La trampa de la competitividad de Europa

LONDRES - Una idea errónea de lo que impulsa el crecimiento económico se ha convertido en la amenaza más grave para la recuperación en Europa. Los políticos europeos están obsesionados con la "competitividad" nacional y parecen pensar realmente que la prosperidad es sinónimo de superávits comerciales. Esto explica en gran medida por qué se cita habitualmente a Alemania como ejemplo de una economía sólida y "competitiva".

Sin embargo, el crecimiento económico, incluso en las economías tradicionalmente orientadas a la exportación, se ve impulsado por el aumento de la productividad, no por la capacidad de capturar una parte creciente de los mercados mundiales. Si bien es evidente que las importaciones deben ser financiadas por las exportaciones, el énfasis en la competitividad del comercio está desviando la atención del problema subyacente de Europa: el muy débil crecimiento de la productividad. Y esto es un problema tan serio en las economías con superávits comerciales como en las deficitarias.

La idea de que el crecimiento económico está determinado por una batalla por la cuota de mercado mundial de productos manufacturados es fácil de entender para los políticos y de comunicar a sus electores. Las economías con superávits externos son vistas como "competitivas", independientemente de su productividad o su crecimiento. La balanza comercial se ve como el "resultado final" de un país, como si los países fueran empresas. De hecho, tienen poco en común (la balanza comercial es simplemente la diferencia entre el ahorro interno y la inversión o, en términos más generales, entre el gasto agregado y la producción), pero hablar de Deutschland AG o UK plc es conceptualmente atractivo y seduce con facilidad.

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