Los héroes reales de la economía global

PRINCETON – Los responsables de las políticas económicas que buscan modelos exitosos para emular parecen tener una abundancia de opciones estos días. Liderados por China, decenas de países emergentes y en desarrollo han registrado tasas de crecimiento récord en las últimas décadas, sentando precedentes para que otros les sigan los pasos. Si bien las economías avanzadas han tenido un desempeño mucho peor en promedio, existen excepciones dignas de mención, como Alemania y Suecia. "Hagan lo que hacemos nosotros", suelen decir los líderes de estos países, "y ustedes también prosperarán".

Sin embargo, si uno mira más detenidamente, descubrirá que es imposible replicar en todas partes los modelos de crecimiento de los que estos países tanto se jactan, porque están basados en grandes excedentes externos para estimular el sector comerciable y el resto de la economía. El excedente de cuenta corriente de Suecia ha registrado un promedio por encima del 7% del PBI en los últimos diez años; el promedio en Alemania ha estado cerca del 6% en el mismo período.

El enorme excedente externo de China -arriba del 10% del PBI en 2007- se ha reducido significativamente en los últimos años, y el desequilibrio comercial cayó aproximadamente al 2,5% del PBI. Al mismo tiempo que bajó el excedente, cayó la tasa de crecimiento de la economía -de hecho, casi punto por punto-. Sin duda, el crecimiento anual de China sigue siendo comparativamente alto, por encima del 7%. Pero el crecimiento en este nivel refleja un alza sin precedentes -e insostenible- de la inversión directa a casi el 50% del PBI. Cuando la inversión regrese a niveles normales, el crecimiento económico se desacelerará aún más.

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