Monday, April 21, 2014
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space
8

财政紧缩乃为错误对策

.

伯克利——财政挥霍并不是引起席卷欧洲的主权债务危机的原因,而财政紧缩并不能解决债务难题。相反,这样的节省开支已让危机加重,现在,欧元受到贬值的危险,全球经济陷入了另一场混乱当中。

2007年,西班牙和爱尔兰是“财政正确”的模范,两国的债务占GDP的比率远远低于德国。投资者并不担心西班牙或爱尔兰主权债务带来的违约风险或者意大利长期的巨额主权债务。事实上,意大利扬言本国在欧元区的财政赤字占国内生产总值的比重最低,意大利政府已经以较高利率重组贷款。甚至在希腊,尽管它的竞争力急剧下降,财政渠道日益不稳,它仍可以吸引它所需要的资金。

欧元发行后,投资者受到公债利息的迷惑,在一些欠发达的欧洲边缘国家带起一股长达十年的私营信用增长。他们没有意识到在西班牙和爱尔兰出现了房地产泡沫以及希腊已经陷入无力偿还债务的困境。当经济急剧下滑,信用资金流尾随经济大衰退而出现,预算资金减少时,各国政府便被迫把私营企业公有化,于是财政赤字和债务随之增多。

除了希腊,公共财政的恶化是危机降临的一个症状,并不是诱因。并且,恶化具有可预知性:历史显示,政府债务实股是尾随由金融危机引发的经济萧条而爆发的。

大致回顾历史证据,以德国为首的欧洲各国领导人,错误地把问题看作是财政挥霍的结果,并认为财政紧缩是唯一的解决办法。在这观点上,以最快速度削减政府赤字和债务是让政府恢复信用,让投资者重拾信心,阻止危机蔓延,降低利率和振兴经济的前提。

关于财政紧缩,还存在着道德危害这方面的争论:免去财政挥霍的政府的偿还期限,只会引发它们在将来不顾后果的行为——对过去罪恶的宽恕只会让罪恶延续。另外,不论借债方是私有的还是公有的,有道德的债权人不应该给没有责任感的借债方提供援助。从这个角度来说,对于像希腊,西班牙和意大利这些财政恶化的国家,财政紧缩是必须也是公平的。

但财政紧缩并没有起到应有的作用,事实上,它产生了反效果。中短期而言,不论是以削减政府开支还是以增加税收的方式,财政整顿的结果都会是资金输出减少和低就业率,这意味着会引起更少的税收收入,更高的财政赤字以及与国内生产总值债务的加重。有觉悟能力的投资者,像选举失败的选举人,早意识到低速度经济增长和高失业率实际上在短期内加重了赤字和债务。这就是为什么两年多之后,在一些严格采取财政缩减措施的国家,利率一直上升并没有下降。

事实上,政府赤字或者债务的大小跟利率之间并不存在任何关系。尽管英国的财政地位悄然下降,英国国债现时的利率明显低于法国,意大利和西班牙。

随着公共债务利率上升到远远高于经济增长率,希腊随之陷入了典型债务的困境。西班牙在危难边缘摇摇欲坠。在欧洲,财政紧缩证实了国际货币基金会的警告:过度整顿财政会削弱经济活动,挫伤市场信心并减少公众对经济调整的支持。

长远来说,很多欧元区的国家,包括德国,都要求进行财政整顿以降低债务占国内生产总值的比率并使之稳定。但经济整顿是在欧洲经济恢复到可持续增长之后才进行的,这个过程缓慢,并不是立竿见影。

大部分要增加竞争力和发挥增长潜力的欧洲经济体都必需进行经济结构改革。但如此改革需要消耗时间:德国总理安吉拉·默克尔似乎忘记了要让德国东部的竞争力追上其他地区,需要进行超过十年和大概两万亿欧元(2.5万亿美元)经济补助的经济结构改革。

意大利总理马里奥蒙蒂和法国总统弗朗索瓦·奥朗德的决策是正确的:欧洲需要大胆,协调的政策去促进经济增长,伴随着这些政策的是以市场为基础的结构改革,以促使竞争并缓和持续到出口和就业率恢复的财政目标。

