Thursday, October 2, 2014
18

欧元区的最新缓刑

纽约——正如一位被判死刑的犯人一样,欧元区又获得另外一个在最后一刻延缓执行的机会。它挣扎的时间又长了一点。之前有四场“欧元危机”的峰会,每一场峰会结束,各类市场都会欢呼庆祝,直到它们明白根本问题还尚未解决。

这次峰会带来了好消息:欧洲各国的领导人终于意识到欧洲借钱给银行来拯救主权国家,借钱给主权国家来拯救银行的措施毫无成效。同样,他们现在也认识到紧急援助贷款使得新的贷款者的资历高于其它债权人,这恶化了个人投资者的处境,他们只会要求更高的利率。

难以理解欧洲的领导人用了这么长的时间才看清这么明显的问题,而这一问题比15年前的东亚危机表现还明显。但是协议中缺失的部分比存在的部分更为重要。一年前,欧洲领导人们就承认如果没有经济增长,希腊的状况便无法得到恢复,并且只是通过紧缩政策经济不会得到增长。但是几乎没有采取什么实际行动。

如今欧洲领导人建议要将欧洲投资银行进行资本重组,这属于约1500亿美元的一揽子增长计划的一部分。但是政治家们善于进行重新包装,并且,根据有些数据,这些新资金只占所需总资金的一小部分,即使这一小部分的资金也不会立即投入到系统中来。总而言之:在对问题处理有误,经济体存在缺陷的基础上的这些补救措施来得太晚并且太微不足道了。

希望在于市场会奖赏美德,此处美德被定义为紧缩。但市场更奉行实用主义:几乎总是如此,如果紧缩政策削弱了经济的增长,便破坏了偿债能力,利率就不会下降。事实上,投资会下滑,这便是希腊和西班牙已经开始的恶性循环了。

德国似乎对此感到很惊讶。就像中世纪施行放血术的医生一样,德国领导人拒绝承认该药物不奏效,并且坚持应该用更多的药物——直到病人最终死去。

欧洲债券和团结基金能够促进经济的增长并且稳定处在危机中的各国的利率。比如,更低的利率能够挤出钱来让那些即使是预算吃紧的国家也能花更多的钱用于投资促进经济增长。

银行业的情况更糟。每个国家的银行系统都有其政府做后盾,但如果政府支持银行的能力受到削弱,银行的信心也随之减弱。即使是运营良好的银行系统在希腊和西班牙这一级别的经济衰退中也会面临问题,随着西班牙房地产泡沫的崩溃,其银行的风险更大。

当欧洲领导人热衷于创造一个“单一市场”时,他们没有意识到是政府在为他们的银行系统提供隐性补贴。如果问题出现,政府对银行的支持会给银行带去信心;并且,当一些国家的政府比其它国家的政府处境好很多时,其对于银行的隐性补贴也比别的国家大很多。

在缺乏公平竞争的环境下,为什么资金不应该逃离较弱的国家,去更强大的金融机构呢?确实,令人奇怪的是没有更多的资本外流。欧洲领导人没有意识到这一危险在不断上升,而这一危险本通过共同担保就可以很容易地被避免掉,同时也能纠正由不同的隐性补贴引起的市场扭曲状况。

欧元的产生从一开始就是有缺陷的,但很明显只有在危机中它的后果才能显现出来。虽然在政治上和经济上它本来都怀着良好的意愿,并且单一市场的原则也都是为了促进资本和劳动力的有效分配。

但是细节至关重要。税收竞争意味着资本不会去那些社会回报最高的地方,而是去那些能找到最好生意的地方。对于银行的隐性补贴表明德国的银行会比其余国家的银行更有优势。劳动者们离开爱尔兰或者希腊并不是因为那里的生产力低下,而是因为只有离开那里,他们才能摆脱掉父母遭受的债务负担。欧洲中央银行受命来确保价格稳定,但是通货膨胀已经远非现今欧洲最重要的宏观经济问题了。

德国担心没有了银行和预算的严格监督,它得为那些肆意挥霍的邻国兜底,但那不是重点:西班牙,爱尔兰和其它许多陷入困境的国家在危机之前预算都有盈余,是经济的衰退导致了赤字,不是赤字导致衰退。

