brazil protest Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

El momento Argentina de Brasil

CAMBRIDGE – La economía de Brasil ha estado en caída libre, víctima de años de mal manejo económico y del enorme escándalo de corrupción que ha involucrado al establishment político y empresario del país -y que ahora amenaza con derribar al segundo presidente en dos años-. Quizá parezca difícil centrarse en cuestiones vinculadas a las políticas en medio de la agitación política y económica, pero la realidad sigue siendo que Brasil debe superar retos fundamentales si quiere sentar las bases para un crecimiento sostenible. Pocos desafíos parecen tan grandes como los problemas fiscales del país.

Existe un fuerte razonamiento de que las agobiadas finanzas gubernamentales de Brasil han sido un lastre para la economía durante mucho tiempo. En un 36%, el ratio gasto del gobierno-PIB es uno de los más altos entre países con un nivel de ingresos similar. Años de laxitud fiscal, crecientes obligaciones en materia de seguridad social y bajos precios de las materias primas han magnificado enormemente los temores -hoy agravados por la crisis política- sobre la carga de deuda del gobierno, que actualmente ronda el 70% del PIB. Las altas tasas de interés necesarias para financiar la peligrosa posición fiscal agravan aún más las cosas: los mayores pagos de intereses representan gran parte de la diferencia del gasto entre Brasil y países equivalentes.

En este contexto, el Congreso Nacional de Brasil, en un intento por recuperar la confianza del mercado, aprobó una enmienda constitucional sin precedentes en diciembre pasado que impone un techo a los gastos del gobierno excluidos intereses, indexados según la tasa de inflación del año anterior, por un período de por lo menos diez años. Mientras esté vigente, el límite de gasto garantiza que el tamaño del gobierno (excluidos los pagos de intereses) se achicará como porcentaje del ingreso nacional en cada año que la economía experimente un crecimiento real. El Fondo Monetario Internacional lo respaldó con entusiasmo en aquel momento, y hasta lo definió como un potencial "punto de inflexión" fiscal.

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