Pesos currency hands Adam Cohn/Flickr

El remezón financiero que viene en los mercados emergentes

SANTIAGO – Consideremos el siguiente escenario, que se ha repetido una y otra vez en los países con mercados emergentes. Bancos y empresas de una nación obtienen gran número de préstamos y acumulan una creciente deuda denominada en dólares - la que los expertos califican de sustentable en la medida en que la moneda local permanezca fuerte. De pronto, algo (un aumento de las tasas de interés en Estados Unidos, una baja en los precios de las materias primas, un conflicto político interno) hace que la moneda local pierda valor contra el dólar. La carga de la deuda, medida en moneda local, ahora es mucho más alta. Algunos prestatarios dejan de pagar los intereses adeudados, otros no logran renovar los préstamos que vencen. La consecuencia pronta es el caos financiero.

Así fue como se desarrollaron la crisis financiera en América Latina en los 1980, la crisis mexicana (o efecto tequila) de 1994, la asiática de 1997 y la rusa de 1998. También es la forma en que la crisis financiera global de 2008-2009 se transmitió a los mercados emergentes. En cada uno de estos casos, prestatarios y prestamistas afirmaron haber aprendido su lección.

Todo esto no sólo podría repetirse hoy día, sino que además podría suceder a una escala mucho mayor que en el pasado. Aprovechando las tasas de interés extremadamente bajas en los países avanzados, bancos y empresas de mercados emergentes han estado endeudándose como nunca antes. Un estudio reciente del Banco Internacional de Pagos muestra que desde la crisis financiera mundial, los créditos en dólares otorgados a instituciones no bancarias domiciliadas fuera de Estados Unidos han aumentado en el 50%, pasando de US$ 6 billones a US$ 9 billones.

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