Roller coaster and sunset.

La montaña rusa de las materias primas

CAMBRIDGE – El súper ciclo global de las materias primas no es un fenómeno nuevo. Si bien los detalles varían, los exportadores de commodities primarios tienden a actuar de la misma manera y los resultados económicos suelen seguir patrones reconocibles. Pero el elemento de previsibilidad en el devenir del ciclo de precios de las materias primas, como sucede con el recorrido de una montaña rusa, no hace que sus giros y vueltas sean más fáciles de tolerar.

Desde fines del siglo XVIII, se han producido siete u ocho auges de los precios de las materias primas no petroleras, en relación al precio de los productos manufacturados. (La cantidad exacta depende de cómo se definan los altibajos). Los auges normalmente duraron 7 a 8 años, aunque el que comenzó en 1933 se prolongó casi dos décadas. Esa excepción se debió primero a la Segunda Guerra Mundial y luego a la reconstrucción de posguerra de Europa y Japón, así como al rápido crecimiento económico en Estados Unidos. El auge más reciente, que comenzó en 2004 y terminó en 2011, es el que mejor se adapta a la norma.

Los colapsos de los precios de los commodities –con altibajos de más del 30%- tienen una duración similar -duran unos siete años, en promedio-. El colapso actual va por su cuarto año, y los precios de las materias primas no petroleras (en relación a los precios de exportación de los fabricantes) cayeron hasta el momento alrededor del 25%.

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