La falsa panacea de la flexibilidad del mercado laboral

ÁMSTERDAM – La competitividad se ha convertido en una de las palabras económicas de moda en nuestros tiempos. Barack Obama la pregonó a los cuatro vientos durante su discurso sobre el Estado de la Unión en enero, y los líderes europeos desde el conservador David Cameron en Gran Bretaña hasta el socialista José Luis Zapatero en España y el nuevo ministro de Economía de Japón Kaoru Yosano la abrazaron como una prioridad. Ahora bien, ¿qué tipo de competitividad tienen en mente?

Cuando se le preguntó durante una entrevista en septiembre de 2007 si los gobiernos europeos deberían liberalizar los códigos laborales de sus países, Alan Greenspan, el ex presidente de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos, respondió que las leyes de protección del empleo de Europa inhibían significativamente el desempeño económico y resultaban en un desempleo crónicamente alto en todo el continente. En Estados Unidos, a la gente se la puede despedir más fácilmente que en cualquier otro país, y la tasa de desempleo en aquel momento estaba entre las más bajas del mundo.

Pero ya no estamos en septiembre de 2007 y el desempleo estadounidense es del 9,4%, no del 4,5%. Y, según el sucesor de Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, no hay motivos para suponer que la tasa de desempleo alcance el 5% -normalmente considerada la tasa de desempleo natural- en el futuro cercano.

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