Paul Lachine

¿Una contrarrevolución antimonopolios?

BARCELONA – La crisis financiera global actual ha puesto en evidencia las enormes presiones a que está sometida la política de competencia en ambos lados del Atlántico. En particular, la política de competencia ha sufrido un revés principalmente debido a las medidas distorsionadoras de ayuda a los intermediarios financieros, así como a la suspensión de las reglas sobre fusiones para rescatar instituciones. En efecto, la provisión pública de capital y otros subsidios han hecho que las condiciones sean desiguales, de modo que las instituciones débiles terminan por estar mucho mejor capitalizadas que las sanas.

Esto es crucial en un sector como la banca, donde las percepciones sobre la salud de una institución son fundamentales para su capacidad de competir. Por ejemplo, Lloyds TSB adquirió el HBOS, el mayor prestamista hipotecario del Reino Unido, que estaba en problemas, mediante una fusión a la que se opuso la Oficina de Comercio Leal de ese país, mientras que en 2001 se le había impedido adquirir el banco Abbey National. En los Estados Unidos, el sector de la banca de inversiones se ha consolidado mediante las adquisiciones de Bear Sterns por JP Morgan y de Merrill Lynch por el Bank of America. El resultado es una competencia muy débil entre los actores que quedan.

La política de competencia estaba preparada para encarar crisis individuales, pero la crisis sistémica casi la ha destruido. No únicamente en la banca, sino también en otros sectores –principalmente el de los fabricantes de automóviles—los enormes subsidios mantienen a las viejas empresas ineficientes, lo que limita el crecimiento de las eficientes o, peor aún, impide la entrada al mercado de nuevas compañías. En la Unión Europea, los gobiernos nacionales maniobran en una carrera de subsidios para pasar a sus vecinos los costos del ajuste de capacidad en la industria automotriz, como lo demuestra el caso de Opel.

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