La bataille de la qualité

BERKELEY – Fin mai, le rendement à maturité des bons à 30 ans du Trésor américain était de 4,07% l’an – en baisse d’un demi pour cent depuis le début du mois. Cela signifie que le prix d’un bon à 30 ans du Trésor américain a augmenté de 15%. Un investisseur moyen acceptait donc de payer 15% de plus en numéraire et plus de 30% de plus en action pour des bons du Trésor américain à la fin du mois qu’au début. Cela démontre un changement remarquable dans la demande relative pour les actifs financiers de première catégorie et liquides  – une hausse extraordinaire dans un marché ou la demande est excessive pour de tels actifs.

Pourquoi est-ce important ? Parce que, comme l’écrivait l’économiste John Stuart Mill au début du 19ième siècle, une demande excessive en cash (ou pour une catégorie élargie d’actifs de première catégorie et liquides) correspond une offre excessive de tout le reste. Ce que les économistes trois générations plus tard appelleraient la Loi de Walras est le principe selon lequel n’importe quel marché sur lequel les investisseurs prévoient d’acheter plus qu’il n’y a à vendre doit être contrebalancé par un marché ou des marchés dans lesquels ils prévoient d’acheter moins.

Ce principe est à l’ouvre depuis l’automne 2007, puisque la demande excessive croissante pour des actifs financiers surs, liquides, de première catégorie a entrainé dans son sillage une offre excessive croissante des biens et des services qui sont les produits du travail continu humain. C’est tellement le cas qu’il y a aujourd’hui un écart de 10% entre la production  actuelle de l’économie globale et ce qu’elle produirait si elle était dans une situation relativement saine de quasi-équilibre.

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