Cinéma: Attention, un coup monté de l’intérieur peut en cacher un autre! (Inside job: Internet bubble millionaire takes on the Wall street president)

Pas d’armes, pas de sang, une révolution à la Spaggiari. Eric Cantona 
Jusqu’ici, car maintenant ça commence à glouglouter méchamment dans la marmite et les populations hors de leurs gonds cherchent légitimement de quoi se passer les nerfs sur les banques. Le succès de la vidéo Cantona n’a pas d’autre origine, et il faudrait le fin fond de l’ineptie politique pour n’en pas saisir le sens réel qui dit l’arrivée aux limites de ce que les populations sont prêtes à tolérer de scandale. Pour tout le bien-fondé de la colère qu’il exprime, il y a pourtant de quoi s’effrayer de son implacable syllogisme qui dit en gros : « les banques et les banquiers sont la cause de tous nos maux » – schématique mais vrai –, « or les banques ne vivent que de nos dépôts » – partiellement vrai encore –, « par conséquent, pour abattre les banques et se débarrasser du fléau il suffit de leur retirer nos dépôts » – techniquement vrai… mais in fine catastrophiquement faux. Parce que Canto, tu retires tes économies et puis tu en fais quoi ? Matelas ? Lessiveuse ? Tâche aussi de te présenter au guichet parmi les tout premiers car il n’y en aura pas pour tout le monde. À chaque instant, en effet, les banques sont strictement incapables de faire face à l’exercice généralisé de la convertibilité inconditionnelle des dépôts à vue en espèces. Sur leurs larges populations de déposants, la loi des grands nombres leur assure en temps ordinaires une régularité statistique des comportements de retrait dont la moyenne globale ne représente qu’une fraction minime des dépôts réels, et n’appelle donc qu’un taux de couverture équivalent – bas. Evidemment tout change lorsque des circonstances exceptionnelles modifient brutalement les comportements de retrait, en les corrélant intensément, par exemple sous l’effet d’une panique collective qui conduit à la ruée des déposants. Planifiant sa propre détention d’espèces sur la base des comportements moyens ordinaires, la banque se retrouve incapable de faire face à des demandes de retrait brutalement modifiées. De là le ravissant spectacle des files de déposants, éclusées délibérément au compte-goutte pour donner le temps à la banque de s’alimenter en liquidités – quand elle le peut. Le rationnement, pour dire les choses en termes pudiques, fait donc nécessairement partie d’un bank run, c’est pourquoi il arrive que la queue au guichet soit un peu tassée, parfois même qu’on s’y marche légèrement dessus, car d’emblée on sait que tous ne récupéreront pas leurs billes. Mais les vraies joyeusetés commencent après. Car, les banques mises au tapis dans un bel ensemble, il faut tâcher de se figurer de la plus concrète des manières ce à quoi peut bien ressembler la vie matérielle. Manger par exemple. C’est-à-dire aller acheter à manger. Payer par chèque ? plus possible : plus de banques. Tirer de l’argent au distributeur ? plus possible : plus de banques. Obtenir un crédit ? plaisanterie ! plus de banques. Reste l’argent liquide au fond des poches. Canto qui se sera présenté parmi les premiers aura sa lessiveuse pour tenir. Mais pour les 90% rationnés, ça leur fera quatre à cinq jours d’horizon, en forçant plutôt sur les pâtes, et juste le temps de se mettre à l’art du jardin potager, car après… Parce qu’il détruit instantanément le système des paiements et du crédit, l’effondrement bancaire général est l’événement extrême en économie capitaliste, arrêt des productions incapables de financer leurs avances, impossibilité même des échanges puisque la circulation monétaire a perdu ses infrastructures, une sorte de comble du chaos matériel, et le monde social n’a pas belle allure lorsque les individus en sont réduits à lutter pour leur survie matérielle quotidienne. Le syllo de Canto commet donc ce qu’on pourrait appeler une erreur de métonymie : il prend l’accident pour la substance, ou la réalisation particulière pour la généralité. La vérité, si elle manque sans doute de poésie, est que nous avons besoin de banques, nous en avons même un besoin vital. Frédéric Lordon
Cela fait des semaines que je dis que l’optimisme actuel est trompeur. Les marchés profitent à plein de l’argent du gouvernement et de la politique de la Fed qui ne cesse d’injecter des dollars dans l’économie. Mais c’est complètement artificiel, c’est une machine qui fonctionne à vide, et bientôt la machine va exploser. Rick Ackerman (17.11.10)
