La fin de l’argent facile

LONDRES – Le départ du président de la Réserve fédérale américaine, Ben Bernanke, a alimenté les spéculations quant au moment et à la façon dont la Fed et les autres banques centrales commenceront à réduire progressivement leurs achats colossaux d'actifs de long terme, également connus sous le nom d'assouplissement quantitatif (QE). Les observateurs se saisissent de chaque nouvelle publication de données économiques pour prédire la poursuite de l'assouplissement quantitatif ou une accélération de son déclin. Cependant, dans un cas comme dans l’autre, trop peu d’attention a été accordée à l'impact sur les différents acteurs économiques.

Il n'y a pas de doute sur l'ampleur des programmes de QE. Depuis le début de la crise financière, la Fed, la Banque centrale européenne, la Banque d'Angleterre et la Banque du Japon ont, à travers leurs mesures de QE, injecté plus de 4 billions de dollars de liquidités supplémentaires dans l'économie. Lorsque ces programmes se termineront, les gouvernements, certains marchés émergents et certaines sociétés pourraient se retrouver dans une position vulnérable. Ils doivent se préparer.

Les recherches menées par le McKinsey Global Institute suggèrent que les taux d'intérêt extrêmement bas ont permis aux gouvernements américain et européens d’épargner près de 1,6 billions de dollars entre 2007 à 2012. Cette manne a permis une hausse des dépenses publiques et une moindre austérité. Si les taux d'intérêt devaient revenir aux niveaux de 2007, les paiements d'intérêt sur la dette publique pourraient augmenter de 20%, toutes autres choses égales par ailleurs.

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