如果说这些国家犯了一个错误的话,只是如同今天的德国一样——太轻信市场了。因此他们才像美国及其他国家一样允许资产泡沫恣意生长。如果实施了健全的政策,建立了更好的制度,当然这些政策和制度不是指更多的紧缩措施和银行、预算及赤字更强有力的监管,同时经济恢复增长,这些国家就能够偿还其债务,也就没有必要号召担保了。此外,无论哪种情况德国都会陷入泥潭中:如果欧元或者外围的经济体崩溃,德国付出的代价都会很高。

欧洲也有很大的优势。它现在的弱点主要都反映了其有缺陷的政策和制度安排。但只有在认识到他们的根本缺陷后,这些弱点才能得到改进。这是一项比在每个单独国家进行结构改革更为重要的任务。因为在某些国家虽然结构上的问题削弱了竞争力,减慢了国内生产总值的增长,但它不会引起危机,解决结构上的问题并不能解决危机。

欧洲用敷衍了事的方法应对危机并不能无限期地奏效。欧洲周边国家正逐渐减弱的不仅仅是信心,欧元本身的生存能力现在受到了质疑。

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  1. CommentedBakhodur Rakhimov

    Dear readers,
    I had a sudden feeling/thought the other day after constant reading of the Business section in the International Herald Tribune: it's simply should be renamed to CRIME section!!! Almost the entire selection of articles is about banks' (the financial sectors' or people related to them) fraud,cheat, greed, bailouts,speculations,bets,investigations,lawsuits ...and the list goes on with no end in sight. And it's all in the name of markets and money. How come our moral sentiments became so corrupted and we ended up in such a commercial, moneyterised society?

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Then you should stop reading the newspapers, or believing what you read in them.

      GM

  2. CommentedDaniel Gomes

    It's amazing the amount of misinformation theses days.
    In particular a certain group of people which started with Anglo-saxon conservatives with which now misinformed Germans with supremacist complexes have formed a strange alliance.

    Such alliance founded on their completely unfundamented belief that their austerity recipe will make the world a better place when every single bit of evidence and history shows the complete opposite.

    Now these strange German allies, chose to add another set of principles to this one concerning the virtue of austerity. Namely the hail to hypocrisy and amnesia together with a generous portion of decades old supremacist believes.

    Lets see...

    It was not in such a distant past that German financial sector (and regulators) joined ranks with their Anglo-saxon deregulation jihadist to crater the world economy through widespread thievery and stratospheric amounts of irresponsible speculation on the U.S. subprime market.

    A very little publicised fact was that German banks were on the first line of major delinquents in the U.S. subprime speculation crisis.

    And lets remember that at this time southern European banks had relatively healthy balance sheets and even the so called Spanish property bubble showed no signs of unsustainability.

    As matter of fact in all the splendor of their arrogant ignorance, the members of this alliance are completely oblivious to the laws of supply and sustained demand .. Yes Spanish population increased 10% during that period, whereas unless you know something i don't, Spanish territory apparently did not increase a single inch.

    Now.. for their destroying the economy the financial sectors of these strange allies, were rewarded with the mother of all bailouts and transfer their toxic assets to the U.S. and European tax payer.

    And lets remember that there were government controlled banks involved and a lot of tax revenue from this speculation which was not socialized throughout Europe.. only the debt and toxic assets.

    But lets see how unbelievably enormous is this hypocrisy and how much German debt and toxic assets were socialised into the balance sheets of U.S. and Europe taxpayers.

    For example... through programs such as the Fed the buy-back of toxic assets:
    - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703865004575649102179786756.html
    - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-01/deutsche-bank-credit-suisse-lead-traders-of-fed-s-mortgage-backed-bonds.html

    Or the hundreds of billions of cheap money against worthless collateral
    - http://www.bloomberg.com/data-visualization/federal-reserve-emergency-lending/#/overview/?sort=nomPeakValue&group=none&view=peak&position=244&comparelist=Deutsche_Bank_AG-Hypo_Real_Estate_Holding_AG-Commerzbank_AG-Dresdner_Bank_AG-Bayerische_Landesbank&search=

    Because German financial system was the one cut off from the markets in 2008-2009
    - http://www.forbes.com/2007/08/21/germany-landesbanks-subprime-markets-equity-cx_po_0821markets20.html


    Unfortunately only data from the Fed is available because the ECB is only accountable to the German-French clique.

