El odiado patrón dólar

PALO ALTO – Desde el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la mayor parte del comercio internacional se facturó en dólares estadounidenses. Esta moneda actúa como intermediaria en la compensación interbancaria internacional y es la moneda en que está denominada la mayor parte de las reservas oficiales de divisas extranjeras. Aunque este arreglo es objeto de frecuentes críticas, no parece haber ninguna alternativa viable.

Para la Europa de posguerra, hundida en la depresión y la inflación, esto supuso un problema, pues al carecer de reservas extranjeras, el comercio conllevaba para ella un alto costo de oportunidad. Para eliminar la necesidad de pagar inmediatamente cada transacción comercial, y de ese modo facilitar el comercio, en 1950 la Organización Europea para la Cooperación Económica creó la Unión Europea de Pagos. La UEP funcionaba mediante una línea de crédito denominada en dólares; los 15 países de Europa Occidental participantes establecieron paridades cambiarias exactas con el dólar, como preludio al anclaje de sus niveles de precios internos y la eliminación de controles de divisas que obstaculizaran el comercio intraeuropeo. Esto fue la piedra basal para la creación del enormemente exitoso Programa de Recuperación Europea (el Plan Marshall), a través del cual Estados Unidos colaboró con la reconstrucción de las economías de Europa.

En la actualidad, la mayoría de las economías en desarrollo (con excepción de unos pocos países de Europa del Este) siguen anclando su funcionamiento macroeconómico interno a la estabilización de sus monedas respecto del dólar (al menos intermitentemente). Entretanto, para evitar conflictos cambiarios, la Reserva Federal de los Estados Unidos evita intervenir en los mercados de divisas.

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