L’inflation est-elle de retour ?

CAMBRIDGE – L’inflation est aujourd’hui faible dans tous les pays industriels, et l’association entre chômage élevé et croissance lente du PIB supprime les sources habituelles de pressions haussières sur les prix. Néanmoins, les investisseurs financiers s’inquiètent peu à peu d’une éventuelle hausse de l’inflation, du fait de l’importante augmentation des réserves des banques commerciales organisée par la Réserve Fédérale américaine et la Banque Centrale Européenne (BCE). Au moins, certains investisseurs se rappellent qu’une hausse de l’inflation survient généralement après une expansion monétaire, et ils craignent que cette fois ne sera pas différente des autres.

Les investisseurs ont répondu à ces craintes en achetant de l’or, des terres agricoles, et autres protections traditionnelles contre l’inflation. Le prix de l’or est en hausse constante, atteignant son plus haut niveau depuis quatre mois à près de 1700 dollars l’once. Le prix de l’hectare de terre agricole dans l’Iowa et l’Illinois a augmenté de plus de 10% au cours de l’année écoulée. Et la publication récente du compte-rendu du comité de la Réserve Fédérale américaine, en faveur d’un autre cycle de facilités quantitatives, a provoqué une flambée des prix de l’or, de l’argent, du platine et d’autres métaux. 

Mais contrairement aux investisseurs privés, les responsables de la Fed affirment que cette fois, ce sera vraiment différent. Ils notent que l’énorme augmentation des réserves des banques commerciales n’a pas entrainé une hausse comparable des disponibilités de liquidités et de crédit. Alors que les réserves ont augmenté de 22% par an au cours des trois dernières années, l’agrégat monétaire élargi (M2) qui permet de suivre le PIB nominal et l’inflation sur une longue période de temps, a augmenté de moins de 6% au cours de la même période.

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