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U.S. dollar starts the big slide against major currencies

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  • #91
    NEW YORK, November 28, 2007: Credit flowing to American companies is drying up at a pace not seen in decades, threatening the creation of new jobs and the expansion of businesses, while intensifying worries that the economy may be headed for recession.

    The combined value of two major sources of credit - outstanding commercial and industrial bank loans, and short-term loans known as commercial paper - peaked at about $3.3 trillion in August, according to data from the Federal Reserve. By mid-November, such credit was down to $3 trillion, a drop of nearly 9 percent.

    Not once in the years since the Fed began tracking such numbers in 1973 have these arteries of finance constricted so rapidly. Smaller declines preceded three recessions going back to 1975.

    "This is a very big deal," said Andrew Tilton, a senior economist in the U.S. Economic Research Group at Goldman Sachs. "You're basically crimping the growth of the more vulnerable companies. If they can't borrow the money, their options are much more limited. They'd have to have less ambitious hiring plans, buy less machinery and cancel projects."

    When credit to business slows significantly, a drop-off in investment by businesses has generally followed closely, Tilton added, suggesting that the tightening increases the prospect of recession.

    Because it has the world's largest economy, any recession in the United States would probably have a ripple effect across the globe because U.S. consumers would be buying fewer goods from abroad. Europe, so far at least, has not been subjected to a similar tightening of credit that would prompt a broader economic contraction, though available statistics provide an incomplete picture, analysts said.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that sectors depending heavily on the free flow of credit, notably construction, no longer have ready access to the cash that seemed plentiful just a year ago. Like in the United States, big leveraged buyouts are now harder to finance.

    But household borrowing in the 13 nations that use the euro has kept growing at about the same levels as before the onset of the credit crisis in August. And bank lending to nonfinancial corporations has actually increased since August, according to the European Central Bank, a fact that reflects the peculiarities of this credit crisis.

    Back in the United States, some of the drying up of credit reflects the end of a run of mergers financed by free-flowing credit. Some can be explained by what many economists view as a healthy return to the skeptical scrutinizing of balance sheets by banks. But lenders and borrowers from the suburbs of northern Virginia to communities in southern Arizona confirm that the tightening has already begun to affect the operations of some businesses.

    A survey of bank loan officers conducted by the Fed in October found that about one-fifth of lenders had over the three previous months tightened lending requirements for commercial and industrial loans for large and mid-sized businesses. A slightly smaller proportion had tightened lending to small companies.

    By themselves, commercial bank loans have actually surged: Large companies have tapped prearranged lines of credit to weather the financial chaos that has accompanied the unraveling of the American real estate market. But this source of finance has been nowhere near enough to compensate for the veritable shutdown of the short-term commercial paper market. Much of this debt is pledged against the value of mortgages, making them effectively radioactive in markets around the globe.

    In recent years, much commercial lending was inspired by an upward spiral of enrichment: Banks made new loans, then swiftly sold them off for profit, using the proceeds to extend still more. But with much of the financial world spooked by the mortgage meltdown, buyers for commercial loans are scarce, removing a reason for banks to lend in the first place.

    What loans are being extended are going primarily to companies with long-standing relationships with banks. Lenders are reluctant to bet their increasingly scarce capital on riskier, less-established companies in a time of economic anxiety. That leaves many companies - smaller firms in particular - scrambling to get hold of finance.

    "Small businesses are just inherently more risky, and banks are going to be more conservative in protecting their assets," said Jody Keenan, who heads the board of the Association of Small Business Development Centers in Burke, Virginia. "We're starting to see a tightening already, particularly for very small companies. We're talking about real impacts in local communities."

    A slowdown among smaller companies could be especially costly to the economy in terms of jobs. More than half of U.S. jobs are at companies with fewer than 100 workers, according to Moody's

    In recent months, smaller companies have been adding jobs even as larger firms have been shedding workers, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Between May and October, 276,000 of the 378,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy sprung up at companies of fewer than 50 employees, the report found.

