Entender los desastres del Japón

NEWPORT BEACH – Mientras todos nos esforzamos por entender las repercusiones económicas y financieras del desastre del Japón, resulta tentador buscar analogías históricas para orientarse. De hecho, muchos se han apresurado a citar las consecuencias del terrible terremoto de Kobe en 1995, pero, si bien ese ejemplo brinda algunas ideas, es demasiado limitado para entender lo que el Japón tiene por delante y depender excesivamente de ellas podría resultar contraproducente a la hora de adoptar las políticas apropiadas al respecto, tanto en el Japón como en el extranjero.

En primer lugar, veamos las similitudes entre la tragedia actual del Japón y la de 1995. En los dos casos se trató de terremotos terribles cuyas consecuencias han sido un tremendo sufrimiento humano y daños materiales en gran escala. Los dos obligaron al Gobierno del Japón a dar muestras de considerable agilidad con sus medidas de rescate. Los dos desencadenaron múltiples ofrecimientos de ayuda por parte de amigos y aliados de todo el mundo. En los dos casos, la destrucción de riqueza fue acompañada de perturbaciones en la vida económica diaria.

También hay importantes similitudes con vistas al futuro. Como ocurrió tras el desastre de Kobe, después de centrar la atención en el rescate de los supervivientes, se aplicará un enorme programa de reconstrucción. Se harán asignaciones presupuestarias en gran escala (el dos por ciento del PIB en el caso de Kobe). Las familias afectadas recibirán asistencia financiera para ayudarlas a restablecer cierta normalidad en sus vidas. Se repararán y mejorarán las carreteras, las viviendas y muchas otras infraestructuras.

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