Thursday, October 23, 2014
18

希腊必须退出

纽约—希腊欧元悲剧正在上演最后一出:显然,今年或明年,希腊很有可能对其债务违约并退出欧元区。

即使6月选举后上台的新政府让退出暂时中止,老方一帖的无用政策(必须的紧缩和结构性改革)也不能重塑增长和竞争力。希腊已经陷入了无力偿债、丢失竞争力、外部赤字和萧条越滑越深的恶性循环。唯一的解脱办法就是在欧洲央行、欧盟和IMF的融资和协助下有序违约和退出,以最小化对希腊和欧元区其他国家的附带伤害。

目前,由三驾马车监视的希腊再融资计划所给予的债务纾困远小于希腊之所需。但是,即使大幅增加公债纾困额度,希腊也无法在不能迅速重塑竞争力的情况下重回增长之路。而不能重回增长之路,希腊的债务负担就不可持续。但可能重塑竞争力的选择无不要求实际货币贬值。

第一个选择是欧元大幅贬值,这是不可能实现的,因为德国非常坚挺,欧洲央行也没有大幅放松货币政策。通过促使生产率增长快于工资实现单位劳动力成本的快速下降同样不可能实现。德国用了十年时间才靠此法重塑了竞争力;而希腊不可能在萧条中度过十年。类似地,价格和工资的快速通缩,即所谓的“内部贬值”将导致持续五年的极度萧条。

如果这三种选择都不可能实现,那么唯一剩下的办法便是离开欧元区。回归本国货币并大幅贬值能够迅速重塑竞争力和增长。

当然,整个过程将是痛苦的——不仅是对希腊而言。最大的问题将是欧元区核心金融机构的资本损失。希腊政府、银行和公司的外国欧元债务将在一夜之间风起云涌。但这些问题都是可以克服的。2001年,阿根廷就这样做过,将其美元债务“比索化”。1933年,美国也这样做过,将美元贬值69%并抛弃金本位。将欧元债务“德拉克马化”是必须进行且不可避免的。

欧元区银行的损失是可控的,只要它们适当激进地进行资本重组。但是,为了避免退出欧元后希腊银行系统出现崩溃,可能需要实施暂时性措施,比如休业和资本管制,以防止发生无序的存款挤兑。欧洲金融稳定激进/欧洲稳定机制(EFSF/ESM)应该通过直接注资对希腊银行进行必要的资本重组。欧洲纳税人将在事实上拥有希腊银行系统,但这是对债权人所承受的德拉克马化损失的部分补偿。

希腊还必须再次重组并削减公债。三驾马车的希腊债权不必在面值上有所让步,但期限必须延长十年,利息也必须减少。此外,还需要私人债权的进一步“剃头”,可以从暂停利息支付开始入手。

有观点认为,若退出欧元区,希腊实际GDP将远低于承受通缩痛苦的情形。但这在逻辑上是不成立的:随着实际贬值的发生,即使通缩了,实际购买力也会想将,而债务的实际价值会升高(债务通缩)。更重要的是,退出能通过名义和实际贬值马上重塑增长,避免长达十年的萧条。而德拉克马给欧元区带来的贸易损失也不会很大,因为希腊GDP只占欧元区总量的2%。

重新使用德拉克马存在汇率贬值幅度大于重塑竞争力之所需的危险,这将造成通胀压力并加重德拉克马化外债的损失。为了将这一风险最小化,三驾马车当前为希腊援助计划所留存的储备应该用于防止汇率超调,资本管制也会有所助益。

也有人认为希腊的退出将形成传染效应,将其他国家拖入危机,这种观点也是站不住脚的。其他外围国家早已存在希腊式的债务可持续性和竞争力受损的问题了。比如,葡萄牙最终可能不得不重组债务并退出欧元区。缺少流动性但偿债能力并不缺乏的国家(如意大利和西班牙)不管希腊是否退出欧元区都需要欧洲的支持,没有欧洲流动性支持,意大利和西班牙将可能爆发自我实现的公债挤兑。

因此,充足的新官方资金源——IMF、ESM和欧洲央行流动性——可以被用来隔离这些国家以及欧元区其他受困外围国家的银行。不论希腊如何选择,欧元区银行现在都需要进行快速资本重组,而这需要新的泛欧洲直接注资计划。

过去20年来,冰岛和许多新兴市场的经验表明,名义贬值和有序重组及削减外债可以重塑债务可持续性、竞争力和增长。和这些案例一样,希腊退出欧元区的附带伤害将会很大,但不是不可承受。

就像感情破裂的婚姻,为不可避免的离婚分居制定规则对夫妻双方都有好处。诚然,希腊的有序退出欧元意味着剧烈的经济阵痛,但要比看着希腊经济和社会缓慢、无序地陷入崩溃好得多。

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  1. CommentedJoe Banderson

    I know this was written a while ago, but I just found it and would like to post a question.