    To be sure, the strongest companies with property to put up as collateral and years of profits they can point to are still able to borrow, often at highly favorable terms.

    The downturn in the housing market has made banks reluctant to sink money into anything related to real estate, from title companies to bathroom tile manufacturers, but lenders have sought refuge in more vibrant areas - notably agriculture, which has benefited from the boom in ethanol production.

    Other parts of the economy, notably the auto industry, have seen access to credit tighten considerably, as banks steer their limited capital away from companies with declining sales.

    A year ago, when he needed new machinery, Doyle Hayes, president and chief executive of Pyper Products, an auto parts maker in Battle Creek, Michigan, went back to the local branch of Comerica bank, where he has been doing business for years. He borrowed $300,000. Last week, when Hayes needed $140,000 for a new robot, he did not even bother to inquire at the bank.

    "We knew what the answer was going to be," he said. "When the auto industry goes down, anything that has four wheels becomes suspect."

    Still, Hayes did not put off the purchase. "You can't save yourself into prosperity," he said. He managed to borrow the money instead from Battle Creek Unlimited, a nonprofit economic development arm of the city.

    Even so, credit remains tight, so much so that Hayes is delaying payments to the companies that sell him plastic resin, his primary raw material.

    "I've got to try not to answer the phone," Hayes said. "Everybody wants money. We stretch people out."


    • #92
      PARIS, December 4, 2007: European policy makers this week hardened their tone on the decline of the dollar, as economists trimmed their growth forecasts for the 13-nation euro area and major manufacturers like Airbus threatened to move factories overseas.

      On Tuesday, a senior French official said there was now a consensus among European Union finance ministers and central bankers about the need for the Group of 7 to address the dollar's slide more explicitly, after a joint statement in October focused on the yuan, China's currency.

      A day earlier, Germany's finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, dropped his characteristic reference to his "love" for the strong euro and predicted that the declaration of a coming G-7 meeting might be more stringent over the dollar.

      The Italian finance minister, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, whose country is also a member of the G-7, suggested that the dollar had now fallen far enough for the U.S. Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson Jr., to agree that foreign exchange rate movements have been extreme.

      The French official declined to be identified because so far no official position had been reached at the G-7 level about "the fact that the dollar and the yen are also undervalued." The official said, "There is now agreement in the euro zone about the fact that the depreciation of the dollar is a problem." The G-7 finance chiefs "have to pass the same message to the market."

      It remained unclear Tuesday whether the latest chorus of complaints heralded an actual shift in European policy; past initiatives to lobby Washington over the weakness of the dollar failed to win German support. One crucial test will come Friday, when President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is expected to discuss the matter during talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

      The two leaders will meet as growth prospects for the euro bloc are dimming and the export industry is clamoring for action. The European monetary affairs commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, said Monday that he broadly agreed with a report by the International Monetary Fund, which predicted no more than 2 percent expansion for next year. Less than a month ago, Almunia was still banking on 2.2 percent growth, down from 2.7 percent this year.

      Separately, Louis Gallois, the chief executive of European Aeronautic Defense & Space, has become the most vocal standard-bearer among European industrialists who are feeling the pain of the dollar's decline.

      This week, Gallois said that over the course of the next decade, the consortium's Airbus subsidiary would be obliged to produce more of its planes outside Europe.

      The plane maker, which sells its airplanes in dollars but incurs about 50 percent of its costs in euros, loses €1 billion, or $1.48 billion, in profit every time the euro gains 10 cents against the dollar. This places the company at a competitive disadvantage against its American rival, Boeing, whose costs are almost entirely dollar-denominated.

      Other European aerospace companies are also feeling the pinch. In a weekend interview with Le Monde, Charles Edelstenne, the chief executive of Dassault Aviation, the maker of Rafale jet fighters, said that company was also being pressed to consider moving production of some components abroad.

      "We cannot cope with such a difference by producing and buying in the euro zone," Edelstenne said. "The natural step will be to outsource to dollar or low-cost zones, as has been done in the automobile industry." Dassault lost out to Lockheed in October for a fighter jet contract with Morocco, a traditional French ally - largely because Lockheed's F-16s were less expensive.

