Chute libre ou turbulence ?

WASHINGTON, DC – Depuis le début de l’année, une nouvelle vague de doute s’est répandue sur les marchés émergents, entrainant une baisse des prix de leurs actifs. La vague initiale avait frappé au printemps 2013, suite à l’annonce par la Réserve Fédérale de son intention de « réduire » ses achats mensuels d’actifs à long terme, autrement appelés facilités quantitatives (FQ). Maintenant que cette mesure a été effectivement adoptée, la tendance baissière dans les marchés émergents reprend à nouveau de l’ascendance.

Les pressions ont été les plus fortes sur ce que l’on appelle « les cinq fragiles » : Brésil, Inde, Indonésie, Afrique du Sud, et Turquie (sans compter l’Argentine, où a démarré la mini-crise de janvier). Mais les inquiétudes se sont aussi étendues à d’autres économies émergentes. La réduction graduelle des FQ de la Fed entrainera-t-elle plus de problèmes dans les marchés émergents cette année ? Dans quelle mesure les conditions actuelles sont-elles comparables à celles qui ont entrainé la crise asiatique de 1997 ou d’autres inversions de flux de capitaux survenues ces dernières décennies ?

Ceux qui aujourd’hui considèrent les marchés émergents avec optimisme signalent que la plupart des pays à revenus moyens ont substantiellement réduit leur ratio dette/PIB, ce qui leur a donné l’espace budgétaire dont ils manquaient par le passé. Mais ce ne sont pas les importants déficits publics qui sont à l’origine de la « crise Tequila » de 1994 au Mexique ou de la crise asiatique de 1997. Dans ces deux cas, l’effort entrepris pour défendre un taux de change fixe face à l’inversion des flux de capitaux fut un facteur majeur, comme ce fut aussi le cas en Turquie dans l’année qui précéda l’effondrement de sa monnaie en 2001.

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