La BCE grandit

BERKELEY – Le 2 août marque le premier anniversaire du programme de “transactions monétaires fermes” de la Banque Centrale Européenne par lequel elle est prête à racheter des obligations d’état sur le marché secondaire. La BCE a annoncé ce programme de TMF en réponse aux ventes paniques des dettes souveraines sud-européennes menaçant de faire éclater la zone euro l’été dernier.

Dans une certaine mesure, l’anniversaire a été joyeux. Le rendement des obligations espagnoles et italiennes, qui avaient terriblement augmenté suite à des craintes d’éclatement de la zone euro, a brutalement chuté après l’annonce de ce programme. Depuis, elles sont restées à ces niveaux faibles malgré les maigres améliorations visibles de l’économie européenne. Mais le meilleur dans cette histoire est peut-être que la BCE n’a jamais eu à activer cette facilité. Elle n’a pas véritablement acheté d’obligations sous ce programme. Sa promesse de le faire a suffi à calmer les marchés.

Mais le principe des TMF est aussi attaqué parce qu’il outrepasse le mandat de la BCE. Les critiques le voient comme une tentative sournoise pour contourner l’interdiction faite à la BCE d’acheter directement des obligations de la zone euro. C’est donc une forme d’aléa moral, car il allège la pression faite sur les politiciens dépensiers afin qu’ils rééquilibrent leurs budgets et progressent en matière de réformes. De plus, on estime qu’il expose les principaux actionnaires de la BCE, notamment l’Allemagne, à des risques de pertes sur leur portefeuille d’obligations de l’Europe du sud.

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