    Now with no shame whatsoever, Germans still top up this amnesia with further claims of the financial discipline of their government's accounts when the eurostat numbers show clearly that German debt and budget defict are no better than Southern europe until the collapse of the economy in 2008 and the wave of German austerity pushed southern europe into the abyss:

    German public debt:
    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/graphCreator.do?tab=graph&a=2&c=1&d=0&h=0&time=2-16&x=time&geo=8,10,12,24&y=geo&unit=0&language=en&pcode=tsieb090&plugin=0

    German budget deficit:
    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/graphCreator.do?tab=graph&a=2&c=1&d=0&h=0&time=3-10&x=time&geo=8,10,12,14,24&y=geo&unit=0&language=en&pcode=tsieb080&plugin=0

    The rest is history..

    1. German and U.S. financial systems were being rescued from the abyss they created, by the tax payers of Europe and U.S.

    2 meanwhile the smaller more vulnerable countries had to pile huge amounts of debt due to the collapse of tax revenue, increase in social welfare expenses and last but not least as part of the worldwide agreement to bring back the ecnomy from the crater created by the likes of Deutsche.

    3. The revered ratings agencies told periphery crountries "oops.. i don't like your balance sheet anymore and i'm going to effectively cut you off from the credit markets."

    4. ECB and Fed awashs banks with cash to absorb the risk that these banks had taken in the sovereign debt of periphery countries thus allowing them to get rid of these assets with o concern for the interest spiral it caused.

    5. Banks took that money and bought German bunds because market panic triggered by ratings agencies distorted the markets to the point in which the country which was about to fail 5 years ago is now considered the only safe investment in Europe.

    Hope this was informative for those people who believe in the superiority of their financial discipline.

      CommentedMoritz G€d1g

      Sounds like blaming others for own faults. You are right in many respects but it is not like Greece for example did not cause it's problems. Mr Merkel might be making it hard for them now, but they are the ones to blame. As a German I want to see reform progress for the money I know I have to continue to give them.

  3. CommentedMATTHEW M

    I am amazed at this sites lack of really addressing the obvious- out of control global finance. Where do we start: 1) JPMorgan cooking its books and the $2B hedge loss that some estimate will be north of $9B. 2) LIBOR rate rigging - why is anyone surprised as central banks have been artificially manipulating rates/markets for a long time - current S&P gains are primarily linked in the last few years to FED easing - same with LTRO in EU 3) HSBC "apologizing" for money laundering 4) JP and HSBC RICO suit on silver market manipulation and on and on.

    We witness Barclays executives committing suicide, PFS head attempting to take his own life, and one has to ask is a mass seppuku of banking executives or the current increased spate of lawsuits amongst financial players (the inevitable self cannibalization) the only remedy to clean up the toxic and corrupt banking sector.

    Unfettered, unhinged and irresponsible banks that are engaged in a massive fraudulent feeding frenzy that is bankrupting whole countries. The increased debt loads all related to massive bailouts to banks that have inept and corrupt executive teams.

    This is the core problem. We need to pull back the corporate veil, (executives, incestuous Boards, auditors, and lawyers) and expose where all the warts are.

    Regulation is sorely needed. A global come to Jesus meeting is sorely needed: declaring all CDO/CDS null and void is a great starting place. And then onto those that took the risk bearing the losses rather than the continued socialization of the losses on the backs of the world's people.

  4. CommentedAndré Rebentisch

    What you call "virtue" is another word for trusted governance, also known as pacta sunt servanda. Now, from a EU Treaty perspective we are in a state of exception because member states were prohibited to finance each other. Trusted relations are more important than the current interest rates, but you could argue that interest rates reflect the current level of trust. The longer it takes governments to meet their obligations the harder it gets for them to restore trust. Without trust no Eurobonds.

