Exceso de confianza en las cámaras de compensación

CAMBRIDGE - Para reducir la probabilidad de que se repita una crisis financiera como la de 2007-2008, los organismos reguladores están ahora tratando de reforzar las instituciones para el largo plazo, al menos cuando pueden desviar su atención de crisis inmediatas como las de la deuda de Grecia, el límite de endeudamiento del gobierno de Estados Unidos y el potencial contagio en la eurozona desde la deuda soberana a la deuda bancaria. El centro de sus iniciativas ha sido reforzar las cámaras de compensación (clearinghouses) para derivados, los instrumentos que exacerbaron la implosión de AIG y otras entidades en la última crisis financiera. Sin embargo, una cámara de compensación no es una panacea y sus límites, aunque sea fácil no verlos, conllevan consecuencias de gran alcance.

Cuando una compañía trata de protegerse de las fluctuaciones monetarias, puede reducir su exposición a la moneda de destino con un derivado (por ejemplo, se compromete a pagar a su socio comercial si se eleva el euro, pero éste le paga si cae). Aunque la compañía que utiliza el derivado reduce su exposición al riesgo de una caída del euro, el derivado viene con uno nuevo: el riesgo de la contraparte. La compañía se arriesga a que, si el socio comercial quiebra (como ocurrió con AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman), no se le pague si el euro cae.

Peor aún, como hemos visto en la crisis financiera, si muchas entidades financieras tienen muchos de estos contratos, un rumor de insolvencia puede inducir a todas las entidades de contraparte de derivados de una institución a exigir garantías o el pago de forma simultánea, generando una carrera que se asemeja a una corrida bancaria clásica, que luego se podría extender a otras firmas.

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