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El problema del precio del petróleo en Oriente Medio

CAMBRIDGE – Entre 2014 y 2016, los ingresos de los países exportadores de petróleo de Oriente Medio cayeron, en promedio, más de una tercera parte -o 15% del PIB-, y sus excedentes de cuenta corriente han oscilado violentamente a déficits de dos dígitos. A pesar de una leve recuperación reciente, la mayoría de los pronósticos predicen que los precios del petróleo se mantendrán en los niveles actuales durante mucho tiempo. De ser así, esto planteará una sacudida macroeconómica de proporciones históricas e implicará un cambio profundo para Oriente Medio.

La mayoría de los países productores de petróleo ya han comenzado a recortar gastos, a endeudarse y a recurrir a sus reservas. Pero los países con grandes desequilibrios externos, reservas bajas o deudas elevadas cada vez sentirán más restricciones financieras, si ya no las están experimentando hoy. Los precios bajos del petróleo afectarán a Argelia, Bahrein, Irak, Omán y Libia y Yemen -ambos asolados por la guerra- antes que a los países más ricos del Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo. Pero, en definitiva, el destino económico de cada país dependerá de las decisiones que tome hoy.

Los países productores de petróleo pueden recortar el consumo o mantenerlo mejorando la productividad. Naturalmente, cualquier país preferiría esto último, de modo que los gobiernos de la región hoy están intentando dejar atrás sus problemas diversificando sus economías.

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