    People seem to always talk as though there are only two options for Greece. It will need to go through either an orderly or disorderly default.

    Has anyone considered that the ECB would rather try to pigeon-hole Greece, and perhaps other PIIGS nations into giving up their sovereignty altogether in order to take the first steps toward a United States or Europe (for lack of a better term). After all, the most powerful men in the world are those who control money (read Central Banks and related parties) and it would be far simpler for them to wield power in Europe if it were to adopt more centralized system of government.

  2. CommentedGary Marshall

    Here is a solution to the Greek problem. If anyone can find the flaw, I shall be more than happy to give him or her $50,000. I am just tired of doing this.

    ####

    The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil.

    Why? Because if, in adding a financial debt to a community, one adds an equivalent financial asset, the aggregate finances of the community will not in any way be altered. This is simple reasoning confirmed by
    simple arithmetic.

    The community is the source of the government's funds. The government taxes the community to pay for public services provided by the government.

    Cost of public services is $10 million.

    Scenario 1: The government taxes $10 million.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    No community government debt, no community
    government IOU.

    Scenario 2: The government borrows $10 million from solely community lenders at a certain interest rate.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    Community government debt: $10 million;
    Community government bond: $10 million.

    At x years in the future: the asset held by the community (lenders) will be $10 million + y interest. The deferred liability claimed against the community (taxpayers) will be $10 million + y interest.

    The value of all community government debts when combined with all community government IOUs or bonds is zero for the community. It is the same $0 combined worth whether the community pays its taxes immediately or never pays them at all.

    So if a community borrows from its own citizens to fund worthy public expenditures rather than taxes those citizens, it will not alter the aggregate finances of the community or the wealth of the community any
    more than taxation would have. Adding a financial debt and an equivalent financial asset to a community will cause the elimination of both when summed.

    Whatever financial benefit taxation possesses is nullified by the fact that borrowing instead of taxation places no greater financial burden on the community.

    However, the costs of Taxation are immense. By ridding the nation of Taxation and instituting borrowing to fund public expenditures, the nation will shed all those costs of Taxation for the negligible fee of borrowing in the financial markets and the administration of public
    debt.

    Regards,
    Gary Marshall

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Jimmy,

      I am not an economist either. And carpenters can be pretty formidable people given their knowledge of construction materials, math, designs, planning, finance, costs and benefits, etc.

      You ask the right questions.

      There are few entities on this earth that do not count liabilities among their assets. Most of us carry debts and many other liabilities. That is not the worrying part. The part for concern is the value of our assets. Do one possess assets exceeding those aggregate liabilities. Most will say yes. Some no.

      Does a government possess financial and material resources? Certainly. With Taxation, the combined financial and material resources of every entity within the nation. Without Taxation and with borrowing, the same. This is what backs the nation's financial debts.

      Now if an entity can borrow and invest, creating assets that exceed liabilities, should it do so? The answer is obvious, and just as obvious if it cannot.

      So if a nation can borrow from itself, its citizens, and create assets that exceed the acquired liabilities, should it do so? Yes.

      Banks do it all the time. They borrow from one and invest or loan money to another, living on the margins. They never pay off their lenders. They just borrow more money for supplying more loans, creating assets that exceed liabilities.

      And it will be the same for a nation. Borrow from one and invest in some project, creating assets that exceed liabilities and enriching the nation and its people. An investment in clean drinking water will take out many water borne diseases that drive up medical costs and reduce the working days of a labourer.

      The piece above merely shows that the cost of borrowing for a nation is in effect nil. The debt obligations issued by a nation create a liability that is equally matched with a created asset, held by a resident US lender.

      Its like a bank adding to both sides of its balance sheet. The addition of an asset offsets or nullifies the addition of equal extent of a liability. Or in other words, are you better off if you borrow $1 from your mother? You owe what you now possess, so your circumstances are unchanged.

      The question for the Government now centers on what we get for our money expended in public projects? With Taxation, there is no justification because government can take your money and do pretty much as it pleases. With borrowing, the government will have to approach the citizen and provide a proper analysis.

      The amounts borrowed will be so large, that no one person or entity could ever exert noticeable control over a nation. It will be a far different story from the present one.

