Lecciones del malestar económico de Japón

Japón lleva más de una década de malestar económico (crecimiento lento alternado con recesión) donde los debates intensos se mezclan con las vacilaciones políticas. Por ejemplo, algunos recomiendan déficits presupuestales para estimular la economía; otros, recordando la afirmación de la administración Clinton de que la consolidación fiscal fue lo que apuntaló la recuperación de los EU en 1993, se inclinan por la reducción del déficit. De manera similar, algunos sostienen que el país necesita una dosis moderada de inflación, mientras que el banco central japonés se resiste a la idea de que la inflación pueda remediar algún problema económico.

La confusión en cuanto a la cura que hay que recetar se debe en parte al hecho de que hay medicinas diferentes que funcionan para problemas diferentes y en gran parte del debate sobre las políticas no se hace una adecuada distinción entre ellas. Como uno de los asesores económicos del presidente Clinton durante el periodo crítico de la recuperación de los EU, me siento obligado a subrayar que las circunstancias en el país a principios de los noventa eran únicas.

Normalmente, la reducción del déficit durante una depresión económica la empeora, como lo demostró el economista inglés John Maynard Keynes hace 70 años. En efecto, gracias al FMI, hemos tenido buenas oportunidades para ver lo que sucede, tanto en el Este asiático como en América Latina, cuando una economía en depresión intenta equilibrar su presupuesto.

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