Un documentaire engagé, donc, sans être vraiment partisan – le film dépassant largement le clivage républicain/démocrate. C’est à ce point vrai qu’on est sidéré d’apprendre qu’un bon nombre de partisans de la dérégulation sous la présidence de George W. Bush sont passés entre les gouttes de la moindre contestation, et sont encore en place sous Obama… Télérama
Avant de se faire cinéaste, Charles Ferguson est devenu millionnaire à l’occasion de la première bulle Internet. Si bien qu’il parle d’égal à égal avec ses interlocuteurs. Il faut voir l’exaspération de Glenn Hubbard, professeur d’économie, lorsqu’il comprend que son interrogateur est en mesure de le confondre. On pourrait presque les prendre en pitié, comme Frederic Mishkin, qui explique sa démission du conseil des gouverneurs de la Réserve fédérale à l’été 2008 par l’urgence qu’il y avait à mettre à jour un manuel universitaire. Le Monde
The film does not take a stand on the question of whether or not there was a good case for using military force to remove Saddam Hussein. Personally I feel it’s an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. On the one hand, Saddam turned out not to posses WMDs…But one could also argue that if it had been done differently, it could have worked, and Saddam was without question a genocidal, ruthless, horrific dictator and he had previously tried to develop nuclear weapons and his regime was being contained only by economic sanctions that were causing enormous damage to the Iraqi people.
It’s fascinating, and in some ways the technology world is kind of a video game. It’s an enormous amount of fun, a lot of smart people cooperating with each other, competing with each other. It’s fun to test your wits against other smart, ambitious people. It’s fun to do something cool and make money from it. Those are all great things. And I do sometimes have regrets about not doing more in the technology world than I am. I still try to keep my hand in a little bit. But of course, making a movie like this, there’s no way you can really be serious about the technology sector. Charles Ferguson
I wanted to place responsibility wherever it happened to fall. And if you look at what happened, it does, in fact, fall on that administration [Clinton] and those people. And I certainly wasn’t going to go easy on them because they were Democrats and I liked President Clinton’s view about something else. It was a little bit more difficult to implement that same principle with regard to [President Barack] Obama. And I did actually hesitate because I felt some sympathy for his position – at least his initial position. He had relatively little experience in the world, no experience in business or finance, and he became President when the world economy had just been totally screwed up. But what persuaded me that I should [not go easy on Obama] was that, with the passage of time, it hasn’t gotten any better; in fact, it’s gotten worse. He has the same economic team, and there still have been no criminal prosecutions. Charles Ferguson
A native of San Francisco, Ferguson was originally educated as a political scientist. A graduate of Lowell High School, he earned BA in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978, and obtained a Ph.D. in political science from M.I.T. in 1989. Following his Ph.D., Ferguson conducted postdoctoral research at MIT while also consulting to the White House, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Defense, and several U.S. and European high technology firms. From 1992–1994 Ferguson was an independent consultant, providing strategic consulting to the top managements of U.S. high technology firms including Apple Inc., Xerox, Motorola, and Texas Instruments.In 1994, Ferguson founded Vermeer Technologies, one of the earliest Internet software companies, with Randy Forgaard. Vermeer created the first visual website development tool, FrontPage. In early 1996, Ferguson sold Vermeer for $133 million to Microsoft, which integrated FrontPage into Microsoft Office. After selling Vermeer, Ferguson returned to research and writing. He was a visiting scholar and/or lecturer for several years at MIT and Berkeley, and for three years was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Ferguson is the author of four books and many articles dealing with various aspects of information technology and its relationships to economic, political, and social issues. Ferguson is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a director of the French-American Foundation, and supports several nonprofit organizations. Wikipedia