      Latécoère, a major French subcontractor for Airbus, has already begun moving some low value-added work to Morocco, Tunisia and Brazil.

      Also on Tuesday, the EU's main business lobbying group, BusinessEurope, warned that European businesses must become accustomed to a consistently strong euro that could see some production shifted outside the region.

      The concerns at Airbus, a French-German company, long a top priority for French politicians now appear to also have struck a chord in Berlin.

      This week's change in tone from Germany was marked. In the autumn Steinbrück still led the opposition to French attempts to put pressure on Washington over the exchange rate.

      Saying he lost no sleep over the strength of the euro, Steinbrück pointed out that 60 percent of Germany's exports are within the euro zone, and that the German economy was surviving the exchange rate difficulties.

      Instead of pursuing an aggressive policy towards the dollar, euro zone finance ministers agreed to highlight the weakness of the yuan, also known as the renminbi. A high-level, three-man, delegation visited Beijing last month to emphasize concerns about the yuan, though their mission achieved limited results.

      On Monday, following a meeting of euro zone ministers, Steinbrück appeared to take on the dollar. "At the moment we have a disorderly adjustment and unwinding," he said. He also predicted possible changes at a meeting of G-7 finance ministers in Japan in February. "It's possible that not only the punctuation changes but that the sentence in brackets with regard to the dollar might be more stringent," Steinbrück said.

      But he also pointed out that "the German economy has weathered the euro's strength in a remarkable way."

      Padoa-Schioppa, the Italian finance minister, said he thought there was growing awareness of the problems confronting the euro zone. "A lot of people believe this is the beginning of the understanding by Paulson that these foreign exchange movements have gone very far," he said.

      But even if euro zone policy makers unite to take a tougher stance on the dollar, analysts warned that there was little they could do to sway currency markets on their own.

      "At the moment the two things that would make a difference would be if the U.S. complained about the weakness of the dollar or if the Chinese said something," said , head of currency strategy at HSBC in London, "anything else is seen as commentary."


      • #93
        Dimanche 9 décembre 2007 -- L’Iran a complètement cessé d’effectuer ses transactions pétrolières en dollars, considérant que sa chute n’en faisait plus une monnaie fiable, a déclaré hier le ministre du Pétrole, Gholam Hossein Nozari. «Actuellement, la vente de pétrole en dollars a complètement cessé, conformément à notre politique de vente du brut dans des monnaies autres que le dollar», a dit M. Nozari, selon l’agence officielle Isna.

        «Le dollar n’est pas une monnaie fiable, compte tenu de sa dévaluation et des pertes pour les exportateurs de pétrole», a-t-il ajouté. Quatrième exportateur mondial de brut, l’Iran a pris ses distances avec le dollar au cours de l’année écoulée en raison des pressions américaines sur son système financier et de l’affaiblissement du dollar.

        Les Etats-Unis, qui accusent l’Iran de chercher à se doter de l’arme nucléaire et n’ont plus de relations diplomatiques avec ce pays depuis 1979, ont obtenu de nombreuses grandes banques européennes et asiatiques qu’elles cessent leurs transactions avec l’Iran.

        Ils ont également placé plusieurs banques iraniennes sur une liste noire pour sanctionner Téhéran en raison de ses activités nucléaires et de son soutien présumé à divers mouvements terroristes. L’Iran rejette ces accusations. De son côté, Téhéran a réduit ses actifs dans certains établissements bancaires occidentaux, tout en essayant par ailleurs de persuader ses partenaires de l’Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole (OPEP) de renoncer aux transactions en dollars et de se tourner vers d’autres monnaies, comme l’euro.

        La chute du dollar a considérablement entamé les revenus des pays de l’OPEP, la plupart d’entre eux utilisant cette monnaie pour libeller leurs contrats de brut. Le dollar a perdu environ 15 % de sa valeur par rapport à la monnaie européenne depuis un an.


