Paul Lachine

Quand la finance s'emballe

LONDRES –Pendant au moins 25 ans, le secteur financier s'est développé plus rapidement que l'ensemble de l'économie, ceci tant dans les pays  riches que dans les pays pauvres. Le rapport de l'ensemble des actifs financiers (actions, obligations et dépôts bancaires) au PIB qui était d'environ 1 au Royaume-Uni en 1980 a atteint la valeur de 4,4 en 2006. En Chine, il est passé de pratiquement zéro (les actifs financiers quasiment inexistants) à plus de 3 durant la même période.

En même temps que le secteur financier se développait, il devenait de plus en plus rentable. Aux USA, la part des firmes financières dans les bénéfices des entreprises a fait un bond de 10% en 1980 à 40% en 2006. Dans ce contexte, il n'est guère étonnant que les revenus dans le secteur financier aient suivi le mouvement. La City à Londres, Wall Street et quelques autres centres financiers sont devenus des machines à faire de l'argent qui ont permis aux banquiers des banques d'investissement, aux gestionnaires de fonds spéculatifs et de fonds d'investissement de s'enrichir immodérément. Des responsables universitaires tels que moi ont consacré beaucoup de temps à tenter de les persuader à consacrer une partie de leurs gains aux écoles dont ils sortaient. 

Les choses ont changé depuis deux ans. Le bilan de nombreuses firmes financières s'est réduit de manière spectaculaire et certaines d'entre elles ont fait faillite. Leur l'endettement est en forte diminution. Les banques d'investissement dont le ratio de levier était supérieur à 30 début 2007 en sont maintenant à un ratio à peine supérieur à 10. Le volume des échanges commerciaux est à la baisse, de même que les crédits bancaires, et il y a eu des licenciements importants dans tous les grands centres financiers de la planète.

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