Fisura y maestría

PARÍS – Como hermanos en armas unidos en combate pero divididos en la paz, Europa y Estados Unidos, que habían combatido la depresión en forma conjunta en 2009, comenzaron a manifestar desacuerdos en 2010 y empiezan el 2011 con posturas divergentes en materia de política macroeconómica. El precio de la divergencia podría ser alto: si bien lo peor ya pasó, todavía hace falta una coordinación efectiva de las políticas en un momento en que reequilibrar la economía global, como ha pedido el G-20, es una tarea que está lejos de ser cumplida.

La división transatlántica es evidente con respecto a la política monetaria. En noviembre del año pasado, la decisión de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos de lanzar un nuevo ciclo de “alivio cuantitativo” (compra de bonos del gobierno a través de creación monetaria) desató críticas feroces en Europa. Si bien el Banco Central Europeo también estuvo comprando bonos del gobierno desde la primavera pasada, la cantidad es relativamente pequeña (70.000 millones de euros, comparado con el programa de 600.000 millones de dólares de la Fed) y sólo está destinada a respaldar a miembros en problemas de la eurozona, con un cuidado especial para evitar cualquier impacto en la oferta monetaria.

Una divergencia similar, aunque menos aguda, surgió con respecto a la política fiscal. En diciembre, mientras los europeos viraban hacia el rigor fiscal, el Congreso de Estados Unidos extendió durante dos años los recortes impositivos iniciados por George W. Bush –algo que casi todos interpretaron como otro esfuerzo por estimular la economía estadounidense-. Es verdad, la reducción fiscal en Alemania es más cautelosa de lo que sugiere la retórica oficial. Pero, en general, la eurozona y Gran Bretaña claramente viraron hacia la austeridad, algo que Estados Unidos todavía se muestra reacio a considerar.

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