      Why would the government help the poor? Why do they help them now? Unfortunately, the poor have many problems. That is why they can't make a go of it on their own. The state say gives a family $12000 per year. What is the amount of an annuity that will yield $12000 per year?

      Whatever the value, it is the true liability to the nation of a family in need of assistance. Why not offer the household a loan to enable a person to go to school for training for a far better job? With the job obtained, the family can pay back the loan.

      Is that not a fit place to live in?

      You speak of a subvention to a circus troop. Wonderful thing. How much more money would be available for such things if the government execs actually cleaned up the construction and road clearing contracts that always go to the favoured, for a high price and a hell of a kickback no doubt?

      When the state has to borrow, that kind of corruption will quickly come to an end.

      GM

      Commentedjimmy rousseau

      I am just a carpenter and not an economist, but when i hear "the nation does not pay off it's debts" something sounds wrong. Am i to assume that the lure of making a profit on the loans is the only way the government can raise funds? Does this mean that only the people with capital to invest will have a say in how the government spends? Why would the government help the poor? If government has to justify a financial benefit it seems to me our society will not be a fit place to live.
      revolutionary ideas like these remind me of when someone on a job site has a great idea to do something totally different. Sometimes the ideas are fruitful but often people discount the generations of experience that have gone into the present system and the new idea eventually runs into plenty of problems down the road. problems that had been solved a long time ago and that you don't even think about because our framing system has become automatic.
      I live in canada and i think about a government subvention 30 years ago to a ridiculous little circus troop in quebec city. I am sure without these subventions they would not have survived and the subventions were given on artistic merit rather than financial. Today cirque du soleil and it's employees have payed many, many times more in taxes than that original subvention. This is a very complicated subject and we must refrain from simplistic solutions.

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Jimmy,

      The nation does not pay off the debt. Its sort of like a bank. The assets and liabilities rise, the former always outpacing the latter. One would of course pay off the individual lender, by substituting another lender. This is called success in the banking system, and it should be in public finance as well.

      This is primarily a funding issue, not an expenditure issue. I am only concerned here how we fill up the government's money bag, not how we empty it. The expenditures will continue as normal, but with a profound difference. As the funds will thence come with a financial cost, they will have to generate a justifiable financial benefit for the nation or jurisdiction. Cost and benefit analysis in government expenditure. Its the way of the future.

      I do agree the government is a group of people. So a government's financial resources are in fact the combined financial assets of that group. In order to better understand public finance, one is going to have to concentrate upon the health of that group's finances, which is in effect the government's.

      One could institute certain user fees, but generally to discourage abuse of public resources rather than bona fide use of them.

      Any other objections?

      Regards,
      Gary Marshall

      Commentedjimmy rousseau

      Another business oriented model trying to superimpose itself on a public service reality. When you take that 10 million to pay your police force how are you going to pay off the debt. Will you try to make it a user-pay service, will this work for the military. At the end of the day a government is a group of people getting together and pooling their money to procure something they need, a stable society, roads, security, etc. Any other easy questions?

  3. CommentedTorrens Hume

    During the depression, many jurisdictions in the US and in Europe used scrip to escape the shackles of a common currency. Some of these were effectively depreciating currencies. Harold James has suggested that these experiments could be a means for exit by peripheral countries in Europe. http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/striking-euro-gold--and-silver-
    Essentially, the idea is to allow the economy in question to remain euroised while slowly introducing a new currency that would eventually allow either an exit (or if any country was foolish enough, a re-entry). Key elements are laid out here:
    http://www.specie-flow.net/2012/05/29/new-greek-drachma-qas/

    The key right now though, and this applies not only to an exit but to th rest of the euro institutions is to lay down rules that eliminate the uncertainty around the processes tha tgovern the unthinkable. That is one of the things that public policy does. It provides guidance on how to deal with imperfections in the eocnomy --such as how to define property rights in a divorce. Right now, as is concluded here, that guidance is urgently needed.

  4. CommentedH Gerken

    There is a crisis of political trust and the weak negotiations of Germany in the setup of the Euro now bounce back. The crisis is a chance for getting the regulatory garden in order. But such rules are bullied by irresponsible politicians as a German takeover. The way out is sound governance. Furthermore on the international scene it is important to make an ordoliberal shift. Financial liberalisation paved the way for the crisis. Commissioner Barnier has now the task to make way for tighter rules and integration. Hollande and Merkel represent two sides of the same coin.