Attention: un coup monté de l’intéreur peut en cacher un autre!

En ces temps étranges où le vol ou recel d’information peut vous valoir, en une de Time magazine, le titre convoité de « Personne de l’année »

Et où l’apologie explicite d’un bandit de grand chemin vous livre sur un plateau les unes des journaux de la planète …

Retour sur le documentaire au titre tout particulièrement bien choisi de Charles Ferguson (« Inside job ») sur les origines de la crise financière de septembre 2008.

D’abord, parce que comme son précédent film sur l’Irak, il ne tombe pas dans l’antiushisme primaire et rappelle, de la dérégulation lancée par l’Administration Reagan à son apogée sous l’Administration Clinton ou à l’actuelle Administration qui n’a non seulement pas puni les responsables mais les a renfloués et repris à bord, à quel point tous les bords étaient concernés.

Mais surtout parce que sa dénonciation de la collusion entre banquiers, autorités de régulation, économistes et universitaires sonne si juste et est d’autant plus efficace qu’il fait lui-même justement partie du même monde.

Sauf qu’étrangement pour un monsieur qui passe son temps à rappeler à ses pairs la nécessité de déclarer ses conflits d’intérêt, vous n’en trouverez nulle mention dans ledit film. 

 A savoir que le diplômé en maths de Berkeley et docteur en sciences politiques du MIT mais également à l’occasion  professeur ou consultant présidentiel est aussi, après la vente de sa compagnie pour quelque 133 modestes millions de dollars, l’un des heureux millionnaires d’une de ces fameuses bulles si violemment dénoncées dans son film.
 
Oubli d’autant plus regrettable qu’il en a entrainé un second autrement fâcheux, car, étrange point aveugle d’un film par ailleurs remarquable, il le prive comme le spectateur d’un des principaux  facteurs explicatifs de l’ampleur  de la crise.
 
C’est-à-dire, comme en témoignent des décennies entières de croissance mondiale mais aussi l’existence même du film en question, l’indéniable efficacité économique, avant leur ignominieuse chute, de la dérégulation et de la titrisation …  
 
  Charles Ferguson makes the fat cats squirm

GAYLE MacDONALD

Globe and Mail

 Oct. 26, 2010

Academy Award-nominated documentarian Charles Ferguson was given a copy of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown by the author and his friend, Charles Morris, who laid out, in no uncertain terms, the calamity that was coming to decimate global markets. A respected academic and economist, Ferguson had heard the warnings from others before. But Morris’s book, he says, rocked him to the core.

 I remember calling Charlie up, and saying, ‘I read your book. It’s very good. It’s very sobering. But isn’t it a little extreme? I mean a trillion dollars?’ All he said to me was, ‘Just you wait.’ ”

His friend was right.

Ferguson’s new documentary, Inside Job, which opens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on Friday, is a grim, clinical reveal of how the fat cats in the private and public sectors were responsible for 2008’s colossal market meltdown – one that cost $20-trillion and thousands of people, mostly lower-income, their livelihoods. Ferguson, who was in Toronto last month to premiere his documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival, talked candidly about how the greed and narcissism among bankers, market regulators, economists and Ivy League academics combined to land us in this collective mess, which could spill over again.

How in the world did you get these people, who are left visibly squirming, to agree to be interviewed for this film?

I think there were two things. One was my own background [BA in math from Berkeley; PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. I’ve been in business a long time so I’m not a bomb-throwing anarchist. And the other – which I regret to say, but is likely far more important – is that I don’t think they’re used to being challenged. They’re used to being deferred to, by journalists, by their colleagues, by their subordinates. It was very clear they were shocked by being challenged. In each case, there was this moment when they realized, “Whoa, he’s not going to let me get away with it. I can’t just say what I want.”

This was clearly a passion project for you. What motivated you to take on such a sticky subject and risk making such powerful enemies?

By the time the implosion occurred, it was clear this was a major event in world history. So just on those terms, it was an important thing. Plus, my friends had been warning me this could happen for some time, and by the time Lehman Brothers collapsed, I realized they’d been telling me very disturbing things that were not then in the public discourse. And it was something the public had a right to know.

It was interesting that you laid a lot of the blame at the feet of the Clinton administration and less so George W. Bush.

