Le capitalisme a-t-il échoué ?

NEW YORK – Jusque six jours avant la faillite de Lehman Brothers il y a cinq ans, l'agence de notation Standard & Poor’s avait maintenu la note « A » (qualité « investment-grade ») de l'entreprise. Moody’s avait attendu encore plus longtemps, dégradant Lehman seulement un jour ouvrable avant son effondrement. Comment se fait-il que des agences de notation – et des banques d'investissement – réputées aient pu se tromper à ce point dans leur jugement ?

Les régulateurs, les banquiers et les agences de notation portent en grande partie la responsabilité de la crise. Pourtant, le quasi-effondrement auquel on a assisté ne représente pas tant un échec du capitalisme que des modèles économiques contemporains, qui n’ont pas compris le rôle et le fonctionnement des marchés financiers – et, plus largement, l'instabilité – dans les économies capitalistes.

Ces modèles ont fourni le prétendu fondement scientifique aux décisions politiques et innovations financières qui ont rendu la pire crise depuis la Grande Dépression beaucoup plus probable, si pas inévitable. Après la faillite de Lehman, l’ancien président de la Fed Alan Greenspan a témoigné devant le Congrès américain qu'il avait « trouvé une faille » dans l'idéologie selon laquelle l'intérêt personnel protégerait la société contre les excès du système financier. Mais le mal était déjà fait.

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