Wie is er bang voor afbouwen?

TOKIO – Het geleidelijke afbouwen door de Federal Reserve van de VS van de zogeheten kwantitatieve versoepeling (quantitative easing of QE, ofwel eindeloze aankopen van lange termijn obligaties) verontrust financiële markten en beleidsmakers, met waarschuwingen voor kapitaalvlucht uit ontwikkelende economieën en in elkaar stortende prijzen van activa die de beleidsdiscussies wereldwijd beheersen. Maar gegeven het feit dat de meeste grote economieën opereren onder een regime van flexibele wisselkoersen, zijn deze zorgen grotendeels ongerechtvaardigd.

De logica achter de angst van het afbouwen van QE door de Fed lijkt duidelijk. Onconventioneel monetair beleid in de Verenigde Staten (en in andere geavanceerde economieën, vooral het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Japan) heeft de binnenlandse rentetarieven naar beneden gedreven, terwijl de internationale financiële markten met liquiditeit overspoeld werden. Op zoek naar hogere rendementen brachten investeerders deze liquiditeit (grotendeels in de vorm van korte termijn speculatief kapitaal –z.g. ‘hot money’) naar opkomende markten, wat een opwaartse druk op hun wisselkoersen uitoefende en het risico van activabubbels  voedde. Dus zou de terugtrekking van de Fed uit QE gepaard gaan met een omdraaiing van kapitaalstromen, stijgende leenkosten en het belemmeren van bbp-groei.

Natuurlijk zijn volgens deze logica niet alle opkomende markten in gelijke mate blootgesteld. Onder de meest kwetsbare landen zijn Turkije, Zuid-Afrika, Brazilië, India en Indonesië (de z.g. ‘fragiele vijf’) die allemaal gekarakteriseerd worden door gelijktijdige fiscale tekorten als tekorten op hun rekening courant, een hoge inflatie en daar bovenop een tot stilstand komende bbp-groei.

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