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[经济学人] [2011.11.05] Pulling for the home team 欧洲央行借贷政府

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发表于 2011-11-24 10:29 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Economics focus
经济聚焦

Pulling for the home team
欧洲央行借贷政府

Central-bank lending to government serves a valuable, though risky, purpose
央行借贷政府暗含风险,却意义重大


IT CANNOT be pleasant to start a new job with a continent’s fate resting on your shoulders. On November 1st, Mario Draghi’s first day as president of the European Central Bank (ECB), peripheral-government bond yields shot up and stockmarkets sank on fears that Greeks might reject a rescue plan agreed days earlier.
一份工作关系一个大陆的命运,换作是谁接手都开心不起来。 11月1日,欧洲央行(ECB)行长德拉吉上任第一天,欧元边缘国家政府债券收益率急剧蹿升,而股票市场由于担心希腊可能拒绝此前达成的救助计划全线暴跌。

On November 3rd, as The Economist went to press, Mr Draghi was presiding over his first policy meeting. Much is riding on what the ECB decides then and in coming weeks because it alone currently has the means to stem the intensifying crisis. It has bought Greek, Portuguese and Irish debt; since early August, it has also purchased Spanish and Italian bonds. But its purchases have been intermittent and begrudging. Without a firm commitment to buy as much as needed to prevent yields on Italian and Spanish bonds rising so high that both countries become insolvent, investors have less incentive to return.
11月3日,经济学家付印之际,德拉吉主持就任后的第一次欧央行货币政策会议。欧央行届时以及未来几周的决定举足轻重,因为现在只有它有办法阻止危机进一步恶化。欧央行已购买了希腊,葡萄牙和爱尔兰的债务;自8月初以来,又购买了西班牙和意大利债券。但欧央行的购买断断续续、不够果断。意大利和西班牙的债权收益率节节攀升以至两国经济岌岌可危,若欧央行没有做出坚定的承诺,表示将防止两国债券收益率升高到难以偿还的地步,投资者很难有动力重新注入资金。

The ECB’s reluctance to make such a commitment is understandable: its legal mandate and doctrinal persuasion bar it from directly supporting governments. Yet throughout history central banks have been lenders of last resort to their governments. In 1694 the English monarchy was broke and in need of a loan so that it could wage war with France. A group of financiers agreed to lend the crown £1.2m in return for a partial monopoly on the issue of currency. Thus was born the Bank of England.
欧央行不愿做出这样的承诺是可以理解的:法律权限和古板理念使其无法直接援助各国政府。然而纵观历史,央行历来是本国政府的最后贷款人[1].1694年英国君主专制政体覆灭,英国政府急需与法国交战的资金。一群金融家同意借给英王室120万英镑,换取货币发行部分垄断权[2].这就是英格兰银行的起源。

Central banks routinely serve as their government’s agent: they accept payments, disburse outlays, auction and redeem their bonds. Most buy and sell government bonds to carry out monetary policy. At times they have done so to finance government, especially in wartime. The Bank of England suspended the convertibility of its notes to gold from 1797 to 1821 to enable it to better finance Britain’s wars with France. In the 1930s the Bank of Japan was compelled to buy the government’s bonds, and from 1942 to 1951 the Federal Reserve agreed, at the Treasury’s request, to hold Treasury yields to 2.5% or below.
通常情况下,央行扮演的是政府代理人的角色:接受政府存款、支付政府经费、拍卖和赎回债券。大多数央行买卖国债以推行货币政策。有时买卖债券是为政府融资,特别是在战争时期。英格兰银行从1797年到1821年暂停票据兑换黄金交易,为英法战争筹得更多资金。日本央行在20世纪30年代被迫购买国债,在财政部的要求下,美联储从1942年到1951年设定的最高国债收益率为2.5%。

The risks are obvious: bond purchases expand the money supply, potentially leading to inflation. Virtually all hyperinflations begin with such monetisation of budget deficits, including Germany’s in 1920-24, which explains the Bundesbank’s, and now the ECB’s, reluctance to lend to governments.
风险显而易见的:购买债券扩大了货币供给量,为通货膨胀埋下了定时炸弹。事实上,几乎所有恶性通货膨胀都始于预算赤字货币化,包括德国1920年至1924年恶性通货膨胀[3],这也解释了现在的德意志联邦银行以及欧央行不愿借钱给政府的原因。

The mere possibility of inflation can force governments with weak central banks to pay punitive interest rates. But as Chris Sims of Princeton University, who shared this year’s Nobel prize for economics, notes in a recent presentation, there is another side to the story. Bonds of a country with its own central bank are simply a promise to repay one government obligation (ie, debt) with another (ie, currency). The owner of such a bond is confident he can always sell or redeem it, and thus does not demand a higher yield to compensate for counterparty risk.
只要有通胀的可能,color=Red]都会迫使央行软弱的政府[支付罚息利率。但今年的诺贝尔经济学奖得主之一普林斯顿大学教授克里斯托弗•西姆斯在最近的一次演讲中提到,针对此事还有另一种看法。一国央行发行的国债其实就是一个设有央行的国家发行的债券其实就只是承诺用一种政府负债(货币)来偿还另一种政府负债(债务)。这种债券的持有人相信自己可以随时买进卖出,因而不要求较高利率弥补给对手交易风险。

A country that gives up its monetary sovereignty by dollarising or adopting the euro may gain greater credibility on inflation but may have to pay more to compensate investors for counterparty risk. This may seem like a good idea when counterparty risk is low, but that can change abruptly and dramatically. Mr Sims, in a 2002 paper, says the option of using inflation to repay debt is a valuable fiscal-shock absorber that over time may be less expensive than the risk, or fact, of default.
通过美元化[4]或使用欧元放弃货币主权的国家可能在通货膨胀问题上获得更高的信用,但这些国家也可能需要支付投资者更多的资金,以弥补交易对手风险。对手交易风险低的时候,这似乎是一个好主意时,但风险变幻莫测、出人意料。西姆斯在2002年的一篇论文中说,可以通过通膨来偿还债务这种选择是很有价值的财政缓冲工具,长期来看其成本实际上可能比违约的风险成本更低。

