Casas en el aire

En los últimos seis meses, la atención y la preocupación han pasado de estar centradas en el enorme déficit comercial de EE.UU. a sus bullentes mercados de propiedades y la creciente burbuja inmobiliaria. Al menos dos de las razones para los altos precios de las viviendas (que siguen aumentando) en EE.UU. son bien comprendidas. No obstante, lo que sigue siendo altamente incierto es si un mercado que obviamente se está sobrecalentando puede enfriarse sin enviar a los Estados Unidos y a sus principales socios comerciales del mundo a una vertiginosa crisis económica.

La explosión del mercado de viviendas de EE.UU. se debe, en primer lugar, a las bajas tasas de interés, lo que significa que es posible obtener en préstamo grandes cantidades de dinero para hipotecas con pagos mensuales convenientes. Las bajas tasas de interés fortalecen la capacidad de pago y, por consiguiente, estimulan la demanda. Y, con una alta demanda y una oferta fija de viviendas (al menos en el corto plazo), los precios aumentan.

En segundo lugar, se ha acabado el periodo de 70 años que comenzó con la difusión generalizada del automóvil, durante el cual uno podía llegar prácticamente a cualquier lugar de un área metropolitana típica en media hora o menos. Antes de que se generalizara la propiedad del automóvil, los precios de un terreno dependían de la ubicación, y la proximidad a la ciudad central o a la estación local de ferrocarriles lo hacían más deseable y costoso.

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