Cuando Reventó el boom de internet

Mientras duró el boom de internet, nada parecía poder desinflar la burbuja. Pocas compañías de internet y punto com eran rentables, pero a los inversionistas parecía no importarles. Tomaban en cuenta el número de clientes o de suscriptores como base para valuar las acciones de internet. De lo que se trataba era de conseguir capital, no de obtener ganancias. Incluso cuando las acciones estrella comenzaron a caer, el resto del mercado apenas lo resintió. La gente había aprendido que era redituable comprar las acciones deprimidas, y no dejaron el hábito hasta que dejó de ser lucrativo.

Ahora que la fiebre de internet ya pasó se dice que los “elementos fundamentales” se están volviendo a imponer. Pero al igual que la noción previa, en el sentido de que el boom duraría para siempre porque la economía de internet había creado nuevos elementos fundamentales, eso es una verdad a medias. En efecto, el ciclo boom/caída de internet trae a colación la teorías económicas prevalecientes sobre los mercados financieros.

Lo que debe quedar claro ahora es que los llamados elementos fundamentales, que en teoría determinan los precios de las acciones, no son supuestos independientes. Más bien dependen del comportamiento de los mercados financieros. De hecho, hay mil formas en las que los precios de las acciones afectan el desempeño de las compañías: determinan el costo del capital, determinan el que una compañía adquiera o sea adquirida por otras; los precios de las acciones influyen sobre la capacidad de endeudamiento de una empresa y sus posibilidades para atraer y remunerar ejecutivos a través de paquetes accionarios; los precios de las acciones son herramientas para la publicidad. En otras palabras, cuando los mercados financieros creen que una compañía está bien, sus “elementos fundamentales” mejoran; cuando los mercados cambian de opinión, el destino mismo de las compañías cambia también. Más aún, los cambios en los mercados financieros también tienen consecuencias macroeconómicas importantes.

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