Combien de temps pour les taux bas?

CAMBRIDGE – Combien de temps encore pourront persister les taux d'intérêt planchers qui sont associés actuellement aux devises majeures ? Les taux d'intérêt à dix ans aux États-Unis, au Royaume-Uni et en Allemagne sont tous en vol stationnaire autour du niveau autrefois impensable de 1,5%. Au Japon, le taux à dix ans a dérivé au-dessous de 0,8%. Les investisseurs mondiaux sont apparemment disposés à accepter ces taux extraordinairement bas, quand bien même ils semblent insuffisants à compenser l'inflation attendue. En effet, le taux sur les bons du Trésor américain ajustés pour l'inflation (appelés « TIPS ») est maintenant négatif jusqu'à 15 ans.

Cette situation extraordinaire est-elle stable ? A très court terme, certainement : les taux d'intérêt pourraient même encore baisser davantage. Néanmoins, à plus long terme, cette situation n'est certainement pas stable.

Trois facteurs principaux sous-tendent les rendements faibles d'aujourd'hui. Tout d'abord, il y a une surabondance d'épargne au niveau mondial, un concept (appelé « saving glut ») popularisé par le président actuel de la Réserve Fédérale Ben Bernanke dans un discours en 2005. Pour diverses raisons, les épargnants sont devenus majoritaires dans de nombreuses régions. En Allemagne et au Japon, les populations vieillissantes ont besoin d'épargner pour leur retraite. En Chine, le gouvernement détient des obligations sans risque en tant que couverture contre une crise bancaire future et, bien sûr, pour financer ses efforts visant à stabiliser le taux de change.

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