  5. CommentedJuergen Goebel

    Hello Mr. Stiglitz,
    if I got you right, your main hypothesis is:
    More debt leads to more growth, which leads to higher tax revenue, which leads to a lower debt burden.
    This sound like a very easy and pleansant way to go.
    Unfortunately, the times of strong growth have come to an end, at least for the Western world. Peak oil, for example, lies behind us.
    Moreover, there must be an approriate basis for growth. One necessary part would be a reasonable public service. Unfortunatley, there is none in Greece.
    I believe that the German people have good reasons to become tired of the Euro. The recovery measures are unlikely to be successful, but at the same time they destroy our political institutions, because our politicians have to break promise after promise to take them.

      CommentedMoritz G€d1g

      I doubt that that is what Mr. Stiglitz ment.
      Instead of more debt there is also higher taxes.
      What he said is that the current economy of Greece is not able to pay back it's debt.
      "growth could not be achieved by austerity alone"
      Greece must first start collecting it's taxes properly and raise the productivity of it's administration.

  6. CommentedGabriela Meissner

    I still don't understand why people think that Ms. Merkel is really interested in solving the crisis. I think that she is only interested in winning the next elections in 2013, and therefore she does and says what a felt majority of people in Germany wants to hear.

  7. CommentedGordon Tolleson

    The problem is not understanding the problem, the problem is implementing the solution when soverign countries unlike the "states in the USA" will not give up their soverign rights to unelected official in Brussels.

    The Euro was design originally to make this the solution in the end, but it is not working. While we tend to blame Germany for the Euro's woes we tend to forget the soverign countries overspent and nothing more. They are fiscally constrained and cannot print. Germany is the largest contributor to all of these bailout schemes.

    What makes absolutely no sense to me is Spain must borrow at 6% to loan Italy at 3% and vise vera. This is not going to work at all and anyone stating it will is off their rocker. Math does not lie.

    I think Europes biggest problem to be honest is when they made last minute swaps subordinating all bond holders making them take a loss. The Euro politicians came out of their meeting and immediately announce they would not do this again. The ECB will do it again if they get into trouble. So now they are paying for the mistake.

    Just today Finland and Norway will not approve the new funds unless eveyone else is subordinated to this new scheme. Bottom line to me currently is broke nation loaning money to broke nations borrowing at 6% to loan to others at 3% is never going to work. A fiscal and governmental Union is not going to happen this year.

  8. CommentedLuke Ho-Hyung Lee

    We have developed numerous “job-killing machines” in the real market (or supply chain process) through the use of IT and networking technology over the last 20 to 30 years of the Modern Information Age. These machines have significantly contributed to the shift to a more efficiency-oriented supply side environment by killing jobs and have altered the whole economic environment. Strangely, it seems nobody has recognized this yet, and no expert has considered this at all in his or her public ruminations about the economy.

    Without first replacing those job-killing machines, can we change this worsening course of the employment situation and revitalize the economy? That is, can we solve the current economic crisis only with the old economic policies or stimulus plans? I believe it to be impossible in most existing market or supply chain processes. That’s the real problem.

    I would strongly suggest you see this article: “Job-Killing Machines in the Modern Information Age” http://savingtheworldeconomy.blogspot.com/2012/07/job-killing-machines-in-modern.html

  9. CommentedGary Marshall

    Hello Mr. Stiglitz,

    My. My. How far from reality you reside!

    The great Keynesian system is coming to its Waterloo, I do hope. And all the great Keynesians can do is find fault with irrelevant or extraneous issues.

    All those people who contribute here can only offer the same tried and failed remedies of the past: more government expenditure funded by borrowing.

    Sadly, the Euro does not afford nations the freedom they once had in printing up and squandering all that Federal money. With the Euro, the money has to actually be borrowed, not from the former and always availing national central bank, but from the financial markets.

    And what a wonderful instrument the Euro is. And if all these Keynesian beliefs in government expenditure creating wealth were true, Greece would be among the wealthiest of European nations. But it isn't. So either Keynesian beliefs are wrong, or the Euro is at fault.

    And Mr. Stiglitz, beholden to his dear flawed, corpulent, hideous, wasteful, corrupt, money addicted, slothful child, faults the Euro.

    How much folly one finds in erroneous belief.

    Well, its not the death of the Euro. Its the death of modern Keynesian economics and big, corrupt, and wasteful government.

