La impotencia de la Reserva Federal

CAMBRIDGE.– El reciente anuncio de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos sobre la ampliación de su «Operación Twist» con la compra de $267 mil millones adicionales en bonos de largo plazo del Tesoro durante los próximos 6 meses –para completar un total de $667 mil millones este año– no tuvo prácticamente ningún impacto sobre las tasas de interés ni los precios de las acciones. La falta de respuesta del mercado fue un importante indicador sobre la inutilidad de la flexibilización monetaria como herramienta para aumentar la actividad económica.

La Fed ha informado repetidamente que hará todo lo posible para estimular el crecimiento. Esto derivó en un plan para mantener las tasas de interés de corto plazo casi en cero hasta fines de 2014, así como a una enorme flexibilización cuantitativa, seguida por la Operación Twist, en la que la Fed sustituye bonos de corto plazo del Tesoro por otros de largo plazo.

Estas políticas lograron reducir las tasas de interés de largo plazo. El rendimiento de los bonos de 10 años del Tesoro es ahora del 1,6%, cuando a principios de 2011 era del 3,4%. Si bien es difícil saber qué parte de esta disminución reflejó una mayor demanda de bonos del Tesoro por parte de inversores globales reacios al riesgo, las políticas de la Fed indudablemente merecen parte del mérito. Las menores tasas de interés de largo plazo contribuyeron al modesto crecimiento del 4% en el índice bursátil S&P 500 durante ese período.

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