Wednesday, October 22, 2014
6

放慢脚步是好事

巴黎——

人们普遍认为美国拥有世界上最深、最具流动性和最有效的资本市场。美国的金融系统支持有效的资金分配、经济发展和创造就业。

几十年来,这些词组以及类似的词组表达了美国立法者、监管者以及金融公司的共同心声。甚至在2008年爆发的金融危机之后,他们还是跳过了单词加工者提供的一百条建议,质疑所谓的沃克尔法则(该法则禁止银行投资房地产)。随意的读者一扫而过了。

但是有迹象表明,这些观点现在受到了挑战。危机之前,监管机构主要致力于消除贸易障碍,总体上支持如下措施:通过促进更加快速、更加节省、种类更加广泛的金融债权交易使市场更加完整。现在情况已经不是这样了。相反,许多人开始质疑如下观点:更高的市场效率总是有利无弊的。

这样的安逸和效率不会使市场更加不稳定,符合中介人而不是其客户的利益吗?“机器中的沙子”和“牡蛎中的沙粒”等短语在2006年爆发危机之前是受到鄙视的,现在却用于支持可能放缓交易和减少交易量的监管或财政变革。

比如,欧盟提议的金融交易税意味着广泛征税,一年能获得500多亿欧元,用于支持欧盟的财政,拯救欧元。60%-70%的收入将来自伦敦,这一事实使该税收对其欧洲倡导者更有吸引力了。反对者用危机之前的措辞称,金融交易税会降低市场的效率,导致交易到其他地方进行。“这又怎么样呢?”,支持者回应说:或许许多交易“对社会来说都是无用的,”没有这些交易我们能过得更好。

沃克尔法则(是以前美联储主席保罗•沃克尔命名的)持类似的观点。批评人士抱怨道,这将减少重要市场的流动性,比如说非美国主权债务的市场。为辩护其法则,沃克尔追溯了金融系统较简单的时期,提到了“流动性过大、投机盛行的证券市场”。他发出的信息很明确:他不担心交易量减少。

将来会遇到更多的障碍。2010年5月6日出现了“闪电崩盘”,道琼斯公司市值在30分钟内减少了1万亿美元。在对这次“闪电崩盘”深入的分析过程中,英格兰银行的安迪•霍尔丹称,尽管股票市场日益资本化可能与金融发展和经济增长有关,但是市场成交量和增长之间没有这种关系。

在危机爆发前的十年里,美国金融市场的成交量增长了3倍。实体经济受益了吗?霍尔丹援引了一组显著的统计数据:1945年,一般投资者持美国股票的平均时间为4年。到2000年,平均持股的时间已降到8个月;到2008年,平均持股时间为2个月了。

平均持股的时间日益下降与所谓的“无控股企业”现象似乎有联系,因而股东没有什么动力迫使管理层遵守纪律。问责制的缺失反过来导致高管的补偿迅速上升,导致在金融公司,从股东的回报向内部人士获得大量回报转移。

但是霍尔丹主要担心市场的稳定性,尤其是高频交易所带来的威胁。他指出,高频交易已经占到了一些债券和外汇市场总成交量的一半,在美国的股票市场中占到了主导地位,占到了日成交量的三分之一以上,2005年时,还不到五分之一。

高频交易带来的快速又巨大的转变很可能继续。交易速度低于一秒一次才过了十年,现在其速度已经与眨眼一样快了。技术变革意味着不久的将来交易速度将更快。

实际上,高频交易公司所说的“向零逼近”,就是指交易速度接近于光速。我们应该欢迎这种趋势吗?光速的交易会带给我们自由市场的天堂吗?

