La fausse promesse de la libéralisation financière

Quelque chose ne tourne pas rond dans le monde de la finance. Le problème ne vient pas d’un nouveau déclin financier des marchés émergents et de son prévisible effet boule de neige sur les pays voisins – car même les plus exposés ont fait face assez tranquillement aux derniers chocs financiers de mai et juin 2006. Le problème serait plutôt de l’ordre de ceux révélés par les périodes d’accalmie : les bénéfices attendus de la mondialisation financière jouent les arlésiennes.

La mondialisation financière est un phénomène récent. Elle trouverait son origine dans les années 70, lorsque les pétrodollars réinvestis venaient grossir d’importants flux de capitaux vers les nations en expansion. Mais ce n’est qu’autour de 1990 que la plupart des marchés émergents ont fait fi de la prudence et supprimé tout contrôle des portefeuilles privés et des contributions bancaires. Les flux de capitaux privés ont alors explosé, éclipsant le commerce de biens et de services. Le monde ne connaît donc véritablement la mondialisation financière que depuis une quinzaine d’années.

Le déblocage de capitaux a semble-t-il une logique implacable : les nations en expansion, comme cela a souvent été dit, ont énormément de possibilités d’investissement, mais peu d’épargne. L’afflux de capitaux étrangers leur permettrait donc d’exploiter l’épargne des pays riches, d’augmenter leurs taux d’investissement et de stimuler la croissance. Qui plus est, grâce à la mondialisation financière, les nations pauvres pourraient tempérer leurs économies en dents de scie, souvent liées à une détérioration des termes de l’échange international et à d’autres périodes de malchance. Enfin, si les gouvernements prodigues étaient exposés à la discipline des marchés financiers, il leur serait plus difficile de gaspiller l’argent du contribuable.

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