Het mondiale kapitaal zoekt nieuwe beleggingsmogelijkheden

PRINCETON – Zogenoemde “frontier market economies” zijn de jongste rage in beleggerskringen. Hoewel deze lageinkomenslanden – waaronder Bangladesh en Vietnam in Azië, Honduras en Bolivia in Latijns-Amerika, en Kenia en Ghana in Afrika – kleine, onontwikkelde financiële markten hebben, groeien ze snel en zullen ze naar verwachting de opkomende markten van de toekomst worden. De afgelopen vier jaar is de instroom van particulier kapitaal naar deze “frontier economies” bijna 50% hoger geweest (in verhouding tot het bbp) dan de instroom naar de opkomende economieën. Of dat moet worden toegejuicht of betreurd is een soort Rorschach-test geworden voor economische analisten en beleidsmakers.

We weten nu dat de belofte van het vrije verkeer van kapitaal niet is ingelost. In grote lijnen heeft de stijging van de kapitaalinstroom in de ontvangende landen eerder de consumptie dan de beleggingen aangejaagd, waardoor de economische volatiliteit is verscherpt en pijnlijke financiële crises frequenter zijn geworden. In plaats van disciplinerend te werken hebben de mondiale financiële markten de beschikbaarheid van kredieten vergroot, waardoor ze de begrotingsdiscipline van naar verkwisting neigende regeringen hebben ondermijnd en de balansen van de banken onverantwoord hebben opgerekt.

Het beste argument voor het vrije kapitaalverkeer blijft dat van Stanley Fischer, de vice-voorzitter van de Amerikaanse Federal Reserve, van twintig jaar geleden, toen hij de nummer twee was van het Internationale Monetaire Fonds. Hoewel Fischer de gevaren onderkende van de vrije in- en uitstroom van kapitaal betoogde hij dat de oplossing geen kapitaalcontroles waren, maar het ten uitvoer leggen van de hervormingen die nodig zijn om de gevaren te verzachten.

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