El dólar pisa una mancha resbaladiza de petróleo

CAMBRIDGE – La rápida suba del precio del petróleo y la marcada depreciación del dólar son dos de los acontecimientos más sobresalientes del pasado año. El precio del petróleo aumentó el 85% en los últimos 12 meses, de 65 a 120 dólares el barril. Durante el mismo período, el dólar cayó el 15% en relación al euro y el 12% frente al yen. Para muchos observadores, la combinación de la caída del dólar y el aumento de los precios del petróleo parece ser más que una coincidencia.

Ahora bien, ¿cuál es la relación entre ambos? ¿El precio del petróleo habría aumentado menos si el petróleo estuviera cotizado en euros en lugar de dólares? ¿La caída del dólar causó el aumento del precio del petróleo? ¿Y cómo afectó la suba del precio del petróleo el movimiento del dólar?

Como el mercado petrolero es global, siendo su precio en diferentes lugares prácticamente idéntico, el precio refleja tanto la demanda mundial total de petróleo como la oferta total de todos los países productores de petróleo. La principal demanda de petróleo es como combustible para transporte, a la vez que se utilizan cantidades menores para calefacción, energía y como insumos para industrias petroquímicas como la del plástico. Por ende, la creciente demanda de petróleo de parte de todos los países, pero especialmente de aquellos pertenecientes a mercados emergentes de rápido crecimiento como China y la India, ha sido y seguirá siendo una fuerza importante que empuje el precio global hacia arriba.

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