Lecciones de crecimiento desde la austeridad

MILÁN – En un reciente grupo de estudios, Carmen Reinhart y Kenneth Rogoff usaron un amplio conjunto de datos históricos para demostrar que la acumulación de elevados niveles de deuda pública (y privada) relativos al PBI tiene un efecto negativo prolongado sobre el crecimiento. La dimensión del efecto incitó a la discusión sobre errores en sus cálculos. Pocos, sin embargo, dudan de la validez del patrón.

Esto no debe resultar sorprendente. Acumular una deuda excesiva habitualmente implica desplazar parte de la demanda agregada interna al futuro, por lo que salir de esa deuda debe incluir más ahorros y menos demanda. El shock negativo produce un impacto adverso al sector no transable, que es grande (aproximadamente dos tercios en una economía avanzada) y totalmente dependiente de la demanda interna. Como resultado, las tasas de crecimiento y empleo caen durante el período de desapalancamiento.

En una economía abierta, desapalancar no necesariamente implica dañar tan intensamente al sector transable. Pero, incluso en una economía tal, años de demanda interna impulsada mediante deuda pueden producir una pérdida de competitividad y distorsiones estructurales. Y las crisis que a menudo dividen las fases de apalancamiento y desapalancamiento causan daños adicionales a los balances y prolongan el proceso de recuperación.

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