El imperio accidental

NUEVA YORK - Hoy está claro que la principal causa de la crisis del euro es la cesión de los estados miembros al Banco Central Europeo de su derecho a imprimir dinero. No entendieron lo que eso implicaba, como tampoco lo hicieron las autoridades europeas.

Cuando se introdujo el euro, los reguladores permitieron a los bancos comprar cantidades ilimitadas de bonos de los gobiernos sin contar con fondos propios como respaldo, y el BCE descontó todos los bonos gubernamentales de la eurozona en igualdad de términos. A los bancos comerciales les pareció ventajoso acumular bonos de los países más débiles para ganar un par de puntos básicos, lo que hizo que las tasas de interés convergieran en toda la eurozona. Alemania, luchando con el peso de la reunificación, llevó a cabo reformas estructurales y se hizo más competitiva. Mientras tanto, otros países disfrutaron del auge del consumo y el mercado de la vivienda gracias al crédito barato y fueron perdiendo competitividad.

Entonces llegó la crisis de 2008. Los gobiernos tuvieron que rescatar a sus bancos. Algunos se encontraron en la posición de un país en desarrollo que se hubiera endeudado fuertemente en una moneda sobre la que careciera de control. Como reflejo de la divergencia en el desempeño económico, Europa se dividió entre países acreedores y países deudores.

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