El otro treinta por ciento de los Estados Unidos

NEW HAVEN – El consumidor americano es una simple sombra de su  todopoderoso yo anterior. En el segundo trimestre de 2012, el consumo personal aumentó en los Estados Unidos sólo a una tasa anual del 1,5 por ciento en términos reales (ajustada según la inflación) y no fue una anomalía. Lamentablemente, sigue una tónica de debilidad que ha resultado evidente desde comienzos de 2008.

A lo largo de los dieciocho últimos trimestres, el aumento anualizado de la demanda de consumo real ha sido por término medio de tan sólo 0,7 por ciento, frente a un aumento tendencial de 3,6 por ciento en el decenio anterior al estallido de la crisis. Nunca había sido el consumo estadounidense tan flojo durante tanto tiempo.

La causa no es un ningún secreto. Los consumidores hicieron enormes apuestas en dos burbujas: la de la vivienda y la del crédito. Unas políticas monetaria y reglamentadora imprudentes convirtieron la morada humilde en un cajero automático que permitía a las familias extraer dólares de las burbujas y vivir por encima de sus medios.

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