I wanted to place responsibility wherever it happened to fall. And if you look at what happened, it does, in fact, fall on that administration and those people. And I certainly wasn’t going to go easy on them because they were Democrats and I liked President Clinton’s view about something else. It was a little bit more difficult to implement that same principle with regard to [President Barack] Obama. And I did actually hesitate because I felt some sympathy for his position – at least his initial position. He had relatively little experience in the world, no experience in business or finance, and he became President when the world economy had just been totally screwed up. But what persuaded me that I should [not go easy on Obama] was that, with the passage of time, it hasn’t gotten any better; in fact, it’s gotten worse. He has the same economic team, and there still have been no criminal prosecutions.

What will Obama have to do to clean up the mess?

There are two possible ways the situation can get better. One way is for President Obama to decide he has to do something and replace the people with blood on their hands, so to speak. The other is if he appoints an independent special prosecutor to look into this. If he doesn’t, then it’s going to be up to the American people to make their leaders follow. It’s happened before. Fifty years ago, there was no environmental movement, no environmental laws. So to the extent that we’ve made progress in that domain, it gives me hope.

How did you get Matt Damon to narrate?

We asked him and he said yes immediately. He’s an activist on so many different levels. He was a great contributor to the film and made good suggestions on parts we knew were weak. The ending, for instance, was convoluted. And Matt said, “Look, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Yes, they’re powerful. And, yes, they are going to fight. But this topic, and this documentary, is worth fighting for. Just say that.” So the language in the ending of the narration owes quite a bit to him.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Voir aussi:

How filmmaking is like launching a start-up

Michelle Meyers

Zdnet

August 10, 2007  

Software executive-turned filmmaker Charles Ferguson talks about tech’s role in his award-winning documentary on the U.S. occupation in Iraq.

Michelle Meyers, Entertainment

Learn More » Charles Ferguson’s tech industry career ended a decade ago with the sale of his company, Vermeer Technologies–maker of a visual Web site development tool called FrontPage–to Microsoft for a whopping $133 million.

But while he has since forged a completely different path as an author, self-described « policy wonk » and life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ferguson still reflects on those formative years running a software start-up, a job he says is not too different from his latest venture as a documentary filmmaker.

Ferguson’s first film, No End in Sight, hits theaters in major U.S. cities Friday. He sees his documentary, which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, as a nonpartisan analysis of how the U.S. occupation in Iraq evolved into a violent quagmire.

On the eve of his film’s theatrical debut, Ferguson talked to CNET News.com about how he traveled in Baghdad with body guards in armored vehicles, what he hopes to accomplish with his film, and how technology played a role in his moviemaking.

Q: How did you end up choosing the war in Iraq as the topic for your first documentary?

Ferguson: I had a substantial academic and policy analysis background related to foreign affairs and defense policy and national security policy and I’ve always retained that interest. I’ve also, for a very long time, had an interest in making films, and so the two collided. I was already thinking of trying to make a film when the Iraq war occurred and in 2004 I had dinner with George Packer, a journalist for The New Yorker. He had just come back from his second or third trip to Iraq, and what he said made it clear to me that this was something very important and that things in Iraq were dramatically different and dramatically worse than generally realized. And that’s when I first had the idea to do this.

While the two activities are by no means identical, there are striking similarities between starting a software company and making a film. How do you distinguish your film from other documentaries on Iraq?

Ferguson: I think the primary difference is that I felt it was important to provide an examination of and an analysis of, for lack of a better term, the big picture, how all this happened. How this invasion and war turned into this long terrible quagmire and Iraq into a completely failed state. The other films about the war don’t do that. That’s not to denigrate them in any way. Some of those films I think are extremely good…But they’re very specific and individual and particular and none of them looks at the large-scale questions of how American policy decisions were made and what the consequences of those decisions were and I felt it was important to do that.

Why not do that in a book? You’ve written and published three others.

Ferguson: There were two reasons. The first was purely personal, namely that I was interested in film. The second, though, is that by the time I decided that this was something I wanted to do, which was mid-2005, it was already clear that there were and were going to be a number of very good books about the Iraq war and the occupation. And that’s not to say that there’s not room for another one…But there was, I thought, a vast contrast between the availability of good books and the availability of good films that explored, again, the large-scale question of how this happened.

