Quand la Chine devra-t-elle laisser flotter sa devise ?

En raison de l'énorme pression exercée par l'Amérique, les dirigeants de la Chine ont en principe accepté de laisser flotter le renminbi, mais refusent d'annoncer la date d'application de cette décision. Une devise flottante est inévitable car la Chine libéralise son marché des capitaux et élimine les restrictions sur les mouvements de capitaux internationaux ; sans cette devise flottante, la Chine devrait abandonner aux Etats-Unis tout contrôle sur sa masse monétaire et ses taux d'intérêt. Les dirigeants de la Chine ont toutefois raison de retarder la décision de flottement.

Les Chinois peuvent la retarder, mais ils ne peuvent pas ignorer une loi économique essentielle : si le taux de change entre les devises de deux pays est fixe et que les flux de capitaux entre ces deux pays sont illimités, le pays économiquement dominant exercera un contrôle total sur la politique monétaire de l'autre. Etant donné que le dollar constitue la devise de réserve mondiale dominante et que la Réserve fédérale américaine contrôle la provision de dollars américains, tant que la Chine respectera un taux de change fixe, elle ne pourra pas contrôler sa propre masse monétaire.

La raison est simple. Si la Chine tente de diminuer sa masse monétaire en augmentant les taux d'intérêt, elle déclenchera une augmentation de la demande de renminbi, le capital étranger cherchant à tirer parti des taux d'intérêt plus élevés imposés aux avoirs chinois. Pour maintenir le taux de change fixe, la banque centrale chinoise devrait compenser en augmentant sa masse monétaire, donc la démarche inverse de ce qu'elle souhaitait faire au premier abord. De même, toute tentative visant à accroître la masse monétaire en diminuant les taux d'intérêt serait vouée à l'échec tant que le taux de change entre le renminbi et le dollar restera fixe.

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