2012年6月26日星期二

Germany did not learn the lesson, or reproduction of the 1930s crisis


From the Financial Times (originally published on June 8, 2012):
本文源自《金融时报》(2012年6月8日初版)
Is it one minute to midnight in Europe?
欧洲进入午夜是否只剩下一分钟倒计时了?
We fear that the German government’s policy of doing “too little too late” risks a repeat of precisely the crisis of the mid-20th century that European integration was designed to avoid.
我们现在开始担心,德国政府目前采取的“管太少太晚”政策可能会导致二十世纪中期恰恰原本想借由欧洲一体化来避免的危机再次发生。
We find it extraordinary that it should be Germany, of all countries, that is failing to learn from history. Fixated on the non-threat of inflation, today’s Germans appear to attach more importance to 1923 (the year of hyperinflation) than to 1933 (the year democracy died). They would do well to remember how a European banking crisis two years before 1933 contributed directly to the breakdown of democracy not just in their own country but right across the European continent.
这是一个令人奇怪的事情,在这么多国家里,竟然偏偏是德国没有从历史中汲取教训。今天的德国总是对不构成威胁的通货膨胀念念不忘,似乎比起1933年发生的民主制度崩毁事件,他们更重视1923年的恶性通货膨胀。他们应该很清楚地记得,1933前两年发生的欧洲银行危机是如何席卷德国,甚至整个欧洲,直接导致民主制度的崩溃。
We have warned for more than three years that continental Europe needs to clean up its banks’ woeful balance sheets. Next to nothing has been done. In the meantime, a silent run on the banks of the eurozone periphery has been under way for two years now: cross-border, interbank and wholesale funding has rolled off and been substituted with European Central Bank financing; and “smart money” – large uninsured deposits of wealthy individuals – has quietly departed Greek and other “Club Med” banks.
三年多以来,我们一直在警告欧洲大陆必须清理它那一团糟的银行资产负债表。但是几乎毫无进展。同时,欧元区外围国家发生的无声的银行挤兑已经进行了两年,跨国银行,同业银行和批发性的融资也随之减少,它们被欧洲中央银行的融资所取代。而“精明的资金”,即那些富人们大量的未保险存款,也已经悄悄撤离了希腊和其他知名银行。
But now the public is finally losing faith and the silent run may spread to smaller insured deposits. Indeed, if Greece were to leave the eurozone, a deposit freeze would occur and euro deposits would be converted into new drachmas: so a euro in a Greek bank really is not equivalent to a euro in a German bank. Greeks have withdrawn more than €700m from their banks in the past month.
但是现在,公众已经失去了信心,无声的银行挤兑已经扩散到较小额的受保存款。事实上,假如希腊要退出欧元区,这将引发存款冻结,其欧元存款也会转换为新的德拉克马①。也就是说,实际上,希腊银行里的一欧元并不等同于德国银行里的一欧元。上个月希腊人民已经从银行取出了超过七亿欧元存款。
More worryingly, there was also a surge in withdrawals from some Spanish banks last month. The government’s bungled bailout of Bankia has only heightened public anxiety. On a recent visit to Barcelona, one of us was repeatedly asked if it was safe to leave money in a Spanish bank. This kind of process is potentially explosive. What today is a leisurely “bank jog” could easily become a sprint for the exits. In the event of a Greek exit, rational people would ask: who is next?
更令人担忧的是,在上个月,一些西班牙银行的提款激增。政府对Bankia银行②拙劣的纾困计划无疑是火上浇油,使民众更为紧张。我们的其中一位同行在最近一次去巴塞罗那时,就不停地在询问在西班牙银行存款是否安全。而这样的情况很可能会爆炸性的增长。目前“银行存款缓慢流失”或可轻易演变为争先恐后地退出欧元区。假如希腊真的退出欧元区,理性的人总会问:“下一个是谁呢?”
The way out of this crisis seems clear. First, there needs to be a programme of direct recapitalisation – via preferred non-voting shares – of eurozone banks, in the periphery and the core, by the European Financial Stability Facility and its successor, the European Stability Mechanism.
