L'Impossible force d'un dollar faible

Il était une fois, en 1997, un déficit public courant américain qui restait relativement faible--à peine 1 % du PIB. Depuis lors, le déficit s'est accru de façon dramatique, porté à 2,7 % du PIB en 1999, 3,5 % en 2001 et 4,7 % cette année (estimation). On doit s'attendre à la même chose encore en 2004, quand le déficit public courant atteindra 5,1 % du PIB, en dépit des prévisions économiques qui parlent d'une croissance sensiblement plus rapide pour les États-Unis que pour la plupart de ses partenaires commerciaux.

Combien de temps encore le reste du monde continuera-t-il à financer le déficit extérieur américain ? Que se passera-t-il quand cela cessera ?

Il est évident que le déficit public américain actuel n'est pas soutenable. Comme feu l'économiste Herb Stein, conseiller du président Richard Nixon, avait l'habitude de le dire, si un phénomène n'est pas viable, un jour il cessera. Je croyais que le déficit courant américain s'arrêterait quand le reste du monde « s'équilibrerait » : quand le Japon sortirait d'une décennie de stagnation économique, quand l'Europe restructurerait son économie, relançant la demande globale et réduisant son taux de chômage à un niveau raisonnable. Mais avec chaque année passant, « l'équilibrage », la croissance rapide du reste du monde relançant la demande pour les produits américains, se révèle de moins en moins probable.

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