Analizando la Idea del Euro

La historia del euro proporciona un lustroso ejemplo acerca de cómo las ideas económicas dan forma a la opinión pública y después, eventualmente, cómo dan forma a las instituciones políticas y económicas. Robert Mundell, un canadiense que ganó el Premio Nobel de economía en 1999, fue la primera persona que escribió acerca de los beneficios de las uniones monetarias. El proyecto que llevó al nacimiento del euro se inspiró en las ideas de Mundell y en el reconocimiento de la importancia que tiene contar con reglas eficientes para regular la interacción entre las autoridades gubernamentales, como los bancos centrales, y el resto de la sociedad.

La unión económica y monetaria europea (UME) nació de un aparentemente contradictorio argumento: los poderes discrecionales que los gobiernos disfrutan sobre las tasas de cambio y los mercados financieros con frecuencia se relacionan inversamente con su habilidad para proveer estabilidad precisamente en esos mercados. Italia es un buen ejemplo de esto: antes de la UME el país estaba plagado de alta inflación, altas tasas de interés y un muy alto costo de deuda gubernamental que amenazaban la estabilidad de las finanzas públicas y el estándar de vida de todos los italianos.

Al retirar la tasa de cambio y las tasas de interés del control directo de las autridades italianas, la plaga de la alta inflación y las altas tasas de interés desapareció. Esto no necesariamente implica que las autoridades italianas fueran en particular malas o ineptas, sino sólo que las reglas que gobernaban la creación de políticas monetarias y fiscales en Europa antes de la UME ya no eran apropiadas para los altamente fluídos mercados de capital que se desarrollaron en las últimas dos décadas.

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