Pourquoi l’économie de la Russie ne peut s’effondrer

GENÈVE – La dépréciation rapide du rouble, malgré la hausse prononcée – et en apparence désespérée – du taux d’intérêt décrétée à la dernière heure par la Banque centrale de Russie (BCR) le mois dernier, a ressuscité les craintes d’un retour à la débâcle que la Russie a subie en 1998. Il est vrai que l’Occident cherche à raviver ces craintes dans le cadre de sa confrontation permanente avec le président russe Vladimir Poutine. Or, même s’il est certain que l’économie de la Russie est en panne, il est peu probable qu’elle s’effondre complètement.

Le pétrole et le gaz comptent pour plus de 60 % des exportations de la Russie ; le reliquat étant constitué d’autres matières premières. Le plongeon récent des cours mondiaux du pétrole a donc, de toute évidence, ébranlé l’économie russe, assez pour provoquer une récession d’envergure, surtout lorsque jumelé à l’effet des nouvelles sanctions imposées par l’Occident. Sans compter que la faiblesse des prix des matières premières devrait durer assez longtemps. Dans un tel scénario, les pertes de revenu risquent de s’éterniser.

Mais la Russie n’est pas une catastrophe économique en devenir – du moins pas encore. La situation actuelle est très différente de celle de 1998, alors que la Russie enregistrait un déficit budgétaire doublé d’une balance des paiements négative. La Russie devait absolument emprunter, massivement, et ce, en monnaie étrangère. Ce qui signifie qu’à mesure que le rouble se dépréciait, la dette de la Russie grossissait. Un jour arriverait, forcément, où la Russie ne pourrait honorer ses engagements.

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