        • #94
          Death of the Dollar


          • #95

            December 28, 2007 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar fell against the euro and posted the biggest weekly decline versus the currency since April 2006 after a Commerce Department report showed sales of new homes fell to a 12-year low last month.

            The U.S. currency decreased for a sixth day, the longest decline since October, on bets a slowing economy will encourage the Federal Reserve to cut borrowing costs next month. The dollar weakened against the yen and Swiss franc as riots erupted in Pakistan, considered an ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, a day after the slaying of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

            "In the near term, the dollar probably remains on the weak side," said Doug Smith, chief Americas economist in New York at Standard Chartered Bank. "The weakness in the housing sector continued to weigh growth down and increased the likelihood of a rate cut in January."

            The dollar fell to $1.4716 per euro at 4:01 p.m. in New York from $1.4626 yesterday. It's down 2.3 percent this week. The dollar declined against 14 of the 16 most actively traded currencies this year as the Fed cut the target rate for overnight lending between banks three times to 4.25 percent.

            The U.S. currency has lost 10.3 percent against the euro and 5.4 percent versus the yen in 2007. The dollar has dropped every year versus the euro since 2001, except in 2005, when the dollar rose 13 percent.

            The Swiss franc increased today against most of the 16 most actively traded currencies, and the yen rose against the dollar, pound and currencies in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia on speculation the upheaval in Pakistan will lead to a reduction of carry trades funded in Switzerland and Japan.

            Investors borrow in countries with low interest rates and convert the proceeds into currencies that they can lend out for a higher return. They earn the spread between the borrowing and lending rates, incurring the risk that currency fluctuations may erase their profits.

            "The Swiss franc is traditionally considered a safe-haven currency, and geopolitical risks pushed people to cut carry trades," said Nick Bennenbroek, head of currency strategy in New York at Wells Fargo & Co.

            The Swiss franc rose to 1.1270 from 1.1391 per dollar, and the yen increased to 112.76 from 113.73. The dollar has lost 2.4 percent against the Swiss franc and 1.2 percent versus the yen this week. The euro traded at 165.78 yen, compared with 166.34 yesterday.

            The pound fell to a record low of 73.89 pence per euro after a U.K. report showing falling house prices increased bets the Bank of England will cut interest rates from 5.5 percent.

            The Swiss franc and the Swedish krona led the gainers versus the dollar, rising more than 1 percent. For the week, the dollar is down against all 16 major currencies except the Mexican peso on signs the U.S. economy is slowing.

            Sales of new homes in the U.S. fell 9 percent to an annual rate of 647,000, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. October sales were revised down to a 711,000 pace.

            Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas decreased 6.1 percent in October, the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index showed December 26. The decrease was the biggest since the group started keeping year-over-year records in 2001.

            "The dollar is like a sore thumb getting hit by a hammer," said Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist at, a unit of online currency trading firm Gain Capital in Bedminster, New Jersey. "U.S. housing data shows no signs of any bottom in sight."

            Interest-rate futures on the Chicago Board of Trade indicate 90 percent odds that the Fed will reduce its benchmark interest rate a quarter-percentage point at its January 30 meeting, compared with a 76 percent chance yesterday.

            The dollar's share of global foreign-exchange reserves fell to the lowest level since records began in 1999, as international demand for U.S. assets slumped after the subprime- mortgage market collapsed.

            The U.S. currency will rebound to $1.39 per euro by the end of 2008, according to the median forecast of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The yen will trade at 110 per dollar, according to the survey.

            The dollar weakened earlier as Bhutto was buried in her ancestral village and troops were deployed to quell riots in several cities. The government said al-Qaeda may be behind Bhutto's killing and ordered a judicial inquiry.

            "Considering the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and the negative impact of increased tensions in the region for the U.S., the market chose to punish the dollar," said Camilla Sutton, co-head of currency strategy in Toronto at Scotia Capital Inc. "This combined with negative U.S. economic data has left the dollar struggling as we move into year-end."

            The Pakistan rupee was unchanged at 61.40 per dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has fallen 0.7 percent this week. The risk of Pakistan defaulting on its debt rose to the highest in a month, credit-default swaps show.