走出危机的方法看起来很明确。首先,需要制定相关程序,使欧洲金融稳定基金以及其后续者欧洲金融稳定机制通过无表决权优先股份直接对欧元外围区和核心区的银行进行资本重组。
The current approach of recapitalising the banks by the sovereigns borrowing from domestic bond markets – and/or the EFSF – has been a disaster in Ireland and Greece: it has led to a surge of public debt and made the sovereign even more insolvent while making banks more risky as an increasing amount of the debt is in their hands.
目前,政府对银行进行资本重组的方法是从国内债券市场和欧洲金融稳定基金,或者只从后者借款。但这一方法已经在爱尔兰和希腊造成了严重的后果,致使国债激增,国家愈加无力偿还债务。随着手上借款的增加,银行的风险也相应增加。
Second, to avoid a run on eurozone banks – a certainty in the case of a Greek exit and likely in any case – an EU-wide system of deposit insurance needs to be created.
第二,避免对欧元区内银行的挤兑。假如希腊退出欧元区,或者是其他的任何情况都必然会引发挤兑,因此需要建立一个泛欧盟的存款保险机制。
To reduce moral hazard (and the equity and credit risk taken by eurozone taxpayers), several additional measures should also be implemented.
还需要采取配套措施以减少道德风险(以及欧元区纳税人所承担的股权和信贷风险)。
The deposit insurance scheme has to be funded by appropriate bank levies: this could be a financial transaction tax or, better, a charge on all bank liabilities.
必须通过向银行征税以为存款保险计划提供资金,税种可以是金融交易税,或者更理想的是,对银行的所有债务进行征收。
There needs to be a bank resolution scheme in which unsecured creditors of banks – both junior and senior – would take a hit before taxpayer money is used.
需要制定银行改革计划,在纳税人的钱被花掉之前,银行次级和优先的无担保债权人先会遭受冲击。
Measures to limit the size of banks to avoid the too-big-to-fail problem need to be taken.
还需要采取措施限制银行的规模,以解决“规模大到不能倒”的问题。
We also favour an EU-wide system of supervision and regulation.
我们也支持建立一个泛欧盟的监管体系。
It is true that European-wide deposit insurance will not work if there is a continued risk of a country leaving the eurozone. Guaranteeing deposits in euros would be expensive as the departing country would need to convert all euro claims into a national currency, which would swiftly depreciate against the euro. On the other hand, a deposit insurance scheme that holds only if a country doesn’t leave will be incapable of stopping a bank run. So, more needs to be done to reduce the probability of eurozone exits.
事实是,假如某一国家要退出欧元区的风险不消退的话,泛欧洲的存款保险是无法行之有效的。对于想要退出的国家来说,担保欧元存款就跟把所有欧元转换成本国的货币一样昂贵,其货币还会迅速对欧元贬值。从另一方面来说,也只有当留在欧元区的国家能够阻止银行挤兑,存款保险计划才会起作用。因此,需要采取更多的措施降低成员国退出欧元区的可能性。
Structural reforms that boost productivity growth should be accelerated. And economic growth needs to be jump-started. The policies to achieve this include further monetary easing by the ECB, a weaker euro, some fiscal stimulus in the core, more bottleneck-reducing and supply-stimulating infrastructure spending in the periphery (preferably with some kind of “golden rule” for public investment), and wage increases above productivity in the core to boost income and consumption.
需要加速提高生产力的结构性改革以及强力推动经济增长,采取的措施包括欧洲央行进一步放宽货币政策,欧元走弱,对核心国家进行财政刺激,其工资增长应高于生产力以提高收入,刺激消费,而外围国家则需要加大基础设施建设投入,减少瓶颈,刺激供应(最好是在公共投资上采用某种“黄金法则”)。
Finally, given the unsustainably high public debts and borrowing costs of certain member states, we see no alternative to some kind of debt mutualisation.
最后,考虑到不稳定的高额国债和某些成员国的高额借贷成本,除了采取债务互助的方法则别无选择。
There are currently a number of different proposals for eurozone bonds. Among them, the German Council of Economic Advisers’ proposal for a European redemption fund is to be preferred – not because it is optimal but because it is the only one that can assuage German concerns about taking on too much credit risk.
