Le spectre de la stagflation mondiale

New York –  La tendance générale à l'inflation qui se manifeste actuellement va-t-elle conduire à un ralentissement économique mondial ? Ou pire encore, va-t-elle entraîner la stagflation, cette combinaison létale de poussée inflationniste et de croissance négative ?

L'inflation se manifeste déjà dans nombre d'économies avancées et de marchés émergents et l'on observe les premiers signes d'une possible contraction économique dans beaucoup de pays avancés (USA, Royaume-Uni, Espagne, Irlande, Italie, Portugal et Japon). Dans les marchés émergents, l'inflation était jusqu'à présent associée à la croissance et même à la surchauffe. Mais une contraction économique aux USA et dans les autres pays avancés pourrait avoir une conséquence opposée dans les pays émergents. La contraction américaine freine la croissance et l'inflation pousse les autorités monétaires à resserrer leur politique monétaire et à être plus strict en matière de crédit. Cette situation pourrait induire une légère stagflation dans les marchés émergents :  une montée de l'inflation accompagnée d'une baisse brutale de la croissance.

La stagflation suppose un effondrement de l'offre, avec pour conséquence une hausse des prix et une diminution de la production. Lors des 35 dernières années, des chocs stagflationnistes ont entraîné par trois fois une récession mondiale : en 1973-75 avec la flambée des prix du pétrole après la guerre du Kippour et l'embargo de l'OPEP, en 1979-80 après la révolution iranienne et en 1990-91 après l'invasion du Koweït par l'Irak. Même la récession de 2001 - déclenchée avant tout par l'éclatement de la bulle Internet - s'est accompagnée de la multiplication par deux du prix du pétrole après le début de la deuxième intifada palestinienne contre Israël.

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