El mito japonés

BRUSELAS – La primera década de este siglo comenzó con la llamada burbuja de las puntocom. Cuando estalló, los bancos centrales actuaron de manera agresiva para aliviar la política monetaria a fin de impedir un período prolongado de crecimiento lento al estilo japonés. Pero el período prolongado de bajas tasas de interés que siguió a la recesión de 2001 en cambio contribuyó al surgimiento de otra burbuja, esta vez inmobiliaria y de crédito.

Con el colapso de la segunda burbuja en una década, los bancos centrales otra vez actuaron rápidamente, reduciendo las tasas a cero (o cerca de cero) casi en todas partes. Recientemente, la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos hasta ofreció una ronda sin precedentes de “alivio cuantitativo” en un esfuerzo por acelerar la recuperación. Nuevamente, el argumento clave fue la necesidad de evitar una repetición de la “década perdida” de Japón.

La formulación de políticas suele estar dominada por simples “lecciones aprendidas” de la historia económica. Pero la lección aprendida del caso de Japón es básicamente un mito. El sustento de la historia de miedo sobre Japón es que su PBI creció en la última década a una tasa promedio anual de apenas el 0,6%, comparada con el 1,7% de Estados Unidos. La diferencia, en realidad, es mucho menor de la que se suele suponer, pero a primera vista una tasa de crecimiento de 0,6% califica como una década perdida.

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