Le nouveau désordre monétaire

PRINCETON – Les devises ont à nouveau plongé dans le chaos, renforçant la demande pour une révision de l'ordre monétaire international. Le déclin rapide du dollar et de la livre, mais aussi du renminbi – désormais plus dépendant du dollar que jamais – engendre des tensions. Quelques spectres des années 1930 sont également de retour – notamment, la crainte d’avantages inégaux dans les échanges à cause de la dévaluation compétitive. Le secrétaire au Trésor américain Timothy Geithner a déjà accusé la Chine de manipuler sa devise.

Il existe deux méthodes très différentes pour déterminer les devises correctement. La première est d’organiser une conférence internationale pendant laquelle des experts proposent des modèles pour calculer les taux de changes et où les responsables politiques négocient la donne. Le seul exemple positif d’un tel arrangement sont les Accords de Bretton Woods signés en 1944. Or, même à l’époque, les taux de changes fixés à la conférence se sont avérés irréalistes. Il a ensuite fallu céder à une grande vague de changements de parité (et de maintenance des contrôles du change).

Les autres conférences consacrées aux devises se sont soldées par de lamentables échecs. Le président Richard Nixon a salué en 1971 l'accord de Smithson comme « l'accord monétaire le plus important de l'histoire mondiale ». Ce dernier a cependant vite été réduit en miettes, et le monde est passé à un système de flottement généralisé.

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