La fuite de capitaux d’Italie

MUNICH – Au mois d’aout, la crise européenne de balance des paiements s’est déplacée au-delà de la périphérie de la zone euro pour commencer à secouer l’Italie. Les spreads de taux d’intérêt sur les obligations d’Etat italiennes ont commencé à s’élever, l’administration du premier ministre Silvio Berlusconi a pris suffisamment peur que pour mettre en ouvre un programme d’austérité et la Banque Centrale Européenne est venue à l’aide en apportant davantage de liquidité.

La BCE a ordonné aux banques centrales de tous les pays membres de la zone euro d’acheter d’énormes quantités d’obligations d’Etat italiennes durant la crise. Bien que les banques centrales nationales n’aient pas révélé le montant de leurs achats, le stock total d’achats d’obligations d’Etat est passé de 74 milliards d’euros (102 milliards de dollars) le 4 aout à 165 milliards d’euros ce mois-ci. La plus grande partie de cette augmentation provient sans doute de l’achat d’obligations italiennes.

La Bundesbank allemande, qui a été forcée d’acheter la plupart des obligations, s’est fortement opposée au programme mais n’a pas pu l’arrêter. En réaction, le Chief Economist de la BCE Jürgen Stark a posé sa démission. Il faisait suite au Président de la Bundesbank Axel Weber, qui avait démissionné en février à cause des rachats d’obligations précédents. Entretemps, le nouveau Président de la Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, avait ouvertement protesté contre le programme, alors que le Président allemand Christian Wulff avait accusé publiquement la BCE de contourner le Traité de Maastricht.

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