Pourquoi les capitaux se dirigent en amont

LONDON – Au départ, cela semble difficile à comprendre : les flux de capitaux globaux se dirigent des pays pauvres vers les pays riches. Les comptes courants des pays émergents sont en surplus, pendant que les économies avancées connaissent des déficits. On s’attendrait à ce que les pays en voie de développement, qui connaissent une croissance rapide et une rareté relative de capital (et sont relativement jeunes), importent du capital en provenance reste du monde en vue de financer leurs consommation et investissement. Pourquoi donc envoient-ils leur capital vers les pays riches ?

La Chine est un cas emblématique. Avec un surplus courant de 5,5% en moyenne entre 2000 et 2008, la Chine est devenue un des plus gros prêteurs mondiaux. Malgré sa croissance rapide et ses opportunités d’investissements prometteurs, le pays a envoyé de manière persistante une portion significative de son épargne outremer.

Mais la Chine n’est pas le seul exemple. D’autres marchés émergents – dont le Brésil, la Russie, l’Inde, le Mexique, l’Argentine, la Thaïlande, l’Indonésie, la Malaisie et les exportateurs pétroliers du Moyen Orient – ont fortement augmenté leur surplus courant depuis le début des années 1990. De manière collective, les pays en développement relativement dépourvus de capital prêtent aux économies avancées, où le capital est pourtant relativement abondant.

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