El dilema de la deuda en Europa y Estados Unidos

PALO ALTO – Europa y los Estados Unidos, prósperas joyas de las democracias capitalistas mixtas, se están ahogando en el déficit y la deuda debido a los enormes Estados de bienestar establecidos (Europa) o que se están estableciendo (Estados Unidos). Mientras Europa lucha para impedir el contagio financiero y los Estados Unidos para reducir sus déficits sin precedentes, sus peligrosos niveles de deuda amenazan el nivel de vida en el futuro y presionan las instituciones políticas internas e internacionales. Las agencias calificadoras amenazan con reducir más sus calificaciones; otros observadores presagian la caída del euro y/o el fin del dólar como moneda de reserva global.

Los economistas Ken Rogoff y Carmen Reinhart estiman que los coeficientes de deuda/PIB de 90% se relacionan con perspectivas de crecimiento muy reducidas. El coeficiente de Grecia es superior al 120%, el de Italia es de aproximadamente 100% y el de los Estados Unidos del 74%, en comparación con 40% hace apenas unos años –y se acerca rápidamente al 90%. El Fondo Monetario Internacional calcula que cada incremento de 10 puntos del coeficiente de deuda reduce el crecimiento económico en 0.2 puntos porcentuales. Así pues, un aumento del 40-50% del PIB podría recortar el crecimiento a largo plazo a la mitad en partes de Europa occidental y en una tercera parte en los Estados Unidos – una reducción devastadora de los avances en los niveles de vida en el curso de una generación.

Peor aún, la carga de las pérdidas bancarias que tarde o temprano se socializará y la de los costos futuros no financiados de las pensiones y la salud pública frecuentemente se subestiman en las cifras oficiales sobre la deuda. Además, algunos gobiernos subnacionales, por ejemplo en los Estados Unidos y España, con finanzas problemáticas presionarán a los gobiernos centrales para obtener ayuda fiscal.

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