Banqueros con fronteras

LONDRES – Cuando Mervyn King sea reemplazado por Mark Carney como gobernador del Banco de Inglaterra en julio de 2013, el mundo se verá privado de sus ingeniosas declaraciones en público. Mi favorita es la que profirió mientras comentaba los datos sobre las sólidas ventas minoristas navideñas y puso en duda su relevancia para evaluar la situación de la economía. «El verdadero significado de la historia navideña» entonó solemnemente «no nos será revelado hasta la Pascua, o incluso mucho después». Seguramente hay aquí vocación para una nueva carrera sobre el escenario o el púlpito.

La frase más citada de King es «las instituciones bancarias mundiales son globales en vida y nacionales en su muerte». Comercian en todo el mundo, a través de fronteras porosas y sin preocuparse demasiado por la ubicación geográfica del capital y la liquidez. Pero, cuando la música se detiene, son el regulador local y el Banco Central local quienes deben pagar la cuenta, incluso si las pérdidas se generaron en otro sitio. De igual manera, la caída de un banco puede generar problemas en otros países, problemas de los que las autoridades correspondientes a su casa matriz pueden desentenderse.

Los bancos islandeses, por ejemplo, captaron depósitos en el Reino Unido y los Países Bajos y los enviaron a Reikiavik, dejando a los países anfitriones sin efectivo. De igual manera, el colapso de Lehman Brothers expuso más a los acreedores europeos que a los estadounidenses, cuyo fondos habían sido devueltos a casa, en Nueva York, el viernes previo al desplome.

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