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La grande erreur du crédit

LONDRES – Avant l’éclatement de la crise financière en 2008, le crédit privé dans les économies les plus développées a augmenté plus rapidement que le PIB. Ensuite, la croissance du crédit s'est effondrée. Savoir si cette chute reflète la faiblesse de la demande ou de l’offre de crédit peut sembler un problème technique. Cependant, la réponse a des implications importantes pour l'élaboration des politiques et les perspectives de croissance économique. En outre, la réponse officielle est probablement fausse.

L'opinion dominante a généralement souligné les contraintes du côté de l’offre et les politiques nécessaires pour les corriger. Selon cette vue, un système bancaire défaillant prive les entreprises, en particulier les petites et moyennes entreprises (PME), des fonds dont elles ont besoin pour se développer. En septembre 2008, le président américain George W. Bush a voulu « libérer les banques pour faire reprendre le flux de crédit aux familles et aux entreprises américaines ».

Les stress tests et les recapitalisations des banques américaines en 2009 ont par la suite été salués pour leur rôle crucial dans la reprise du système bancaire comme de l'économie. En revanche, les stress tests insuffisamment sévères réalisés par la Banque centrale européenne en 2010 ont été vivement critiqués et accusés de laisser les banques de la zone euro trop faibles pour être capables de fournir une offre de crédit adéquate.

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