And, for better or worse, I guess this is a third reason, and to me a very important one, Americans don’t read books very much. The combined circulation of all of the good books about the Iraq war is probably 1 million, maybe 2. If this film is at all successful, at least reasonably so by the standards of documentary film, then several million people will see it, and I think that’s important. I think it’s important to communicate what happened in Iraq not just to the policy community and the political community, but to broadly speaking, educated and interested Americans.

How did your knowledge about technology and the computer industry play into your new role as a filmmaker–or did it?

Ferguson: It did actually, to a surprising extent, in two ways. One is that filmmaking is increasingly digital. The entire film was made digitally, filmed with several different high-definition cameras. We used fairly fancy, extensive, high-definition cameras for the United States interviews. We used newly available, much smaller high-definition camcorders for our Iraq footage, which turned out to be a very good choice, although it was difficult, because we got two of the first 40 of these systems that were available in the United States and they were new and they had a somewhat complicated work flow.

And things in Iraq are such that if something goes wrong, you don’t just call up customer service. Sometimes it was a bit complicated, but it turned out that it was quite helpful that I had a fairly reasonable understanding of how digital systems worked. And of course, all the editing was digital.

And then the other thing that turned out to be very helpful, was that, while the two activities are by no means identical, there are striking similarities between starting a software company and making a film. In both cases you are, in effect, starting a new company. You have to build a team from scratch. You have to acquire talent (and) financing and you have to design your product, think about it, then you have to actually create it. And in both cases there’s time pressure and financial pressure. So the experience of having started a company and having an idea and taking it from conception into fruition turned out to be a very relevant and helpful experience.

There was also another very important thing. I found it helpful in both cases to have this somewhat peculiar combination of paranoia and fear on the one hand, self-confidence on the other. The usefulness of the paranoia and fear was that in both cases I was doing something that was new to me and it was very important and very valuable to listen to the people around me, including my employees, who to a very large extent taught me my job.

I tried to have a sense of humility about what I knew relative to what they knew. That turned out to be very helpful. I learned a lot from the people I was working with, who were incredibly generous and great and helpful, in both cases, both with the company and the film. But at the same time, at a certain point, after you’ve listened to everybody, you have to make decision and sometimes it’s a decision that goes against the recommendations of most people.

How do you judge whether your documentary is a success?

Ferguson: I don’t think it’s any one thing. First of all, I would like the film to have an impact on the way Americans think about this war and the question of how to handle Iraqi policy now going forward. I hope the film has an effect on the policy community with regard to that question as well, not just American public opinion, but there is material in the film that isn’t generally known yet, even to people who have been following this.

There was a screening of the film for two dozen senators in Washington D.C. about 10 days ago. I was there and I was quite struck at the numbers of senators who were quite shocked and surprised by some of the things in the film…This is not the last time that the United States will go to war. I hope that the next time Americans think about using military force, people who have seen the film will have absorbed the lessons that war is not a video game and that if you don’t plan and think very carefully, terrible things will happen.

I think that there is some evidence that the film is having an effect. Just last night I learned that Sid Blumenthal just posted an article for the Salon Web site in which he says that the White House is becoming afraid that the film is going to have a substantial effect and that (for U.S. Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage’s appearance in the film is going to lead to other senior administration officials to speak out.

Has it been difficult to balance your academic and policy background with your role as the maker of a film for the general public?

Ferguson: There were times when I felt the tension between my policy-wonk self, the person who had written a 454-page-long Ph.D., (and) trying to make a 102-minute film. But I would say on balance, my background in this case helped a lot…I had studied issues like this for a long time. The other thing that proved to be helpful was getting people to speak with me. It helped that I was credible to them in their world.

I would like the film to have an impact on the way Americans think about this war and the question of how to handle Iraqi policy now going forward. You made a conscious effort to keep partisan politics out of the film, right?

Ferguson: Yes. I tried very hard to do that. So, for example, the film does not take a stand on the question of whether or not there was a good case for using military force to remove Saddam Hussein. Personally I feel it’s an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. On the one hand, Saddam turned out not to posses WMDs…But one could also argue that if it had been done differently, it could have worked, and Saddam was without question a genocidal, ruthless, horrific dictator and he had previously tried to develop nuclear weapons and his regime was being contained only by economic sanctions that were causing enormous damage to the Iraqi people.

