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Los riesgos del ahorro de Estados Unidos

NEW HAVEN – Invariablemente, los políticos estadounidenses culpan al comercio de ser enemigo de la clase media y generar la mayor presión sobre el empleo y los salarios. La actual campaña presidencial no es la excepción: tanto los republicanos como los demócratas apuntan a China y al Acuerdo Transpacífico, llamándolos el azote de los atribulados trabajadores estadounidenses. Si bien puede que sea una explicación conveniente en términos políticos, la verdad es muy diferente.

Como argumenté hace poco, Estados Unidos se ha cavado su propia tumba en lo referente al comercio. El culpable es el gran déficit del ahorro: por décadas, el país ha vivido por encima de sus posibilidades, recurriendo indiscriminadamente a un superávit de ahorro de otros países para financiar el mayor desenfreno de consumo de la historia. Por supuesto, los políticos no quieren culpar a los votantes por su despilfarro: es mucho más fácil dirigir a otros el dedo acusador.

La crítica en torno al ahorro merece un análisis más profundo. Los datos indican que los países con déficits de ahorro tienden a tener déficits comerciales, mientras que lo contrario ocurre con los que poseen superávits. Estados Unidos es el ejemplo más evidente: muestra una tasa de ahorro nacional neta de un 2,6% a fines de 2015 (menos de la mitad del promedio de 6,3% de las últimas tres décadas del siglo veinte) y déficits comerciales con 101 naciones.

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