Los veinticinco años de transición de la Europa oriental

WASHINGTON – ¡Cómo pueden cambiar las cosas en veinticinco años! En 1989, la Europa central y oriental se lanzó a una transformación histórica; del comunismo autoritario al capitalismo democrático. Cuando los recuerdos del sistema antiguo están empezando ya a desdibujarse, parece apropiado volver la vista atrás y centrarla en los logros de esa región y examinar las enseñanzas aprendidas y los imperativos que quedan por delante.

Sería un error dar por sentado que el éxito de la transformación de esa región era inevitable. Al final de la Guerra Fría, las economías de la Europa central y oriental cargaban con el peso de una propiedad estatal omnipresente y unas inversiones concentradas en la industria pesada. Las políticas fiscales y monetarias se habían centrado en impulsar el crecimiento industrial, sin tener en cuenta el equilibrio macroeconómico, resultado de lo cual fue una demanda crónicamente excesiva y escaseces generalizadas. Para colmo de males, la mayor parte de la región –con la  notable excepción de Checoslovaquia– estaba agobiada por una deuda exterior insostenible y una inflación por las nubes.

Entretanto, pocos economistas o autoridades políticas tenían la formación necesaria para abordar las complejas tareas que tenían por delante. La magnitud de la transición necesaria era tal, que ni la macroeconomía moderna ni los casi cincuenta años de experiencia del Fondo Monetario Internacional brindaban orientación apenas. Los problemas por superar eran ingentes y muchos lo consideraban imposible.

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