Un momento para gastar

BERKELEY – La idea fundamental de la macroeconomía es una realidad que ya conocía John Stuart Mill en el primar tercio del siglo XIX: puede haber un gran desfase entre oferta y demanda de prácticamente todos los bienes actualmente producidos, los servicios prestados y los tipos de mano de obra, si existe un exceso igualmente grande de demanda de activos financieros, y esa realidad fundamental es una causa de grandes problemas.

Un desfase normal entre oferta y demanda de algún subconjunto de las mercancías actualmente producidas no es un problema grave, porque se equilibra con el exceso de demanda de otras mercancías producidas actualmente. Cuando los sectores que padecen una demanda insuficiente despiden a trabajadores, los sectores que se benefician de un exceso de demanda los contratan. La economía se reequilibra rápidamente y de ese modo vuelve al pleno empleo y lo hace con una configuración del empleo y la producción mejor adaptada a las preferencias actuales de los consumidores.

En cambio, un desfase entre la oferta y la demanda cuando el exceso de demanda correspondiente afecta a los activos financieros es una receta para el desplome económico. Al fin y al acabo, no existe una forma fácil de que los desempleados empiecen a producir los activos –el dinero y los bonos que no sólo estén calificados como de primera categoría para la inversión, sino que, además, lo sean de verdad– que los mercados financieros no suministran suficientemente. La corriente de trabajadores que pierden el empleo supera la de los que lo recuperan y, cuando el empleo y los ingresos experimentan un marcado descenso, el gasto en las mercancías actualmente producidas disminuye aún más y la economía experimenta una caída libre en la depresión.

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