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Retour sur la crise des « subprimes » – autopsie d'une déraison d'Etat

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  • Caroline Lequesne-Roth
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    The phenomenon of the so called subprime crisis is apprehended as a huge cataclysm and has all the aspects – including emotional ones – of the world wide aftermath of a systemic crisis. In such a context where the economic approach prevails, it seems that the policy of the Federal Reserve Bank regarding its interest rates or the careless attitude of consumers have to bear all the blame. However such an analysis is not quite satisfactory for it does not allow anyone to understand the causes and the importance of the crisis. If one tries to understand how and why our systems were so receptive, how the vicious process of the subprime crisis was able to reach us, then it is essential that we should first focus our attention on the political, legal and historical context in which the mechanics of debts ruined the prosperity of a whole economy. In that respect, we may consider that a weakening of state power, encouraged by the neo-liberal American policy, is a worthwhile line of inquiry. The administration was only motivated by the benefits of the market – which thus became the actual “compass” directing any public action – and justified its withdrawal by promoting the ideology of the “ownership society” : Only individual private property, regarded as the ideal cure-all, could ensure economic prosperity and, as a consequence, help maintain social balance. Furthermore, that ideology was obviously institutionally backed by housing assistance programs which greatly helped develop the loan market. That market became far more liberal and also far more aggressive. Therefore, when it came to taking the interest of the citizen into account, the market replaced the state which somehow lost its soul. The absence of a number of guarantees – that would have been apt to protect one against the negative effects of a sort of totalitarianism of the market – thus created a context which favoured a boom-and-bust and resulted in a crisis.

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    Article provided by De Boeck Université in its journal Revue internationale de droit économique.

    Volume (Year): t. XXIII, 2 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 219-242

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    Handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_232_0219
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