Des armes, des médicaments et des marchés financiers

CAMBRIDGE – La crise des subprimes a démontré une fois de plus à quel point il est difficile de dompter la finance, secteur qui représente à la fois la ligne de vie des économies modernes et leur menace la plus sérieuse. Si ce fait n'est pas nouveau pour les marchés émergents, qui ont fait l'expérience de nombreuses crises financières au cours du dernier quart de siècle, un demi-siècle de stabilité financière a endormi dans la suffisance les économies avancées.

Cette stabilité reflétait un équilibre simple : la réglementation en échange de la liberté d'opérer. Les gouvernements ont soumis les banques commerciales à une réglementation prudentielle en échange de la provision publique des assurances de dépôts et de la fonction de prêteur en dernier ressort. Les bourses quant à elles furent soumises à des exigences de communication et de transparence.

La déréglementation financière des années 1980 nous a jetés dans un territoire inconnu. Elle promettait d'engendrer des innovations financières qui étendraient l'accès au crédit, permettraient une plus grande diversification des portefeuilles et une répartition des risques parmi ceux les plus à même de les supporter. La supervision et la réglementation seraient des obstacles, disaient les libéralisateurs, et les gouvernements seraient incapables de suivre les rythmes des changements.

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