Mario Draghi ECB/Flickr

Le placebo de l'assouplissement quantitatif

BRUXELLES – Cela fait maintenant près de six mois que la Banque Centrale Européenne a annoncé son intention d'acheter quelques 1,1 milliard d'euros (1,3 milliard de dollars) en obligations de la zone euro. Quand elle a d'abord annoncé ce que l'on appelle son « programme d'achat d'actifs étendu » en janvier, la BCE a souligné qu'elle ne faisait qu'amplifier un programme existant, par lequel elle avait déjà acheté des quantités modestes d'obligations du secteur privé, pour couvrir les effets publics. Mais ce prétexte de continuité n'était finalement qu'un simple prétexte.

En réalité, en achetant de gros volumes d'obligations publiques, la BCE a bien franchi le Rubicon : après tout, il lui est explicitement interdit de financer des gouvernements. La défense de la BCE a consisté à dire que le programme était la seule manière de rapprocher l'inflation de sa cible d'environ 2%. En outre, la BCE a souligné qu'elle ne faisait que suivre l'exemple d'autres grandes banques centrales, comme la Banque d'Angleterre, la Banque du Japon et en particulier la Réserve fédérale américaine, dont le programme d'assouplissement quantitatif (QE) entraîné l'achat de plus de 2 000 milliards de dollars de titres à long terme de 2008 à 2012.

Toute incertitude juridique mise à part, la justification de la décision de la BCE de poursuivre son assouplissement quantitatif va dépendre en définitive de son impact. Mais après six mois, cet impact reste difficile à évaluer.

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