恐れが動かす経済

世界経済は(まるでイエスの奇跡のように)、水上を歩いているかに見える。原油の価格上昇や欧州の政策停滞、米国の無謀な借り入れ、記録破りの住宅価格バブルなどものともしない。これは、G8閣僚の言う通り、投資家たちが自国のリーダーが世界経済を管理していることを確信して、楽天的な買気のムードになっているからか?それとも、先日ロンドンで起きた爆破テロなどの危険事態への恐れの感覚が、一触即発の問題を背後に隠したまま、長期金利を低く抑えているのだろうか。

いずれにしても、奇跡的に低い長期金利(インフレ調整済)によっても、おびただしい世界経済の弱点を隠し通すのは到底無理である。世界中で起きている住宅バブルは多くの国における消費者需要を伸ばしており、国際通貨基金(International Monetary Fund)の最近の調査によると、下落し続ける長期金利は、3分の2またはそれ以上の世界的な物価上昇を引き起こしている。ヨーロッパの得た利益は少ないが、もし長期金利がこれまでの25年平均まではね戻ったとしたら、欧州経済はずっとひどい状態になっていただろう。

同様に、ラテンアメリカの景気は、高額の借金と混乱した政策改革にもくじけず、最近急激に良くなってきた。長期にわたる低金利のおかげで借金をやりくりでき、同時に消費者の需要が高まって地域の生産品輸出の値段をせり上げることができたからである。

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