Un nouveau regard sur la crise de la Fed

BERKELEY – En lisant les transcriptions qui viennent de paraître des réunions du Federal Open Market Comitee  de la Réserve fédérale des États-Unis en 2008, la même question fondamentale   n’a cessé d’occuper mon esprit : comment expliquer la mentalité bornée du FOMC alors que la crise était en train d’éclater tout autour de lui?

Sans aucun doute, certains avaient compris la vraie nature de la situation. Comme Jon Hilsenrath du Wall Street Journal le souligne, William Dudley, alors le vice-président exécutif du Market Group de la Fed de New York, avait présenté une recherche de son personnel qui cherchait, de façon polie et convaincante, à diriger l'attention des responsables vers les éléments sur lesquels ils devaient se concentrer. Et les membres du FOMC Janet Yellen, Donald Kohn, Eric Rosengren et Frederic Mishkin, ainsi que le Conseil des gouverneurs à Washington avaient clairement compris le message. Mais, les huit autres membres du FOMC et le reste des cadres supérieurs? Pas tellement (quoique à des degrés très divers).

Pendant que je lisais les transcriptions, je me suis rappelé la longue histoire qui remonte à 1825, et au-delà, des faillites incontrôlées de grandes banques qui ont déclenché panique, fuite vers la qualité, effondrement des prix des actifs et dépression. Pourtant, là, dans le rapport de la mi-septembre 2008 du FOMC, de nombreux membres s’auto-congratulent d'avoir trouvé la force de prendre la décision incompréhensible de ne pas renflouer Lehman Brothers.

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