American flag after storm Tom Gill/Flickr

El riesgo de la recuperación en los Estados Unidos

CAMBRIDGE – La economía de los Estados Unidos se está acercando al pleno empleo y podría haberlo alcanzado ya, pero la favorable tendencia del empleo en este país va acompañada de un aumento importante de los riesgos en el sector financiero por culpa de la política monetaria excesivamente relajada a la que se recurrió para lograr la recuperación económica actual.

La tasa total de desempleo ha bajado a tan sólo el 5,5 por ciento y la tasa de desempleo entre los graduados universitarios es de tan sólo 2,5 por ciento. El aumento de la inflación que suele producirse cuando la economía alcanza semejantes niveles de empleo se ha retrasado temporalmente por la bajada de los precios del petróleo y por la apreciación del dólar en un 20 por ciento. El dólar fuerte no sólo reduce el costo de las importaciones, sino que, además, hace bajar los precios de los productos nacionales que compiten con las importaciones. Es probable que la inflación empiece a aumentar en el  año que comienza a contar a partir de ahora.

El regreso al pleno empleo refleja la estrategia de la Reserva Federal consistente en aplicar una “política monetaria heterodoxa”: la combinación de compras en gran escala de activos a largo plazo conocida como “relajación cuantitativa” y su promesa de mantener los tipos de interés a corto plazo cercanos a cero. El bajo nivel de todos los tipos de interés resultante de dicha política movió a los inversores a comprar valores y aumentar los precios de las viviendas ocupadas por sus dueños. A consecuencia de ello, el valor neto de los hogares americanos aumentó en diez billones de dólares en 2013, lo que indujo aumentos del gasto en consumo y de la inversión empresarial.

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