El Big Bang de la libertad económica

¿Por qué es tan difícil implementar la desregulación que se necesita para hacer que la economía sea más competitiva? ¿Por qué tantos gobiernos tratan de lograr esta meta y por qué casi todos fracasan? Todos los ciudadanos se beneficiarían de los mercados competitivos para los productos y servicios, pero con más frecuencia de lo deseable la amplia coalición que se necesita para sustentar las políticas pro-competencia nunca se materializa; el apoyo político, sencillamente, no está allí. ¿Por qué?

Esta pregunta es importante no sólo en las economías en transición y otros países con mercados emergentes, sino también en los países ricos; de hecho, casi en todas partes, con la posible excepción de EEUU y el Reino Unido, que hace tiempo se embarcaron en un proceso de liberalización económica radical y de amplio alcance. Nueva Zelanda e Irlanda siguieron ese modelo y desde entonces sus economías han experimentado un crecimiento sostenido.

Usualmente, la falta de competencia se debe a la sobreregulación. Los taxis en las ciudades europeas son caros porque se controla estrictamente la cantidad de licencias. Con el bloqueo del ingreso al mercado, los propietarios de licencias enfrentan poca presión para bajar sus tarifas, y los funcionarios que asignan licencias están en un buen lugar para recolectar votos o sobornos. En pocas palabras, la regulación tiende a distorsionar los incentivos, estimulando lo que los economistas llaman comportamiento de búsqueda de renta: el conductor del taxi y el funcionario que otorga la licencia reciben premios inmerecidos (rentas), meramente porque pueden explotar su posición de individuos que están al interior del sistema, no porque sean más productivos.

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