Henry Paulson se trompe !

CHICAGO – Quand une entreprise rentable est confrontée à un passif important, la solution ne consiste pas à un rachat de ses actifs à un prix exagérément élevé par le gouvernement, mais en une mesure de protection dans le cadre de la législation sur la faillite. Aux USA il s'agit du "Chapitre 11".

Sous ce régime juridique, les entreprises dont l'activité est par ailleurs satisfaisante convertissent généralement leurs dettes en actions. Les anciennes actions sont annulées et les dettes anciennes transformées en créances résiduelles dans la nouvelle entité qui continue à fonctionner avec une nouvelle structure du capital. Si les créanciers acceptent d'alléger la dette, une autre solution  consiste à échanger leur créance contre une forme d'emprunt garanti. Pourquoi ne pas adopter cette méthode bien établie pour résoudre la crise du secteur financier ?

La réponse est évidente : le temps manque. La mise en oeuvre du chapitre 11 est longue et complexe, alors que la crise en est au point où le facteur temps est déterminant. Mais nous sommes dans une période inhabituelle et le gouvernement prépare des mesures sans précédent. Comme si le sauvetage de la compagnie d'assurance géante AIG et l'interdiction de toutes les ventes à découvert de valeurs financières ne suffisaient pas, le secrétaire au Trésor américain Henry Paulson propose de racheter avec l'argent des contribuables les actifs pourris du secteur financier. Mais à quel prix ?

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