La Reserva Federal en una época de palomas

CAMBRIDGE – La batalla para reemplazar al actual presidente de la Reserva Federal estadounidense, Ben Bernanke, ha comenzado. Podría esperarse que la presidencia de la Fed –posiblemente el segundo cargo con más poder en Estados Unidos y ciertamente el puesto financiero más poderoso del mundo– sería determinado por un cónclave de funcionarios de bancos centrales. De hecho, la elección está en gran medida en manos del presidente de EE. UU. Consideremos entonces a dos de los candidatos principales, Lawrence Summers, un exsecretario del Tesoro estadounidense, y la actual vicepresidente de la Fed, Janet Yellen.

Tanto Summers como Yellen son brillantes estudiosos con amplia experiencia como funcionarios. Si bien la prensa convencional parece resuelta a explorar sus candidaturas como un concurso de personalidades contrastantes, la verdad es que ambos candidatos están extremadamente bien cualificados. Se sabe además que ambos creen que la Fed no debe sobrevalorar la estabilidad de precios con relación al desempleo. Normalmente, este sesgo palomesco sería un problema; hoy, sin embargo, constituye una ventaja.

La importancia de la competencia técnica en política monetaria se ha comprobado repetidamente en los bancos centrales de todo el mundo. Según una investigación publicada en 2003 por los economistas Christina Romer y David Romer, la calidad de la política monetaria depende fundamentalmente de la comprensión clara y sofisticada del desarrollo de políticas y de la inflación. Las décadas de 1920, 1930 y 1970 están repletas de ejemplos de funcionarios de bancos centrales que no entendían los conceptos básicos y cuyas economías pagaron por ello.

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