Más allá de la austeridad

NUEVA YORK – La cumbre anual del Fondo Monetario Internacional de este año mostró claramente que Europa y la comunidad internacional siguen sin dirección en lo que se refiere a la política económica. Los líderes financieros, desde los ministros de finanzas hasta los dirigentes de instituciones financieras privadas repiten el mantra actual: los países en crisis tienen que ordenar sus finanzas, reducir sus déficits y sus deudas nacionales, emprender reformas estructurales y promover el crecimiento. Se ha dicho en repetidas ocasiones que era necesario restaurar la confianza.

Es exorbitante escuchar esos mantras de aquellos que estando al mando de los bancos centrales, ministerios de finanzas y bancos privados, condujeron el sistema financiero global hasta el punto de la ruina –y crearon los problemas actuales. Lo que es peor es que pocas veces se ofrecen soluciones. ¿Cómo se puede restablecer la confianza si las economías en crisis se hunden en la recesión? ¿Cómo se puede reavivar el crecimiento cuando es muy probable que la austeridad se traduzca en otro descenso de la demanda agregada, reduciendo todavía más la producción y el empleo?

A estas alturas ya deberíamos saber que los mercados no son estables cuando actúan por sí solos. No solo generan burbujas de activos desestabilizadoras, sino que cuando la demanda pierde dinamismo hay fuerzas que se activan y exacerban la desaceleración. El desempleo y el miedo a que éste se propague provocan una reducción de los salarios, los ingresos y el consumo –y por ende, la demanda total. Las tasas reducidas de creación de hogares –por ejemplo,  jóvenes estadounidenses que están regresando cada vez más a vivir con sus padres– disminuyen los precios de las viviendas, lo que conduce a más ejecuciones hipotecarias. Los estados con esquemas de presupuestos equilibrados se ven obligados a recortar el gasto a medida que caen los ingresos fiscales –un desestabilizador automático que Europa parece haber decidido adoptar irracionalmente.

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