La correcta ponderación del riesgo hipotecario

ABU DHABI – Desde que los cazadores-recolectores comenzaron a construirse moradas, hace unos 14.000 años, ser dueño de una casa ha sido una muestra de alto nivel socioeconómico. En Estados Unidos existe una burocracia financiera gigantesca cuyo objetivo es promover la tenencia de la casa propia; y los vaivenes del mercado inmobiliario son seguidos con atención por economistas, banqueros, políticos y, por supuesto, por los propietarios mismos. Pero como hemos visto recientemente, si no se calcula bien el riesgo de los préstamos hipotecarios, el sueño de la casa propia puede convertirse fácilmente en una pesadilla económica.

En todo el mundo desarrollado, las deudas hipotecarias son ahora el principal pasivo de las familias. En Estados Unidos, la suma de estas deudas casi se triplicó durante la década que precedió a la crisis financiera, mientras que en ese lapso la economía real sólo creció un tercio; y en 2007, llegó a un máximo de 10,6 billones de dólares, más del doble del PIB combinado de China y la India.

Las seis grandes crisis bancarias que experimentaron las economías avanzadas desde mediados de los setenta tuvieron relación, todas ellas, con derrumbes del mercado inmobiliario. El colapso del precio de las propiedades también fue un factor clave en las crisis de los mercados emergentes, por ejemplo la crisis asiática de 1997 y 1998. Hay investigaciones que muestran que la caída de la producción durante recesiones que van de la mano de un colapso inmobiliario es dos o tres veces mayor que si los precios de las propiedades se hubieran mantenido. Además, el colapso inmobiliario tiende a prolongar casi tres años la recesión.

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