Paul Lachine

Comment réussir avec l'Allemagne

GENEVE –  La crise de la dette souveraine qui perdure en Europe peut sembler un phénomène unique, mais ce n'est pas le cas. Il y a quelques dizaines d'années, l'Europe disposait d'un mécanisme de taux de change, l'ERM, qui s'est écroulé lors d'une crise qui  rappele celle d'aujourd'hui. L'aboutissement sera-t-il différent cette fois-ci ?

L'ERM fixait des limites relativement étroites aux variations des taux de change des monnaies européennes. Mais les pays qui y participaient restaient libres de leur politique monétaire, ce qui entraînait parfois des déséquilibres budgétaires. Quand les marchés financiers pressentaient un problème chez les pays participants, ils vendaient à découvert les devises les plus vulnérables et poussaient les autorités des pays concernés à dévaluer. Ces dernières résistaient, accusaient les spéculateurs, et en fin de compte, après quelques jours enfiévrés, cédaient généralement à la pression.

Les marchés testaient aussi la volonté des responsables politiques des pays participants qui échappaient à la tourmente, notamment à l'occasion de mouvements de grèves de grande ampleur ou à l'approche d'élections importantes. Même un pays avec des fondamentaux économiques sains et des finances équilibrées risquait alors d'être confronté à des difficultés. Le président de la Banque central européenne, Jean-Claude Trichet, sait parfaitement de quoi il s'agit, car il a été confronté à une crise de ce type en tant que gouverneur de la Banque de France au début des années 1990.

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