Paul Lachine

Los muchachos anti-historia

BERKELEY – Si le preguntaran a un historiador económico moderno como yo por qué el mundo actualmente es víctima de una crisis financiera y una profunda depresión económica, diría que es el último episodio en una larga historia de burbujas, colapsos, crisis y recesiones similares que se remontan al menos a la burbuja de la construcción del canal de principios de los años 1820, la quiebra de Pole, Thornton ampamp; Co en 1825-1826 y la subsiguiente primera recesión industrial en Gran Bretaña. También hemos visto este proceso en funcionamiento en muchos otros episodios históricos -en 1870, 1890, 1929 y 2000.

Por alguna razón, los precios de los activos se desestabilizan y suben hasta alcanzar niveles insostenibles. A veces los culpables son los pésimos controles internos en las firmas financieras que recompensan en exceso a los subordinados por asumir riesgos. A veces la causa son las garantías gubernamentales. Y a veces es simplemente una larga racha de buena suerte, que deja al mercado en manos de optimistas poco realistas.

Luego llega la crisis. Y cuando esto sucede, la tolerancia al riesgo se derrumba: todos saben que existen inmensas pérdidas no percibidas en los activos financieros y nadie sabe a ciencia cierta dónde están. A la crisis le sigue una fuga a la seguridad, que a su vez es seguida por una profunda caída de la velocidad del dinero mientras los inversores acaparan efectivo. Y esa caída de la velocidad monetaria trae aparejada una recesión.

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