illustration frappante.

Entre 2000 et 2007, les USA ont accumulé un déficit des comptes courants à hauteur de quelques 5500 milliards de dollars, sensiblement l'équivalent de l'augmentation des réserves du Japon et de la Chine. Cette dernière a estimé utile d'accumuler un important excédent commercial, ayant recours à un taux d'épargne très élevé sur le plan intérieur et aux investissements étrangers sur son territoire pour favoriser son industrialisation et sa croissance rapide.

A l'opposé, confrontés à une croissance faible, les USA se sont satisfaits d'entretenir une surconsommation extraordinaire aux dépens de l'épargne des ménages, ce qui a provoqué une énorme bulle immobilière qui a éclaté en faisant des dégâts impressionnants.

La conclusion est inévitable : lorsqu'un pays agit hors de toute contrainte, sa politique risque de conduire à des déséquilibres qui ne peuvent durer éternellement. Tôt ou tard il y aura un ajustement. Si ce n'est grâce à une politique intérieure judicieuse ou à un système monétaire international efficace, il sera provoqué par une crise financière.

Il n'y a pas si longtemps, nous nous rassurions avec l'idée que les taux de change flottants permettraient de réaliser les ajustements internationaux nécessaires au moment voulu et dans l'ordre. Mais dans le monde réel, de nombreux pays (dont de petits pays ayant ouverts leurs marchés) ont estimé qu'il n'était pas facile ou souhaitable de laisser flotter leur monnaie.

Aussi embarrassant cela soit-il, il nous reste la certitude que la participation à une économie mondiale ouverte exige dans une certaine mesure un abandon de souveraineté sur le plan économique, ou pour le dire de manière plus positive, la volonté d'une coordination politique plus efficace. Cela pourrait se traduire entre autres par les mesures suivantes :

- Une surveillance plus importante de la part du FMI et un engagement plus ferme de chaque pays de se conformer aux "meilleures pratiques" et aux normes établies.

- Après des consultations obligatoires, des recommandations publiques directes de la part du FMI, du G20 et d'autres institutions.

- L'autorisation ou pas du recours à l'aide du FMI ou à d'autres facilités de crédit (par exemple les "swap lines" des banques centrales [accords réciproques de fourniture de liquidités pour répondre aux demandes des banques]).

- Des intérêts ou d'autres formes de pénalités financières, ainsi que des incitations liées aux lignes de crédit envisagées en Europe.

Mais si les stratégies basées sur les échecs du passé ne paraissent pas suffisamment efficaces, une nouvelle approche à l'égard de la fluctuation des devises pourrait être prometteuse. Cela exigerait un accord sur le bon "équilibre" des taux de change avec une marge de variation suffisante pour conserver une incertitude et permettre au marché de s'autodiscipliner. Mais chaque pays orienterait son intervention et sa politique économique vers la défense du taux d'équilibre, ou plus radicalement, une autorité internationale pourrait autoriser une intervention plus agressive des partenaires commerciaux pour soutenir la cohérence de la politique d'ensemble.

Autre préoccupation fondamentale : des liquidités suffisantes et une devise appropriée pour les réserves. Depuis des années, le dollar et dans une certaine mesure d'autres devises nationales jouent ce rôle de manière pragmatique, ce qui confère un "privilège exorbitant" aux USA. Mais il n'est pas dans leur intérêt d'accroître leur déficit des payements au détriment d'une économie compétitive sur la scène internationale, dotée d'une industrie puissante, accompagnée par une consommation mesurée. Le reste du monde veut la flexibilité que procure la devise de la première économie mondiale, la plus forte et la plus stable.

Une devise constitutive des réserves ne doit pas être trop abondante, mais avoir l'élasticité voulue pour répondre aux besoins importants mais imprévisibles qui apparaissent dans un monde financier soumis à de fortes turbulences. Il faut avant tout maintenir la confiance dans la stabilité et la disponibilité de cette devise, d'où l'intérêt d'une monnaie nationale ou même d'un panier de monnaies nationales.

