¿Unos tipos de cambio para arruinar al vecino?

GINEBRA – Cuando el Banco Nacional Suizo (BNS) redujo recientemente su tipo de interés a 0,25 por ciento, anunció que iba a emprender una “relajación cuantitativa”, siguiendo los pasos de la Reserva Federal de los Estados Unidos y del Banco de Inglaterra. Más sorprendente fue el anuncio simultáneo de que iba a intervenir en el mercado de divisas con el fin de invertir la apreciación del franco. ¿Será ésa la primera salva en una guerra de devaluaciones competitivas?

Tradicionalmente, los tipos de interés en Suiza han sido bajos. Como la mayoría de los demás bancos centrales que afrontan la recesión, el BNS ha reducido su tipo de interés hasta el límite inmediatamente superior a cero. Una vez ahí, la política monetaria tradicional resulta impotente, pues no se puede seguir recurriendo al instrumento del tipo de interés.

Ésa es la razón por la que ahora los bancos centrales están buscando nuevos instrumentos. La relajación cuantitativa representa uno de esos intentos. Está por ver si podrá restablecer eficazmente cierta influencia de la política monetaria. Sin embargo, raras veces se menciona una cuestión importante: en las economías pequeñas y abiertas –descripción aplicable a casi todos los países, exceptuados los Estados Unidos– el cauce principal de la política monetaria es el tipo de cambio.

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