            • #96

              January 13, 2008 -- As leaders in Washington turn their attention to efforts to avert a looming downturn, many economists suggest that it may already be too late to change the course of the economy over the first half of the year, if not longer.

              With a wave of negative signs gathering force, economists, policy makers and investors are debating just how much the economy could be damaged in 2008.

              Huge and complex, the U.S. economy has in recent years been aided by a global web of finance so elaborate that no one seems capable of fully comprehending it.

              That makes it all but impossible to predict how much the economy can be expected to decline before it starts to stabilize.

              The answer could be a defining factor in the outcome of the presidential election. Not long ago, the campaign centered on the war in Iraq.

              But now, as candidates fan out across the country, visiting places as varied as the factory towns of Michigan and streets lined with unsold condominiums in Las Vegas, voters are increasingly demanding that they focus on the best way to keep the economy from slipping off the tracks.

              The measures now being debated in Washington and on the campaign trail - tax rebates, added help for the unemployed and those facing sharply higher heating bills and, most immediately, a move by the Federal Reserve to further cut interest rates - could certainly moderate the severity of a downturn.

              Democrats and the Bush administration are considering a package of such measures that could reach $100 billion.

              But the forces menacing the economy, like the unraveling of the real estate market and high oil prices, are too entrenched to be swiftly dispatched by government largesse or cheaper credit, some economists say.

              "The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be," said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch.

              "Even if the Fed's moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009," Rosenberg estimated.

              In the view of many analysts, the economy is now in a downward spiral, with each piece of negative news setting off the next. Falling housing prices have eroded the ability of homeowners to borrow against their property, threatening their ability to spend freely.

              Concerns about tightening consumer spending have prompted businesses to slow hiring, limiting wage increases and in turn applying the brakes anew to consumer spending.

              Not everyone is convinced that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession, defined as six months of economic contraction.

              The economy often serves up indications of distress that later turn out to be false warnings.

              But some economists think a recession may have begun in December.

              In the last two weeks, there have been signs that a substantial downturn may already be unfolding.

              The Labor Department reported a sharp slowdown in job creation in December.

              Retailers said that sales in December were extremely disappointing, capping the worst gain for a holiday season in five years.

              A widely watched index showed manufacturing slowing, despite a weak U.S. dollar that has encouraged growth in exports.

              The construction of new homes has already fallen by some 40 percent since the peak in 2006.

              The sales of new homes have fallen even faster, suggesting that a large oversupply of places to live will continue to drag down prices.

              Home prices have dropped by about 7 percent since the peak in 2006, but some experts suggest they could fall by another 15 to 20 percent before hitting bottom.

              "There is still a long way to go," said Nouriel Roubini, an economist at the Stern School of Business at New York University and chairman of the research firm RGE Monitor.

              Roubini has long predicted the real estate downturn would cause a severe recession. He envisions foreclosures accelerating this year, and banks counting fresh losses.

              That could make them less able to lend and further slow economic activity, not just in the United States but around the world.

              "We're facing the risk of a systemic financial crisis," Roubini said. "It's not just subprime mortgages. The same kind of reckless lending has been occurring throughout the financial system.

              "And it's not only mortgages: Now it's credit cards and auto loans, where we see problems increasing. The toxic junk is popping up everywhere."

              Banks, including commercial banks and investment banks, have so far acknowledged losses of some $100 billion, yet anxiety persists that more large write-offs are coming.

              "Firms will go to great lengths to hide or delay reporting losses," said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. "What we know now therefore might only be the tip of the iceberg."

              In a speech on Thursday, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, zeroed in on the nervousness of bankers as a prime factor slowing the economy, even as the Fed tried to stimulate it with cheaper credit.

              "Developments have prompted banks to become protective of their liquidity and balance sheet capacity and thus to become less willing to provide funding to other market participants," he said.

              His comments were widely construed as an assurance that the Fed would soon cut rates again. The Fed has already dropped rates three times since September.

