Austeras ilusiones

LONDRES – La doctrina que dicta que se debe imprimir dolor en el presente con el fin de recibir un beneficio futuro tiene una larga historia, misma que se remonta a Adam Smith y su exaltación de la “parsimonia”.  Esta doctrina es especialmente vociferante en “tiempos difíciles”. En el año 1930, el presidente estadounidense Herbert Hoover recibió el siguiente consejo de Andrew Mellon, su secretario del Tesoro: “Liquide a los trabajadores, liquide las acciones en la bolsa, liquide a los agricultores, liquide los bienes raíces. Esto purgará la podredumbre del sistema… Las personas... vivirán una vida más moral... y las personas emprendedoras recogerán la chatarra dejada por las personas menos competentes”.

Para los “liquidacionistas” de la calaña de Mellon, la economía antes del año 2008 estaba llena de tumores cancerosos – en la banca, en el mercado de la vivienda, en las acciones de renta variable – los cuales tenían que ser eliminados antes de que se pueda restaurar la salud. Su posición es clara: el Estado es un parásito, que chupa la sangre vital de la libre empresa. Las economías naturalmente gravitan hacia un equilibrio de pleno empleo, y, después de una conmoción, lo logran con bastante rapidez si no se lo impidiese la acción gubernamental mal guiada. Es por esta razón que se oponen ferozmente al intervencionismo keynesiano.

La herejía de Keynes fue negar la existencia de tales fuerzas naturales, al menos en el corto plazo. Este fue el punto de su famosa frase: “En el largo plazo todos estaremos muertos”. Las economías, según lo que Keynes creía, pueden atorarse en períodos prolongados de “equilibrio de subempleo”; en tales casos, se hace necesario que ellas reciban un estímulo externo de algún tipo para aguijonearlas enérgicamente y que puedan regresar a niveles de mayor empleo.

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