¿Hay un nuevo consenso de Washington?

CAMBRIDGE – Hace dos años y medio, algunos altos funcionarios del Banco Mundial abordaron al Premio Nobel Michael Spence para pedirle que encabezara una comisión de alto nivel sobre el crecimiento económico. El problema de que se trataba no podía ser más importante. El “consenso de Washington” –la tristemente célebre lista de lo que debían y no debían hacer los encargados del diseño de políticas de los países en desarrollo—se había disipado prácticamente. Pero, ¿qué tomaría su lugar?

Spence no estaba seguro de ser la persona indicada para esa labor. Después de todo, sus investigaciones se habían centrado en cuestiones teóricas sobre economías avanzadas; había sido decano de una escuela de estudios empresariales; y no tenía mucha experiencia en materia de desarrollo económico. Pero le intrigaba la tarea. Y lo alentó la respuesta entusiasta y positiva que recibió de los futuros miembros de la comisión. Así nació la Comisión Spence sobre el Crecimiento y el Desarrollo, un grupo de célebres encargados del diseño de políticas –incluyendo a otro Premio Nobel—cuyo informe final se dio a conocer a finales de mayo.

El informe Spence representa un parteaguas para la política de desarrollo – tanto por lo que dice, como por lo que excluye. Ya no están las afirmaciones llenas de seguridad sobre las virtudes de la liberalización, la desregulación, la privatización y el libre mercado. Tampoco están las recomendaciones uniformes de política ajenas a las diferencias de contexto. En cambio, el informe Spence adopta un enfoque que reconoce los límites de lo que sabemos, resalta el pragmatismo y el gradualismo y alienta a los gobiernos a experimentar.

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