Traduit de l’anglais par Patrice Horovitz

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    1. Commentedjean nutson

      Clearly there is the need for a centralised and a well organised global financial regulatory center which will singly oversee the necessary activities involved within the sector.

    2. CommentedMiguel Reynolds

      For capitalism to be sustainable, competition is a must.

      In the last 30 years we observed huge concentrations in several global markets, specially in the financing industry, that is converting the global market in a sum of connected oligopolies.. Those oligopolies easily control the political system, promoting the creation of even more oligopolies... and this is a cycle that must end. Fair competition is one of the main sources of innovation, value creation and thus, sustainability - it needs to be restored. Otherwise, the actual capitalistic system will implode.


    3. CommentedSarah Morehead

      The elasticity is critical. When I studied the gold standard, it struck me that by pegging a specific dollar amount to an ounce of gold and not allowing that amount to inflate, the reserve currency was not allowed to change with population growth. It seems to me that ignoring population growth forces the economy away from equilibrium because the demand for resources is continually driven up, but the supply of dollars was fixed to the supply of gold. If the price per ounce of gold had been allowed to grow along with natural population growth, could the breakdown of the system have been avoided?

    4. CommentedRoman Bleifer

      The global financial reform is not only possible. It is the need to take place, but in a very distant future. Attempts to solve the problem of global crisis, the financial instruments are doomed to failure. First of all, because the global crisis is not a financial crisis. It has a systemic nature and global scope. ( http://crisismir.com/analiticheskie-materialy/ekonomika/13-mirovoj-ekonomicheskij-krizis-prichiny-i-posledstviya-quo-vadis.html ) The new system of production is only beginning to emerge. Production system will generate an adequate financial system to it. On the other hand will not work. The fact that the current financial system is not sustainable for the future of the economy, so obvious that it is unlikely this issue may be the subject of Discussion.

    5. CommentedGary Marshall

      Here is a solution to the Greek problem and a stable global financial system. If anyone can find the flaw, I shall be more than happy to give him or her $50,000. I am just tired of doing this.

      ####

      The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil.

      Why? Because if, in adding a financial debt to a community, one adds an equivalent financial asset, the aggregate finances of the community will not in any way be altered. This is simple reasoning confirmed by
      simple arithmetic.

      The community is the source of the government's funds. The government taxes the community to pay for public services provided by the government.

      Cost of public services is $10 million.

      Scenario 1: The government taxes $10 million.

      Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
      No community government debt, no community
      government IOU.

      Scenario 2: The government borrows $10 million from solely community lenders at a certain interest rate.

      Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
      Community government debt: $10 million;
      Community government bond: $10 million.

      At x years in the future: the asset held by the community (lenders) will be $10 million + y interest. The deferred liability claimed against the community (taxpayers) will be $10 million + y interest.

      The value of all community government debts when combined with all community government IOUs or bonds is zero for the community. It is the same $0 combined worth whether the community pays its taxes immediately or never pays them at all.

      So if a community borrows from its own citizens to fund worthy public expenditures rather than taxes those citizens, it will not alter the aggregate finances of the community or the wealth of the community any
      more than taxation would have. Adding a financial debt and an equivalent financial asset to a community will cause the elimination of both when summed.

      Whatever financial benefit taxation possesses is nullified by the fact that borrowing instead of taxation places no greater financial burden on the community.

      However, the costs of Taxation are immense. By ridding the nation of Taxation and instituting borrowing to fund public expenditures, the nation will shed all those costs of Taxation for the negligible fee of borrowing in the financial markets and the administration of public
      debt.

