In a world economy weighed down by the health situation, the stock markets are in good shape, a “disconnection” that does not worry the financiers but does concern some economists, who see it as the harbinger of a great crisis.
From Europe to Asia, passing through the United States, stock indices seem immune to bad news that accumulate at this beginning of the year, from the layoff plans in large companies – Michelin, Accor, Ford, Air Canada – to the concern about the new variants of covid-19.
Wall Street broke a new record in early January and in Germany the Dax is trading at its historically highest level.
At the same time the bitcoin passed the $ 40,000 mark for the first time in its history and Tesla’s valuation reached a stratospheric level of $ 800 billion.
The fact that Tesla produces fewer than 500,000 electric cars a year, far behind Volkswagen and its 9.3 million vehicles sold in 2020, does not appear to affect investors.
And the The economic crisis did not discourage IPOs either., which broke all Wall Street records, with more than 400 in 2020.
“In financial terms, we do not see a bubble as such,” says Aymeric Poizot, general manager for France at the financial rating agency Fitch.
“The Disconnection Between Wall Street and Main Street (The Real Economy) it is not a problem as long as central banks intervene “, Add.
The origin of this excess liquidity was the decision of central banks in March 2020 to increase their support for governments to an unprecedented level by buying their bonds massively.
This policy, which the European Central Bank is expected to renew at its monthly meeting on Thursday, has had the effect of lowering interest rates to zero and consequently fueling the rise in stocks as investors sought investment. profitable.
“Looking at a large number of indicators, it’s hard not to see a certain discrepancy between the prices of risk assets and the economic outlook ”, however, acknowledged in December Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department of the Bank for International Settlements (BPI), whose opinions are widely listened to.
The economist and professor at the EM-Lyon business school, Pierre-Yves Gómez, considers that “There is a bubble in the technology sector.”
For his part, the economist Thomas Piketty has been warning for ten years of the harmful effects of this “Money creation orgy” that “contributes to the enrichment of the richest” by increasing “the prices of stocks and real estate.”
Piketty recalls in his blog that the fortune of “the 500 richest French people has gone from 210,000 million to 730,000 million euros (from 250,000 million to 880,000 million dollars) between 2010 and 2020” and concludes that “such development is social and politically unsustainable ”.
Laurence Boone, the chief economist of the OECD, warns for her part of the risk of cheap money addiction.
After the crisis, “people are going to wonder where all this money is coming from” and why more is not being spent on fighting climate change or inequality, he warned in an interview with the Financial Times in early January. .
“Valuations are high” in the markets, acknowledges Gilles Moec, chief economist at Axa Investment Managers, but “this is part of the side effects” macroeconomic treatment of the crisis, and “regretting it doesn’t really make sense.”