Cómo contener la turbulencia financiera

La turbulencia actual del mercado financiero no es ninguna sorpresa para quienes han venido advirtiendo sobre los riesgos para la economía mundial desde el fin de la burbuja del mercado inmobiliario en Estados Unidos. Allá por enero, la perspectiva de las Naciones Unidas para la economía global planteaba preocupación sobre la penuria económica que esto podía implicar para los hogares norteamericanos altamente endeudados. También enfatizaba hasta qué punto los mercados financieros globales débilmente regulados y estrechamente interconectados, sumados a los persistentes desequilibrios macroeconómicos globales, ponen en peligro las perspectivas de crecimiento y desarrollo en la economía mundial, incluso en los países más pobres.

El actual déficit de cuenta corriente de Estados Unidos ha sido el indicador más discutido de los desequilibrios globales. Durante los últimos cinco años, Estados Unidos ha venido absorbiendo más de 2.000 millones de dólares por día de los ahorros de otros países, ya que la provisión fácil de crédito doméstico a un nivel sin precedentes les ha permitido a los hogares gastar más de lo que ganan. Este tipo de préstamos resultaba especialmente atractivo ya que los precios de los activos (vivienda y acciones) siguieron subiendo, las tasas de interés se mantuvieron bajas y las generaciones subsiguientes de innovadores del mercado financiero pudieron convencer a los inversores de que habían dominado las exigencias de riesgo. En consecuencia, los mayores empréstitos, incluso contra colaterales sobrevaluados, se “vendieron” como una señal de buenos tiempos por delante.

Las advertencias sobre la exhuberancia irracional del mercado en general se ignoraron, especialmente porque el gasto de los consumidores norteamericanos ayudó a alimentar un fuerte crecimiento en toda la economía global. Las exportaciones sólidas de Japón y Europa respaldaron la recuperación económica y reforzaron la confianza de los inversores, ofreciendo, a su vez, mayores posibilidades de exportación a los países recientemente industrializados, básicamente China.

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