目前对欧元区债券的提议有不少,其中德国经济顾问委员会提出的欧洲偿还基金方案应该受到青睐,不是因为它是最理想的方案,而是因为这是唯一一个可以使德国减少对于承担过多信用风险的忧虑的方案。
The ERF is a temporary programme that does not lead to permanent eurozone bonds. It is supported by appropriate collateral and seniority for the fund and has strong conditionality. The main risk is that any proposal acceptable to Germany would imply such a loss of sovereignty over fiscal policy that it would be unacceptable to the periphery, particularly Italy and Spain. Giving up some sovereignty is inevitable. However, there is a difference between federalism and “neo-colonialism” – as a senior figure put it to us at a meeting of the Nicolas Berggruen Institute in Rome.
欧洲偿还基金只是一个暂时的计划,并不会变成永久的欧元区债券。它受适合的抵押品和清偿的优先性所支持,有较大的制约性。但是主要的风险在于,凡是德国同意的方案都意味着在财政政策上要丧失一定的主权,而这往往都不会外围国家所接受,尤其是意大利和西班牙。放弃一定的主权是无可避免的。然而,正如一个高级官员在罗马的一个伯由格鲁恩研究所举行的会议上跟我们所说的一样,联邦制和“新殖民主义”还是有差别的。
Until recently, the German position has been relentlessly negative on all such proposals. We understand German concerns about moral hazard. Putting German taxpayers’ money on the line will be hard to justify if meaningful reforms do not materialise on the periphery. But such reforms are bound to take time. Structural reform of the German labour market was hardly an overnight success. By contrast, the European banking crisis is a real hazard that could escalate in days.
直到最近,德国还是持续否定上述的提议。我们可以理解德国对于道德风险的担忧。假如在外围国家没有出现有效的改革,就难以找到合理的理由去把德国纳税人的钱置于这些风险中。但是这样的改革必然需要漫长的过程。德国劳动力市场的结构性改革也不是一蹴而就的。但相比之下,欧洲的银行业危机引发的风险就可以在几天内升级。
Germans must understand that bank recapitalisation, European deposit insurance and debt mutualisation are not optional; they are essential to avoid an irreversible disintegration of Europe’s monetary union. If they are still not convinced, they must understand that the costs of a eurozone break-up would be astronomically high – for themselves as much as anyone.
德国必须明白,进行银行资本重组,设立欧洲存款保险和债务互助机制是现在唯一的选择,它们对于避免欧洲货币联盟不可逆转的解体发挥必不可少的作用。如果他们还没有意识到这点,那么他们应该要明白,无论是对其他人还是他们自己,欧元区解体的代价是一个无法想象的天文数字。
After all, Germany’s prosperity is in large measure a consequence of monetary union. The euro has given German exporters a far more competitive exchange rate than the old Deutschmark would have. And the rest of the eurozone remains the destination for 42 per cent of German exports. Plunging half of that market into a new Depression can hardly be good for Germany.
但终究德国的繁荣很大程度上要归功于货币联盟。比起过去使用的德国马克,欧元使得德国在出口上享有更具竞争力的汇率,而且德国出口的42%是在欧元区内。把自己的半个市场推向一个新的大萧条对德国是百害而无一利。
Ultimately, as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, herself acknowledged last week, monetary union always implied further integration into a fiscal and political union. But before Europe gets anywhere near taking this historical step, it must first of all show it has learnt the lessons of the past. The EU was created to avoid repeating the disasters of the 1930s. It is time Europe’s leaders – and especially Germany’s – understood how perilously close they are to doing just that.
最后,正如德国总理安吉拉·默克尔上周自己所说的,建立货币联盟就意味着要进一步整合为财政和政治联盟。但是在他们迈出这历史性的一步之前,首先他们必须表明自己学到了教训。建立欧盟正是为了避免重复1930年代的灾难。欧洲各国领导人,尤其是德国领导人,是时候要看清楚,他们现在已经岌岌可危,再不意识到这点就太晚了。
①德拉克马:现代希腊货币单位。
②Bankia银行:西班牙银行集团,2012年5月8日,西班牙政府将国内资产规模第三大的银行Bankia部份资产国有化。

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