Monday, July 28, 2014
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一个大联盟

巴黎—在过去几周中,成立银行联盟成了解决爆发已久的欧元危机的最新药方。但是,不管银行联盟能带来多少好处——的确能带来不少好处——成立这样一个联盟会引起目前无法回答的问题。

支持银行联盟者的动机显然是不同的。一些人(特别是南欧人)将此视为让资金充裕国承担支持其资金短缺银行负担的办法。其他人(特别是欧盟的布鲁塞尔共同市场体系)将此视为迈向欧罗巴超级国家的一大步。欧盟委员会的神学家们根据神圣的罗马条约中所提及的“最紧密的联盟”的说法,将每一次危机都视为推进其联邦日程的机会。

欧洲央行尽管热情程度要低一些,但想得更深,它认为银行联盟必须具备三大目标。首先,更强的泛欧元区监管应能促进金融一体化,“缓解宏观经济失衡”,并改善货币政策管理。单一欧盟监管者如何解决失衡问题,欧洲央行并未给出解释,但毫无疑问,这是一个值得追求的目标。

第二大目标应该是“打破银行和主权的联系”,这种联系在过去的一年中已成为一大为害甚深的特征。第三大目标则是“通过金融业的充分出资让纳税人的风险最小化”,该目标将在欧洲各国逐一实现,但这必将引起一番争论:跨境银行税,或者泛欧洲金融交易税是否会消除竞争扭曲?

这些值得赞赏的目标如何实现?欧洲委员会指出,成熟的银行联盟应有建立在四大基础上:覆盖所有欧盟(或欧元区)银行的单一存款保护机制;共同清算机构和共同清算基金,至少要覆盖具系统重要性的银行和跨国银行;针对这些银行的单一欧洲监管者;以及覆盖欧洲所有银行的单一审慎监管规则。

任何参与过银行监管的人一眼就能看出,这四大基石需要细心建设。众多国家花了一代人的时间才建立起本国的机制。而在欧洲银行联盟的建设中,有三大政治问题需要解决。

首先,单一欧洲银行监管者的身份还没有确定,欧洲央行将其视为争权良机。欧洲的中央银行家们总是对马斯特里赫特条约只授予欧洲央行狭窄的货币政策管理权耿耿于怀。银行监管并不在欧洲央行的目标中,尽管马约中的一项条款给予了整个欧洲央行系统提供有效监管的责任。眼下,他们认为最简单的解决办法是扩大这一责任,让欧洲央行成为实质上的泛欧洲监管者。

刚刚成立欧洲银行管理局(European Banking Authority,EBA)的欧洲委员会并不喜欢这个结果。EBA与欧洲委员会本身关系甚密,被视为扮演更大角色的天然候选者。

欧洲委员会有优势,但也有问题。在为了创建EBA(以及其他两家证券和保险业的对等机构)而进行的政治讨价还价中,各方同意将新机构设于伦敦。在当时,这似乎是理所当然之事,但如果EBA的权限得到扩张就不是这样了。欧元区监管机构怎么能设在欧元区之外呢?

第二个悬而未决的问题是如何在法律上给银行联盟定性。如此规模的宪政性变化需要通过新的欧洲条约来完成。但这需要时间,而欧洲领导人最耗不起的就是时间。

此外,要求就条约变化问题进行全民公投的国家的选民是否支持进一步交出主权还远未可知。因此,可能的结果是,银行联盟将根据欧盟历史悠久的传统使用现有权力来建设,主权问题将被小心处理,避免任何涉及公众观点之处。这意味着需要依赖欧洲央行。

最后一个问题是,这样一个欧元区银行联盟对单一金融市场,特别是位于单一货币区之外的欧盟国家意味着什么。这些国家中不少会欣然点头,因为它们巴不得早点加入其中,即使欧元遇到了重大困难。但这些国家不包括英国,而伦敦目前依然是欧洲最大的金融中心。

我担心法国人和德国人现在已经对麻烦制造者英国人失去了耐心,不准备与它们周旋了。而对欧元充满狐疑的英国政客将此视为重塑英国与欧盟关系的机会;事实上,在某些人看来,这是一次谈判退出事宜的机会。

伦敦金融城的态度趋于中间道路,这能够让英国继续获得单一市场的好处,又不需要让步于统一监管。这将是难以完成的任务。

我认为很快就会实施某种类型的银行联盟。否则的话,欧元区银行系统将会崩溃。但欧洲的伟大自由贸易实验迈出这一步所带来的后果可能十分严重,如果不能小心治理,可能导致英国的退出。这是一场政治豪赌,或许结果会证明这一点。

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  1. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    Banking Union is just a phrase for financial regulation. Necessary as Europe suffers from US regulatory failure.

  2. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Howard,

    Thank you for this very informative piece.

    Perhaps a banking regulator should be EU-wide, perhaps only Eurozone-wide -- a reasonable case has been made for each.

    Perhaps the regulator should be EC-backed, EU-backed or Eurozone backed, again, a reasonable case has been made for each of the choices.

    Those discussions are already in play.

    I look at this with a different perspective.

