Una concepción equivocada de la austeridad británica

LONDRES – ¿Fue la decisión del Gobierno de Gran Bretaña de adoptar la austeridad a raíz de la crisis financiera mundial la política idónea, al fin y al cabo? Sí, afirma el economista Kenneth Rogoff en un reciente artículo muy comentado. Rogoff sostiene que, si bien, retrospectivamente, el gobierno debería haberse endeudado más, en aquel momento existía un peligro real de que Gran Bretaña siguiera el camino de Grecia. Así, pues, el ministro de Economía, George Osborne, resulta ser, en su opinión, un héroe de las finanzas mundiales.

Para mostrar que existía un peligro real de fuga de capitales, Rogoff recurre a casos históricos para demostrar que la actuación crediticia del Reino Unido ha distado mucho de ser creíble. Cita la suspensión en 1932 de los pagos de la deuda correspondiente a la primera guerra mundial que tenía con los Estados Unidos, las deudas acumuladas después de la segunda guerra mundial y su “continua dependencia de los rescates del Fondo Monetario Internacional desde mediados del decenio de 1950 hasta mediados del de 1970”.

Lo que le falta al análisis de Rogoff es el marco en el que se cometieron esos supuestos fallos. La suspensión en 1932 de los pagos de los préstamos correspondientes a la primera guerra mundial concedidos por los Estados Unidos sigue siendo la mayor mácula en la historia de la deuda del Reino Unido, pero la situación general es fundamental. El mundo salió de la Gran Guerra a la sombra de una montaña de deuda que los victoriosos Aliados tenían unos para con otros (mientras que los EE.UU. fueron el único acreedor) y por los perdedores a los vencedores. John Maynard Keynes predijo acertadamente que todas aquellas deudas acabarían en suspensión de pagos.

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