Wednesday, September 3, 2014
7

大逃亡危机

慕尼黑—曾经有那么一段时间,看上去欧洲央行向欧洲银行系统注资1万亿欧元信用以提振流动性的计划已让金融市场平静下来。但眼下,意大利和西班牙国债利率再次开始上升,正在向6%靠近。

当然,这或许并不是债务负担变得不可持续的临界点。毕竟,南欧国家的利率在欧元引入前要大大高于10%。即使是德国,当时也必须向债权人支付6%的利息。尽管如此,市场清楚地标明,对西班牙和意大利是否愿意承担债务负担的疑虑正在与日俱增。

主要的问题是西班牙,它的公私债务比希腊、葡萄牙、爱尔兰和意大利加起来还要多,已经达到了GDP的近100%(确切地说,是93%),与希腊相仿佛。四分之一的西班牙人口和一半年轻人没有工作,这表明危机之前由便宜的欧元信用引起的地产泡沫导致该国竞争力的流失。经常项目赤字相当于GDP的3%,这还是衰退导致进口大幅下降情况下的数字;而经济收缩将使西班牙再次脱离预算赤字目标。

此外,今年2月—3月,西班牙在欧洲央行“目标”(TARGET)清算系统中的债务增加了550亿欧元(相对于720亿美元),这是因为大规模资本外流需要获得补偿。2011年7月以来,西班牙的“目标”系统债务增加了1990亿欧元。资本蜂拥而出,比2008—2010年的流入量还要多。从危机爆发首年(2008)以来的累计总量看,西班牙的全部经常项目赤字都是通过印钞来融资的。

意大利的情况要好一些,过去十年来经常项目收支在2%GDP盈余和3%GDP赤字之间波动。今年2月—3月,意大利“目标”系统债务增加了760亿欧元,2011年7月以来的总额为2760亿欧元。意大利也面临着资本枯竭的问题;事实上,投资者的外逃加速了欧洲央行的流动性注入。

现在看来,显然欧洲央行自身压实资本从西班牙和意大利等国大量外逃的一大原因,因为它所提供的廉价信用驱走了私人资本。欧洲央行行动的初衷是重塑信心并让银行间市场复苏。但这个目的同样没有达到,尽管它抛出了巨额资金。

事实上,现在法国看上去也开始动摇了。2011年7月至2012年1月,资本从法国逃出,该国“目标”系统债务增加了950亿欧元。使用欧元最初几年的便宜信用同样拖累了法国的竞争力。高盛公司最新研究称,据估算,法国价格水平必须较欧元平均水平下跌20%——即实际贬值——才能让法国重新获得欧元区内的竞争力。

意大利必须贬值10%—15%,西班牙必须贬值约20%。希腊和葡萄牙所需贬值幅度分别为30%和35%,但西班牙和意大利的数字之高已足以引起人们对欧元区未来的担忧。这些失衡唯有通过付出巨大努力才能消除,而且必须接受长达十年的停滞。对希腊和葡萄牙来说,留在欧元区内将是活受罪。

对许多人来说,解决问题之道就是通过公共渠道(援助基金、欧元债券或欧洲央行)由欧元区坚挺核心国向疲软南欧国提供更多更便宜的信用。但这对核心国的储蓄者和纳税人是不公平的,他们向南欧提供资本,所能获得的回报太低,他们不会自愿接受。

德国、荷兰和芬兰的工作者人均分别有15000、17000和21000欧元储蓄由可交易投资变成了一视同仁的欧洲央行债权。如果欧元区崩溃,没人知道这笔债权能有多大价值。

不过,最大的问题是,廉价信用的持续注入最终会导致旷日持久的虚弱(如果欧洲经济部崩盘的话),因为欧元区将沦为一个中央管理系统,而投资掌控权则在国家手里。这样一个系统是无法运作的,因为它剥夺了资本市场作为经济系统主要导航机制的地位。留给人们的只能是无尽的迷惑:无脑的欧洲政客为什么会选择走这样一条黑路。

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  1. CommentedRoman Bleifer

    We assure the hope that the current crisis is financial. Here we give the banks a trillion 1-2-3 and will overcome the crisis. Gave trillions, and the crisis is not over. And no improvement in sight. The more central and international banks have given loans to banks, the bigger speculative trading. A necessary investment in the real economy as there was no and no. We are looking for an analogy in the recent past crises, the Great Depression. Try recipes previously used, but they do not help. And all because this is not a financial crisis and the global systemic crisis ( http://crisismir.com/analiticheskie-materialy/ekonomika/13-mirovoj-ekonomicheskij-krizis-prichiny-i-posledstviya-quo-vadis.html ). This is a crisis of transition to a new system of production. If you find the correct analogy, then the analog would be the beginning of the formation of the capitalist machine production. New realities require new solutions. Old recipes do not work and will not work. They only aggravate the situation.

