Mentiras graves sobre los bancos centrales

Un banco central independiente centrado exclusivamente en la estabilidad de los precios ha llegado a ser un aspecto fundamental de la cantinela de la "reforma económica". Como tantas otras máximas políticas, se ha repetido lo suficiente para que llegara a creerse. Pero las afirmaciones atrevidas, aun cuando las hagan los presidentes de los bancos centrales, no sirven para substituir las investigaciones y el análisis.

Las investigaciones indican que, si los bancos centrales se centran en la inflación, cumplen mejor con su tarea de controlarla. Pero el de controlar la inflación no es un fin en sí mismo: es un simple medio para lograr un crecimiento más rápido y más estable y con menor desempleo.

Ésas son las variables reales que importan y existen pocos testimonios de que los bancos centrales independientes que se centran exclusivamente en la estabilidad de los precios obtengan mejores resultados en cuanto a esos aspectos decisivos. George Akerlof, que compartió el premio Nobel conmigo en 2001, y sus colegas han sostenido convincentemente que existe una tasa óptima de inflación, superior a cero. De modo que la búsqueda a toda costa de la estabilidad de precios menoscaba, en realidad, el crecimiento económico y el bienestar. Investigaciones recientes ponen en entredicho incluso que fijar como objetivo la estabilidad de los precios reduzca el equilibrio entre inflación y desempleo.

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