Faut-il avoir peur du marché obligataire ?

NEW HAVEN – Depuis quelques années, les prix des obligations d’État à long terme flirtent avec les plus hauts sommets (c’est-à-dire que leur rendement s’avère extrêmement faible). Aux États-Unis, le rendement des obligations du Trésor à 30 ans atteignait 2,25 % au 30 janvier, soit son plus bas niveau depuis l’introduction des séries d’options de la Réserve fédérale en 1972. Ce même jour, le rendement des obligations d’État britanniques à 30 ans chutait à 2,04 %. Quant à celui des obligations gouvernementales japonaises, il atteignait tout juste 0,87 % au 20 janvier.

Quelques mois plus tard, ces rendements présentent une légère hausse, mais demeurent exceptionnellement faibles. Il semble aujourd’hui étonnant – et peu judicieux – que quiconque bloque son argent pour une durée de 20 ou 30 ans dans l’attente de ne percevoir guère plus que le taux d’inflation cible de 2 % de ces banques centrales. Ainsi, le marché obligataire apparaissant nécessiter d’importantes corrections, beaucoup se demandent aujourd’hui si l’éventuelle survenance d’un krach ne risquerait pas de faire également sombrer d’autres actifs à long terme, tels que les actifs immobiliers ou les actions boursières.

C’est une que l’on me pose souvent lors de séminaires et autres conférences. Après tout, les acteurs des marchés de l’immobilier et des actions fixent les prix après avoir jeté un œil sur ceux du marché obligataire, et c’est pourquoi le risque de contagion d’un marché de long terme à un autre apparaît comme une possibilité réelle.

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