Tipos bajos, ¿durante cuánto tiempo?

CAMBRIDGE -- ¿Durante cuánto tiempo pueden persistir los tipos de interés más bajos jamás alcanzados por las divisas más importantes? Los tipos de interés a diez años en los Estados Unidos, el Reino Unido y Alemania han estado rondando en torno a la marca del 1,5 por ciento, en tiempos impensable. En el Japón, el tipo a diez años ha derivado hasta por debajo del 0,8 por ciento. Al parecer, los inversores mundiales están dispuestos a aceptar esos tipos extraordinariamente bajos, aunque no parezcan compensar la inflación esperada. De hecho, el tipo de las letras del Tesoro de los EE.UU. ajustado a la inflación es ahora negativo hasta quince años.

¿Es estable esta situación extraordinaria? A plazo muy corto, claro que sí; de hecho, los tipos de interés podrían bajar aún más. Sin embargo, a largo plazo esta situación es claramente inestable.

Tres factores importantes subyacen a los bajos rendimientos actuales. En primerísimo lugar, está la “saturación de ahorro mundial”, idea popularizada por el actual Presidente de la Reserva Federal, Ben Bernanke, en un discurso de 2005. Por diversas razones, los ahorradores han ido aumentando en muchas regiones. En Alemania y el Japón, las poblaciones que están envejeciendo necesitan ahorrar para la jubilación. En China, el Gobierno atesora bonos seguros como protección contra una futura crisis bancaria y, naturalmente, como subproducto de las medidas adoptadas para estabilizar el tipo de cambio.

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