En finir avec les quotas

HONG KONG – Le premier mars, le Conseil d'état chinois a annoncé un nouveau lot de restrictions visant à juguler la flambée des prix immobiliers en freinant la demande spéculative. Ces mesures comprennent des limites plus strictes sur les achats de maisons par des non-locaux dans les villes connaissant des hausses de prix excessives, une taxe sur les plus-values renforcée à 20%, des acomptes obligatoires de 70% et une prime de référence de 30% pour les taux d'intérêt sur les deuxièmes emprunts hypothécaires.

Alors que le round précédent de restrictions dans le secteur du logement, mis en place il y a moins de deux ans, avait temporairement refroidi l’humeur du marché, il n'avait pas réussi à enrayer la hausse des prix de l'immobilier. De même, bien que les dernières mesures pourraient avoir un certain impact, pour calmer durablement le marché immobilier turbulent de la Chine, il sera nécessaire de s'attaquer aux faiblesses sous-jacentes de la politique monétaire – en particulier le crédit bon marché.

Afin de contrôler la masse monétaire, la Banque populaire de Chine (PBOC) a longtemps utilisé des quotas de crédit en tant que limites directrices (« window guidance ») pour les banques. La politique puise son origine dans la planification centrale, qui, voici trente ans, avait conduit à des prix artificiellement bas et, partant, à des pénuries de produits de première nécessité et de facteurs de production clé, tels que le grain et l'acier. Avec le développement du libre marché, un système de double prix avait émergé, dans lequel ceux qui avaient accès à des biens alloués par quotas payaient moins cher. En conséquence, le gouvernement avait été contraint d'accorder des subventions au « perdants » du système – comme les résidents urbains et les entreprises publiques (SOEs) – jusqu'à ce que les fortes réponses de l'offre à la hausse des prix du marché éliminent le besoin de quotas sur les produits manufacturés.

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