  5. CommentedGeorg Tillner

    Mr. Roubini's argument rests on the assumption that a return to a national currency would "quickly restore competitiveness and growth". Competitiveness in what markets? What industries? I think we should question the validity of this economic truism, at least in the case of the present Greek situation. I fear this assumption is just another simple-solution hope in a long sequence since 2010; shouldn't we rather face the even bleaker reality that there is no single solution?

  6. CommentedAndrew Purdy

    If Greece is going to leave the Eurozone, why should they pay the Troika anything? As soon as the Troika's money spigot is turned off, Greece should repudiate all of its external debts, and be prepared to have external trade only to the extent it can be done in US Dollars.

  7. CommentedGeorge H

    I don't think Greece must exit the Euro, rather it may exit the Euro. I strongly believe it is in Greece's interest to stay in the Euro.

    Greece has no resources to support it in a devaluation exercise. Companies would still have to import raw material and foreign suppliers will not accept payment in Drachma.

    The benefit of a devaluation that local companies will have is only to the labor rates, which do not constitute a significant portion of their cost structure. Moreover, if a return to drachma and a devaluation does occur, a big portion of the qualified labor force (especially the young labor force) will actually leave the country for better working conditions in Germany / UK. Competitiveness will not be restored by a devaluation.

    Inevitably, regardless of the path, I think Greece will face a massive GDP deflation accompanied with a strong out-flux of its labor population. The economy will inevitably get smaller and would be on the life-line of the other European economies.

    My solution however is a subsidized environment supported by Germany and Greece (and maybe others), giving incentives for German companies to increase activity (production / assembly lines / etc...) in Greece. This will allow the local labor force to remain in Greece and slowly regain competitiveness and know-how. The benefit is both ways, German companies will expand (rightfully so!) and Greece economy will expand.

      CommentedDavid Joseph Deutch

      Germany is evidently not willing to undertake any such endeavour.

      Greece will indeed incur a huge decrease in GDP but at least if they regain control of their monetary policy, they can dictate the terms of their economic recovery rather than have austerity handed to them by Germany.

  8. CommentedWilliam Wallace

    The euro remains a political currency unbacked by a fully integrated market (nation-state equivalent). With loosely connected fiscal policies among member states, no automatic offset of slower growth regions via internal social spending transfers, and very low labor mobility due to language and remaining legal barriers, the only way such a currency makes sense is if it is shared among otherwise highly similar economies.

    Southern European countries should not have been part of the initial euro launch, with the possible exception of Italy. Spain, in particular, saw its competitiveness massively erode after the highly inflationary introduction of the euro, and the inflow of excess cheap (at the time) capital. Given a decade or two post-euro to consolidate growth and mature, Spain's later and successful entry into the euro would have been highly likely.

    Given the fundamental weakness of the euro as a hybrid currency, and the mistakes made prior to and following its launch, it may very well be the case that the euro itself requires a Greek exit. As for the Hellenic tragedy playing out now, the only dramatic turnaround scenario does seem to be that of exit and devaluation.

  9. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    The benefits and costs of a currency union need to be widely shared, not necessarily equally shared.

  10. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    Is this 'marriage' doomed? The benefits of the currency union are not equally shared. Nor are the costs.

    Couching the crisis (primarily) in terms of competitiveness may obscure fundamental issues.

  11. CommentedMike Muller

    This is a well-thought best solution given the constraints imposed on Greece and Europe.

    The previous commentators prefer that Greece stays in the Euro, given the feasibility of its salvation by Europe because of its small GDP share, or because cultural deficiencies prevent nominal-devaluation-driven growth.

    They are wrong and Roubini is right. Even though Greece makes up for only 2.5% of Europe GDP, Greece cannot be subsidized out of its depression. It has to recover a sovereign status and growth via nominal devaluation with its own currency. The cultural objection to Roubini´s scheme does not stand either. Growth and competitiveness will be quickly and automatically restored by a nominal devaluation on a sovereign currency. No need for cultural changes. The latter are probably necessary in the mid- to long-term. But right now, this year and next, the only solution is a scheme pretty much similar if not identical to the one proposed by Roubini.

    The only additional thing that might be worth mentioning is that the most likely winner of next elections, Mr. Tsipras, knows all this and is promising a package consisting of staying in the euro and re-negotiating the terms of the bailout merely to anesthetize the electorate until he gets into power. When that is achieved, Roubini´s scheme or some close variation will soon be effected.

