Paul Lachine

Pourquoi l’inflation américaine est-elle si faible ?

CAMBRIDGE – Comment expliquer que l’assouplissement quantitatif coexiste depuis un certain temps avec une stabilité des prix aux États-Unis ? Ou encore, comme je l’entends souvent : « Comment se fait-il qu’en imprimant autant d’argent, la Réserve fédérale n’ait pas entraîné une inflation plus élevée ? »

L’inflation est en effet restée très faible. Au cours des cinq dernières années, l’indice des prix à la consommation a augmenté à un taux annuel de seulement 1,5%. L’outil particulièrement privilégié par la Fed pour mesurer l’inflation – l’indice des dépenses de consommation personnelle, excluant l’alimentaire et l’énergie – n’a lui non plus augmenté que d’1,5%.

Or, les achats d’obligations à long terme par la Fed au cours de cette période ont été plus considérables que jamais auparavant. La Réserve fédérale a en effet acquis pour plus de 2 000 milliards $ en bons du Trésor et titres adossés à des créances hypothécaires, soit près de dix fois le taux annuel d’achat d’obligations ayant caractérisé la dernière décennie. Rien qu’au cours de la dernière année, le stock d’obligations figurant au bilan de la Fed a augmenté de plus de 20%.

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