Las duras enseñanzas de 2009

NUEVA YORK – Lo mejor que se puede decir de 2009 es que podría haber sido peor, que nos retiramos del precipicio del que parecíamos colgados a finales de 2008 y que 2010 será casi con toda seguridad mejor para la mayoría de los países de todo el mundo. El mundo ha aprendido también algunas enseñanzas valiosas, aunque con un gran costo para la prosperidad actual y futura y que fue innecesariamente elevado, en vista de que ya deberíamos haberlas aprendido.

La primera enseñanza es la de que los mercados no son autocorrectores. De hecho, sin una regulación adecuada, son propensos al exceso. En 2009, volvemos a entender por qué la mano invisible de Adam Smith lo parece con tanta frecuencia: es que no está. La búsqueda por parte de los banqueros de su propio interés (codicia) no dio como resultado el bienestar de la sociedad; ni siquiera prestó buenos servicios a los accionistas y a los titulares de bonos. Desde luego, no los prestó a los propietarios de viviendas que las están perdiendo, a los trabajadores que han perdido sus empleos, a los jubilados que han visto como se esfumaban sus fondos para la jubilación ni a los contribuyentes que han pagado centenares de miles de millones para rescatar a los bancos.

Bajo la amenaza de desplome de todo el sistema, la red de seguridad, destinada a ayudar a las personas desafortunadas a satisfacer los imperativos de la vida, se hizo generosamente extensiva a los bancos comerciales, después a los bancos de inversión, a las empresas de seguros, a las empresas automovilísticas e incluso a las empresas que conceden préstamos para la compra de automóviles. Nunca se había transferido tanto dinero de tantos para tan pocos.

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