  2. CommentedWilliam Wallace

    There are some rather quick-and-dirty comparisons here, such as avoiding real rates of interest. No treatment is given to Spain's pre-crisis debt levels and the impact of French and German banks pumping investment into the Spanish housing bubble. The author then summarizes with a blanket condemnation of politicians.

    The fundamental weakness is of a single currency absent fiscal and labor unification. In the US, states hit harder by recession get automatic transfer payments (unemployment), with net flow from healthy areas to those that are doing poorly. In Europe, we merely get this sort of booing from the peanut gallery. Those who most benefited from the euro (Germany) now scoff at those who effectively made pre-crisis wealth transfers to them.

    No wonder Germany is entrenched in empty moralizing and is truly clueless about what is coming, if this is the caliber of discussion there. It scares me to see so many pundits today pimping analyses for a price.

    The "crisis in full flight" will lead to a "full fight" if we don't break this nasty habit of willful misdirection and, say, stick to the hard data.

  3. CommentedGreg A

    Once again, Mr Sinn gives us his narrow minded and short sighted views about the Euro crisis.

    He basically says that everyone needs to deflate massively which is completely unrealistic and very noxious economically. How about trying to have a higher inflation in Germany so that it is easier for other countries to regain competitiveness?

    He says that interest rates were much higher before the creation of the euro but that mainly reflected short term rates anticipations, not the risk premiums we are seeing now.

  4. CommentedFriedrich Böllhoff

    I wonder how long the citizens in the Euro area are willing to accept this mess with their currency. The Euro is convenient for holidaymakers. But all of us have a heavy price to pay. Southern Europeans are prevented from regaining competitiveness, getting jobs and generate income.
    Northerners work hard and hand over parts of their income to the rescue. Nobody should believe there, that those who save for their retirement could get back their money in full from over-indebted borrowers. If the liable party cannot pay, it will not pay.

  5. CommentedJulian Silk

    I think this is a fine article on the problems of the euro. But I just want to ask a question, which seems obvious to me. Members in the euro were admitted under the premise that they could sustain the policies prescribed. For Spain, this seems to be less and less likely. Why can't Spain be demoted from euro membership for a given period of time, say 5 years? During this time, Spain would agree to pay a tariff on international transactions with the euro countries (a Tobin tax), but would be allowed to re-establish its own currency. If you wanted to go further, you could have a Tobin tax rebate for euro countries that transacted with Spain, providing it met certain conditions, which might be decided by the World Bank or IMF as a neutral referee. These would be reparations of a sort. If maintaining the euro is as much in Spain's interest as it is of other countries, Spain will be willing to do this and take its own independent steps to recover fiscal balance.

  6. CommentedJohn Doe

    The information in this essay was extremely useful.

    However, Hans-Werner Sinn is equally disingenuous.

    First, he omits to explain why all this happened. Currency unions without political integration, as often explained (and best explained by Martin Jacomb in the FT) are doomed to failure. He ought to have affirmed that this entire mess was started by the slippery slope of rescue packages, it was started by the slippery slope of the Euro.

    Second, he implies that the Euro should break up, given the price adjustments needed in France, Spain, Italy, and Greece (and he doesn't even mention Eastern Europe). On this point what he doesn't say is disingenuous.

    Where does he stand on the question?

    He says that as to France, "These imbalances can be redressed only with great effort, if at all, and only if one accepts a decade of stagnation."

    Who would accept such. China, in 10 years, will be in the 22nd Century by comparison

  7. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    We are trying to cheat the system.
    It is like filling the petrol tank of a car where the engine has stopped, it does not work and the petrol tank is also leaking, but when we fill the tank we close our eyes and hope that a miracle would happen.
    This is not a Greek, Spanish or Italian problem, it is not even a European problem, simply the dominoes started falling starting with the "weakest" ones, but we can see even the previously galloping developing market countries have slowed down, and are expected to stop in their progress.
    This is why neither austerity nor further injections can work, and even the German solution, trying to stabilize the structure is futile, because even a stabilized structure is limp without the engine.
    The expansive, constant growth economic model is not sustainable, we live in a closed, finite system, which has now become totally interconnected and interdependent. Moreover our previous growth has been due to excessive, and mostly unnecessary production, producing and consuming goods that are needles and harmful. This machinery was kept going by a clever, sophisticated marketing machinery, but we played poker, always raising the stakes and we lost, as it turns out we do not have anything in our hands.
    We have to rethink the whole system, our basic attitude, the network we exist in, what laws operate in such analog, integral networks, and how a human being can contribute to the overall harmony and homeostasis of our network.
    All the scientific information is ready, we are only missing the willingness to put the puzzle together.

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