¿Qué frena a Europa?

PITTSBURGH – En su reciente visita a Grecia, el presidente de Francia, François Hollande, declaró que Europa ha superado su caída, e hizo un llamado a las compañías francesas para que inviertan en Grecia. Mal consejo. Aunque en Francia los costos de producción son altos, en Grecia lo son todavía más. A pesar de la considerable disminución que desde 2007 ha experimentado el PIB real de Grecia (junto con Italia y España), todavía falta mucho ajuste.

De hecho, la afirmación de Hollande no goza de amplio consenso en Europa. Antes de la última elección en Italia, los mercados financieros se mostraban optimistas, alentados por la política del Banco Central Europeo de garantizar las deudas públicas de los miembros de la eurozona, ampliar su propia cartera de activos y disminuir los tipos de interés. La rebaja de los tipos de interés implica ganancia para los bonistas. Pero en los países del sur agobiados por las deudas, el desempleo no para de crecer y la producción sigue rezagada respecto de Alemania y otros países del norte de Europa.

La razón principal de este retraso no es simplemente la falta de demanda o el exceso de deuda. Hay una enorme diferencia entre Alemania y los países del sur endeudados en lo que atañe al costo laboral unitario (el salario real ajustado según la productividad), que es mucho menor en Alemania. Al comienzo de la crisis, la diferencia era del 30% en el caso de Grecia (de modo que Grecia exportaba muy poco e importaba demasiado) y de entre 20 y 25% en el caso de los otros países endeudados.

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