La Fed en su propia trampa

NEW HAVEN – A medida que la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos intenta salir de su política monetaria no convencional, lidia con la disparidad entre el éxito de la política en la prevención del desastre económico y la incapacidad de la misma para promover una recuperación robusta. En la medida que dicha desconexión hubiese conducido al montaje de excesos en los mercados financieros, la salida será aún más problemática para los mercados; y también para la autoridad monetaria estadounidense, misma que tiene una fijación en el mercado.

El dilema actual de la Fed tiene sus raíces en un cambio en el arte y la práctica de la banca central radical. Las políticas monetarias convencionales, diseñadas para satisfacer el mandato dual de la Fed de la estabilidad de precios y el pleno empleo, están mal equipadas para hacer frente a los riesgos sistémicos de burbujas de activos y de crédito, por no hablar de recesiones de balance, que son situaciones que sobrevienen después de que esas burbujas estallan. Esto se hizo dolorosamente evidente en los últimos años, a medida que los bancos centrales, enfrentados con la crisis financiera mundial de 2008-2009, se dirigieron hacia las políticas no convencionales – en particular, a inyecciones masivas de liquidez a través de la flexibilización cuantitativa (QE).

La teoría detrás de esta medida – en la forma patrocinada por Ben Bernanke, primero como académico y luego como gobernador de la Fed, y, finalmente, como presidente de la Fed – dice que operar en la dimensión cuantitativa del ciclo de crédito es el equivalente funcional de actuar sobre el lado de los precios de la ecuación. Esa suposición liberó a al Fed del miedo del temido “límite cero” que se acercaba en el período 2003-2004, cuando, en respuesta al colapso de la burbuja inmobiliaria, redujo su tasa referencial fijada a través de política al 1%. Si la Fed se quedaba sin puntos básicos, según se argumentaba en aquel entonces, todavía tendría una gran cantidad de herramientas a su disposición para apoyar y orientar a la economía real.

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