Los vientos de frente chinos que azotan a la economía global

BEIJING – El año pasado, se suponía que la economía global iba a comenzar a regresar a la normalidad. Las tasas de interés empezarían a aumentar en Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido; el alivio cuantitativo generaría una mayor inflación en Japón; y la confianza restablecida en los bancos permitiría una recuperación liderada por el crédito en la eurozona. Doce meses después, la normalidad parece tan distante como antes -y los vientos de frente económicos que soplan desde China son una causa importante.

Para fomentar el crecimiento económico y alcanzar la prosperidad, China intentó seguir el camino forjado por Japón, Corea del Sur y Taiwán, pero con una diferencia fundamental: el tamaño. Con poblaciones de 127 millones, 50 millones y 23 millones de habitantes respectivamente, estas economías asiáticas modelo podían confiar en que un crecimiento liderado por las exportaciones las elevara a niveles de ingresos altos. Pero el mercado mundial no es lo suficientemente grande como para sustentar ingresos elevados para los 1.300 millones de ciudadanos chinos.

Sin duda, el modelo liderado por las exportaciones efectivamente funcionó en China durante algún tiempo. El excedente comercial aumentó al 10% del PIB en 2007 y los empleos industriales absorbieron la mano de obra rural excedente. Pero la otra cara del excedente de China fueron enormes déficits alimentados por el crédito en otras partes, particularmente en Estados Unidos. Cuando la burbuja crediticia estalló en 2008, los mercados exportadores de China resultaron afectados.

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