El desafío neoliberal de Europa

Durante más de 20 años he argumentado que los altos índices de desempleo de Europa Occidental son insostenibles. A fines de los años 70, los monetaristas apostaron a que sólo un aumento transitorio y modesto del desempleo podría poner freno a la creciente y galopante inflación en el occidente industrial, y que en retrospectiva se vería que esto valdría la pena como costo para lograr una efectiva estabilidad de los precios. En Gran Bretaña y los Estados Unidos, esta apuesta monetarista funcionó bien. No así en Europa Occidental.

En Europa, en los últimos 25 años el desempleo aumentó a medida que se restringía la política monetaria y se incrementaban las tasas de interés para combatir la inflación. Sin embargo, una vez que sucumbió la inflación, el desempleo no descendió... o no mucho. Si bien no estaba en los niveles de la Gran Depresión, seguía lo suficientemente alto como para hacer que el estar sin trabajo durante un largo periodo, o el miedo a estarlo, fuera una experiencia definitoria.

Las sociedades donde la tasa de desempleo oficial se mantiene en niveles superiores al 10% por generaciones son sociedades donde el manejo económico del gobierno ha fracasado. De manera que por 20 años me ha parecido que el equilibrio político subyacente de Europa Occidental (negociaciones corporativistas y una amplia seguridad social, por una parte, y estrictas políticas monetarias, por otra) tarde o temprano haría crisis.

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