A Nuvem da Depressão

BERKELEY - Quatro vezes no século passado, uma grande parte do mundo industrial entrou em depressões profundas e de longa duração caracterizadas por uma taxa de desemprego elevada e persistente: Os Estados Unidos na década de 1930, os países industrializados da Europa Ocidental na década de 1930, novamente a Europa Ocidental na década de 1980 e o Japão na década de 1990. Duas dessas crises - a da Europa Ocidental na década de 1980 e a do Japão na década de 1990 - lançaram uma nuvem extensa e sombria sobre o desempenho económico futuro.

Em ambos os casos, se a Europa ou o Japão tivessem regressado - ou se na verdade alguma vez regressarem - a algo semelhante à tendência de crescimento económico do período anterior à crise, teriam demorado (ou demorarão) décadas. Num terceiro caso, o da Europa no final da década de 1930, não se sabe o que teria acontecido se a Europa não se tivesse tornado um campo de batalha após a invasão da Polónia pela Alemanha nazi.

Só houve um caso em que o crescimento a longo prazo não foi perturbado: A produção e o emprego nos EUA após a Segunda Guerra Mundial não foram significativamente afectados pelo impacto macroeconómico da Grande Depressão. É claro que, na ausência de mobilização para a Segunda Guerra Mundial, é possível e mesmo provável que a Grande Depressão tivesse lançado uma nuvem sobre o crescimento económico dos EUA após 1940. Sem dúvida era assim que a situação se apresentava no final da década de 1930, com altos níveis de desemprego estrutural e um stock de capital abaixo do nível tendencial, antes da mobilização e do início das guerras da Europa e do Pacífico.

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