La paradoja de los precios

LONDRES – En 1923, John Maynard Keynes se refirió a una cuestión económica fundamental, que todavía es válida, con las siguientes palabras: “(…) la inflación es injusta y la deflación es inconveniente. De ambas, tal vez la deflación sea (…) lo peor; porque es peor (…) generar desempleo que frustrar las esperanzas del rentista. Pero ambos males no son necesariamente equiparables”.

La lógica del argumento parece irrefutable. Como muchos contratos son “inflexibles” (es decir, no son fáciles de revisar) en términos monetarios, tanto la inflación como la deflación producen daño en la economía. El aumento de precios reduce el valor de ahorros y pensiones, mientras que la caída de precios reduce las expectativas de ganancias, alienta el ahorro desmedido y aumenta el peso real de las deudas.

La frase de Keynes se ha convertido en un mandamiento de política monetaria (uno de sus pocos consejos que perduró). La tesis comúnmente aceptada es que los gobiernos deben buscar la estabilidad de precios con un ligero sesgo inflacionario para estimular los “espíritus animales” [expectativas económicas] de empresarios y consumidores.

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