Burbujas en la sopa

NUEVA YORK – Mientras el crecimiento del PBI, inferior a su tendencia previa, y el elevado desempleo continúan afectando a las economías más avanzadas, sus bancos centrales han recurrido cada vez más a políticas monetarias no convencionales. Las medidas se sirvieron cual una sopa de letras: PTIC (política de tasa de interés cero); FC (flexibilización cuantitativa, o compras de bonos gubernamentales para reducir las tasas de largo plazo cuando las tasas de referencia de corto plazo son cero); FCr (flexibilización del crédito, o compras de activos privados orientadas a reducir el costo del capital para el sector privado); y OBPF (orientación basada en promesas sobre el futuro, o el compromiso de mantener la FC o la PTIC hasta, por ejemplo, que la tasa de desempleo alcance un cierto objetivo). Algunos incluso llegaron a proponer una PTIN (política de tasa de interés negativa).

Sin embargo, las tasas de interés se han mantenido obcecadamente bajas y las de desempleo, inaceptablemente altas, en parte debido a que el aumento de la oferta monetaria posterior a la FC no condujo a la creación de crédito para financiar el consumo privado o la inversión. En lugar de ello, los bancos han acumulado el aumento de la base monetaria en forma de reservas excedentes ociosas. Hay una restricción crediticia, ya que los bancos con capital insuficiente no desean prestar a acreedores riesgosos y el lento crecimiento, junto con los elevados niveles de endeudamiento de los hogares, también ha deprimido la demanda de crédito.

En consecuencia, todo este exceso de liquidez fluye hacia el sector financiero en lugar de hacia la economía real. Las políticas de tasas de interés cercanas a cero fomentan «arbitrajes de tasas de interés entre divisas» –inversiones financiadas con deuda en activos riesgosos con mayores rendimientos, como bonos gubernamentales y privados de más largo plazo, acciones, productos básicos y monedas de países con tasas de interés elevadas. El resultado han sido mercados financieros «espumosos», que eventualmente podrían derivar en burbujas más grandes.

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