Le risque d'une dévaluation compétitive

GENEVE – Récemment, quand elle a baissé son taux d'intérêt à 0,25%, la Banque nationale suisse (BNS) a annoncé qu'elle s'engageait sur la voie du relâchement de la politique monétaire ( quantitative easing ), suivant en cela les traces de la Réserve fédérale américaine et de la Banque d'Angleterre. Plus étonnant encore a été l'annonce simultanée de son intervention sur le marché des changes dans le but de renverser la tendance à l'appréciation du franc suisse. Est-ce la première salve d'une guerre de dévaluations compétitives ?

Les taux d'intérêt suisses sont généralement bas. Comme la plupart des autres banques centrales confrontées à la récession, la BNS a baissé son taux d'intérêt jusqu'à atteindre sa limite inférieure. Une fois cette limite atteinte, la politique monétaire classique devient inefficace, car l'outil du taux d'intérêt est alors inutilisable.

C'est pourquoi les banques centrales sont maintenant à la recherche de nouveaux instruments. Le relâchement de la politique monétaire en est une illustration. Il reste à voir si la politique monétaire retrouvera ainsi son efficacité. Néanmoins, on oublie fréquemment de mentionner une question importante : dans de petites économies ouvertes – ce qui correspond à pratiquement tous les pays à l'exception des USA – le taux de change reste le principal canal de politique monétaire.

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