dimanche, juillet 27, 2008

Comment réglementer les marchés financiers: suite

Le débat sur l'évolution de la réglementation des marchés aux États-Unis se poursuit avec l'article Unravelling Reagan - Amid Turmoil, the US Turns away from decades of deregulation dans le Wall Street Journal (ici - abonnement requis). Un passage très intéressant nous rappelle que le mouvement de va et vient entre réglementation et déréglementation est une caractéristique quasi-inhérente de la politique américaine:

The struggle between markets and the government is as old as the country itself. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton pushed for higher tariffs to protect nascent U.S. manufacturers, saying he wanted to preserve "a monopoly of the domestic market." That directly clashed with the get-the-government-off-our-back agrarianism of Thomas Jefferson.

Since then, various crises have sent the pendulum swinging back and forth. The handling of the financial panic of 1907 -- when a private individual, banker J.P. Morgan, bailed out a floundering U.S. economy -- stirred so much political outrage on the left that in 1913 the government created the Federal Reserve to run the financial system. The Depression-era collapse of markets led to the birth of a slew of new agencies, including the
Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which regulated and remade American-style capitalism.

Disgust at bungling government policies that by 1980 produced a combined rate of inflation and unemployment of 20% -- the "misery index" -- led to the election of Ronald Reagan. He rolled back regulation and antitrust enforcement as a way to free market forces from the shackles of government.

The movement started by President Reagan has taken several hits. The 2001 terror attacks led to the nationalization of airport
workers and the creation of the elephantine Homeland Security Agency, bucking decades of privatization of government functions. The corporate-accounting scandals early this decade that leveled energy trader Enron and communications giant WorldCom led to the Sarbanes-Oxley law in 2002, which reversed the pattern of the prior two decades of easing regulation of U.S. companies. Among that law's many provisions, chief executives had to accept legal responsibility for the accuracy of their firms' financial statements.

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