各类证据错综复杂。供求之间差距似乎在缩小,我们或许会认为这是积极的。但是市场动荡在加剧,问题也在不同市场不断蔓延。一个市场的不稳定会导致另一个市场不稳定。

至于流动性,从表面上来看似乎更强了,但是美国证券交易委员会和美国商品期货交易委员关于“闪电崩盘”所做的联合报告表明高频交易的交易员大幅减少了流动性,导致问题更加严重。显然,他们提供的流动性在压力之下——即在最需要的时候——是不可靠的。

监管者可以从中吸取教训。首先,要大幅提高监管市场的熟练度和速度。这也是再次关注自动切断系统运行(这导致芝加哥的市场崩溃),增加股票经纪人责任的原因。但是霍尔丹的结论是,总体而言,由于成交量显著增加,市场的稳定性下降了;“轮子中的沙子,像道路上的沙子一样,有助于预防下一次崩盘。

因此,美国以及欧洲资本市场的传统防御性已经不像以前那样不言自明了。市场的参与者要更有效地参与新议程,不要认为“市场效率”更高就能胜出。由于没有更有力的论据,他们发现自身被埋在了一堆监管的沙袋之下。

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  1. CommentedAndrés Arellano Báez

    I think the Financial Transactions Tax is a great idea. Sadly is a very old one: the Tobin Tax. We should support the impositions of this kinds of taxes all over the world and do it fast. The financial speculative system should be forced to change and this is the best way. Congrats for a great article.

  2. CommentedGordon Shedd

    Bravo, Director Davies! The shopworn, market-efficiency-based arguments for maintaining the status quo need to be called out for what they are--the unthinking regurgitation of economic dogma. Efficiency is used as THE excuse for every failing of laissez faire free markets, and for tolerating a destabilizing financial system that doesn't serve the markets so much as play them. The hypocrisy of rationalizing greedy and sometimes irresponsible behaviors in the name of efficiency is never pointed out, and probably not even understood by the perpetrators. How is it efficient to allocate capital, preferentially, to feed consumer markets that consist largely of marketing-driven,"lifestyle" purchases of new houses, new cars, new appliances, new electronics, new designer clothes, and the like to replace similar items that are still perfectly servicable? If consumers were ever encouraged (e.g., by finite resources) to care about efficiency as much as free-marketeers now profess to, then consumption-growth-based economic dogma would be revealed for the religion it is, the economies built upon its precepts would implode, and the current, post-recession output gap would be looked back upon as we now marvel at Roman aqueducts.

  3. CommentedPaul Hanly

    how can anybody claim the market is efficient when it varies by 50% in 12 months.

    The volatility of the market is far greater than the volatility of the economy, so where is the efficiency in pricing prospects for the economy?

    Price discovery is extremely poor if something can change in price by 50% in twelve months, or within a few months as in 1987. There are commonly changes in price of 10% in a month or two.

  4. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    The insightful article draws a case in favor of efficiency of markets and the instruments that market participants now use through technological advancements that have triggered trading at lightening speeds thus increasing turnover by several times. I am curious to know what Christopher A Sims would have said to the rationality of market participants in the wake of limited information and limited attention that is available when such turnover crosses the threshold value. The modeling of such human behavior can hardly be perfect given that no rational choice however made under perfect information could tide over the impending challenges that limited nature of attention forces us into; the stochastic randomness of outcomes could hardly be a point to celebrate about grit or otherwise as no rational choice could be made with such limited attention span to a range of information, which on the contrary is a point in favor of 'rational inattention'.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  5. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    As a result of the crisis we start to scratch the surface, that we are living in the wrong system.

    Our present way of life, the way the political, economical structure is build is false, it is completely unnatural and this is the reason we have run into the global crisis, which is more accurately a system failure requiring a complete restart.

    Of course admitting it is very difficult, we got used to this lifestyle, we have been brainswashed by its machinery for decades, we do not know any other system or way of life, thus unfortunately it seems we have to advance to the brink of a frightening, huge collapse to understand where we are and what we are doing.

    But basically all our life is based on over the top, unnecessary consumption which we are forced to do against our own desires, since our "desires, cravings" for these goods are prgrammed in us by a very clever irresistable machinery, despite most of the time the products being directly harmful for us. To enable this over the top consumption way beyond our means of course we need credit, more and more of it, which made the initially simple useful means of money the main object of desire.

    And from there on banks, the financial system has become the most powerful element in our system, and even today whenever there is a problem, the banks are bailed, sustained first even at the expense of the every day life of millions of people. We always look at the financial markets as indicators of our state, the "health of our system".

    Sooner or later we will have to look, and accept this lie we are living. If it will not be ourselves, proactively changing the system, the crisis will destroy it very soon, but then the "unregulated default" will make recovery much more difficult.

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