      Regards,
      Gary Marshall

        CommentedGreg Rushing

        1. Your model assumes that the government expenditure will be "worthy". The fact is that not all government expenditures will pay for themselves or be economically productive. For instance, suppose the government borrowed the $10 million by issuing the bond. At some future period, government will have to repay $10 million + interest. Next assume that, after borrowing this $10 million for a fixed term of years, a new government is elected and decides not to spend this $10 million, leaving it in non-interest bearing cash in a bank vault. At the end of the period, government will still have to repay the $10 million + interest. In nominal terms, government will have a net loss equal to the interest now owed on the $10 million. Additionally, society will have a lost opportunity cost equal to the lost economic productivity of deploying that $10 million in a worthy manner. This is basically what Greece has done.

    6. CommentedJonathan Lam

      Gamesmith94134: Is global financial reforms possible?

      It is agreeable that “confidence in its stability and availability must be maintained, which highlights the practicality of a national currency, or perhaps a variety of national currencies”. So, it was the past failure of the monetarism or the equilibrium exchange rate, even for the gold standard, and we must reform on how we can keep the balance each country with its capital, human and natural resources through the market system rather than use infinite expanding capitals or control to dominate the monetary system.

      ”But “individual countries would orient intervention and economic policies toward defending the equilibrium rate, or, more radically, an international authority might authorize aggressive intervention by trading partners to promote consistency.” Mr. Paul Volcker did not clearly illustrate what equilibrium rate or how “consistency” he may suggest. As the past years, Quantitative Easing caused currency war among countries, since US and ECB cut it interest rate to its lowest, 1.9% for the ten year bond and Zero coupon for the short term bonds. Is it really how equilibrium rate can be even if the inflation is well above the margin? Or is it how the present equilibrium rate attempt to ensure Dollar and Euro can devalue the rest of the competitive currencies with less of their consents? Much of the recent criticism of the international authority that bankrupted the monetary system with sovereignty debts defaults, fiat money, Zombie banks, rouge trader and the breaking-up European Union. I surely like to hear how “consistency” can be, or how reform can be initiated structurally as Mr. Paul Volcker suggested, instead of kicking the can down the road, hair cut maneuver which I would consider them as hara-kiri on the economy since quantitative easing did not promote growth after all.

      Monetarism empowered by the single currency or a few created the fiscal or trade imbalances that made deficits inescapable like US and EU. So, intervention of governments or IMF is not a proper approach for the equilibrium rate, in its extreme, many nations reversed such intervention with its protectionism or trade war.
      In the recent deposit flights of Greece and Spain, it resonated with Mr. Fisher’s statement, from Reuter.

      "Unless fiscal authorities can structure their affairs to incent the private sector into putting the cheap and ample money the Fed has provided to the economy to work in job creation, monetary policy will prove impotent," Fisher said."My point is monetary policy is not the answer - it can only make things worse if this monetizing is repeated."
      Perhaps, we should understand now it was the human resources like employment and credits make price and value sustainable, and consumption on the natural resources made it mark incurs liquidity to growth. It must be the complete chains of consumption and competition of all resources among nations and societies. Capital is only applying to who use it and whom it supports; currency is only part of measurement on accountability and its exchange rate has made its competition in the market system.


      The outbreak of financial failure fell on the competitiveness and consumption that interrupted the macro and micro economics. When the market system was being globalized, the capital, natural, and human resources interacted with other countries’ markets, internalized market collapsed under competition and the equilibrium of exchange rates react as consumption is discharged under pressure. Perhaps, monetarism or its equilibrium of exchange rate is not relevant to the standardized reforms if each must sustain its competitiveness and consumption. It is advisable to use the measurable balances of the resources that made the globalized financial system sustainable and dependable.

      Finally, at present, monetizing can only make the global economy worse; the solution must come through the structural developments how we deal with our resources both internally and externally. There must be agreement on the concept of sharing and limitation of the finite resources including capital, human and natural. Each must sustain its internal balance in the first place; then, we can rebuild ourselves on the principle of sharing in globalization or global economy. Hopefully, we can join together to answer to the questions on economical balance and political harmony with mutual respects of others. Perhaps, sky, earth, and ocean give a better boundary of life, and it is what we all share with, depend on but never undercut.

