El Euro y los Precios Europeos

Entre los efectos que se tenía la esperanza de lograr con la introducción física del Euro se encuentran una mayor transparencia de las diferencias entre los precios al menudeo de los distintos países y una subsecuente presión para ecualizarlos. El argumento para esto último es simple: al eliminar las monedas nacionales y tener todos los precios en euros, ¿cómo es posible que los autos o las hogazas de pan similares tengan precios distintos en cada lado de una frontera? La presión para comprar en donde los precios son bajos y vender o, por lo menos, no comprar en donde los precios son altos, será formidable.

Ese argumento, sin embargo, es inocente, pues no hace falta un genio para comparar el precio de un auto en Alemania con el precio del mismo auto en Francia. Todo mundo hace esos cálculos cuando decide ir de vacaciones al extranjero, ¿por qué creer que las personas no lo hacen con otros bienes y servicios? La gente no es tan estúpida o tan floja como los políticos y los burócratas piensan. La pregunta interesante es: ¿qué tanto se deben las discrepancias entre los precios a la mera ignorancia y a la inercia, y qué tanto se deben a factores que tienen poca probabilidad de cambiar con la llegada del Euro?

Empezando con la evidencia disponible sobre los precios al menudeo. UBS, el grupo bancario suizo, calculó los precios de una canasta básica de 111 bienes y servicios en diversas ciudades alrededor del mundo. Los precios en las ciudades europeas se listan en la tabla que se muestra más adelante, utilizando al precio de Alemania como referencia. Obviamente, hay inmensas diferencias entre los precios. Si las personas en Finlandia hicieran sus compras en España, ¡incrementarían 50% su poder de adquisición! Entonces, si se diera una ecualización de precios, los ciudadanos de los países ricos tendrían un festín y los de los países más pobres pagarían con un ojo de la cara. Pero eso no sucederá; las diferencias en los niveles de precios no cambiarán mucho a pesar del Euro.

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