La economía y la presidencia

CAMBRIDGE - Faltan apenas seis meses para las elecciones presidenciales de Estados Unidos. Si hemos de confiar en los precedentes de la historia, el resultado dependerá en gran medida del desempeño de la economía entre hoy y el 6 de noviembre, y en la percepción de los estadounidenses sobre su futuro económico con cada uno de los dos candidatos.

Por el momento, la economía estadounidense crece a paso lento y con un alto desempleo. La producción se elevó solamente un 1,5% el año pasado y el PIB real per cápita es menor hoy que antes del inicio de la crisis económica a finales de 2007. Aunque el crecimiento anual del PIB fue del 3% en el cuarto trimestre de 2011, más de la mitad de esa cifra es reflejo de la acumulación de inventarios. Las ventas finales a los hogares, empresas y compradores extranjeros aumentaron en solo un 1,1% anual, cifra incluso menor que a principios de año. Y la estimación preliminar de crecimiento del PIB anual en el primer trimestre de 2012 fue un decepcionante 2,2%, con un aumento de sólo un 1,6% en las ventas finales.

El mercado laboral ha sido igualmente decepcionante. La tasa de desempleo de marzo fue del 8,2%, casi tres puntos porcentuales por encima de lo que la mayoría de los economistas consideran un nivel deseable y sostenible a largo plazo. Aunque la tasa bajó con respecto al 9% de hace un año, cerca de la mitad del cambio refleja un aumento en el número de personas que han dejado de buscar trabajo, en lugar de un aumento en la creación de puestos de trabajo y la tasa de empleo.

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