La déflation est une bonne chose pour l'Europe

BRUXELLES – Dans l'économie mondialisée d'aujourd'hui aucun prix n'a plus d'importance que celui du pétrole brut. Plus de 80 millions de barils sont produits et consommés chaque jour, dont la plus grande partie est vendue sur les marchés internationaux. Aussi la chute brutale du prix du pétrole brut (de 110 dollars le baril l'année dernière à environ 60 dollars aujourd'hui) permet-elle aux pays importateurs d'économiser des centaines de milliards de dollars. Pour l'UE et les USA, cela représente 2 à 3% de leur PIB.

Pour l'Europe, les avantages liés à cette baisse pourraient augmenter avec le temps, car les contrats à long terme de fourniture de gaz sont indexés sur le prix du pétrole. C'est un autre avantage pour le continent, car le prix du gaz naturel y était encore récemment beaucoup plus élevé qu'aux USA qui bénéficient du coût très bas du gaz de schiste.

Pourtant beaucoup d'observateurs estiment qu'un pétrole bon marché n'est pas sans inconvénient, car cela accroît les tendances déflationnistes dans les pays avancés déjà embourbés dans le piège d'une croissance faible. Selon ce point de vue, la chute du prix du pétrole va empêcher les banques centrales de ces pays d'atteindre le taux d'inflation de 2% que la plupart se sont fixées dans le cadre de leur mandat de maintien de la stabilité des prix.

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