¿Un año de incumplimientos soberanos?

MIAMI – Cuando de deuda soberana se trata, el término «incumplimiento» suele ser malinterpretado. Casi nunca implica la negación completa y permanente del total de la deuda; de hecho, incluso algunos bonos rusos de la era zarista se pagaron finalmente (aunque solo en parte) después de la revolución de 1917. En lugar de eso, la falta de pago —el «incumplimiento» según las agencias calificadoras de crédito, cuando se trata de acreedores privados— habitualmente implica una conversación sobre la reestructuración de la deuda, que puede incluir extensiones de los vencimientos, reducciones del pago de los cupones, períodos de gracia, o quitas del valor nominal (llamadas «recortes»).

Si podemos guiarnos por la historia, es posible que en 2016 haya muchas de esas conversaciones.

Como tantas otras características de la economía mundial, la acumulación de la deuda y los incumplimientos tienden a darse en ciclos. Desde 1800, la economía mundial ha padecido muchos de esos ciclos, durante los cuales la proporción de países independientes con reestructuraciones en cualquier año dado varió entre el 0 y el 50 % (ver el gráfico). Aunque las pausas de una o dos décadas en los incumplimientos no son raras, después de cada período de calma inevitablemente ha seguido una nueva ola de incumplimientos.

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