Perdedores perfectos

LONDRES – La economía, parece ser, tiene muy poco para decir sobre la actual crisis económica. De hecho, nada menos que una figura como el ex presidente de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos Alan Greenspan recientemente confesó que todo su “edificio intelectual” había sido “demolido” por los hechos recientes.

Sin embargo, si uno escarba entre los escombros, se puede topar con fragmentos útiles. Uno de ellos se llama “información asimétrica”. Esto significa que algunas personas saben más sobre algunas cosas que otras. Quizá no se trate de una observación muy deslumbrante. Pero se aplica a los compradores y a los vendedores. Supongamos que el vendedor de un producto conoce más sobre su calidad que el comprador, o viceversa. Suceden cosas interesantes –tan interesantes que los inventores de esta idea recibieron Premios Nobel en economía.

En 1970, George Akerlof publicó un famoso ensayo titulado “El mercado de los autos usados” (The Market for Lemons). Su principal ejemplo en este mercado es que el comprador no sabe si lo que le ofrecen es un buen auto o un auto defectuoso. Su mejor suposición es que se trata de un auto de calidad promedio, por el cual sólo pagará el precio promedio. Como el dueño no podrá obtener un buen precio por un auto bueno, no colocará buenos autos en el mercado. De manera que la calidad promedio de los autos usados ofrecidos a la venta bajará.

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