La falsa recuperación de la zona del euro

LONDRES – A primera vista, parece que la economía de la zona del euro podría estar empezando por fin a recuperarse. Los mercados de valores están subiendo. La confianza de los consumidores está mejorando. Se espera que unos precios del petróleo más bajos, un euro más barato y la relajación cuantitativa aplicada por el Banco Central Europeo impulsen el crecimiento. El Presidente del BCE, Mario Draghi, afirma que “está afianzándose una recuperación sostenida”, mientras que las autoridades de Berlín y Bruselas se aferran a ciertas señales de vida en España e Irlanda como prueba de que su severa prescripción de una consolidación fiscal y reformas estructurales han dado resultado, como se había anunciado.

Sin embargo, con una inspección más detenida resulta claro que la mejora es modesta, probablemente temporal, y no resultante de las políticas promovidas por Alemania. Es cierto que, según algunos cálculos, la economía de la zona del euro puede estar creciendo ahora a una tasa anual del 1,6 por ciento, frente al 0,9 por ciento en el año que concluyó en el cuarto trimestre de 2014, pero eso es mucho más lento que en los Estados Unidos y Gran Bretaña. Con una economía de la zona del euro un dos por ciento menor que hace siete años, la de “recuperación” no parece la palabra apropiada, sobre todo porque no es probable que dure.

Para empezar, el impulso extraordinario de unos precios del petróleo más bajos ya se está agotando. Después de bajar más de la mitad entre mediados del pasado mes de junio y mediados del pasado mes de enero, los precios del petróleo en euros se han recuperarse desde entonces en un tercio, en parte por la profunda depreciación del euro, que está encareciendo en general las exportaciones. Su efecto en los presupuestos de los hogares y en los costos de las empresas no es precisamente un motivo de celebración.

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