El dilema del sistema bancario

BARCELONA – A los encargados de los bancos centrales y a los reguladores les suele preocupar que un exceso de competencia en el sector financiero aumente la inestabilidad y el riesgo de colapso sistémico. Por su parte, las autoridades encargadas de velar por la competencia tienden a creer que cuanto mayor sea la competencia, mejor. Ambas partes no pueden estar en lo cierto.

Entre la competencia y la estabilidad se da una relación de intercambio. En la práctica, una mayor presión competitiva puede aumentar la fragilidad de los balances bancarios y volver a los inversores más propensos al pánico; también puede deteriorar la capacidad de operación de las instituciones (charter value).

Un banco que opera con márgenes estrechos y responsabilidad limitada no tiene mucho que perder, de modo que tenderá a correr riesgos. Esta tendencia se verá agravada por la existencia de garantías públicas sobre los depósitos y por las políticas dirigidas a proteger a las instituciones que son “demasiado grandes para quebrar” (too‑big‑to‑fail). El resultado es un mayor incentivo a asumir riesgos. De hecho, en el caso de bancos que se encuentran al borde de la quiebra en sistemas desregulados, hay pruebas irrefutables de la acción de este tipo de incentivos perversos.

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