Le juste équilibre en matière de risque hypothécaire

ABU DHABI – En commençant à bâtir son propre foyer il y a 14 000 ans, l’homme préhistorique conféra à la propriété sa marque de statut social et économique élevé. Aujourd’hui, les États-Unis se fondent sur une bureaucratie financière colossale afin de promouvoir la possession immobilière, tandis qu’économistes, banquiers, politiciens, et bien sûr propriétaires, suivent avec attention l’évolution des prix de l’immobilier. Mais si la propriété constitue pour beaucoup une fervente aspiration, ce rêve de possession peut rapidement se transformer en cauchemar économique lorsque les risques hypothécaires sont mal calculés. C’est ce que l’on a pu récemment observer. 

L’endettement lié aux prêts hypothécaires est aujourd’hui devenu le plus lourd fardeau des ménages occidentaux. Au cours de la décennie ayant précédé la crise financière, l’endettement hypothécaire aux États-Unis a quasiment triplé, l’économie réelle n’enregistrant de son côté qu’une croissance d’un tiers. Lors de son pic de 2007, cet endettement représentait 10 600 milliards $ – soit plus de deux fois le PIB combiné de la Chine et de l’Inde.

Chacune des six crises bancaires survenues dans les pays développés depuis le milieu des années 1970 a clairement puisé sa source dans l’effondrement du prix de l‘immobilier. La chute brutale du prix des logements a également constitué l’une des principales causes des crises apparues sur les marchés émergents, telles que l’écroulement asiatique de 1997-1998. Les recherches démontrent que les baisses de production constatées en période de récession se révèlent deux ou trois fois plus importantes lorsqu’elles s’accompagnent d’un effondrement de l’immobilier, par rapport à un contexte de maintien des prix dans le secteur. La chute de l’immobilier a par ailleurs tendance à prolonger de presque trois ans les périodes de récessions.

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