¿Adiós al dólar?

CAMBRIDGE – Este mes, cuando los líderes financieros del mundo se encuentren en Washington durante la reunión anual Banco Mundial-Fondo Monetario Internacional, quizá deberán dar gracias de que no haya una alternativa clara al dólar como patrón de moneda global. Si el euro estuviera listo, bien podríamos estar viendo un salto en su tipo de cambio frente al dólar a más de 2, en lugar del 1.65 o 1.70 al que va a llegar de cualquier forma. No se puede tratar a los clientes tan mal como Estados Unidos ha tratado a los suyos últimamente si pueden acudir a otro lugar.

En los últimos seis años, el valor del dólar ponderado en función del comercio ha caído más de un 25% a medida que Estados Unidos ha seguido acumulando un déficit comercial sin precedentes. Con una economía blanda, un sistema financiero gravemente dañado y preocupaciones serias sobre la creciente inflación, la tendencia del dólar a largo plazo es a la baja, independientemente de cómo acabe la crisis actual. Y no ha acabado.

Es poco probable que el rescate del sistema financiero que ha realizado la Reserva Federal resista a menos que los bancos obtengan capital fresco, y mucho. Los fondos soberanos de riqueza, extremadamente ricos, tienen el dinero para rescatar a los bancos estadounidenses. Pero no es probable que en este momento quieran hacerlo, aun si el sistema político de Estados Unidos lo permitiera. En cambio, mientras persistan la contracción del crédito y la caída de los precios de los bienes raíces, es probable que haya un gigantesco rescate inmobiliario, que costará a los contribuyentes estadounidenses un billón de dólares o más. El problema es que, tras tantos años de rendimientos miserables de los activos en dólares, ¿estarán los inversionistas mundiales verdaderamente dispuestos a absorber otro billón de dólares de deuda estadounidense a cualquier cosa que se parezca a las tasas de interés y los tipos de cambio actuales?

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