El oscuro asunto de la globalización financiera

La reciente turbulencia en los mercados financieros globales, y la contracción de la liquidez y el crédito que le siguió, plantean dos preguntas: ¿cómo es que el no pago de las hipotecas de grado inferior en los estados de California, Nevada, Arizona y Florida condujo a una crisis mundial? Y ¿por qué el riesgo sistémico aumentó en lugar de disminuir en años recientes?

La culpa la tiene el fenómeno de la “titulización”. En el pasado, los bancos mantenían los créditos y las hipotecas en sus libros, y así conservaban el riesgo crediticio. Por ejemplo, durante la crisis de la vivienda de finales de los 1980 en Estados Unidos, muchos bancos que realizaban créditos hipotecarios (las sociedades de ahorro y préstamo) quebraron, lo que condujo a una crisis bancaria, una contracción del crédito y una recesión en 1990-91.

Se suponía que el riesgo sistémico –una conmoción financiera que produce un contagio económico grave—se reducía con la titulización. La globalización financiera significaba que los bancos ya no conservaban activos como las hipotecas en sus libros, sino que los incluían en títulos respaldados por activos que se vendían a inversionistas en los mercados de capital de todo el mundo, distribuyendo el riesgo más ampliamente de esa manera.

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