Il y a une alternative à la garantie des dépôts

Au même titre que la crise asiatique de 1997, la panique financière qui s'est emparée de l'Argentine et la ruée sur les banques qu'elle a provoquée ont amené nombre de pays à envisager de garantir les dépôts pour protéger l'épargne. Mais la garantie des dépôts est-elle la meilleure politique à adopter pour éviter la panique bancaire ?

La garantie des dépôts a été une réponse aux crises qui ont touché le système bancaire américain jusque dans les années 1930. La première mise en oeuvre véritable d'un fond de garantie a eu lieu aux USA après la Grande dépression. Au début tout le monde a cru au succès, la panique a disparu, ce qui a permis la stabilisation du système financier et stimulé la croissance durant l'après-guerre.

La garantie des dépôts a mis fin aux paniques financières parce que la ruée sur les banques tient de la prédiction auto-réalisatrice. Elle se produit quand les clients d'une banque pensent que les autres clients vont retirer leurs fonds. Comme les banques fonctionnent suivant le principe du premier venu, premier servi, les derniers à se décider risquent de se retrouver ruinés, la banque pouvant être obligée de vendre à perte ses actifs immobilisés et se retrouver à court d'argent. Ainsi, la simple crainte de la panique suffit à la susciter. Si ce mécanisme est rationnel au niveau individuel, il est profondément contre-productif : si les déposants avaient été collectivement moins pressés, la banque aurait pu continuer à leur fournir ses services.

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