    Greece can base a growth policy after exiting the euro on shipping and tourism, as well as food-related industries. Tourism is a major industry in Europe. It has all by itself sustained the much larger Spanish economy during the crisis years. With some investment in the roads and other public spaces in coastal areas (which are obviously a little run down) the tourist offer will improve substantially in quality. Greece has the largest merchant navy of the world. Its insular geography may allow further development of fishing and aquaculture. Greece is currently the largest aquaculture finfish producer in Europe. though most of its exports in this industry go to Spain and Italy. The option of diversifying to northern Europe is there, the potential is there.

    Greece just need an opportunity to become a monetary sovereign. It has to default and start to build up with its resources. Thanks to Roubini for a piece that has looked at all the important aspects of Greece's situation and the way out.

  12. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    The centerpiece of Roubini's argument is: "The only way to stop it is to begin an orderly default and exit." Only way? That's nonsense.

    Greece makes up 2.5 percent of the European Union. If there was ever a situation ripe for "Can Do" leadership, it is here. The Europeans are going to let themselves come undone over 2.5 percent? This is an upside problem awaiting solution, not a cataclysm waiting to happen.

    Roubini's criticism of the Troika is spot on. But the Troika is correctable. The Troika is just trying to refinance yesterday's mistakes, not create tomorrow's solution. That is a typical knee jerk solution by an elite.

    The European Union can keep the Greek government going, the European Union can keep the deposits in Greek banks safe, and the European Union can negotiate a true financial package that will stabilize the patient, reduce risk, and move the Greeks towards something looking like growth. Europe can do this.

    And the only way to ring fence the problem is to ring fence Europe with an integrated, soundly financed national-style economy. Time for some tougher politics, an unflinching look at what it takes to grow in the world economy. And you take the walking wounded with you when you march!

    What's the real cost? Well, yes, we will have to blow away a few more elected leaders. But we have already made good progress on that score. But that is why democratic government works. Leaders are replaceable.

    The people of Greece are right. Eighty percent want to stay with the euro. That's the right answer. They want a new deal. That's also the correct answer. Why get things wrong when the people are so right?

  13. CommentedAndreas Gandolfo

    In the past, I have repeatedly pondered the idea posed here by this article. That Greece should have exited the Euro from day one, introduced a new currency, and go on with restoring competitiveness in an "automatic" way, imposed by the markets. I even thought sometimes that Greece could have negotiated a plan under which temporary exit was considered. A set of targets could be set up, within a time frame (5-10 years), under which the Euro countries "took care" of Greece's Euro debts today (some defaulting, and other being paid by them) in exchange for a grace period which would turn Greece into a debt free country. Then, with the power of devaluation, the economy could be turned to exports, the state reformed, the taxation system improved, the private sector would flourish, and the public sector would be left with the few things it can only do.

    Unfortunately for Greece this is not a possibility. At least not today. The politics (and mentality) of the country would not allow for the right changes to occur. And without a big mining industry, and an oil industry, the state would fail to find the funds that Argentina found to go on without change (cause its economy is plagued with the same problems of 2001 and its desperate moves of nationalization and thirst for cash, along with 20% inflation are clear signals of that). Thus, the Greek state would recede and die, exposing Greece to internal rife. It would turn very quickly into a failed state, resembling the collapsing soviet countries at the end of the USSR. Oligarchs would snatch up dirt cheap enterprises sold off to satisfy the peoples want for easy cash. When that would be over, the lack of money would either force printing, or a startling realization of the truth, that everything needs to be rebuilt. The economic suggestions proposed in here would fail not because of a theoretical flaw. They would fail because they need strong and inspiring politics to be applied, something that Greece lacks. With its devilization of entrepreneurship, its ardent nationalism, its pampered citizens, and its inability to plan for the true long term, Greece would enter a phase that would resemble Russia's first years after the collapse of the USSR at best, and African failed states at worse. On top of that, the waking up would take a long time. Greek politics (and the masses following) would start playing a blame game for why everything is collapsing (something going on already). Instead of entering a correcting path, Greece would try to go back to a state that rewards its public workers for showing up at work, and choke off private enterprise by mingling in everyday life.

    I would be the first to suggest an organized euro exit for Greece should I have seen a true dream of creating something better out of it. But since all I see is more, and more, and more destruction, staying in the Euro seems to be the only option holding us back from oblivion. I know it is sad to see good economic ideas fail because of politics, but as a Greek myself, I have to say that this would be the case for my country. And before anyone says that politics hinders economics everywhere, I want to warn them that I have seen political obstacles of different sizes, and Greece's case is one of those that are so deeply rooted, that few tools can remove them. The hope to stay in the Euro, today, seems to be one of those powers, lets not take that beneficiary force away.

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