Pourquoi les comportements d’épargne sont-ils si différents ?

PEKIN – Depuis que l'intégration des marchés émergents dans l'économie mondiale a commencé au début des années 1990, trois tendances majeures se sont dégagées: une divergence des taux d'épargne privée entre le centre industrialisé et la périphérie émergente (la deuxième connaissant une forte augmentation et le premier une baisse régulière), de larges déséquilibres mondiaux entre les deux régions et une baisse des taux d'intérêt dans le monde entier. Cependant, tandis que les déséquilibres mondiaux ont préoccupé de nombreux observateurs, peu de gens ont cherché à expliquer la divergence des comportements d'épargne mondiaux.

En 1988, les taux d'épargne des ménages en Chine et aux États-Unis étaient à peu près égaux, à environ 5%. Pourtant, en 2007, le taux d’épargne des ménages chinois était passé à pas moins de 30%, contre seulement 2,5% aux États-Unis. D’autres pays industrialisés ont connu des évolutions similaires par rapport aux marchés émergents au cours des deux dernières décennies (voir le graphique 1).

Les comportements d'épargne réagissent toujours aux variations des taux d'intérêt, qui ont chuté de façon constante au cours des deux dernières décennies jusqu’à atteindre les niveaux historiquement bas observés actuellement. Mais comment se fait-il que les comportements d'épargne soient si différents – et souvent opposés – dans des économies mondialisées qui sont bien intégrées aux marchés financiers mondiaux?

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