People's bank of China Zhang Peng/Getty Images

Triste anniversaire en Asie

AIX-EN-PROVENCE – En ce mois de juillet, la crise financière asiatique –ou plus précisément l’élément qui l’a déclenchée, la dévaluation du baht thaïlandais – a vingt ans. Si cet anniversaire n’a rien de particulièrement réjouissant, il est pourtant l’occasion de regarder en arrière et de voir ce qui a changé – ou ce qui n’a pas changé, et n’a pas moins d’importance pour autant.

Les causes de la crise furent à l’époque un sujet de controverse, et le sont encore aujourd’hui. Les observateurs occidentaux en imputèrent la faute au manque de transparence des pays asiatiques ainsi qu’aux relations trop intimes entre les entreprises et la puissance publique – la marque, à leurs yeux, d’un « capitalisme de connivence ». Les commentateurs asiatiques, pour leur part, blâmaient les fonds spéculatifs, accusés d’avoir déstabilisé les marchés financiers, mais aussi le Fonds monétaire international, dont la thérapie avait presque tué le patient.

Les deux points de vue se défendent. La Banque de Thaïlande avait publié un bilan qui exagérait largement les réserves de change dont elle disposait – ce qu’on ne peut guère considérer comme un exemple de transparence. Les spéculateurs étrangers pariaient volontiers, quant à eux, contre le baht, et les fonds spéculatifs ne furent pas les seuls qui en vendirent à découvert : des banques d’investissement, dont celle qui conseillait le gouvernement thaïlandais sur les moyens de défendre sa monnaie, firent de même. Et le FMI, dans les conseils qu’il prodigua aux pays asiatiques pour résoudre la crise, pêcha – ce ne fut pas, notons-le, la dernière fois – par excès d’austérité budgétaire.  

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