La crisis del ahorro del Japón

CAMBRIDGE – El Japón va camino de una crisis del ahorro. El posible desequilibrio futuro entre déficits fiscales mayores y una escasa tasa de ahorro de las familias podría tener intensos efectos negativos tanto en la economía japonesa como en la mundial.

En primer lugar, digamos algo sobre los antecedentes. El Japón fue famoso durante mucho tiempo por tener la mayor tasa de ahorro de los países industriales. A comienzos del decenio de 1980, las familias japonesas ahorraban un 15 por ciento, aproximadamente, de sus ingresos, una vez descontados los impuestos. Aquélla fue la época del aumento pronunciado de los ingresos, en la que las familias japonesas podían  incrementar su consumo rápidamente, sin por ello dejar de añadir cantidades importantes a sus ahorros. Aunque la tasa de ahorro fue bajando gradualmente en el decenio de 1980, en 1990 seguía ascendiendo al 10 por ciento.

Pero el de 1990 fue un decenio de escaso crecimiento y las familias dedicaron una proporción en aumento de sus ingresos al mantenimiento de su nivel de gasto en consumo. Aunque habían experimentado grandes bajadas de los precios de las acciones y de los valores de las viviendas, tenían tan gran cantidad de ahorros líquidos en cuentas de cajas de ahorros y de bancos, que no sentían la necesidad de aumentar el ahorro para reconstruir activos.

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