Le FMI fait l’Europe

CAMBRIDGE –  En jouant un rôle clé dans le cadre du projet de l’euro zone de se porter caution pour la Grèce, le bailleur multilatéral qu’est le Fond Monétaire International clôt la boucle.  Dans les premiers temps de son existence après la seconde guerre mondiale, la principale tâche du FMI consistait à aider l’Europe à se remettre des ravages de la guerre. Il fut un temps où le Fond menait de très nombreux programmes sur le continent (ainsi que Rong Qian, Carmen Reinhart, et moi-même l’avons montré dans notre nouvelle étude sur la « graduation » induite par les crises de la dette souveraine.) Jusqu’à la crise financière, cependant, la plupart des Européens pensaient qu’ils étaient désormais bien trop riches pour ne jamais avoir à supporter l’humiliation de requérir l’assistance financière du FMI.

Bienvenu dans une nouvelle ère. L’Europe est devenue l’épicentre de la plus grande expansion de prêt et d’influence du FMI depuis des années. Plusieurs pays d’Europe de l’est dont la Hongrie, la Roumanie et l’Ukraine bénéficient déjà de programmes de prêts substantiels du FMI. Les pays de l’euro zone ont maintenant accepté de laisser entrer le Fond en Grèce, et sans doute aussi au Portugal, en Espagne, en Italie, et en Irlande, si nécessaire.

La résurgence du FMI ces dernières années est stupéfiante. Castré par la rhétorique populiste pendant de la crise de la dette asiatique à la fin des années 90, le Fond s’est débattu pour ancrer à nouveau ses politiques et reconstruire son image. Lorsque le français Dominique Strauss-Kahn a repris les rennes à l’automne 2007, même les pays africains pauvres fuyaient le FMI comme la peste, préférant conclure avec des bailleurs non conventionnels comme la Chine. En l’absence de nouveaux contrats et de nouveaux revenus, le Fond a du procéder à d’importantes compressions budgétaires pour assurer sa propre survie.

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