I wanted the film to be absolutely about what had in fact occurred. Not about what should have occurred, who was right and who was wrong, but what actually took place. Most of the people in the film, by the way, are Republicans.

How did you stay safe in Iraq? Were you intimated by that part of the filmmaking?

I’d like to think that I wasn’t intimidated but I certainly was very aware of it. When you’re in Iraq, at least the experience I had, is that you’re incredibly tense the entire time. You’re incredible alert, you’re always on, you always have to look at everything and access everything quickly, you’re constantly aware that everything you do has to be done with security in mind. You never make appointments over the telephone with the real time of your appointment. You say you’re going to meet someone at 10 and you show up at 9:30. You try to make sure your bodyguards’ families aren’t in the Baghdad area because if they are, they can be kidnapped…

I stayed safe by trying to be prudent. You travel either high profile or low profile, and I did both. If you travel high profile, which you have to do, for example, when you’re filming–when you have cameras there’s no way you can hide what you’re doing and who you are–I had 8 to 10 guards with automatic weapons and three armored cars.

You could have just retired and played golf.

I’m not that kind of guy.

What lies ahead for you? Do you want to make more films?

Ferguson: The process of making the film was one of the most remarkable, fulfilling, moving, amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. It was just an extraordinary thing. And if the world lets me, then I’m going to continue making films.

Do you ever have any regrets about leaving technology?

Ferguson: Sure. It’s fascinating, and in some ways the technology world is kind of a video game. It’s an enormous amount of fun, a lot of smart people cooperating with each other, competing with each other. It’s fun to test your wits against other smart, ambitious people. It’s fun to do something cool and make money from it. Those are all great things. And I do sometimes have regrets about not doing more in the technology world than I am. I still try to keep my hand in a little bit. But of course, making a movie like this, there’s no way you can really be serious about the technology sector.

Can you offer any observations about the technology industry today and how it might compare to the days before the bubble burst?

Ferguson: I don’t spend a lot of time on it. I do still have friends who are in the sector and very active in it. My impression is that this is different from the bubble and much more real, and I’m actually heartened by a lot of what I see. Of course there are some companies that aren’t going to work out and there is still hype in the world, no question about that, but I think something real and quite substantial is happening now.

Voir enfin:

A Wall Street, on a déjà oublié la crise

Deux ans après la tempête financière, le milieu bancaire new-yorkais accumule bonus et stock-options.

FABRICE ROUSSELOT De notre correspondant à New York

Libération

Ce jour-là, Whirlpool fête ses 100 ans au New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Pour l’occasion, l’entreprise d’électroménager s’est offert une gigantesque banderole blanche déployée sur la façade de la Bourse. Une tente aussi, et des ballons jaune et noir pour faire la fête avec les VIP. Tommy, un broker en blouse bleue qui fume une cigarette tout à côté, dit «qu’il fait une pause dans une matinée de dingues».«Depuis quelques semaines, c’est reparti, assure-t-il, on passe des centaines d’ordres par jour. La crise ? Elle est derrière nous. Ce que l’on me demande, c’est de faire de l’argent. Et pour l’instant, personne ne se plaint.»

Deux ans après la crise financière qui a fait trembler ses fondations, c’est comme si rien ne s’était passé à Wall Street, ou presque. Depuis le début du mois, le Dow Jones a retrouvé un cours supérieur à celui de 2008, avant l’effondrement de Lehman Brothers. Pour la première fois depuis longtemps, les banques se remettent à embaucher et se disputent même les analystes les plus affûtés comme au beau vieux temps. Entre février et mai, dans la seule ville de New York, le secteur bancaire a créé 6 800 emplois, un chiffre sans équivalent depuis près de trois ans. «Ceux qui ont annoncé la mort des banques se sont trompés, assure Richard Lipstein, le directeur de Boyden Global Executive Search, une firme de recrutement spécialisée dans la finance. Aujourd’hui, les banques ont retrouvé une certaine stabilité. Elles ont notamment bénéficié des faibles taux d’intérêt et l’activité des marchés a repris.»

