El shock petrolero que nunca sucedió

Era de esperarse que los precios del petróleo se fueran a las nubes después del 11 de septiembre debido a la inestabilidad política en Medio Oriente. En cambio, han caído un 30%, a 20 dólares por barril, su nivel más bajo en dos años.

Esta caída se debe a tres causas. Primero, la recesión ha golpeado con fuerza a ciertos sectores que son grandes consumidores de petróleo, como el transporte aéreo, y por ello, la demanda ha disminuido. Segundo, la política de Estados Unidos ha evitado (por lo menos hasta ahora) una confrontación abierta con los países del Golfo Pérsico; y Afganistán, gracias a Dios, no es productor de petróleo. Tercero, Rusia, que está saliendo de su crisis post-soviética, parece estar decidida a seguir aumentando su propia producción, a pesar de un acercamiento reciente con la OPEP.

No obstante, esta caída de corto plazo en los precios del petróleo no debe hacernos perder de vista el problema político de largo plazo: el hecho de que la mayor parte de la producción petrolera actual está concentrada en países gobernados por autocracias que utilizan esos recursos para mantener a regímenes represivos, financiar el consumo extravagante de sus élites y adquirir cantidades espantosas de armamento. La existencia de los enormes ingresos petroleros y su desigual distribución son una fuente constante de inestabilidad interna y agresividad al exterior, como lo ha demostrado la historia reciente de Irak.

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