Ces banques qui engloutissent l’économie

LONDRES – Le gouverneur de la Banque d’Angleterre Mark Carney a surpris son public lors d’une conférence tenue en fin d’année dernière, en pronostiquant que les actifs bancaires londoniens pourraient croître jusqu’à atteindre neuf fois le PIB de la Grande-Bretagne d’ici 2050, ces spéculations se fondant sur la simple extrapolation de deux tendances : poursuite de l’intensification capitalistique à travers le monde (à savoir une plus forte croissance des actifs financiers que celle de l’économie réelle), et maintien du poids de Londres dans l’activité financière mondiale.

Hypothèses certes réalistes, ces projections inquiètent néanmoins de nombreux observateurs. Le fait d’accueillir un centre financier aussi colossal, en présence de banques nationales d’envergure démesurée, peut en effet se révéler extrêmement coûteux pour le contribuable. C’est ainsi qu’en Islande et en Irlande, les banques ont atteint une taille sans commune mesure avec la capacité de l’État à les soutenir lorsque cela est devenu nécessaire. Le résultat s’est révélé désastreux.

Sans même évoquer les éventuels coûts de sauvetage, certains font valoir que cette hypertrophie financière mettrait à mal l’économie réelle, en siphonnant un certain nombre de talents et de ressources qu’il pourrait être judicieux de déployer ailleurs. Carney affirme au contraire que le reste de l’économie britannique tirerait bien des avantages de la présence d’un centre financier international en son sein. « Notre présence au cœur du système financier mondial, » développe-t-il, « multiplie les opportunités d’investissement de la part des institutions en charge de l’épargne britannique, et renforce la capacité des industries manufacturières et créatives du Royaume-Uni à rivaliser sur le plan international. »

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