但这些重大的新经济增长主动权如何得到资助?摆在眼前的事实是离开了德国,欧洲其他国家不可能成功地恢复经济增长,而德国依旧继续用财政紧缩解决危机。

有着适度的财政赤字,少有记录的借债费用以及往来账户的巨大盈余,德国具有金融实力远离经济危机刺激的束缚。但德国并不认为需要对自身经济的刺激,并只愿意考虑适度的欧元区经济措施,比如对欧洲投资银行投入额外资金,对欧盟的试点工程“项目债券”投资建设基础设施,以及对仍然有效的欧盟结构基金投入更多紧急部署。德国甚至拒绝资助首优基础设施项目去摆脱欧盟新政策“财政协定”设定的不实际的财政赤字目标。

尽管国际货币基金组织和经济合作与发展组织曾经恳求,德国仍然坚持拒绝欧洲债券,这能减轻其他欧元区成员的资金限制和为欧洲稳定机制提供资源方面的支持,这种做法现在并不会给西班牙和意大利主权债务,或者承担债务的欧洲银行筑起信用防火墙。事实上,伴随着存款从欧元区边缘撤销,日益恶化的银行危机在进一步扼杀欧洲经济发展的前景。

或许拯救希腊已经太迟,但财政赤字目标的撤销以及欧洲债券的保障给依赖促增长政策的经济手段予以支持。这经济手段对于让欧洲从持续的经济萧条边缘得以挽救十分重要,同时对稳定欧洲金融市场,对阻止另一场显著的全球资本市场破坏也起举足轻重的作用。

Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space
Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (8)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. CommentedRoss Clem

    The ability of government to repay its debt determines the interest rate on its debt. Government must increase its income by increasing revenue based upon the growth of the private sector; or it must reduce the cost of government.


  2. Commentedjracforr jracforr

    The first sentence of this article stated that fiscal recklessness was not the cause of the debt crisis and it gave examples of the well managed !!?? Spanish and Irish governments. By the third paragraph it gave blatant examples of fiscal recklessness taking place in these countries, which created the the real-estate bubble.
    The governments of these countries derived tax revenues from these speculative investments done by the private sector and were conveniently blind to the
    looming danger they posed .
    The " governments were forced to socialize private-sector liabilities " when the speculative boom collapsed.
    " From this perspective austerity is the necessary and just penance for reprobates like Greece ,Spain and Italy'
    While this approach maybe morally correct it is economically suicidal as the article makes clear, so some burden sharing is inevitable.

  3. CommentedJephtah Lorch

    I beg to differ with Ms Tyson on the basics of the European (and not only) fiscal problem.

    The term 'growth' is used far to easily. Growth depends on household consumption, what is manufactures, shipped, serviced, etc. Yet, household spending is shrinking and has been doing so for many years. This is especially true in Europe where the population is getting older, birth rates are under 1.8 pointing at an inevitable future shrink, many immigrants are net expenses and, very important, a massive shift of jobs to SE Asia took place.

    I fail to understand how investments in infrastructure will provide more future jobs: people lack financial resources to use such infrastructure, it creates only short term government spending (serving very specific sectors), boosts profits of infrastructure contractors and return some of the government's funds as taxes. This will not create long term increase of all households income and respective cosumerism that fuels growth.

    Issuing EURO Bonds is another laundered way to increase public debt. Public debt is huge as is, especially when compared to long term earning potential in shrinking populations and economies. These will affect GDP's mostly due to internal cash transfer 'inside the family', rather than from real manufacturing, production and exports.

    Economists, who don't want to be carriers of bad news, need to face the fact that this balloon has inflated to its limits much like Japans 1990s' real-estate crash which froze the economy for over a decade. A new order will come to life and should be put in place. It should avoid repeating the errors that brought us to where we are. It should consider the realistic posibilty that economies will shrink, standard of living will be reduced and that globalization shifted riches from west to east.

  4. CommentedTh Hsu

    There seems to be an interesting gap between the underlying issues and proposed cures.

    Spain's growth was built on an unsustainable increase in real estate "value". Italy and France's economy are overloaded with regulations and a costly public service. Greece simply cheated it's neighbours throughout years. And Germany was happy too to increase debt beyond agreed levels when needed. So where is the solidarity aspect which has been so oft brought up by the EU leaders? It seems that in this UNION, everyone has been (and will be) maximizing their local interests.

