La falsa promesa de la liberalización financiera

Algo anda mal en el mundo de las finanzas. El problema no es otro colapso financiero en un mercado emergente, con el predecible contagio que hunde a los países vecinos. Hasta los países más expuestos pudieron manejar la última ronda de crisis financieras, en mayo y junio de 2006, con relativa holgura. Esta vez, en cambio, fueron los tiempos relativamente tranquilos los que ayudaron a que el problema saliera a la luz: los beneficios vaticinados de la globalización financiera brillan por su ausencia.

La globalización financiera es un fenómeno reciente. Se podrían rastrear sus orígenes en los años 70, cuando los petrodólares reciclados alimentaban los grandes flujos de capital a los países en desarrollo. Pero recién alrededor de 1990 fue cuando la mayoría de los mercados emergentes asumieron un riesgo y eliminaron los controles sobre las carteras privadas y los flujos bancarios. Los flujos de capital privado estallaron desde entonces, eclipsando el comercio de bienes y servicios. De manera que el mundo experimentó la verdadera globalización financiera sólo durante 15 años aproximadamente.

Liberar los flujos de capital tenía una lógica inexorable -o así parecía-. El argumento era que los países en desarrollo tienen muchas oportunidades de inversión, pero carecen de ahorros. La entrada de capitales extranjeros les permitiría hacer uso de los ahorros de los países ricos, aumentar sus tasas de inversión y estimular el crecimiento. Por otra parte, la globalización financiera les permitiría a los países pobres salir sin dificultades de los ciclos de auge y ocaso asociados con las crisis temporarias de la relación de intercambio y otras rachas de mala suerte. Finalmente, la exposición a la disciplina de los mercados financieros haría que a los gobiernos despilfarradores les resultara más difícil portarse mal.

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