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SOS para las empresas públicas de China

BEIJING – La desaceleración económica de China ha sido objeto de innumerables debates, discusiones, artículos y análisis. Si bien los remedios propuestos varían considerablemente, parece haber un amplio consenso respecto de que la enfermedad es estructural. Pero mientras que los problemas estructurales, desde retornos menguantes sobre el capital hasta el aumento del proteccionismo a partir de la crisis económica global, actúan, en verdad, como un freno del crecimiento, otro factor ha pasado esencialmente inadvertido: el ciclo económico.

Durante décadas, la economía de China registró un crecimiento del PIB de dos dígitos, aparentemente insensible a los ciclos económicos. Pero no resultó inmune: por cierto, la desaceleración de seis años que experimentó China después de la crisis financiera asiática de 1997 fue un síntoma, precisamente, de un ciclo de esas características.

Hoy, el ciclo económico de China ha llevado a la acumulación de préstamos con problemas de recuperación (NPL por su sigla en inglés) en el sector corporativo, como sucedió a comienzos del siglo. Si bien la tasa de los NPL, según datos oficiales, es inferior al 2%, muchos economistas estiman que, en realidad, está más cerca del 3-5%. Si están en lo correcto, los NPL podrían representar el 6-7% del PIB de China.

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