Paul Lachine

Economía para loros

BERKELEY – Se dice que el economista británico de principios del siglo XIX J.R. McCulloch dio origen al viejo chiste de que el único entrenamiento que necesita un loro para ser un economista político pasable es una frase: “oferta y demanda, oferta y demanda”. La semana pasada, el presidente de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos, Ben Bernanke, dijo que la economía de McCulloch –la economía de la oferta y la demanda- de ninguna manera había sido desacreditada por la crisis financiera y que seguía siendo extraordinariamente útil.

Es difícil no coincidir con el sentimiento de Bernanke: la economía sería útil si los economistas fueran, en realidad, como los loros de McCulloch –vale decir, si de veras analizaran la oferta y la demanda-. Pero creo que una buena parte de la economía se vio desacreditada por la imposibilidad evidente de muchos economistas de ser tan inteligentes como los loros de McCulloch.

Consideremos los argumentos –hoy desenfrenados en Estados Unidos- de que los nuevos intentos por parte del gobierno por aliviar el desempleo fracasarán, porque el actual desempleo elevado de Estados Unidos es “estructural”: una falla de cálculo económico dejó al país con los recursos productivos inapropiados para satisfacer la demanda de los hogares y las empresas. El problema, sostienen los defensores de esta postura, es una escasez de oferta productiva y no una escasez de demanda agregada.

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