El consumidor estadounidense no está bien

NEW HAVEN – Los responsables de la propaganda de persuasión están trabajando duramente para inflar la pobre recuperación económica estadounidense. Todos los ojos se posan en los hogares. Gracias a la caída del desempleo, el aumento en los precios de las viviendas y los precios récord de las acciones, un creciente grupo de pronosticadores, participantes del mercado y responsables de políticas coincide en que el consumidor estadounidense finalmente ha regresado.

No lo crean. En primer lugar, consideremos los hechos: Durante 21 trimestres desde principios de 2008, el consumo personal real (ajustado por inflación) ha aumentado a una tasa anual promedio de tan solo 0,9 %. Este es, lejos, el período más prolongado de debilidad en la demanda real de consumo estadounidense desde fines de la Segunda Guerra Mundial –y una tremenda desaceleración respecto del ritmo de crecimiento del consumo anual real precrisis, del 3,6 %, entre 1996 y 2007.

Como el consumo de los hogares representa aproximadamente el 70 % de la economía estadounidense, esa brecha de 2,7 puntos porcentuales entre las tendencias precrisis y poscrisis ha sido suficiente para reducir la tendencia de crecimiento del PBI real poscrisis en 1,9 puntos porcentuales. Si están buscando la causa de un desempleo estadounidense inaceptablemente elevado, no busquen más.

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