This can be seen starkly by comparing Britain with Spain (see chart). Based on debts, deficits and inflation, Britain should be the riskier credit. But British bonds yield around 2.3% whereas Spain’s yield around 5.5%. One reason is that Britain can still devalue to boost growth; Spain can’t. Another is that it has a lender of last resort; Spain doesn’t. Paul De Grauwe of the University of Leuven says that if Britain couldn’t roll over its debt at acceptable interest rates, it could ultimately force the Bank of England to buy it. “This means that investors cannot precipitate a liquidity crisis in the UK that could force the UK government into default.”
通过英、西两国的对比,我们可以很明显地看到这种效果(见图表)。由于债务、赤字和通货膨胀问题,英国政府应该是较高风险信贷方。但英国国债的收益率在2.3%左右,而西班牙的收益率约为5.5%。原因之一是,英国通过英镑贬值促进经济增长;西班牙不能。另一个原因是,英国有一个最后的贷款人[5];西班牙没有。鲁汶大学的保罗•德•格劳威认为,如果英国不能在可接受利率内循环贷款,政府可能最终迫使英格兰银行购买本国国债。 “这意味着,在英国,投资者不可能引发导致英国政府债务违约的流动性危机。”



No central bank wants to be put in that position, of course, and institutional arrangements have sprung up to prevent it. The most common is to require that bonds be purchased only at market prices. The Federal Reserve is prohibited from buying bonds directly from the government, except to roll over a maturing issue in its portfolio. It can buy bonds on the secondary market, which is how it enforced the yield ceiling during the second world war, but its accord with the Treasury in 1951 ended that obligation. The Bank of Japan can buy bonds on the secondary market, but not directly from the government unless the Japanese Parliament votes to require it. The Chilean central bank may not buy government securities while Israel, Argentina, Canada and South Korea impose limits on how much the central bank may purchase.
当然,没有一家央行愿意被推倒这种境地,而且为防止这种情况发生,会在体制层面采取了大量措施。最常见的是要求债券只能按照市场价出售。美联储被禁止直接购买国债,其已拥有的资产组合内的到期国债展期除外。美联储可以在二级市场上购买债券,这是其在二战期间为强制执行收益率上限采取的措施,但其与财政部1951年达成的协议终止了此项义务。日本央行可以在二级市场购买债券,但不能直接从政府购买债券,除非日本国会投票要求。智利央行不可能购买国债,而以色列,阿根廷,加拿大和韩国央行可以,但购买数额有限制。

The European Union’s Maastricht treaty is in keeping with these arrangements: it prohibits the ECB from buying bonds directly from member governments, but not from buying them on the secondary market. The ECB claims it buys only to ensure its monetary policy is transmitted to interest rates.
欧盟的《马斯特里赫特条约》有如下规定:禁止欧央行直接购买成员国国债,但可在二级市场上购买。欧央行声称其购买的国债只用以确保其货币政策能通过利率表现出来。

How could the ECB be enticed into becoming lender of last resort? Mr Sims says the ECB needs to be reassured its own balance-sheet has sound fiscal backing. That is because it may deplete its capital by selling assets at a loss or paying interest on reserves to prevent bond purchases from fuelling inflation. He suggests empowering the European Financial Stability Facility, Europe’s bail-out fund, both to issue euro-denominated bonds (backed by a euro-zone-wide tax) which the ECB could buy during open-market operations, and to recapitalise the ECB if needed.
欧央行是如何变成最后贷款人的?西姆斯说,欧央行需要确保自身的资产负债表有稳健的财政支持。这是因为,为防止债券购买引发通货膨胀而贱卖资产或支付储备利息,会将央行资产消耗殆尽。他建议授权欧洲金融稳定基金、欧洲救市基金发行以欧元计价的债券(由欧元区统一税收作担保),其中欧央行可以通过公开市场操作购买债券,在必要时用以进行欧央行资产重组。

But the ECB may not have time to await such arrangements. Brad DeLong of the University of California, Berkeley, notes that central banks have taken liberties with their mandates when financial stability was at stake. The Bank of England lent aggressively during the financial crisis of 1825-26, for example, despite lacking the legal authority. Sir Robert Peel, First Lord of the Treasury, later said: “If it be necessary to assume a grave responsibility, I dare say men will be willing to assume such a responsibility.” Whether Mr Draghi does so may determine the euro’s fate.
但欧央行可能没有时间等到这样的授权。加州大学伯克利分校的布拉德福•德隆教授指出金融稳定岌岌可危时,央行有下达指令的特权。比如,1825年至1826年金融危机期间,尽管没有法律授权,英格兰银行仍然发放了大量贷款。财政大臣罗伯特皮尔爵士后来说:“如果有必要承担起这样重大的责任,我敢说是男人都会义无反顾。”德拉吉是否作出这样有魄力的决定可能决定着欧元的命运。

from the print edition | Finance and economics

译者注:
[1]最后的贷款人:即在出现危机或者流动资金短缺的情况时,负责应付资金需求的机构(通常是中央银行),防止了恐慌的蔓延
[2]即在一定资本限度内发行银行券和国库券
[3]此期间德国最高通货膨胀率甚至达到29000%
[4]美元化是指一国或一经济体的政府让美元逐步取代自己的货币并最终自动放弃货币或金融主权的行动
[5]即英格兰银行
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