Pobre País Rico

Resulta difícil tener compasión por Noruega. Gracias a sus reservas masivas de petróleo localizadas en el Mar del Norte, el país ha alcanzado un nivel de riqueza que era inimaginable hace apenas una generación y que le ha permitido tratar con displicencia a la Unión Europea (UE) desde 1994. Pero los problemas de Noruega, aunque lejos de equipararse con los del África Negra o los de Afganistán, son de cualquier forma suficientemente serios como para generar preocupación, si no lástima.

Cuando la recién descubierta abundancia de recursos naturales de un país lleva a una riqueza casi inmediata, como caída del cielo, la inversión en el resto de la economía se traslada del sector de bienes comercializables (sobre todo las manufacturas) al sector de bienes no comercializables (principalmente los bienes de consumo y los servicios). El diagnóstico es bien conocido: la conocida como Enfermedad holandesa. Si desaparecen los recursos naturales que generaron la riqueza inesperada (en este caso el petróleo y el gas), la economía se queda con muy pocas industrias competitivas y demasiados cafés de librería vacíos. A continuación vendrá, sin duda alguna, una reestructuración dolorosa.

Hasta ahora Noruega ha evitado los peores escollos de la Enfermedad holandesa utilizando sus masivos ingresos petroleros para establecer un esquema de ahorro nacional, el Fondo Petrolero, el cual puede invertir sólo en activos externos. Esta regla sirve para restringir la presión de la demanda inflacionaria al mismo tiempo que evita que los funcionarios electos derrochen las riquezas del país en proyectos políticamente provechosos pero económicamente desastrosos. En ambos casos, sin embargo, Noruega bajó recientemente la guardia y se encamina a terreno peligroso.

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