Monday, September 1, 2014
8

有缺陷的欧洲银行联盟

发自巴黎——欧盟最近荣膺诺贝尔奖。当美国总统奥巴马在3年前时被授予该奖时,有人批评挪威诺贝尔奖评选委员会把奖颁给了一个尚未拥有成绩的人。委员会记住了这一点,于是这次把奖颁给了一个坐拥辉煌过去但前途尚不明朗的机构。

欧元区显然与欧盟有所区别,但它也是后者迄今为止最具雄心的事业,并依然在努力用支撑一个货币联盟所需的架构去充实自身。一个共同财政政策依然是个遥远的梦想,一个真正的政治联盟也一样遥不可及。

但欧洲的政策制定者们却宣称自己正向着一个所谓的“银行联盟”推进,这意味着集体式的银行监管,而不仅仅是把全部银行整合起来。在9月,欧盟委员会公布了一项使欧洲央行成为所有6000多家欧洲银行监管者的计划。

各国政治家,央行和各家银行对此的反应不一。德国人希望欧洲央行把注意力仅仅放在大型系统性银行之上,把较小型的储蓄银行(比如那些曾经大笔投资在次级贷上的)留给各国当局。英国和瑞典认为它们不能听令于这么一个中央银行,因为两国充其量只是部分意义上的成员国而已。

一个泛欧洲监督者的做法是得到广泛接受的,尤其是当欧洲银行管理局(欧盟的银行监管者)在执行金融压力测试方面非常不得力的情况下:首次测试是如此轻松,以至于西班牙那些如今面临破产的储蓄银行都能高分通过。那些受压的主权借款者和银行之间已经形成了一种恶性循环,后者被迫,或者至少是被鼓励去购买前者的债券,而这些钱反过来又被用于拯救银行,而欧洲必须打破这一循环。

但委员会选择来实施一个银行联盟的手段注定是有缺陷的。此外,依照从欧洲理事会首席法律顾问处泄露出来的观点,提议的改革是不合法的,因为据英国《金融时报》(也是该泄密的接收者)报道,它“超出了法律所允许的关于更改欧盟中央银行治理规则的权力”。

在危机期间,欧洲的领导人们尝试去在不提出一个新条约的情况下对货币联盟内的分歧做出回应,因为他们害怕任何要求把权威更加向布鲁塞尔集中的新条约都会遭到否决——要么被各国议会,要么被参与全国公投的民众。

在银行联盟这方面,他们计划用里斯本条约的第127(6)条——该条款允许欧洲理事会授权欧洲央行在对联盟内特定金融机构实施“与谨慎监管相关的政策”方面采取特别行动。但这并不能为建立一个对单一机构直接负责的泛欧监管者提供足够的法律基础,而且该条款的订立显然也不是为了这一目的的。事实上,德国就是在欧洲央行不能作为直接监管者的情况下才同意了这一条款的措辞。

而选择这一不恰当——如果只是权宜之策——路径的后果是极为严重的。首先,现有的条约不能被用来创设一个单一的欧洲解决方案机构,这令欧洲央行和各国政府难以协调互动。同时它也无法建立一个当前最为急需的欧洲存款保障计划来遏制南欧地区各银行的存款流失。

此外这对欧洲央行自身来说也存在着潜在的危险后果。对《里斯本条约》条款的运用意味着欧洲央行必须被赋予这些额外的责任。但又不可能像法国的谨慎监管局或者英国在英格兰银行内部设立的,拥有独立董事会和责任安排的新谨慎监管局那样,在欧洲央行内部设立一个单独的银行监管实体。

这些架构的重要性就是可以令央行的货币政策独立性不被无可避免地来自于银行监管的更紧密责任要求所腐蚀。因为监管者的决策会影响个人的财产权——而它们的行动或者疏忽可能令纳税人陷入援助银行的圈套——因此政府,议会和法院都必须要小心管好这只看门狗。

