Fukushima y las crisis de derivados

CAMBRIDGE – Los analistas financieros han comparado el terremoto, el tsunami y la catástrofe nuclear de Japón con el papel de los derivados en la crisis financiera de 2008. La semajanza es lo suficientemente clara: cada actividad arroja grandes beneficios y conlleva un riesgo pequeño pero explosivo. Pero la similitud entre los dos tipos de crisis termina donde empieza la prevención para que no se vuelvan a producir. 

En el caso de la planta de energía nuclear de Fukushima, una inundación como nunca en 1.000 años y defectos de diseño normalmente inocuos se combinaron para privar a los reactores de refrigerante del agua circulante y causar serias filtraciones de radiación. En los mercados financieros, un colapso inesperado de los valores de los bienes raíces y defectos de diseño en los mercados de derivados y repos (certificados de recompra) se combinaron para dañar la capacidad de las instituciones financieras centrales para cumplir con sus obligaciones de pago.

Si bien los riesgos básicos se originaron fuera de los sistemas –un tsunami en el caso de Fukushima, un exceso de inversiòn en hipotecas inmobiliarias en el caso de las instituciones financieras-, los defectos de diseño y la mala suerte combinados hicieron que el sistema no pudiera contener el daño. En Estados Unidos, AIG, Bear Stearns y Lehman Brothers –todos con importantes inversiones en derivados y/o repos- quebraron, congelando los mercados de crédito durante unas semanas tenebrosas.

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