¿Tiempo de financiar directamente el gasto público?

WASHINGTON, DC – “¿Se acabaron las municiones?” se preguntó hace poco TheEconomist sobre las medidas que les quedan a las autoridades monetarias. Stephen Roach calificó de intento “fútil” que no hace más que “preparar el escenario para la siguiente crisis” la medida adoptada por importantes bancos centrales (como el Banco del Japón, el Banco Central Europeo y el Banco de Suecia) de pasar a tasas de interés negativas reales (y, en algunos casos, incluso nominales). Y, en la reunión de ministros de finanzas del G-20 de febrero, el gobernador del Banco de Inglaterra Mark Carney las llamó “en último término, un juego de suma cero”. ¿De verdad se les han acabado las opciones a los bancos centrales de las grandes economías avanzadas, que han debido sostener la carga de las débiles recuperaciones posteriores a 2008?

Parece que así es. Los balances de los bancos centrales se han hinchado y las tasas han bajado hasta acercarse a cero. Da la impresión de que abunda el agua barata, pero que el caballo se niega a beber. Ante la falta de señales inflacionarias y un crecimiento todavía tibio y frágil, muchos pronostican un ritmo crónicamente lento, y otros hasta temen una nueva recesión global.

Pero las autoridades tiene una opción más: adoptar una política fiscal “más pura”, financiando directamente el gasto público con emisiones adicionales de dinero, el llamado “salvamento desde el helicóptero”. Los fondos circunvalarían los sectores financiero y corporativo para ir directo a los caballos más sedientos: los consumidores de ingresos medios y bajos. El dinero podría llegar a ellos sin intermediarios, y también mediante inversiones en infraestructuras que mejoren la productividad y creen empleos. Al dar poder de compra a quienes más lo necesitan, la financiación monetaria directa del gasto público también ayudaría a mejorar la capacidad de inclusión de las economías en que la desigualdad aumenta rápidamente.

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