par Melvyn Krauss

Même si l'année 2006 a été très favorable pour la croissance en Europe, les taux d'intérêt réels - ceux exprimés en termes de bien et de services et non en termes monétaires – n'ont pas bougé depuis janvier. Autrement dit, la politique monétaire européenne continue à jouer un rôle de stimulant pour l'économie, alors qu'en décembre, les taux d'intérêt monétaires auront augmenté de 150 points de base par rapport au début de l'année. Avec des taux d'intérêt aussi bas, une pause au moment du Nouvel An serait prématurée.

Certaines pressions en faveur d'une pause sont en rapport avec l'élection présidentielle française qui aura lieu au printemps. Le président français Jacques Chirac a déjà mêlé la BCE à ce scrutin en l'accusant de manière fort contestable d'être responsable d'un "euro fort" par sa politique des taux d'intérêt, nuisant ainsi aux exportations européennes (sans mentionner, pourrait-on ajouter, que les exportations allemandes se portent parfaitement bien). Une hausse des taux d'intérêt durant la campagne présidentielle française mettra sans doute la BCE sur le gril.

Tout cela n'est guère encourageant, mais la BCE ne peut cesser d'agir simplement parce que la France– ou tout autre pays – est en campagne électorale (elle pourrait néanmoins choisir soigneusement le moment voulu pour un ajustement des taux d'intérêt, s'il doit intervenir en période électorale). Les considérations politiciennes ne doivent pas entraver les décisions de politique monétaire de la BCE, sinon les marchés seront sans pitié à l'égard de la dette de la zone euro, notamment quand elle se trouvera dans la branche la plus longue de la courbe des taux. Une augmentation des taux d'intérêt à plus long terme à cause de pressions politiciennes portera atteinte à toutes les économies de la zone euro, France inclue.

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