Los desafíos de empleo y crecimiento de Estados Unidos

NUEVA YORK – Para muchos estadounidenses, si no la mayoría, la crisis que les sobrevino en 2008 –que derivó en un crecimiento lento, un desempleo creciente y una alta ansiedad entre los votantes- pareció surgir de la nada. De hecho, la gran mayoría de los economistas, analistas de inversión, firmas financieras y reguladores no pudieron ver el creciente riesgo, cuando, en verdad, tenía raíces profundas.

Si bien el momento preciso en que se produce una crisis es imposible de predecir, cualquiera que se tomó el tiempo de interpretar una década de deuda creciente, bajo nivel de ahorros, precios de activos en alza y un exceso de consumo está en condiciones de detectar las abundantes señales de riesgo, distorsiones, problemas estructurales y desequilibrios en aumento. Estados Unidos estuvo transitando un sendero de crecimiento insostenible durante por lo menos una década –probablemente más- antes de la crisis.

Restablecer el equilibrio y eliminar las distorsiones demandará tiempo, inversión y un cambio estructural, y debería ser el foco central de la política económica de Estados Unidos. El sector de los hogares es especialmente importante. Si el principal problema hubiera estado confinado a un apalancamiento y una toma de riesgo excesivos dentro del sector financiero, el shock económico habría sido importante, pero la recuperación más rápida. Fue la enorme pérdida de valor neto de los hogares lo que derrumbó la economía real (con ayuda de la restricción crediticia a las empresas más pequeñas).

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