这也是为何一直极为珍视自身货币政策独立性的德意志银行再次站到了反对阵营,并对委员会计划采用的路径多有质疑的原因。这次,它们是对的。

此外还存在着其他的关键事务。依照委员会的模式,欧洲银行管理局将继续存在,并负责制作一个适用于全部27个欧盟国家的单一规则手册。但由于该机构的运作是在一个普通特定多数投票系统之下的,17个欧元区国家将有一个单一的监管者,也将因此拥有一个集团投票权。委员会尝试去维护非欧元区国家的权利。但提案的极端复杂性却体现出该计划是多么的不成熟。

人们(尤其是欧洲以外的人)会觉得整个议题完全无法理解。但它说明了一个简单的点:欧洲正尝试实现一个更强大的联邦模式以应对欧元区危机所暴露出来的弱点。但在执行这一切的过程中却未能处理关键的需要以把自己的人民带动起来。事实上,欧盟所采用的机构就是专门设置来避免咨询民众的。

由此可知,提议中的银行联盟构建反映了当今欧洲项目中存在的核心缺陷。人们也难以对一个奠基于这么一个薄弱法律基础上并缺乏民主合法性的动议感到乐观。对欧洲的银行及其客户们来说,他们理应得到更好的。

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  1. CommentedJoshua Ioji Konov

    Mr. Davies, your article is pretty good in showing the messy picture of the EU being as perplexing as it possibly could be. Adding to it, is the stubborn ideological attitude of a trickle-down economic approach engraved in the EU policies that puts debt and fiscal shortages above growth and prosperity..., bureaucracy above free entrepreneurship, big business above medium and small business.., I guess, how bad the economy in the EU should go down to trigger some adequate response.., it happened in China, the US and now Japan..., not unity would save the EU but diversity in business and market activities..., the large transnational corporations that have taken over from finances to manufacturing and retail are not the solution for a better future and economic development, but the small to medium businesses and investors are, which, however, are not promoted and empowered by the EU policies,
    Sincerely,
    Joshua Ioji Konov

  2. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Howard,

    I do appreciate how clearly you have laid out the present European situation although I respectfully disagree with some of your conclusions.

    Europe may indeed be responding "to the weaknesses revealed by the eurozone crisis" but it is inevitable that these measures would have been implemented at some point. The present situation has merely accelerated the timeline.

    In a Western context, the drive by purist democratic politicians to exuviate visionaries and populists from the political scene has resulted in a situation whereby people with visionary ideas and populist support are missing from this equation. And so are their great accomplishments.

    After all, Hitler was a populist. I get that, no one wants that again.

    Mind you, Winston Churchill was a populist leader and without him, Great Britain would have ceased to exist.

    The reason that some logical and much-needed initiatives are floundering due to lack of voter support, is because there are no great visionary and or populist politicians out there selling those initiatives to the masses -- the present (excellent) crop of leaders too devoted to the perfection of democracy to involve themselves in such vociferous and unseemly behavior.

    The skill-set of each is radically different.

    As raucous as a salesman's voice may sound, they are required in order for transactions to be successfully concluded. Leaving visionaries and populist politicians out of European politics has brought us to where we are now.

    Great administrators are not visionaries and conversely, great visionaries are deeply-flawed administrators -- often the worst on the planet. Nevertheless, for best results -- add both to the mix. Democracy is a messy business, isn't it?

    "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." - Sir Winston Churchill

    Cheers, JBS



  3. CommentedMarten Klein

    The Commission proposes, not the member states. So the ball is in the Court of Mr.Barnier who four years later presents his regulatory package. More to come, for sure. Not only Art 127 but also all other canons get fired. I wish he were an ordoliberal.

  4. CommentedJ St. Clair

    ' to stem the outflow of deposits from southern European banks.".....how many banks does this equate to....out of the 6,000

  5. Commentedde Lafayette

    From Charlemagne of the Economist 22/09/2012 edition: {The euro zone is heading towards the worst of both worlds—nation-states feel violated by Brussels’s ever-expanding controls, even as the European level remains too weak and opaque to have an impact or win popular allegiance. A better approach might be to set aside labels and think of a narrow set of core functions that need to be deeply integrated. A coherent banking union makes sense, as do some joint bonds. Germany rejects mutualisation of debt on the grounds that not even America expects states to guarantee each other’s debt. Yet America has federal bonds, backed by federal taxes, which in turn provide a safe asset for all banks to hold. American states go bankrupt, as do lots of banks. Call it what you want; integration, centralisation, federation, confederation—the objective should be to stabilise the system sufficiently to allow badly managed banks and states to go bust safely.}

    It is not obvious that the EZ is "heading towards the worst of both worlds". The Economist is indulging in "scare journalism" as it has often a wont to do.

