La débâcle financière des Etats-Unis sera-t-elle bénéfique pour la Chine ?

NEW YORK – Pour tenter de vendre leur plan de renflouage du système financier américain, les responsables de l’administration Bush ont invoqué le spectre de la Grande dépression des années 1930. Mais pour la plupart des Asiatiques, l’apocalypse économique est bien plus récente.

Il y a dix ans, la crise financière asiatique a mis les banques, les entreprises et les gouvernements à genoux. Le feu a été mis aux poudres par l’effondrement du baht thaïlandais durant l’été 1997. L’infection s’est rapidement répandue à toute l’Asie de l’Est et l’effet de domino des dévaluations successives des devises s’est propagé jusqu’au Brésil et en Russie. Les « miracles économiques » de longue durée de la Corée du Sud et de Hong Kong s’arrêtèrent net, ainsi que la progression de la croissance en Indonésie et en Thaïlande.

La principale leçon que ces pays ont retenu de la crise a été de maintenir des réserves de changes importantes, un credo qui prit les dimension d’un article de foi au sein des gouvernements de l’Asie de l’Est. Dans les années 1990, les économies asiatiques à croissance rapide n’avaient que de faibles réserves de changes, malgré le boom des exportations et des investissements étrangers. Quand la situation a commencé à se détériorer en 1997, l’insuffisance des réserves a empêché les gouvernements de venir à l’aide des banques en déroute et les a obligés à demander l’aide des institutions internationales.

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