Deflación y democracia

PRINCETON – La historia de las finanzas es en parte la historia de una lucha para establecer una forma segura y estable de medir el valor. Y como toda búsqueda de certidumbre en nuestro mundo impredecible, estaba condenada al fracaso. La última crisis financiera resalta claramente esta vulnerabilidad puesto que destruye cualquier noción de que podemos dar un precio exacto a los activos. La mayoría de la gente está convencida de que este defecto es inherente al sistema financiero. Pero las incertidumbres sobre el valor también revelan problemas profundos en el orden político.

En el pasado, el dinero metálico dio una solución poco funcional e insatisfactoria a la cuestión del valor. No era funcional porque el oro no era práctico para las transacciones cotidianas y la plata tenía muy poco valor para las operaciones importantes.

Además, el dinero metálico era susceptible a cambios de valor con el descubrimiento de nuevas existencias. La llegada de la plata del Nuevo Mundo en el siglo XVI desató una inflación sostenida. El descubrimiento de oro en California a mediados del siglo XIX y en Alaska, Sudáfrica y Australia 50 años después también produjo una inflación moderada, mientras que la ausencia de nuevos descubrimientos en los años 1870 y 1880 condujo a una leve deflación.

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