La crise financière, un an après

NEW YORK – Il y a presque un an, l'économie mondiale frôlait la catastrophe. En l'espace de trois jours, du 15 au 17 septembre 2008, Lehman Brothers déposait le bilan, la méga compagnie d'assurances AIG était reprise par le gouvernement américain, et la vacillante figure emblématique de Wall Street, Merrill Lynch, était absorbée par la Bank of America dans un accord négocié et financé par le gouvernement américain. La panique a suivi et le crédit a cessé de circuler. Les sociétés non financières ne pouvaient obtenir de fonds de roulement, et encore moins de financement pour des investissements de long terme. Une récession semblait alors possible. 

Aujourd'hui, l’orage a éclaté. Plusieurs mois de mesures d'urgence prises par les grandes banques centrales ont empêché les marchés financiers de s'effondrer. Quand les banques ont cessé de fournir des liquidités à court terme à d'autres banques et aux sociétés privées, les banques centrales ont comblé le vide. Les grandes économies ont donc évité un effondrement du crédit et de la production. Le sentiment de panique s’est dissipé. Les banques recommencent à se prêter les unes aux autres.

Si le pire a été évité, une grande douleur persiste. La crise a culminé avec une chute du prix des actifs fin 2008. Dans le monde entier, les ménages aisés se sont sentis plus pauvres et ont donc nettement réduit leurs dépenses. Les prix extrêmement élevés du pétrole et des denrées alimentaires ont ajouté à la douleur, donc au ralentissement de l’activité économique. Les entreprises ne parvenaient plus à vendre leur production, ce qui a entraîné des diminutions de la production et des licenciements. La hausse du chômage a aggravé la perte de richesse des foyers, mis les familles en grand danger économique et conduit à de nouvelles réductions des dépenses des consommateurs.

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