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发表于 2011-11-29 14:54 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 inundate 于 2011-11-29 15:02 编辑

Weak Bond Sale Tests Germany’s Stature in Crisis

FRANKFURT — Germany’s stature as an island of stability in the European debt crisis was shaken Wednesday when it fell far short of selling all the government bonds it put up for auction.

Investors are beginning to question whether there are any havens left in Europe after German bonds, which the government uses to raise money for operations, got a surprisingly bad reception. The sale — more than one-third of the bonds found no buyers — helped push down stocks and contributed to the atmosphere of fear that prevails among the countries, including Germany, that share euro currency.

While analysts cautioned against reading too much into a single bond auction, the weak auction was at the very least a blow to the prestige of Germany, whose economic strength has enabled it to largely dictate how the euro region will cope with the debt crisis.

And there is a growing sense in the region that unless the European Central Bank and big euro members like Germany and France agree to take major action to prop up the region’s finances, the euro-currency union itself could start to crumble. The debt crisis has toppled five governments, including Italy and Greece, by raising those countries’ borrowing costs to dangerously high levels. And now the crisis is prompting many investors to pull money out of the euro region altogether.

Until now, Germany has been able to point to its solid economy and low debt as proof that public spending cuts — austerity — are the answer to the region’s debt crisis. And it has been the loudest opponent of proposals for the European Central Bank to help shore up weaker economies by serving as lender of last resort to national governments.

But if investor faith in Germany slips, its moral authority could weaken, too.

“Losing that bargaining power could be massive for Germany,” said Silvio Peruzzo, an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland. “That is one of the pillars on which Germany has based its policy approach.”“对德国来说失去那种谈判能力犹如晴天霹雳,”苏格兰皇家银行的经济学家希尔维尔•佩鲁佐称,“这是德国政治方针的支柱”。
Germany on Wednesday had sought to raise as much as 6 billion euros ($8 billion) in an auction of 10-year bonds. But it was able to sell only 3.9 billion euros worth, Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, reported.
Another few bad auctions, Mr. Peruzzo said, “could shift the debate to, ‘The austerity is too strong, we need growth.’ ”
佩鲁佐先生说,“再多几次不成功的竞售,争论就可能转向 ‘紧缩政策力度太大,我们需要发展’”。

Already, signs that many of the euro region’s 17 countries are on the verge of economic recession has been challenging the wisdom of Germany’s austerity prescription.

On Wednesday, the European Commission, the executive agency for the 27-nation European Union, proposed measures for addressing the debt crisis in the 17-country subset of members that share the euro currency. The proposals included issuing, for the first time, bonds backed by all the countries of the euro zone — a measure that, despite German opposition, is gaining acceptance as a means of market reassurance as the crisis persists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, during a budget debate Wednesday in Berlin, reiterated her opposition to the creation of the bonds. But she has not completely ruled out the possibility of issuing bonds based on collective euro zone obligations at some future date.在柏林的一场预算案之争中,德国总理默克尔重申她反对发行共同债券。但是她不排除在将来某天基于共同义务发行欧元区债券的可能性。

The disappointing German auction on Wednesday could be a signal that that future might be coming sooner than many had been expecting.

Charles Diebel, head of market strategy at Lloyds Banking in London, described the disappointing German auction as “a pretty significant buyers’ strike.”

“Seeing as these are supposedly the safe-haven asset of choice, people are concluding that the risk is becoming systemic,” Mr. Diebel said.

The low demand, he said, may indicate that investors increasingly expect Germany and the European Central Bank, which together would bear a large financial portion of a major euro zone bailout, “to go all in and support the euro.”
需求低也许表明投资者越来越希望德国和欧洲央行一起,对核心欧元区大部分国家实施紧急援助, “全身投入并支持欧元”。

By that thinking, investors might have concluded that the relatively low yield, or interest rates, on the German bonds — Wednesday’s auctioned bonds were priced at an average yield of 1.98 percent — were not worth the potential risk that Germany’s economy could soon be strained by the demands of bailing out Italy or Spain or other big debt-saddled euro union members.

Such strains could send German bond yields much higher than Wednesday’s offering.

For comparison’s sake, yields on 10-year bonds offered by the United States Treasury, which continue to be considered a global haven, are about 1.9 percent.

Mr. Diebel said that the failure of Germany and the European Central Bank to take significant steps to address the region’s debt crisis would mean “the risk of a euro breakup increases.”

But it is also possible to argue that German bonds could gain value in case of a breakup, which would force Germany to reintroduce its own currency. Economists agree that the euro is weaker against other major currencies than the German deutsche mark would be.

German officials sought to play down the significance of Wednesday’s bond auction. The sale was one of nine this year that fell short of demand, said Jörg Müller, a spokesman for the German Finance Agency, which administers bond sales.

“It’s routine,” he said, adding that demand often tails off toward the end of the year. He said the excess bonds would be sold on the open market, and would not lead to any funding shortages for the government.

But if shortfalls in German bond auctions are routine, few have seen such a big gap — 35 percent — between the size of the offering and the number actually sold. In April and August auctions, for example, the shortfall was only 19 percent.

Mr. Peruzzo, of Royal Bank of Scotland, said he thought only a minority of investors had doubts about Germany. But he added that market sentiment was so fragile in Europe that confidence could begin to crumble anyway.

“The debate will quickly switch to, ‘Is this the start of credit erosion of Germany?’ ” Mr. Peruzzo said.

Some Wall Street analysts viewed the German bond auction as a wake-up call.

“Investors sent a very strong message to Frankfurt: ‘You’re not immune from the fallout, and it’s time that you do something about it,’ ” said Andrew Wilkinson, the chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Company in New York.

Stephen A. Walsh, the chief investment officer for Western Asset Management, in New York, asked, “Can you imagine if a U.S. Treasury auction failed?

“As the dominoes have fallen, with sovereign government debt not priced like it has credit risk,” Mr. Walsh said, “the last domino is the U.S. Treasury and the second-to-last has been German bunds.” He was using the German term for bonds.

In the first steps toward the closer political and financial integration that many have come to believe is essential for the euro’s survival, the European Commission on Wednesday went beyond floating the idea of euro bonds. It also proposed that countries surrender more power over their finances to the European authorities, giving Brussels the right to request a rewrite of spending plans that seem too profligate.

“Without stronger governance in the euro area it will be difficult, if not impossible, to sustain the common currency,” José Manuel Barroso, president of the commission, said in Brussels.


The proposals, which would require the approval of all 27 European Union governments to go in to effect, align Brussels with Germany on the issue of oversight.


German officials have long argued that the European authorities needed greater powers to scrutinize the budgets of member countries that use the euro, to avoid what Germans consider the profligacy that created Greece’s and Italy’s problems and pulled the rest of the region into a crisis whose end seems nowhere in sight.



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