Marshmallows

La prueba del malvavisco para la economía mundial

NUEVA YORK – La economía del mundo está experimentando un turbulento inicio de 2016. Las bolsas de valores se desploman; las economías emergentes tambalean frente a la brusca caída de los precios de las materias primas; los flujos de refugiados están desestabilizando aún más a Europa; el crecimiento de China se desaceleró marcadamente en respuesta a la reversión de los flujos de capitales y a la sobrevaluación de su moneda; y EE. UU. sufre una parálisis política. Unos pocos funcionarios de bancos centrales luchan para mantener a la economía mundial de pie.

Cuatro principios pueden guiarnos para escapar de este caos. En primer lugar, el progreso económico mundial depende de la existencia de elevados niveles de ahorro e inversión. En segundo lugar, los flujos de ahorro e inversión deben ser considerados como mundiales, no nacionales. En tercer lugar, el pleno empleo depende de la existencia de elevadas tasas de inversión, que coincidan con altas tasas de ahorro. En cuarto lugar, las elevadas inversiones privadas de las empresas dependen de la elevada inversión pública en infraestructura y capital humano. Consideremos cada uno de ellos.

En primer lugar, nuestra meta mundial debe ser el progreso económico, entendido como la mejora de las condiciones de vida en todo el mundo. De hecho, ese objetivo ha sido consagrado en los nuevos Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible adoptados en septiembre pasado por los 193 miembros de las Naciones Unidas. El progreso depende de una elevada tasa de inversión global para desarrollar las habilidades, la tecnología y las existencias de capital físico y así impulsar el nivel de vida. Para el desarrollo económico, como en la vida, nada es gratis: sin elevadas tasas de inversión en conocimientos y experiencia, maquinaria e infraestructura sostenible, la productividad tiende a caer (principalmente a través de la depreciación), arrastrando consigo al nivel de vida.

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