Alerta a China desde Washington

NEW HAVEN – Sí, Estados Unidos logró esquivar otra bala gracias a un acuerdo de último minuto sobre el tope a la deuda. Pero restan 90 días para superar la división ideológica y partidista antes de que otra crisis haga erupción y la mecha de la bomba de la deuda estadounidense se acorta cada vez más. Mientras un gobierno estadounidense disfuncional se asoma al abismo, China –el mayor acreedor extranjero de Estados Unidos– tiene mucho en juego.

Comenzó tan inocentemente: hace tan solo unos años, en 2000, China poseía solamente unos $60 mil millones en activos del Tesoro de EE. UU., aproximadamente el 2 % de los 3,3 billones de deuda estadounidense en manos del público. Pero entonces ambos países subieron la apuesta al despilfarro fiscal de EE. UU. La deuda de EE. UU. se disparó a casi $12 billones ($16,7 billones si se incluyen las tenencias intragubernamentales). Y la participación china en el exceso de deuda estadounidense en manos del público aumentó a más del quíntuple, hasta casi el 11 % ($1,3 billones) para julio de 2013. Junto con aproximadamente $700 mil millones en tenencias chinas de deuda de agencias estadounidenses (Fannie Mae y Freddie Mac), la exposición total china de $2 billones en activos gubernamentales y cuasigubernamentales estadounidenses es gigantesca sin importar qué parámetro se considere.

Las compras aparentemente abiertas de deuda gubernamental estadounidense se encuentran en el corazón de una red de codependencia que vincula a ambas economías. China no compra bonos del tesoro por benevolencia, ni porque considera a Estados Unidos como un brillante ejemplo de riqueza y prosperidad. Ciertamente no se ve atraída por los rendimientos y la seguridad aparentemente libre de riesgos de los papeles del gobierno de EE. UU., ambos en juego en una época de tasas de interés nulas y crecientes preocupaciones sobre la cesación de pagos. Tampoco es una cuestión de simpatía; China no compra bonos del tesoro porque desea mitigar el dolor de las arriesgadas políticas fiscales estadounidenses.

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