Le retour des crashs monétaires

CAMBRIDGE – La volatilité du marché monétaire s’observe depuis des décennies, voire depuis des siècles. D’importantes fluctuations de taux d’intérêt sont devenues monnaie courante sur les marchés financiers internationaux après l’effondrement du système de Bretton Woods au début des années 1970, les méga-dépréciations devenant également courantes au fil de cette décennie ainsi que pendant une bonne partie des années 1980, époque à laquelle l’inflation faisait rage dans la plupart des régions du monde. Même au cours de la majeure partie des années 1990 et du début des années 2000, 10 à 20 % des pays du monde ont connu une importante dépréciation de leur monnaie, voire un effondrement de celle-ci, au cours d’une année donnée.

Puis, le calme s’est soudainement installé. Exception faite du chaos provoqué par la crise financière mondiale de fin 2008 début 2009, rares ont été les chutes monétaires brutales entre 2004 et 2014 (voire graphique). Plusieurs évolutions récentes semblent toutefois indiquer que la rareté de tels événements au cours de la dernière décennie pourrait bien constituer l’exception qui confirme la règle.

La quasi-disparition des crashs au cours de la période 2004-2014 est en grande partie le reflet de taux d’intérêt internationaux faibles et stables, ainsi que d’importants flux de capitaux en direction des marchés émergents, le tout associé à un boom du prix des matières premières et (surtout) à des taux de croissance relativement sains dans les États ayant échappé à la crise financière mondiale. En effet, au cours de ces années, la principale préoccupation de nombreux pays consistait à éviter une appréciation monétaire soutenue par rapport au dollar américain ainsi qu’à la monnaie de leurs autres partenaires commerciaux.

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