Banquiers avec frontières

LONDRES – Quand Mark Carney remplacera Mervyn King en tant que gouverneur de la Banque d'Angleterre en Juillet 2013, le monde sera privé des déclarations publiques pleines d’esprit de King. Ma préférée a été proférée lorsque, commentant sur les chiffres solides des ventes de détail au cours d'une période de Noël, il mit en doute leur signification pour l'évaluation de l'état de l'économie. « Le vrai sens de l'histoire de Noël », entonna-t-il solennellement , « ne sera pas révélé avant Pâques, voire peut-être beaucoup plus tard. » Une nouvelle carrière sur scène, ou dans la chaire, l’attend certainement.

La phrase la plus citée de King veut que « les institutions bancaires mondiales sont mondiales dans la vie, mais nationales dans la mort. » Elles font du commerce à l’échelle du monde, à travers des frontières poreuses, accordant peu d'importance à la localisation géographique du capital et de la liquidité. Mais, quand la musique s'arrête, ce sont le régulateur et la banque centrale nationaux qui paient l'addition, même si les pertes ont été encourues en dehors du pays. De la même façon, une banque défaillante peut laisser un désordre dans des pays tiers, que les autorités de son pays d’origine peuvent ne pas nettoyer.

Les banques islandaises, par exemple, ont collecté des dépôts au Royaume-Uni et aux Pays-Bas, pour ensuite les rapatrier prestement vers Reykjavik, laissant la facture aux pays d'accueil. De même, l'effondrement de Lehman Brothers a affecté les créanciers européens plus fortement que ceux aux États-Unis, dont les fonds avaient été rapatriés vers New York le vendredi avant la fin.

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