Las mentes cautivas de la Reserva Federal

CHICAGO – Antes de que el cierre de la administración de EE.UU. acaparara toda la atención de la política estadounidense, el centro de todas las especulaciones era a quién seleccionaría el Presidente Barack Obama como nuevo Presidente de la Reserva Federal. De hecho, la elección de la Vicepresidente Janet L. Yellen como sucesora de Ben Bernanke destaca un punto importante: el que solía ser un cargo técnico de interés solamente para economistas estudiosos, pero ahora se ha convertido en una causa importante de tensión política que no solo ha dividido a republicanos y demócratas (no se necesita mucho para hacerlo), sino que incluso ha provocado fracturas dentro del Partido Demócrata.

Es interesante que el punto de conflicto no haya sido la postura de los candidatos sobre la inflación, sino sus posiciones sobre la regulación de los bancos. ¿Por qué se ha vuelto tan políticamente importante el puesto de Presidente de la Reserva? ¿Y por qué es la regulación bancaria un tema más importante que la inflación para los senadores estadounidenses (que deben confirmar el nombramiento de Obama)?

Estos cambios no son más que una consecuencia de la crisis financiera de 2008 y las políticas que Bernanke adoptó para enfrentarla. En su intento por salvar del colapso al sistema financiero (y, más adelante, tratar de impulsar la recuperación económica), la Fed ha impulsado políticas muy activas: tasas de interés cercanas a cero, programas masivos de compras de activos, remuneración de las reservas de los bancos, y así siguiendo. Si bien en parte han logrado estimular la economía, estas políticas han tenido grandes efectos redistributivos: desde los pequeños ahorristas hacia los bancos, desde los propietarios de viviendas ahogados por las deudas hacia los inversionistas ricos, desde los jubilados hacia los financistas.

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