Un momento para arriesgarse

NUEVA YORK – La inminente reunión del G-20 es un acontecimiento donde se gana o se pierde. A menos que introduzca medidas prácticas para respaldar a los países en la periferia del sistema financiero global, los mercados globales sufrirán otra ronda de deterioro, tal como les sucedió después de que el secretario del Tesoro de Estados Unidos, Timothy Geithner, no lograra en febrero generar medidas prácticas para recapitalizar el sistema bancario norteamericano.

La actual crisis financiera es diferente de todas las demás que hemos experimentado desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. En ocasiones previas, cuando el sistema financiero estaba al borde de una crisis, las autoridades se organizaron y lo rescataron del abismo. Esta vez, el sistema en realidad se vino abajo tras el colapso de Lehman Brothers el pasado mes de septiembre, y tuvieron que aplicarle respiración artificial. Entre otras medidas, tanto Europa como Estados Unidos han garantizado efectivamente que no se permita que ninguna otra institución financiera importante quiebre.

Este paso fue necesario, pero produjo consecuencias adversas no buscadas: muchos otros países, desde Europa del Este hasta América Latina, África y el sudeste asiático, no pudieron ofrecer garantías igualmente convincentes. Favorecido por la determinación de las autoridades financieras nacionales en el centro de la economía mundial para proteger a sus propias instituciones, el capital huyó de la periferia. Las monedas cayeron, las tasas de interés subieron y las permutas de riesgo crediticio remontaron vuelo. Cuando se escriba la historia de esta crisis, quedará registrado que -a diferencia de la Gran Depresión- el proteccionismo prevaleció primero en las finanzas que en el comercio.

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