La inflación aún es el menor de los males

CAMBRIDGE – Los principales bancos centrales del mundo siguen expresando su preocupación por las repercusiones inflacionarias que puede generar su lucha contra la recesión. Es un error. Comparado con los riesgos políticos, sociales y económicos que conlleva la persistencia del lento crecimiento económico luego de una crisis financiera de las que ocurren solo una vez cada 100 años, un arranque sostenido de inflación moderada no es algo por lo que preocuparse. Por el contrario, en la mayoría de las regiones, debiera ser bienvenido.

Tal vez los argumentos en favor de la inflación moderada (digamos, entre el 4 y el 6 % anual) no sean tan convincentes como al principio de la crisis, cuando planteé el tema por primera vez. En ese entonces, con el telón de fondo de la reticencia gubernamental a forzar quitas a la deuda, junto con precios reales de las viviendas extremadamente sobrevaluados y salarios reales excesivos en algunos sectores, la inflación moderada hubiese sido extremadamente útil.

El consenso en ese momento, por supuesto, era que una robusta recuperación «con forma de V» estaba a la vuelta de la esquina y que era insensato abrazar la heterodoxia inflacionista. Vi las cosas de otro modo, basándome en las investigaciones para el libro que escribimos con Carmen M. Reinhart en 2009, This Time is Different (Esta vez es diferente). Después de examinar varias profundas crisis financieras anteriores, teníamos todos los motivos para temer una catastrófica caída del empleo y una recuperación extraordinariamente lenta. Una evaluación adecuada de los riesgos de mediano plazo hubiera ayudado a justificar mi conclusión en diciembre de 2008: «Serán necesarias todas las herramientas disponibles para corregir esta crisis financiera, de magnitud tal que solo ocurre una vez cada 100 años».

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