¿Recaerán los EU en la recesión?

El invierno pasado, el banco central de Estados Unidos (la Reserva Federal) estaba de plácemes. El recorte al 1.75% anual en su tasa de interés básico parecía haber funcionado: la recesión estaba acabando. Se pensaba que, a pesar de las expectativas más mesuradas en cuanto al impacto de la revolución de la alta tecnología sobre la productividad y las ganancias, así como del nerviosismo provocado por el ataque terrorista en contra del World Trade Center, las empresas estadounidenses pronto comenzarían a reanudar las grandes inversiones porque la oportunidad de obtener préstamos al 1.75% era demasiado buena para dejarla pasar.

Para fines de la primavera, esas expectativas se habían disipado con el colapso de Enron, WorldCom y Arthur Andersen. De pronto, todo el mundo puso en duda la integridad de las cuentas financieras de las compañías estadounidenses. De pronto, todo el mundo se dio cuenta del grado al que se había deteriorado el sistema estadounidense de vigilancia y control corporativo durante la burbuja de los noventa.

El mercado de valores de Estados Unidos cayó 15-20% por debajo de los niveles que había tenido en el invierno. Crecieron las diferencias entre las tasas de interés a las que se podía endeudar el gobierno y aquéllas aplicables a las corporaciones. Súbitamente, la Reserva Federal dejó de felicitarse: una tasa de interés de 1.75% podría ser la adecuada para impulsar una recuperación cuando el índice Dow-Jones se encuentra en 10,000, pero no cuando está a 8,500.

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