Anatomía de una crisis

BERKELEY – Salir de la debacle financiera en la que estamos inmersos actualmente requiere entender cómo caímos en ella en primer lugar. La causa fundamental, según personas como John McCain, fue la codicia y la corrupción en Wall Street. Aunque no soy nadie para negar la existencia de este tipo de motivos básicos, insistiría en que la crisis tiene sus raíces en decisiones políticas clave que se remontan a décadas atrás.

En Estados Unidos, hubo dos decisiones clave. La primera, en los años 1970, desreguló las comisiones que se les pagaban a los agentes de bolsa. La segunda, en los años 1990, eliminó las restricciones de la Ley Glass-Steagall a la combinación de banca comercial y banca de inversión. En los días de las comisiones fijas, los bancos de inversión podían llevar una vida confortable registrando operaciones de bolsa. La desregulación trajo aparejados competencia y menores márgenes. La eliminación de Glass-Steagall entonces les permitió a los bancos comerciales involucrarse en los otros cotos tradicionales de los bancos de inversión.

En respuesta, los bancos de inversión se lanzaron a nuevos negocios como la creación y distribución de complejos instrumentos derivados. Pidieron dinero prestado y lo pusieron a trabajar para sustentar su rentabilidad. Esto dio lugar a las primeras causas de la crisis: el modelo de creación y distribución de securitización y el uso extensivo del apalancamiento.

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