El juego de la reforma

Una reforma que se debate durante mucho tiempo, pero nunca se aplica, puede tener consecuencias mucho más negativas que positivas. La previsión de una reforma –de la reglamentación de las pensiones, del sistema de salud o de las prestaciones por desempleo, pongamos por caso- preocupa a todos aquellos a quienes podrían afectar sus repercusiones. Su reacción consiste en reducir el consumo y ahorrar más, porque esperan que tarde o temprano tendrán que empezar a pagar algunos de los servicios que estaban acostumbrados a usar gratuitamente o con tarifas subvencionadas.

Pero, como en Europa lo único que se hace es debatir una posible reforma, los beneficios dejan de materializarse: las personas trabajan más denodadamente sólo cuando están seguras de que de verdad se reducen los tipos impositivos y en los mercados financieros los efectos positivos de un menor gasto estatal nunca llegan antes de que se apruebe una reforma. Entretanto, como los políticos debaten y no hacen nada, la confianza de los consumidores disminuye, los resultados económicos empeoran y el consenso necesario para conseguir, para empezar, la aprobación de las reformas se esfuma. Aun así, no se deja de hablar de ello y tampoco deja de disminuir la confianza de los consumidores.

La experiencia reciente de Alemania ofrece un ejemplo preocupante de ese círculo vicioso. La reforma del generoso sistema social de Alemania ha ocupado portadas de los periódicos alemanes durante más de diez ańos. Se han aplicado algunas medidas tímidas, pero la mejor descripción del sentimiento general entre los alemanes es la siguiente respuesta a una encuesta realizada hace dos meses por el periódico Die Welt: “el 47 por ciento de los entrevistados se proponen reducir su consumo por la incertidumbre sobre las pensiones y la reforma del sistema de salud”.

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