              Wall Street has clamored for the Fed to keep lowering rates, cognizant that cheaper credit is generally good not just for encouraging borrowing and spending but also for corporate profits.

              But some economists fear that lower rates will simply provide a short-lived lift at the expense of the economy's longer-term health: Cheap money encourages foolish investments, they say, which is precisely how Americans came to experience the evaporation of wealth in the Internet era, followed by housing prices rising beyond any reasonable connection to incomes.

              "This appears to be a panic on the part of the Fed," said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners, a research and trading firm. "The housing bubble was a reaction from the effort to protect us from the collapse of the tech bubble. What's the next bubble going to be as a consequence of trying to protect us against this?"

              Darda asserts that the economy would be fine if left to its own devices, maintaining that the job market is healthier than most economists think. He contends that the December jobs report is likely to be revised to show that far more jobs were created than the 18,000 reported by the Labor Department.

              "That could be important in terms of reversing the direction," Darda said. "We need to see evidence that the labor market isn't falling apart. That's critical."

              But most economists seem convinced that the economy has slowed significantly and say it is the severity of a downturn that is in doubt, not the existence of one.

              "If we have a recession with a modest consumer retrenchment, and the rest of the world holds up, this could be three quarters of disappointment," said Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG. "The risk is a more dramatic decline for the consumer."

              There is little doubt that the Fed will lower its benchmark rate later this month, making it cheaper for banks to lend money to one another.

              But there is more doubt whether Washington can quickly agree on fiscal policy moves - that is, raising spending or cutting taxes - in an election year in which the White House and Congress are controlled by different parties.

              A recession could pack enormous political consequences. Over the last century, the economy has been in a recession four times in the early part of a presidential election year, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

              In each of those years - 1920, 1932, 1960 and 1980 - the party of the incumbent president lost the election.

              Much discussed now in Washington and on the campaign trail is a potential rebate for taxpayers, similar to one that seemed to lubricate spending during the last recession six years ago. But worries remain over whether such a move could exacerbate inflation, and some doubt that the benefits would be felt rapidly enough to justify the risks.

              While tax rebates can encourage spending and generate jobs, Roubini said, the government cannot afford to unleash the significant amounts - $300 billion or $400 billion - that he believes would be required to ensure a substantial rebound in economic growth.

              "Whatever they're going to do," he said, "it's going to be cosmetic."

              And most economists concur that even meaningful policies will probably take several months to filter through such an enormous economy. By the time they take effect, the country could already be in a recession.


              • #97


                • #98


                  • #99

                    Mercredi 23 janvier 2008 -- La crise des crédits hypothécaires aux Etats-Unis a réussi à entraîner dans son sillage une forte chute des marchés boursiers, une dépréciation de l'euro et une baisse du prix du pétrole.

                    Le monde est encore loin du krach boursier de 1929, mais il appréhende le spectre d'une récession que l'économie américaine pourrait lui transmettre à n'importe quel moment. La crise des crédits hypothécaires a contaminé les places financières mondiales qui ont enregistré depuis deux jours d'importantes pertes. « Fondamentalement, c'est une crise du crédit, les marchés actions réagissent à ses conséquences. Ce n'est pas une crise boursière (...) », a déclaré le directeur général adjoint de l'opérateur boursier Nyse-Euronext. Les choses sont donc claires dans les esprits des financiers mondiaux. Ils expliquent « cet assèchement du crédit » de la même manière que les financiers algériens qui ne voient pas de lien entre cette crise des subprimes et la suspension de la privatisation du CPA. Eu égard à l'ampleur des dettes des ménages américains, les spéculateurs ont fait dans l'anticipation à la baisse. Résultat, l'immobilier n'a pas été vendu en raison de la dégringolade de son prix d'achat. « C'est comme un château de cartes, tout s'écroule en même temps », nous avait dit dimanche un banquier algérien. Les analystes internationaux estiment que c'est « une spirale infernale (qui) s'est mise en route » après le retournement du marché immobilier américain. Ce qui était attendu comme étant une croissance appréciable s'est transformé en de forts indices de récession. L'économie américaine s'en plaint. Le reste du monde tremble sous les effets de la contagion.