      May the Buddha Bless you?

    7. CommentedPaul A. Myers

      We should discuss the positive alternative of having a vast web of relatively small national and regional banks, possibly with rules that allow a regional bank to be twice as large as a national bank. Other activities, particularly those that scale with size, should be put into regulated associations with stockholders consisting of banks, federal reserve banks, and possibly other shareholders with strict limits on ownership concentration. These associations would be more like public utilities.

      So activities that are "efficient" simply due to "scale" would be removed from the "risk" activities of regular banks. Fees charged by such associations would be more based on cost rather than power to exploit, as is now the case.

      Such a banking system might foster greater economic growth than the current system which can argued to lower economic growth due to the abuses inherent in concentration of capital and risk.

      If the United States were to create a sensible banking system, possibly other countries and regions might follow.

    8. CommentedZsolt Hermann

      I think the lesson from the Eurocrisis is that financial unity is impossible without solid foundations, without deeper integration, and truly mutual understanding and cooperation.
      Financial relations, economics is basically the external representation of the underlying human connections, thus for any financial, economical union, collaboration, union to successfully exist and become sustainable first we have to establish an integrated social system around the globe.
      What the crisis itself and more and more scientific publications, economical and political analysis shows us is that whether we want it or not we already exist in a fully interconnected and interdependent global system.
      And since it is a natural consequence of our evolution there is nothing we can do against it, instead we have to learn the system, its laws and then apply it to our lives, consciously building a truly working supra-national human system above our inherent differences, maintaining those "underneath" and then solve all of our problems from within that mutual place above our differences.

        CommentedSarah Morehead

        Sharing a currency when each country has its own business cycles seems unsustainable to me. You can't execute monetary policy in one country without affecting the business cycles of the others. this is fine if all are experiencing expansions and contractions simultaneously, but that can only happen in a textbook.

    9. CommentedCharles Travis

      If an institution becomes too big to fail we should be asking whether it should even exist. At least in the case of governments there is the possibility of political accountability. It is the absence of accountability rather than solely a regulatory problem with large institutional players. Those charged with managing these entities face no downside risk for their mismanagement. Given that the principle of moral hazard is well understood within those circles it leaves one with the inescapable conclusion that the lack of accountability within the current system is not a product but instead a purpose of that system.

      It almost makes one sympathetic with the diffuse and disorganized cries of protest.

    10. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

      A problem still would arise not only between currencies but within them where imbalances are allowed to accumulate such as currently in the Eurozone. The decoupling of the lending agencies from the consequences of their decisions is a core cause.

    11. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

      In theory yes but the great flows of speculative capital and other instruments anticipate, delay or distort this. This is one of Volker's points.

    12. Portrait of Michael Heller

      CommentedMichael Heller

      Paul Volcker:

      Though unsure about the wisdom of trying to decide “appropriate equilibrium exchange rates”, I agree “active participation in an open world economy requires surrender of economic sovereignty” in regulatory areas you mention (e.g. dictating demise rather than rescue of failing firms) as well as in the conditions of IMF programs.

      I rather think the international regulations you mention in the first part of the article are more desirable and urgent than the creation of a new monetary order. Ideally international regulations about ownership, production and commerce based on competition and free trade principles without subsidies would be such that markets eliminate many distortions by ‘getting the prices right’ globally, making unnecessary the monitoring and control of interrelated currency values. An international economic regime for reducing systemic risks should aim for simplicity, treating causes rather than symptoms.

      With the right international regulations in place China and the US might both have been compelled to follow better balanced internal models of development, and external imbalances might not have become an issue.

      Who knows? Perhaps once the Euro problem is solved the idea of currency-plus-fiscal union might spread like wildfire across the world. Yet, to return to the first point, it won’t ever really be solved until Europe’s competition-promoting single-market regulatory framework is effective.

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