Umbrellas in China Joe Penniston/Flickr

El trilema de China

BEIJING – El economista y premio Nobel Robert Mundell mostró que una economía puede mantener dos –pero sólo dos– de tres características fundamentales: independencia de la política monetaria, un tipo de cambio fijo y libertad de corrientes de capitales transfronterizas, pero actualmente China está haciendo malabarismos con las tres, cosa que está resultando cada vez más difícil de mantener

A primera vista, puede parecer que no estamos ante ese caso. En vista de que el Banco Popular de China (BPCH) ha mantenido en gran medida la independencia de su política monetaria a lo largo de los tres últimos decenios y gestiona activamente el tipo de cambio del renminbi, es natural concluir que China impone controles estrictos de las corrientes de capitales. En realidad, China  liberalizó la entrada de la inversión extranjera directa hace más de veinte años y en adelante relajó los controles de gran parte de la cuenta de capital.

Las medidas adoptadas por China para regular las corrientes de capitales transfronterizas nunca han sido demasiado eficaces. Durante la crisis financiera asiática del decenio de 1990, China tuvo que aplicar medidas draconianas para impedir la fuga de capitales. A comienzos del decenio de 2000, empezó a afluir a China capital a corto plazo, porque los inversores apostaban por la apreciación del renminbi y, a partir del período 2004-2006, por el aumento de los precios de los activos. Desde que en 2009 se lanzó la internacionalización del renminbi, se produjo un marcado aumento del arbitraje del tipo de cambio y de las operaciones de acarreo.

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