Les racines de la crise financière américaine

CAMBRIDGE – Les tentatives désespérées de la Réserve fédérale américaine d’empêcher l’économie américaine de couler sont remarquables pour deux raisons au moins. Tout d’abord, il y a quelques mois encore, on pouvait raisonnablement croire que les États-Unis éviteraient la récession. Aujourd’hui, elle semble assurée. Ensuite, les actions de la Fed semblent inefficaces. Bien que les taux d’intérêt aient été radicalement réduits et que la Fed ait inondé de liquidités des banques à court, la crise ne fait que s’intensifier.

Dans une large mesure, la crise américaine a été provoquée par la Fed, soutenue par les vœux pieux de l’administration Bush. L’un des principaux responsables n’est autre qu’Alan Greenspan, qui a laissé le président actuel de la Fed, Ben Bernanke, confronté à une situation terrible. Mais Bernanke était gouverneur de la Fed pendant les années Greenspan, et lui non plus n’a pas su diagnostiquer correctement les problèmes croissants que posaient ses politiques.

Les racines directes de la crise financière actuelle se retrouvent en 2001, au milieu de l’explosion d’Internet et du choc des attaques terroristes du 11 septembre. C’est à ce moment-là que la Fed a ouvert les robinets monétaires pour tenter de combattre un ralentissement économique. Elle a injecté de l’argent dans l’économie américaine et a écrasé son principal taux directeur – le Federal Funds rate – passé de 3,5 % en août 2001 à seulement 1 % au milieu de l’année 2003. La Fed a gardé son taux trop bas pendant trop longtemps.

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