    But the rest of the statement rings true. The foundation of a Lender of Last Resort to deal with circumstances where member states spend beyond their means of either repayment or even debt-maintenance must be found. That means both equal portions of regulatory oversight and the ability to make monetary policy - both of which need not be housed in the same place, but must exist tangibly somewhere.

    The former needs real teeth to prevent the present circumstance from repeating itself. The latter requires real Central Bank leadership who answers to a Central Authority duly elected by the EZ-member state electors, who in turn must relegate to that authority the control of monetary policy.

    Maybe the Two-speed Europe is, after all, the best alternative. Those not in Euro-Zone should perhaps content themselves as on-lookers to main game.

    One for all and all for one.

  6. Commentedde Lafayette

    Given the nearly calamitous use of "national referendums" in the past by the EU, it is easily understandable why its politicians want to avoid them in this particular case.

    And yet, given the crisis, something must be done to enforce oversight upon, at lease, EuroZone banks. So, rickety as it may appear, this present solution may be the only one that is feasible at the moment.

    When it could have done so, before the present crisis, Europe did not go far enough in developing a much needed central government. The European Commission is an unelected body, after all. Given the present economic turmoil in Europe, it is presently out of the question to ask Europeans to elect, for instance, an EU President who would establish a Cabinet to replace the Commission.

    This mistake was made out of shortsightedness of the EU leadership at the time but also, it may be argued, the inability of that leadership to surrender is sovereign authority to a European president. After all, that would relegate national leadership to a “governorship” status as exists in the US. Which is tantamount to a degrading of prestige.

    It will likely take, therefore, a different political class to take the leap forward towards creating an EU common leadership that would constitute the third leg in a tripartite governance of the EU consisting of an Executive, a Legislative and a Judicial institution (the latter two already extant).

    That class, however, will be many years in the making. It does not exist today.

  7. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    I think the last part of the article tells all:
    "...Non-Europeans, in particular, may find the entire topic impenetrably abstruse. But it illustrates a simple point: Europe is trying to achieve a stronger federal model that responds to the weaknesses revealed by the eurozone crisis. But it is doing so without addressing the crucial need to bring its citizens along. Indeed, the devices that the EU is adopting are designed specifically to avoid having to consult them.
    The proposed construction of a banking union reveals this fundamental flaw at the heart of the European project today. It is difficult to be optimistic about the success of an initiative built on such flimsy legal foundations, and lacking democratic legitimacy. Europe’s banks and their customers deserve better..."
    It is similar to renovating a house which started to be dangerous to live in, as it started to collapse.
    The wise renovation would start with the foundations, then the walls, the inside of the house and finish with the paining, decorating.
    The European Union in the Eurozone, and in fact the whole global economy tries to renovate, or maintain the other way around, they thing the process can start with painting, decorating and the rest can wait or it is not important.
    First of all the role of the financial institutions is way overrated, they have become the inflated bubble controlling everything, being the measuring stick for global health, while banks should simply remain in an assisting role for a natural trade relationship in between individuals and nations.
    But of course the expansive, constant quantitative growth economy requires the constant debt taking, going beyond one's means, thus the banks became the false pillars of our lives.
    At the same time the whole of humanity evolved into a global, interconnected network, where every decision and action affects even the furthest part of the network, thus we need to learn a completely new way of interaction in order to secure the well being of the whole interdependent system we live on.
    Thus in short instead of a superfluous, and futile banking union nations, not only in Europe but all over the globe would need to start building a new structure based on mutual responsibility, consideration and full integration with supra national democratic control, while the engine of this new structure has to be a natural necessity and available resource based economy and trade.
    Since we have already almost completely exhausted the natural and human resources, thus we do not have ore time to play games, or pretend we are doing something. We have to get down to the basics and start building, adapting ourselves to the new evolutionary conditions we find ourselves in.

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