Crise américaine et erreur de communication, la BCE joue sa crédibilité

PALO ALTO – Il fut un temps où le président de la Banque centrale européenne (BCE), Jean-Claude Trichet, communiquait avec le monde extérieur. C'est terminé. Bien des sourcils se sont levés après la rencontre du Conseil des gouverneurs de la BCE en janvier, quand Trichet a menacé de lancer une action préventive si les syndicats essayaient de faire figurer la hausse des prix de l'énergie et de l'alimentation dans les nouveaux contrats, risquant ainsi de déclencher une spirale inflationniste.

Cette menace a ôté beaucoup de crédibilité à la BCE, car une hausse des taux d'intérêt au milieu de la plus grave crise financière depuis des décennies était de toute évidence une absurdité. Personne n'y a cru, et le mois suivant, non seulement la BCE a retiré sa menace maladroite, mais elle a adopté une attitude de neutralité à l'égard des taux d'intérêt. L'annonce de ce changement de politique lors de la réunion du Conseil en février ne s'est cependant pas faite sans heurts. Lors de sa conférence de presse, Trichet a brouillé le message du Conseil, donnant l'impression que la BCE voulait baisser les taux plutôt que de rester dans une position attentiste.

En conséquence, les marchés européens à revenu fixe ont fait une reprise de courte durée, avant de rechuter quelques jours plus tard,  lorsque Trichet et ses collègues ont dit clairement que les marchés avaient mal interprété ses paroles. Le flou de son message a donc engendré une volatilité des marchés dont on se serait volontiers passé. Le talent de communicateur de Trichet est à la baisse. C'est devenu évident en septembre dernier, lorsque le Conseil des gouverneurs n'a pas entièrement suivi sa promesse de hausse des taux formulée le mois précédent.

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