«Scandale». Mais les banques, même si elles ne s’en vantent pas, ont surtout profité des 700 milliards de dollars (515 milliards d’euros) du plan de sauvetage mis en place par l’administration Obama à l’automne 2008, et qui a officiellement pris fin le 3 octobre. «La réalité, c’est que Tarp [le plan Paulson, du nom du secrétaire au Trésor de George W. Bush, ndlr] a sauvé l’industrie bancaire, explique Jack Ablin, l’un des directeurs de la banque d’affaires Harris Private Bank. Le gouvernement a su faire ce qu’il fallait pour éviter un effondrement des marchés. L’argent déboursé a permis de créer un environnement favorable pour dégager du profit.» Pour certains, c’est bien là le problème.

De nouveau sur la route du profit, les banques semblent ne pas vraiment avoir tiré la leçon de la crise. En contrepartie de l’argent reçu, l’industrie bancaire avait promis de changer ses pratiques. Mais l’application de la loi Dodd-Frank, adoptée cet été pour limiter la spéculation, se heurte aujourd’hui à de nombreux obstacles.

Le 8 novembre, c’est tout Wall Street qui s’était donné rendez-vous dans le centre de Manhattan, à l’assemblée annuelle de l’Association des marchés financiers, pour s’inquiéter d’une régulation «trop stricte et qui pourrait avoir un impact négatif». A ce jour, le gouvernement n’a pas encore arrêté les nouvelles règles. «Pour être honnête, les banques ne veulent pas de contraintes supplémentaires qui pourraient les pénaliser, assure David Alias, le patron de DME Securities, une firme de courtage, qui vient de passer la matinée à observer les transactions au NYSE. Mon entreprise est de nouveau sur de bons rails, c’est très facile d’oublier les mauvais jours quand on regagne à nouveau de l’argent et que tout semble aller pour le mieux.»

A l’évidence, Wall Street a la mémoire courte. Le mois dernier, une étude publiée par le Wall Street Journal montrait que les banques allaient verser un montant record de 144 milliards de dollars de «rémunérations variables» à leurs salariés en 2010. En clair, une montagne de bonus, primes et autres stock-options, en augmentation de 4% par rapport à 2009.

On semble bien loin des déclarations contrites de patrons de banques en 2008, reconnaissant certains excès de leur profession. «Pour moi, c’est un scandale, s’insurge Rick Ackerman, un ancien courtier qui dénonce aujourd’hui les dérives de la finance sur son site web. Comment justifier de tels salaires alors que l’Américain moyen a du mal à boucler ses fins de mois ? Les banques ne veulent reconnaître aucune responsabilité dans la crise, alors que ce sont elles qui l’ont précipitée en accordant des emprunts sans garantie et en jouant à perte avec l’argent de leurs clients…»

«Trompeur». D’ores et déjà, plusieurs économistes s’inquiètent de cette fracture entre Wall Street et «Main Street». De cette dichotomie entre une économie réelle toujours convalescente et un monde financier en pleine ébullition. «La Bourse rebondit généralement plus vite que l’économie, précise encore Richard Lipstein, mais c’est vrai qu’il faut faire attention à ne pas trop s’emballer. Si la reprise ne se confirme pas, la Bourse en souffrira.»

Pour Rick Ackerman, le danger est encore bien plus grand. «Cela fait des semaines que je dis que l’optimisme actuel est trompeur, explique-t-il. Les marchés profitent à plein de l’argent du gouvernement et de la politique de la Fed qui ne cesse d’injecter des dollars dans l’économie. Mais c’est complètement artificiel, c’est une machine qui fonctionne à vide, et bientôt la machine va exploser.»

A l’angle de Wall Street et de William Street, Billy, le patron du «Love Truck», un camion ambulant qui livre sa dose de caféine quotidienne au monde de la finance new-yorkaise depuis une décennie, dit «que c’est bon quand même de voir ses clients de meilleure humeur. Il y a deux ans, des gens sont venus nous dire adieu en pleurant, ils avaient perdu leur emploi, leur entreprise avait fermé». Dans la file d’attente du Love Truck, Patrick Dougherty, un avocat d’affaires, résume : «La confiance est de retour, et ce n’est pas plus mal. Mais les banques ne doivent jamais oublier le drame de 2008. Sinon, cela recommencera.» 

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