Le côté obscur de la mondialisation financière

La récente tourmente sur les marchés financiers mondiaux – et la crise de liquidité et le resserrement du crédit consécutifs - soulève deux questions : comment les défaillances d’emprunts hypothécaires à risques dans les États américains de Californie, du Nevada, d’Arizona et de Floride ont-elles entraîné une crise mondiale ? Et pour quelle raison le risque systémique a-t-il augmenté au lieu de baisser ces dernières années ?

La faute en incombe avant tout au phénomène de « titrisation ». Autrefois, les banques intégraient les prêts et les créances hypothécaires à leur comptabilité et assumaient donc le risque du crédit. À titre d’exemple, on peut citer l’effondrement du marché immobilier aux Etats-Unis à la fin des années 1980, lorsque de nombreux établissements bancaires qui offraient des prêts hypothécaires se sont retrouvés en faillite, provoquant une crise bancaire, une compression du crédit et une récession en 1990-1991.

Le risque systémique – un choc financier provoquant une contagion économique majeure – devait être réduit par la titrisation. La mondialisation financière a fait en sorte que les banques n’intègrent plus les prêts et les créances hypothécaires à leur comptabilité mais qu’elles les cèdent sous forme de paquets de titres adossés à des actifs à des investisseurs des marchés de capitaux mondiaux, propageant d’autant le risque.

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