Comment sauver une économie en plein marasme

PALO ALTO – Dernièrement, les gouvernements du monde entier ont adopté une série de mesures monétaires, financières, et fiscales pour tenter de redresser une économie mondiale embourbée dans une crise financière et la récession. L’économie n’en continue pas moins à se contracter, le chômage à augmenter et les richesses à décliner.

Les diverses réactions nationales s’échelonnent entre le modeste et l’énorme. La Chine a mis en oeuvre un plan de relance, principalement consacré aux infrastructures, équivalent à 6 pour cent de son PIB. Les Etats-Unis ont adopté un paquet de 800 milliards de dollars de dépenses et de réductions d’impôts. La Réserve fédérale américaine (la Fed) et la Banque d’Angleterre ont abaissé leurs taux directeurs à court terme à un niveau proche de zéro et se sont lancées dans une détente quantitative – c’est-à-dire des injections continues d’argent dans le système monétaire.

Malgré toutes ces mesures, des réserves bancaires en excès continuent à ne pas trouver d’emprunteur. Durant la « décennie perdue » du Japon, la Banque du Japon a surtout acheté des obligations d’État japonaises, alors que la Fed tente de rouvrir les marchés secondaires du crédit privé adossé à des titres (qui est plus important aux Etats-Unis que les crédits bancaires), en rachetant des titres adossés à des créances hypothécaires et les prêts à la consommation et aux entreprises, ainsi que des bons du Trésor américains. La Banque centrale européenne, traditionnellement préoccupée par le risque d’inflation, a été plus lente à réagir.

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