                    « La demande du président de la FED est très très grave »

                    Le directeur général du FMI qualifie la situation de « sérieuse ». « Tous les pays du monde souffrent du ralentissement de la croissance aux Etats-Unis et la croissance des pays émergents pourrait être moins forte », a souligné Dominique Strauss-Kahn. « Ce qu'il y a lieu de retenir, c'est que la déclaration du président de la Federal Reserves, la banque centrale américaine, alors que les autorités monétaires internationales prônent d'habitude l'orthodoxie et l'austérité, montre que la situation est très très grave », nous a dit hier le professeur Sid Ali Boukrami. L'économiste algérien rappelle que le responsable américain a demandé au président Bush d'être plus actif dans l'économie américaine. Pour rappel aussi, Bush a déclaré avoir décidé d'injecter dans l'économie de son pays 150 milliards de dollars. Boukrami juge la demande du président de la FED de « très très grave » parce que, dit-il, si « l'autorité monétaire demande une intervention, quitte à ce qu'il y ait de l'inflation, c'est qu'il faut qu'il y ait une redistribution des cartes dans le monde ». C'est la Chine qu'il cite en premier comme pays devant effacer ses ardoises. Il affirme à cet effet que « aujourd'hui, la majorité des banques internationales, comme le groupe City, ont perdu entre 20 et 50 milliards de dollars à cause de la crise des subprimes. Le bilan est que c'est une situation d'incertitude pour tous ». La Réserve fédérale américaine a procédé hier à la baisse de son taux directeur de trois quarts de point, à 3,5%, pour, disent les analystes, « faire face à l'affaiblissement des conditions économiques, qui ont plongé les bourses mondiales dans la tourmente ». Le professeur Boukrami estime que « les deux baromètres pour l'économie mondiale - l'or et le pétrole - ont vu leurs prix baisser, cela veut dire qu'il y aura moins de croissance dans le monde. Aux Etats-Unis et en France, les prévisions dans ce sens sont déjà revues à la baisse ».

                    «Les conséquences sur l'Algérie ne sont pas immédiates»

                    Quant aux conséquences de cette dépréciation sur l'économie nationale, Boukrami note que « nous ne sommes pas un pays acteur dans le monde pour en ressentir les conséquences ». Ce qui n'est pas l'avis de Mohamed Louhab, financier, ancien PDG de la CNEP, qui a été aussi président de la Bourse d'Alger pendant les quelques heures qu'elle a vécues. « Des conséquences immédiates sur l'Algérie à ce qui ce passe sur les marchés mondiaux ? Non, il n'y en aura pas. Mais on va en avoir plus tard dans nos rentrées en devises, puisque le pétrole a déjà chuté ces dernières vingt-quatre heures de deux dollars », explique-t-il. Louhab estime que « s'il y a chute de nos rentrées en devises, il y a baisse de nos capacités d'intervention dans l'économie. Alors, soit on décide de réviser à la baisse le niveau des montants alloués aux projets en cours, soit on tempère pour voir plus clair dans quelque temps puisque, comme je l'ai déjà dit, les conséquences ne sont pas immédiates sur notre économie ».

                    L'élément fondamental à rappeler quand il s'agit de « calculs » algériens, c'est que les décideurs ont toujours tenu à élaborer les différentes lois de finances sur la base d'un baril de pétrole à 19 dollars, même quand ce prix a caracolé, comme ces derniers temps, à des niveaux très élevés. En plus, si les places financières mondiales paniquent, rien ne montre que la récession que les puissants de ce monde redoutent, atteigne nos rivages. La décision de Bush d'intervenir dans l'économie américaine avec 150 milliards de dollars sous forme de plan de relance pourrait freiner la récession et booster l'économie. C'est ce que nous dit Louhab qui, comme Boukrami, évoque la Chine quand il s'agit de prévoir « une redistribution des cartes dans le monde ». Il note en effet que « la Chine pourrait avoir de gros problèmes parce que les Etats-Unis sont son plus gros marché ». En tant que responsable d'une banque privée, ce financier rappelle « le lien étroit qui existe entre les différentes places financières du monde et cet effet de contagion qu'il provoque, en plus du lien qu'ont ces places avec les banques internationales, d'où la crise des subprimes et ses conséquences sur l'économie mondiale ». Louhab fait constater au sujet de cet imbroglio infernal que « l'équilibre entre l'offre et la demande est brisé ».

