La crise de l’épargne au Japon

CAMBRIDGE – Le Japon va tout droit vers une crise de l’épargne. L’éventuel conflit entre les déficits budgétaires croissants et le taux d’épargne des foyers en baisse pourrait avoir des répercussions négatives à la fois sur le Japon et le reste du monde.

Pour remettre les choses en contexte, le Japon a longtemps été célèbre pour avoir le taux d’épargne le plus élevé de tous les pays industrialisés. Au début des années 1980, les ménages japonais épargnaient près de 15 % de leur revenu après impôt. C’était l’époque de la hausse rapide des salaires, le temps où les ménages pouvaient consommer plus très vite tout mettant de belles sommes de côté. Quand bien même le taux d’épargne a diminué progressivement durant les années 1980, il était toujours de 10 % en 1990.

Le xxe siècle s’est terminé sur une décennie de croissance lente durant laquelle les ménages japonais ont alloué une plus grosse portion de leur revenu au maintien de leur niveau de consommation. Le net recul du prix des actions et de l’immobilier ne les affectait pas trop car ils disposaient d’un tel montant d’épargne liquide sur leurs compte-épargne postaux et bancaires qu’ils ne ressentaient pas le besoin d’épargner plus en vue de reconstruire leurs actifs.

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