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El enigma de la inflación

CAMBRIDGE – La baja tasa de inflación en Estados Unidos es un enigma; especialmente para los economistas que enfatizan la relación entre inflación y variaciones de la base monetaria. En el pasado, cambios en el ritmo de crecimiento de la base monetaria (el dinero en circulación más las reservas de los bancos comerciales en el banco central) producían o, al menos, iban acompañados por movimientos de la inflación en el mismo sentido. Y como la base monetaria está bajo control directo del banco central (no la crean los bancos comerciales), muchos creen que es la mejor medida del impacto de la política monetaria.

Por ejemplo, entre 1985 y 1995, la base monetaria de Estados Unidos creció a un ritmo anual del 9%, que en la década siguiente se redujo a 6%. Esta desaceleración fue acompañada por una variación paralela de la inflación. El índice de precios al consumidor (IPC) aumentó a un ritmo del 3,5% entre 1985 y 1995, y luego a sólo 2,5% en la década terminada en 2005.

Pero entonces el vínculo entre base monetaria e inflación se cortó. De 2005 a 2015, el crecimiento de la base monetaria se disparó a un 17,8% anual, mientras el IPC crecía a un ritmo de apenas el 1,9% anual.

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