¿El día del Juicio Final del dólar?

El déficit de la cuenta corriente de los Estados Unidos llegó a un 5,7% del PGB en el segundo trimestre de 2004. Sin embargo, el dólar sigue teniendo un valor relativamente alto: menos de un 20% por debajo de las cimas que alcanzó a principios de 2001 y más de un 10% más alto, en términos reales, que en el periodo que va de principios a mediados de los años 90.

A medida que durante los últimos cinco años aumentaba el déficit de la cuenta corriente estadounidense, los economistas internacionales hacían fila para hacer malos augurios: el retorno de los activos invertidos en los EE.UU. son relativamente bajos, así es que en algún momento (probablemente de manera simultánea) los titulares de valores en dólares se darán cuenta de que el riesgo de que su precio sufra una grave caída no está compensado adecuadamente. Una vez que quienes ponen dinero en las carteras de inversiones comiencen a vender los valores en esta divisa, ocurrirá una estampida y se producirá desplome del valor del dólar, dando inicio a la primera crisis financiera mundial de envergadura del siglo veintiuno.

Fred Bergsten del Institute for International Economics llama a esta situación "un desastre anunciado". ¿Cuánto tendrá que caer el dólar? La regla habitual es un 10% del dólar por cada porcentaje del valor del PGB obtenido mediante un déficit no sostenible de la cuenta corriente. La segunda regla general histórica es que las monedas en declive tienden a depreciarse más de la cuenta: cuando se acercan de su máxima devaluación posible, los especuladores de divisas internacionales exigen una importante prima por riesgo, por temor a que la caída de la moneda pueda generar algo aún peor.

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