    And once your Keynesian child finishes puking green slime all over your fine Nobel prize, perhaps you might read through the proof below. Find the true flaw, which seems a bit of a challenge for you, and collect $50,000US.

    It shouldn't take you too long.

    #####

    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


      CommentedMoritz G€d1g

      Gary M. does not like to pay his taxes so he had the idea that the government could simply pay him for financing the common expenditures.

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Ignorant Prince,

      I forgot to add that the public expenditures will be made with an eye to costs and benefits. If the costs of the expenditure are greater than benefits, the expenditure will not be made. Otherwise it will.

      If costs of borrowed money run at 5% and benefits run at 8% of invested capital, then it should be a go.

      So why would anyone have to pay for public expenditures when they pay for themselves?

      For example, access to clean water could be accounted a worthy project with good returns. Dirty or disease laden water can cause a community grievous harm. The local hospital may be overrun with patients suffering all sorts of water borne maladies. The medical costs, lost work days, etc could be erased with a modest investment in purifying the water.

      Simple cost and benefit analysis. If the cost to the community of water borne diseases are $5 million, and construction costs of a water filtration plant $1 million with $1 million in annual expenditures, is this not a valued return to the community? Is it inflationary?

      No because the community now has $3 million per year to go and spend on other items, perhaps better healthcare, better education, a larger home.

      Imagine a shareholder in some company that must issue bonds to raise capital for some major and designedly profitable investment. Suppose he does not wish to buy the bonds and forgoes the offered interest, while others, some not even shareholders, do.

      Is this shareholder a free rider? Is he a free rider because he does not wish to obtain interest, but would rather just enjoy the increased value of his share in the company's new enterprise?

      Perhaps he does not wish to profit twice for a very good reason. Perhaps he holds bonds and earns greater interest from some other concern. Perhaps all his money is tied up in shares of various companies.

      In short, the expenditures by government will pay for themselves with returns sprinkled throughout the nation. Otherwise, they won't be made. Certainly, some investments will fail, but most will generate good returns, and a few spectacular returns.

      I hope this answers your question.

      Regards,
      Gary Marshall

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Ignorant Prince,

      And why would the free rider problem enter into this matter?

      The government is interested only in obtaining revenue for its expenditures. It offers bonds with a market determined interest rate. The bondholder is enriched with interest, as would any bondholder.

      The government obtains its money and makes those needed public expenditures.

      What does the free rider have to do with any of this? That problem so prominent in the system of Taxation disappears when it is abolished.

      So perhaps you had better explain yourself so that I may better respond to your query.

      Regards,
      Gary Marshall

      CommentedIgnorant Prince

      Dear Gary Marshall,

      I admire your tenacity but before posting your opus magnum again I suggest you google "free rider problem" and consider the implications of your proposal. Appropriately, also see Greece, Italy.

  10. CommentedKevin Lim

    Stiglitz's central complaint seems to be that the EU needs to "get real" about the disconnect between the ideal of economic integration and the reality of the little details getting in the way (tax competition, the perceived stability of German banks encouraging capital flight etc)

    In all fairness, the EU cannot "get real" about itself without committing suicide. There is simply no democratic mandate for sweeping political and economic changes needed for greater integration. Even in the boom times getting a new treaty passed was an exercise in frustration. Brussels was a byword for byzantine lawmaking divorced from reality. So you can only imagine what would happen if the leaders tried to sell more "Europe" to their citizens now.

    That being the case, this half-cocked quasi-integration rife with unresolved questions and inconsistencies is already the best of all possible worlds. Methinks the leaders of the EU already know this, and their plan (if you can call it that) is to simply bumble along in the hopes that global growth will eventually pick up again so they can then get back to their usual business of pretending everything is OK.

  11. CommentedStéphane Genilloud

    This is indeed troubling. If the financial markets ask for a 5bp premium on Spanish bonds, why do Spanish people leave their money in their banks.
    As soon as the possibility of a Greek (or Portuguese, or Spanish) gained a reasonable likelihood, most capitals would have been supposed to flee (and thus, to trigger the collapse).
    It looks like there is some confidence that the ECB will come to rescue in the last moment. But then, a question remains, why this 5 bp spread?

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