Mark Carney Andrew Parsons/ZumaPress

Banques centrales confidentielles

LONDRES – En 1993, les économistes Alberto Alesina et Larry Summers ont publié un article fondamental qui expliquait que l'indépendance des banques centrales permet de maintenir l'inflation sous contrôle, sans conséquences néfastes pour la performance économique. Depuis, les pays du monde entier ont rendu leur banque centrale indépendante. Aucun n'a changé de cap jusqu’ici, et toute allusion au fait que les gouvernements pourraient rétablir un contrôle politique sur les taux d'intérêt, comme récemment en Inde, suscite immédiatement des craintes sur les marchés financiers et de l'indignation parmi les économistes.

En vérité, cependant, il y a beaucoup de degrés d'indépendance, et les banques centrales qui sont appelées indépendantes ne fonctionnent pas toutes de la même manière. Certaines autorités monétaires, comme la Banque centrale européenne, fixent leur propre cible. D'autres, comme la Banque d'Angleterre (BoE), jouissent d'une indépendance complète concernant l'instrument – c’est-à-dire le contrôle des taux d'intérêt à court terme – mais doivent répondre à un objectif d'inflation fixé par le gouvernement.

De plus, il y a des différences dans la façon dont les banques centrales sont organisées pour atteindre leurs objectifs. En Nouvelle-Zélande, le gouverneur de la banque est le seul décideur. À la Réserve fédérale américaine, les décisions sont prises par le Comité fédéral du marché ouvert (FOMC), dont les membres – sept gouverneurs et cinq présidents des banques de réserve régionales de la Fed – disposent de degrés d'indépendance divers.

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