Los lemmings de la relajación cuantitativa

NEW HAVEN – Como era de prever, el Banco Central Europeo se ha unido a las demás autoridades monetarias más importantes del mundo con el gran experimento de la historia de la banca central. A estas alturas, la operación es demasiado conocida. En primer lugar, los bancos centrales bajan el tipo de interés oficial habitual hasta el temido “limite cero”. Al afrontar una debilidad económica continua, pero haberse quedado sin instrumentos ortodoxos, adoptan entonces el heterodoxo método de la relajación cuantitativa (RC).

La teoría en que se basa esa estrategia es sencilla: al no poder reducir más el precio del crédito, los bancos centrales fijan la atención en la ampliación de su cantidad. El argumento implícito es el de que ese paso del precio a la cantidad en los ajustes es el equivalente funcional de una relajación suplementaria de la política monetaria. Así, incluso con el límite cero de los tipos de interés nominales, sostienen, los bancos centrales siguen teniendo armas en su arenal.

Pero, ¿son esas armas idóneas para la tarea? Para el BCE y el Banco del Japón, que afrontan riesgos formidables de problemas para sus economías y niveles de precios agregados, no se trata precisamente de una pregunta ociosa. Para los Estados Unidos, donde aún no se han visto las consecuencias últimas de la RC, la respuesta es igualmente transcendental.

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