    If this is the underlying problem, it is hard to believe that neither austerity nor the growth "concept" will be a sustainable solution.

    This crisis is an example to the thesis that in the real world, fiscal and monetary union are two parts of the same coin. Pull them apart and ...

  5. CommentedHelmut Kirchner

    Just some info from ITALY

    Nowadays it is usual to say that austerity is the wrong cure that worse the disease. For what I see in Italy I do not see any "austerity". This word, long time ago, means spending more wisely and do more with less.

    What I see in Italy is the same level and the same low quality of public spending but a new and extreme, I repeat extreme fiscal pressure.

    So there is no way to recover! In fact Italy is already in a depression even if no one dime of public spending has been reduced.

    Sorry, but the Germans are right.



  6. CommentedJames Edwards

    In response to Mark Pitts

    While it is true that most of these countries are in need of reform on a range of issues however when you get into the issue of politics, the tendency to skirt responsibility is magnified by the desire to win and pin blame on the other side.

    You ignored the cause of the problem in the first place and that problem stems from issuance of easy credit to finance whatever the wants are which Ms. Tyson addressed here and that has been going on since the late 1980s until the bubble popped in 2007. Many of the banks and Wall Street were eager to do it because it offers them opportunities to make money and securitization provided the avenue to generate all kinds of variable products never mind the risk because it is someone else's problem to solve hence why many governments bailout their financial institutions because letting it fail will cause a bigger problem. What I don't see is the needed reforms the banks should be imposing on itself to correct the defect they created in the first place. Just like Ms Tyson stated: the deterioration was predictable.

    I can understand Germany's view that needed reforms are needed however the EU consist of rich and poor nations, just like what we have in the US but on a different level however the each of the countries are wedded to the Euro and they can not do anything beyond making painful adjustment which is why Merkel's party lost two state elections and Mr. Hollande's victory caused her of modify her stance just to keep the Euro intact. Germany's solution sounds like a one size fits when it is several things going at the same time.

    You state it is a recession when it is really a Depression caused by the financial crisis and even model countries needs a bailout unless they enacted reform to prevent from happening in years prior to 2007.

  7. CommentedMark Pitts

    In rebuttal to Ms. Tyson’s argument, one only needs to reiterate many of the points already made by the Germans. For example:

    1) The issuance of Eurobonds relieves other nations of the need to make painful and unpopular reforms. Eurobonds mean reforms will not be made, interest rates will once again be equalized in the EU, and excessive borrowing in the peripheral countries will resume.

    2) Debtor countries already receive substantial aid or have access to it, but still resist implementing reforms that will lead to growth and competitiveness.

    3) Mr. Hollande, the newest voice for growth and reforms, has pledged to lower the French retirement age back to 60. That will make French public finances worse and add nothing to GDP or competiveness. These are the kind of “reforms” the Germans are worried about.

    4) Ms. Tyson states that Spain and Ireland were models of fiscal rectitude before the recession. She then points out, “The reality is that the rest of Europe cannot succeed in restoring growth without Germany.” There is an obvious contradiction here. Model countries do not require bailouts from other countries when recessions hit.

    To understand the German point of view, Americans need only convert the numbers involved to an equivalent in the US economy. For example, it has been estimated that the cost of bailing Spain’s banks and governmental units will cost around $350B. Would Americans be willing to bail out Mexico at a cost of $1.25 trillion, knowing that other countries in the region would soon line up for their bailouts as well?

    Finally, it is unfair to discredit the German position by equating it to moral or religious vengeance. As a result of their economic history, Germans may have different beliefs about the likely outcomes of certain policies than others do. However, there are many mainstream economists who question the simplistic Keynesian solution as well.

  8. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    The suggestions from the article sound logical.
    One question though: where would further growth come from?
    When will we become brave enough to face the facts that our present constant quantitative growth economic model, that is built on overproducing and over consuming excessive, unnecessary products, buying them beyond means requiring more and more credit, has exhausted itself due to multiple converging factors and this is why we are in a crisis, or more precisely system failure?
    Until we are ready to open up the root cause of the disease we cannot even hope for a cure.

Featured