    1) Voluntary membership. Each country in Europe should have the option to join the regulatory framework, or not. If there are enough benefits to membership vs responsibilities of membership of that institution, then there will be plenty of members.

    2) Once an individual country within Europe decides to participate -- both enjoying the benefits and observing the responsibilities from a national perspective, then individual banks within that nation could then join the institution.

    3) Size of bank. Banks under 10 Billion net value (or 100 Billion, or any agreed reasonable threshold) should be free of any obligation to join. This exemption would still allow community-based banking and allow those who want to bank within their own jurisdiction free of European institutional constraints, to do so. If the drafters of such want tacit support from the German public, this would be a good way to get it.

    4) Taking choices away is the completely wrong approach. Adding choices is the way to go. Adding positive solutions to national governments, to banks, to depositors and to the overall economy of Europe should be the driving force behind the creation of any banking authority, anywhere.

    5) Similar could be said about a European debt-mutualization institution. Taking choices away is the completely wrong approach. Adding choices is the way to go. Adding positive solutions for national governments, to banks, to depositors and to the overall economy of Europe should be the driving force behind debt mutualization plans.

    When the benefits of membership exceed the responsibilities, a lineup will form. This IS the very DNA of every entrepreneur.

    Best regards, JBS
    http://jbsnews.com

  3. CommentedGary Marshall

    Hello Mr. Davies,


    The individual European countries have the means to remedy their current problems with ease. And the means to that end is contained in the little proof below for the abolition of Taxation, which novelty may be absurd on the face of it, but not so when examined.

    If you or anyone can find the flaw in this proof, I shall be more than happy to give the reward of $50,000. None have yet been successful. Perhaps because so few have tried.

    Its not the end of Europe or the world, but a new beginning.

    Enjoy!

    ####

    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

      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      Hi Gary,

      Pretty elementary stuff here and I don't have the time to cover the entire post, but I will cover one incorrect paragraph for you.

      "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."

      Not true.

      You are forgetting about the interest on the borrowed money.

      Yes, present interest rates ARE low, but they haven't always been, nor will they always be low. Those rates will increase at some point and all of the borrowed money will then be interested at the new rate.

      You could still make a case that the interest doesn't add up to much money at all. But it is still a cost, which means that there IS a cost to borrowing.

      Above that, the U.S. government debt has a lot of zeros behind it -- and even at a low percentage rate, that is still a lot of zeros.

      Much more information here: http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

      If you look at the larger context, there isn't enough 'resident citizens' money on deposit in America to act as security to cover the government's total debt, deficit and other financial obligations.

      Which means borrowing outside of 'resident citizens' deposits.

      To make up that difference by additional taxation could (at present) choke-off any nascent recovery underway -- if there is any recovery underway, it is still too early to tell. One thing is for certain, to add tax now, would sink the economy.

      To make up the difference with additional taxation (not at present) does place a drag on the economy. That money which gets paid in taxes, is no longer in the hands of consumers, where every study since there were rocks shows that consumer spending stimulates the economy better than any other stimulus -- government, corporate, or private.

      Don't think there are corporate economies that use stimulus in their jurisdictions? Do a Google search on "Levittown" -- the early years.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levittown,_Pennsylvania

      Finally, when spending by governments (which, in your quoted statement is necessarily limited by the financing available by community or national 'resident citizens') needs to exceeds those limits, then what?

      Any number of things could cause this, from profligate spending by civic authorities, to corruption, to military invasion or attack, weather-related or climate-related crises, or a taxation rate so high it stalls the economy.

      Not to mention a recession bringing on high unemployment where the number of taxpayers (who would otherwise be regular depositors if they were working) must begin living off their savings, lowering the total available security for the governments already spent money.

      More taxation to make up the difference would only cause more savings withdrawals and which would further slow government spending and thereby increase unemployment.

      I admire your advocacy, but if the piece you quoted was actually a panacea for economic systems, it would have been utilized by economists and politicians long ago.


      Cheers, JBS
      http://jbsnews.com

  4. CommentedVal Samonis



    Too late for such gradual solutions in EU, I am afraid; confidence in the EU Paradise is lost for long!

    Instead, divide the EuroZone into Neuro and Seuro (N&S) zones to much better reflect the conditionalities (productivity, etc) of the optimum currency areas (OCA), with free flotation of Neuro and Seuro. N&S zones provide a chance to salvage some positive European integration results and, in the longer time, bring the continent to necessarily very gradual correction of the original architectural sins of the EU (no OCA, etc).

    Failing that, nobody is able to keep Germany in the EU; it might quickly opt out and become another Fortress Switzerland trading fully globally.

    Then all hell may break loose in the rest of Europe!


    Val Samonis

    http://ca.linkedin.com/in/vsamonis

  5. CommentedMatt Stillerman

    I think that a banking union will solve some problems and create some new ones. The banks will be much healthier if they are all backed by the currency issuer, the ECB, as the lender-of-last-resort. Euro liquidity guarantees by the ECB can really be believed!

    However, the EU member states are all accustomed to having their national banks buy their bonds. E.g. Greek banks bought Greek bonds, etc. That will come to a screeching halt. So, the fiscal problems of the European soveriegns will be cast into a much harsher light.

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