US dollar bills rolled. faungg's photos/Flickr

Un déjà vu de la deuda

NUEVA YORK – Durante dos años los mercados financieros han repetido el mismo error: predecir que los tipos de interés de los Estados Unidos subirán dentro de unos seis meses y simplemente ver que el horizonte retrocedía. Ese sucesivo error de apreciación no es consecuencia de acontecimientos imprevisibles, sino de la incapacidad para entender la potencia y la naturaleza mundial de las fuerzas deflacionarias que ahora están modelando la economía.

Estamos metidos en una trampa en la que las cargas de deuda no bajan, sino que simplemente pasan de un sector a otro y de un país a otro y las políticas monetarias por sí solas son insuficientes para estimular la demanda mundial, en lugar de redistribuirla simplemente. El origen de este malestar radica en la creación de una deuda excesiva para financiar la inversión y la construcción inmobiliarias.

Durante el auge del decenio de 1980 en el Japón, los préstamos inmobiliarios se cuadruplicaron en tan sólo cuatro años y los precios de los terrenos se multiplicaron por 2,5. Después de que estallara la burbuja inmobiliaria en 1990, las empresas excesivamente apalancadas estaban decididas a saldar sus deudas, incluso cuando los intereses bajaron hasta casi cero. Si bien unos grandes déficits fiscales contrarrestan en parte los efectos de supresión de la demanda debidos al desapalancamiento privado, la consecuencia inevitable fue el aumento de la deuda pública. La deuda empresarial se redujo lentamente (del 140 por ciento del PIB en 1990 a más o menos el 100 por ciento actual), pero la deuda pública aumentó sin cesar y ahora supera el 230 por ciento del PIB.

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