Sauvetage manqué

CAMBRIDGE – Qui dépense en hâte se repent à loisir. Effrayés à l’idée de revivre une grande dépression du style de celle des années 1930, les politiciens américains ont mis au point, pratiquement du jour au lendemain, un plan de sauvetage de 700 milliards de dollars pour ressusciter le secteur financier national en plein déclin. Mais, tout aussi ahurissant, la chambre basse des représentants l’a rejeté – en tout cas pour l’instant. Peut-être leur scepticisme était-il justifié.

L’idée géniale de ce projet est que l’ingéniosité du gouvernement va permettre de démêler le marché des prêts hypothécaires des subprimes et ses billions de dollars, alors même que les propres experts de Wall Street ont totalement échoué. Pour couronner le tout, on nous a dit que le gouvernement était si malin qu’il pourrait bien gagner de l’argent dans toute cette histoire. Peut-être, mais n’oublions pas que beaucoup de grosses têtes du secteur de la finance pensaient la même chose jusqu’à une période très récente.

Il y a pile un an, les États-Unis comptaient cinq banques d’investissement indépendantes qui dominaient son puissant secteur financier. Collectivement, leurs salariés ont partagé plus de 36 milliards de dollars de bonus l’année dernière, grâce aux énormes profits “gagnés” par ces institutions à la suite de leurs stratégies commerciales risquées et agressives. Ces stratégies sont généralement bien plus risquées, et plus complexes, que les activités des banques commerciales traditionnelles.

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