Minimum Wage Hikes Tom Williams/Getty Images

La paga del salario del miedo

LONDRES – Si todo lo demás falla, inténtese lo que antes era impensable. La mayor parte de las veces no es un mal principio de política económica, y puede que sea justo lo que se necesite hoy: muchos países occidentales (ciertamente Estados Unidos, Japón y Alemania, y probablemente el Reino Unido, y pronto gran parte del resto de la eurozona) deberían impulsar la intervención directa del Estado en las negociaciones salariales, especialmente para quienes ganan menos.

Japón ha destinado los últimos 15 años a luchar con un débil crecimiento, una demanda interna anémica (especialmente entre las familias de menores recursos) y la cada vez mayor desigualdad y pobreza. En EE.UU. hoy predominan condiciones similares; de hecho, ayudaron a la elección de Donald Trump como presidente al crear un grupo suficientemente grande de lo que con bastante razón llamó “estadounidenses olvidados”. Y antes de su victoria, condiciones similares llevaron a los “rezagados” británicos a votar por el Brexit.

Sin un importante aumento de los salarios (principalmente salarios mínimos obligatorios) el populismo seguirá prosperando y la mayoría de las economías occidentales seguirán bajo el yugo de un crecimiento lento. La desigualdad seguirá aumentando, no solo en cuanto a ingresos y riqueza, sino también de percepción sobre la influencia. Y la tentación de buscar soluciones cortoplacistas (como cerrar fronteras y adoptar medidas proteccionistas) se volverá irresistible.

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