lundi 8 novembre 2010

L'Adam Smith Institute et la menace monétaire QE2

Anthony J. Evan, professeur associé d'Économie à l'ESCP Europe Business School et membre du think tank libéral brtiannique Adam Smith Institute a publié un article sur "la menace de l'assouplissement quantitatif 2" ("the threat of QE2"), c'est à dire la décision d'augmenter sa masse monétaire dans le but hypothétique d'améliorer sa croissance économique.

Anthony J. Evans commence par souligner l'échec de l'assouplissement quantitatif de 2008 :

And so it comes to pass : the perceived failure of quantitative easing to deliver economic growth has led to calls for even more quantitative easing. The puzzled public are caught between the mounting shrieks of ‘if at first you don’t succeed… but this time with conviction’ on the one hand, and ‘only a fool makes the same mistake twice…’ on the other. I don’t intend to settle this debate – declaring it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ oversimplifies what is a complex issue. But there are some important points that are worth emphasising.

Il donne ensuite une définition de l'assouplissement quantitatif (c'est-à-dire battre monnaie). Problème qui s'est passé en 2008 lorsqu'il a fallu renflouer les banques : le pays ne souffrait pas vraiment d'un problème de liquidité à court-terme mais d'un problème plus profond de solvabilité.

Firstly, let’s confront terminology. QE is not exotic or new – it is just printing money. Even if it has the best intentions to not let it escalate into hyperinflation, the Bank of England buying assets on the secondary market is essentially a gradation of the policy that Mugabe’s government has unleashed in Zimbabwe. One arm of government is buying up the debt of the other. We can pretend that those two arms are separate, but that illusion is becoming harder to maintain by the day.

Finding the right solution to the current economic challenges depends on correctly identifying the actual problem. Consider the issue of bank bailouts. The original reason for having a lender of last resort was to provide emergency liquidity during a bank ‘panic’ and to help unwind unsound banks so that they wouldn’t pose a systemic risk. As time has passed since the first round of QE1 we have realised that it wasn’t merely a short-term liquidity problem, but a fundamental one of solvency. This cannot be cured with a quick gush from the monetary spigot, and direct bailouts merely obscure the distinction between liquidity and solvency problems further.

Indeed, attempts to do so exacerbate the paralysis of the economy. Policies like QE increase regime uncertainty and generate systemic instability. They have the potential to make matters worse, and ignore the fact that you cannot buy confidence. The Bank for International Settlements – one of the few organisations that foresaw large elements of the financial crisis – warns about the upside risk of continued low interest rates. Systemic misallocation of capital (including human capital) remains. Excessive risk-taking remains. Over-leveraged balance sheets remain. Volatile capital flows remain. We know that we still don’t know the amount of toxic debt in the economy, so not only are the conditions that led to the crisis still at work, but they are growing as time passes.

Les préconisations d'Anthony J. Evans : l'investissement et la dérégulation du marché du travail.

For free market economists, there is a positive programme for laissez-faire. Firstly, economic recovery will only come when we begin to rebuild the capital stock through investment. And rather than recapitalise the banks through taxpayer bailouts, it can be done through an increase in voluntary savings. Secondly, the recession itself is a sign that markets are adjusting, and that entrepreneurs are engaging in the recalculation that is required to understand which plans were unprofitable and where capital should be reallocated. Allowing relative prices to adjust as quickly as possible, reducing labour market rigidities, and improving labour mobility will all help with this. These policies are independent of the social safety nets that prevent such adjustments degenerating into long-term unemployment and stagnation, and no one would argue that the recoveries are painless. But it is better to confront the realities of life to allow a recovery to take place than attempt to maintain the economy in a permanent frozen state.

To be sure, such policies will not return us to the euphoria of 2008, but they will generate a platform for genuine and sustainable economic growth. There is an alternative to more QE.

Lire l'article complet d'Anthony J. Evans : "The Threat of QE2".

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