Enhebrar la aguja fiscal

PALO ALTO – Las elecciones suelen poner de relieve el estado de la economía, especialmente en tiempos difíciles. Cuando el crecimiento y el empleo están en baja, los votantes expulsan a los dirigentes -llámense izquierdistas españoles, derechistas franceses o centristas holandeses-. Estados Unidos no es una excepción. Tres años después de iniciada la Gran Depresión, Herbert Hoover fue derrotado por Franklin Delano Roosevelt. En 1980, tras un pico grave de estanflación, Ronald Reagan se impuso a Jimmy Carter.

Al mismo tiempo, el desempeño económico depende en gran medida de la política económica. La Gran Depresión se vio agravada por una mala política monetaria, aumentos impositivos y políticas comerciales proteccionistas. De la misma manera, una política monetaria relajada en Estados Unidos a mediados de la década pasada ayudó a preparar el escenario para la Gran Recesión, al contribuir significativamente a una explosión de apalancamiento, y al alimentar la burbuja inmobiliaria que estalló en 2007-2008.

El resultado de dos batallas relacionadas en materia de políticas será clave para la perspectiva económica y política tanto en Estados Unidos como en Europa. La primera es entre "austeridad" y "crecimiento" -es decir, reducción del déficit a corto plazo y más estímulo fiscal-. Muchos en la izquierda, a ambos lados del Atlántico, sostienen que más gasto gubernamental, no menos, es lo que se necesita para sacar a sus economías de la recesión. En la derecha creen que la principal prioridad de los gobiernos debería ser la consolidación fiscal.

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