Un estímulo favorable para la deuda

NEW HAVEN – Cuando gran parte de la economía mundial parece atrapada en un largo y doloroso bajón inducido por la austeridad, ya es hora de reconocer que la trampa ha sido enteramente creación nuestra. La hemos construido a partir de hábitos mentales desafortunados sobre cómo afrontar una deuda pública en aumento vertiginoso.

Las personas adquirieron dichos hábitos a partir de las experiencias de sus familias y amigos: cuando tenemos problemas de deuda, debemos reducir los gastos y pasar por un período de austeridad hasta que se reduzca la carga (la deuda en relación con los ingresos), lo que significa no salir a comer fuera durante un tiempo, no comprar nuevos coches ni nueva ropa. Reaccionar así parece cosa de sentido común e incluso una virtud moral.

Pero, si bien esa actitud para con la deuda da buen resultado en el caso de una familia con problemas, no ocurre así en el caso de toda una economía, pues la reducción del gasto no hace sino empeorar el problema. Ésa es la paradoja de la frugalidad: la operación de apretarse el cinturón causa la pérdida de puestos de trabajo para algunas personas, porque otras no compran lo que aquéllas producían, con lo que su carga de la deuda aumenta en lugar de disminuir.

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