                    Bush s'accommode d'une économie la plus endettée au monde

                    Il est certain que l'histoire mondiale a retenu dans ses annales de la finance que la crise asiatique dans les années 90 a été provoquée par des lobbys qui voulaient reconstituer les équilibres financiers mondiaux, américains en premier. L'histoire sait aussi qu'il lui arrive souvent de bégayer.

                    Dans la tournée qu'il a effectuée dans les pays du Golfe, Bush a bien demandé aux souverains arabes de faire baisser le prix du pétrole qu'il a jugé trop élevé. L'OPEP a aussi été destinataire de sa demande. Le boum de l'économie chinoise n'était pas non plus de son goût. Aujourd'hui, la récession de l'économie de son pays a eu un monstrueux effet boule de neige sur celle mondiale, avant même qu'elle ne devienne véritablement effective. Wall Street étant fermé hier - jour férié - ce sont les Bourses, notamment européennes, qui ont vu des centaines de milliards d'euros partir en fumée. C'est ainsi que l'euro a marqué un recul important par rapport au dollar. La bourse de Riyad, capitale de l'Arabie Saoudite, grand producteur de pétrole, a terminé par une baisse énorme de 10%. L'Asie n'échappe pas aux conséquences du désastre américain. Ses revenus à l'exportation sont prévus à la baisse, « faute de demande dans le monde occidental et la santé des banques chinoises commence à inquiéter », disent les spécialistes.

                    C'est comme si tout est fait pour perturber les finances mondiales pour rétablir des équilibres financiers américains que Bush a dû perturber en puisant dedans pour guerroyer contre l'Irak. C'est peut-être cela qui laisse confiant l'assureur crédit français. La Coface table en effet sur « un ralentissement cette année mais avec une croissance supérieure à 3% et un rebond au deuxième semestre ». Pour son président, « le recul des marchés asiatiques est plutôt un signe de santé, étant donné qu'il y avait une bulle boursière énorme ». Bush, lui, continuera, sans se soucier du reste du monde, de financer la guerre en Irak et en Afghanistan, de programmer celle contre l'Iran et de toujours s'accommoder d'une économie américaine la plus endettée au monde.


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                          • January 30, 2008 -- The US economy came to a virtual standstill in the final three months of 2007 as the deepest slump in the real estate market for a quarter of a century acted as a brake on expansion, according to data released in Washington today.

                            Official figures showed that gross domestic product increased at an annualised rate of 0.6% between October and December, only half as fast as Wall Street had been expecting.

                            Today's news meant that the US economy grew by 2.2% in 2007 as a whole - the weakest expansion seen since the 1.6% growth recorded in 2002, when the economy was affected by the dotcom collapse and the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

                            The weakness of the data was seen by Wall Street as clinching evidence that the Federal Reserve, America's central bank, will cut interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 3% tonight in a bid to boost flagging growth.

                            Spending on new-home building dropped at an annual rate of 23.9% in the fourth quarter, the biggest quarterly drop in 26 years, after falling 20.5% in the third quarter. Over the course of the full year, residential spending fell 16.9%, the worst annual performance since the deep decline of 1982, when double-digit interest rates were used to bring down inflation.

                            Today's data suggested the US may be suffering from a mild dose of stagflation - weakening activity plus higher inflation. A gauge of prices favoured by the Fed - personal consumption spending excluding food and energy items - gained at a 2.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter. That was well ahead of the third quarter's 2% increase and Wall Street expectations. It was the biggest increase for any three months in one-and-a-half years.

                            Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Fed, said today that the chances of a US recession were greater than 50-50.


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