L'échec du Conseil de stabilité financière

WASHINGTON, DC – Au moins depuis l'automne 2008, les responsables des principales économies ont accepté (en principe), de devoir prendre des mesures relatives au sujet des entreprises financières « too big to fail » (ou trop grosses pour faire faillite). Des efforts considérables, dont d'innombrables réunions internationales, documents de travail et communiqués y ont été consacrés. Au début du mois du novembre, le Conseil de stabilité financière (FSB) de Bâle a annoncé à grand bruit l'achèvement d'une étape majeure de ce projet. Mais l'annonce n'a fait que souligner le peu de progrès réalisés. Les plus grandes banques du monde sont toujours trop grosses pour faire faillite, ce qui risque d'avoir des conséquences désastreuses dans un proche avenir.

Le problème du too big to fail n'est pas nouveau : l'expression a été employée d'abord aux États-Unis dans les années 1980. Elle fait référence à toute entreprise (généralement du secteur financier), dont la faillite aurait des conséquences négatives majeures sur le reste du système financier et sur la part réelle (non financière) de l'économie.

Avant septembre 2008, on ne savait pas si les grandes sociétés financières non bancaires devaient être considérées comme trop grosses pour faire faillite. Bear Stearns est passée très près de la faillite cette année-là, avant que la Réserve fédérale n'intervienne pour faciliter un achat par JPMorgan Chase. Les actionnaires de Bear Stearns n'ont pas eu de bons résultats et une grande partie de ses gestionnaires se sont immédiatement retirés, mais les créanciers étaient entièrement protégés (en fait, s'assurer de cette protection a été la principale motivation de l'intervention de la Fed).

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