Paul Lachine

Le prix de la clarté

LONDRES – « La manigance et la ruse des négociants de biens ont produit un tel désordre d’improbité et de filouterie, un tel mystère d’iniquité, et un tel incompréhensible jargon de termes pour l’enrober, comme il n’en avait jamais été connu nulle part ailleurs dans le monde ni à aucune époque.  »  Cette pique de Jonathan Swift lancée au 18ème siècle résonne dans notre monde actuel d’intermédiation financière : aujourd’hui, comme à l’époque, la finance enrobe « son désordre d’improbité et de filouterie » dans un « incompréhensible jargon ». Comme l’a expliqué le président Barack Obama dans un discours prononcé en avril dernier : « De nombreuses pratiques étaient d’une telle opacité et d’une telle complexité que peu de personnes au sein de ces sociétés – ni même les superviseurs– étaient réellement conscientes des énormes paris qui étaient engagés. »

Mais Swift avait-il raison d’expliquer cette incompréhension par la seule filouterie ? Evidement, c’est un puissant mobile, pas moins en politique qu’en finance. Moins les personnes maitrisent leur sujet, plus facile il est de les tromper. Il y a toujours eu des charlatans : dans son opéra, L’Elisir D’Amore, Donizetti décrit l’un d’eux vantant les mérites d’un philtre d’amour en déblatérant un baratin sans queue ni tête. Mais la récente explosion d’innovation financière n’est pas forcément le produit d’une intention de tromper ou même de faire de l’argent.

Le cas des poursuites engagées contre Goldman Sachs par la SEC, le gendarme de la Bourse américaine, est intéressant. Le petit prodige de Goldman, Fabrice Tourre, est accusé d’avoir mis au point un produit complexe conçu pour échouer. Son intention était-elle de duper ? Ou s’agit-il du plaisir intellectuel d’avoir engendré une monstruosité (comme l’un de ses courriels l’a décrit), sans égard pour les conséquences ?

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