Monday, October 20, 2014
11

安倍晋三的货币政策迷思

发自纽黑文——中央银行政治化的趋势有增无减。而安倍晋三以及日本自民党的卷土重来——它们都是使日本经济从20多年前至今依然陷入停滞的政治系统的核心元素——只是这一现象的最新注解而已。

日本近期的选举与安倍对日本银行货币政策立场的见解紧密联系在一起。他指出过于谨慎的日本央行应该向它更为激进的同行——美联储和欧洲央行——学习。而正如美联储和欧洲央行显然通过非常规且激进的量化宽松政策挽救了大局一样,安倍认为日本央行也是时候该采取相同的行动了。

而如今看来安倍似乎也将如愿以偿。随着日本央行行长白川方明(Masaaki Shirakawa)的任期于明年四月份届满,首相就可以另选一位继任者——以及两个副行长——来执行他的命令。

但这种政策能起作用吗?尽管在后危机时代的今天,实验性的货币政策被当作标准的操作流程进得到大范围推广,但其有效性依然值得怀疑。世界经济在全球金融危机冲击下触底后的近四年里,量化宽松政策的影响明显不对称。大量流动性的注入的确在解冻信贷市场上取得成效并阻止了危机深度恶化——这在美联储2009-2010年度首轮量化宽松政策中得到了证明——然而随后的措施都未能催生任何常见的周期性复苏。

其中原因并不难理解。由于私营及公共企业的资产负债表受到严重破坏,政策利率又几近为零,后泡沫经济已经陷入了典型的“流动性陷阱”。相对于进一步举债或刺激总需求,人们更加关心如何偿还危机之前积累的巨额债务。

美国消费者的悲剧正是这种政策后果的典型例子。在危机前的几年中,两种经济泡沫——房地产和信贷——加剧了创纪录的个人消费热潮。当泡沫爆发时,不难理解每个家庭都开始关注如何改善其负债——也就是偿还债务并重新开始储蓄,而不是恢复过度消费的习惯。

确实,尽管前所未有的危机后美联储资产大概翻了三倍到3万亿美元——并可能在未来一年内达到4万亿美元,美国的消费还是前所未有的回落了。自2008年初以来的19个季度中,计入通胀因素后消费支出的年化增长率平均仅为0.7%——几乎比截至2006年的前11年每年3.6%的增长趋势低了3个百分点。

欧洲央行也没有理由为其量化宽松政策的作为而感到满意。尽管它的资产翻了倍,达到3万多亿欧元(折合约4万亿美元),欧洲已经在四年中第二次回落到衰退状态。

不仅量化宽松政策重启那些饱受危机折磨且资产负债表受制的经济体的能力有限;它还冒着模糊货币政策和财政政策之间区别的重大风险。那些购买由财政当局发行的主权债务的央行逃脱了市场对借贷成本施加的约束,实际上资助了公共部门的挥霍行为。

不幸地是,日本似乎忘了自身所经历的许多教训——尤其是日本央行在2000年代实施零利率和量化宽松政策的沮丧经历。但它同时也也忘记了1990年代——也是第一个所谓“失落的10年”——再此期间当局尽其所能延长资不抵债的银行和许多非金融公司的寿命。这些行尸走肉般的公司靠着人为力量勉强继续运行,它们都抱着一种虚幻的希望——时间能够拯救一切。直到这个10年的末期,当银行开始重组而且企业也被鼓励重组时,日本才在修复资产负债表和结构改革的道路上取得了进步。

美国当局已经屈服于与日本一样的诱惑。从量化宽松政策到破纪录的联邦预算赤字都被用于前所未有的救援行动,他们用尽一切力量来掩饰资产负债表修复与结构调整所带来的痛苦。结果,美国已经创造出了它自己的僵尸——也就是僵尸消费者。

跟日本一样,美国泡沫破裂后的恢复是有限的——即使是在美联储注入大规模流动资金的情况下。2012年第三季度美国家庭负债相当于收入的112%——虽然较2006年的创纪录高位有所回落,但仍比20世纪最后30年75%的标准高了几乎40个百分点。同样,2012年截止到11月的后四个月中个人储蓄率仅为3.5%,这还不到1970~1999年7.9%的平均储蓄率的一半。

欧洲的情况也是如此,欧洲央行过于激进的行动并未在区内促成人们期待已久的结构性改革。饱受危机折磨的欧洲外围经济体仍然面对着无法承受的债务负担和严重的生产力和竞争力问题。而碎片化的欧洲银行体系仍然是区域链条中最脆弱的一环。

这就是安倍想为日本寻求的“解决方案”吗?此时日本经济最不需要的就是结构改革的倒退。然而通过迫使日本央行追随美联储和欧洲央行的错误步伐,这正是安倍和日本所面临的风险。

由世界主要的央行——即美联储、欧洲央行、日本央行——贯彻的大规模流动性注入既不能在各自的实体经济里促进交易,也不能促进资产负债表修复和结构性变革。这就让大量多余的流动资金在全球资本市场上流动。不管这些资金流到何处,下一个危机也无可避免地注定随之而来。

Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (11)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. Commentedlaurie gravelines

    In the absence of aggressive fiscal policy, monetary authorities are experimenting with ever increasingly 'exotic' instruments. frankly they have pushed monetary policy to unexpected levels. They are to be complemented. But it can only be pushed so far, the ultimate dangers are well documented, yet governments refuse all but the most timid fiscal levers. Indeed some move fiscal policy pro-cyclical and amplify the recession. I find it difficult to criticize aggressive central banks, when governments have abandoned the challenge. And I do agree, a great future price may be paid.

  2. CommentedMerijn Knibbe

    It seems that there is more to Shinzo Abe than meets the eye. Deflation in Japan in the fourth quarter of 2012 was as high (low?) as -4% (GDP deflator) which must be rated as a massive failure of central bank policy: http://rwer.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/graph-of-the-day-a-deflation-shock-in-japan/

  3. Commentedpieter jongejan

    Central banks are no longer serving the general interests, but the short term interests of the financial sector, the political sector and the criminal sector. In the short run these sectors are benefitting most from almost zero interest rates. In the long run low interst rates will lead to a low profit rate (due to high real estate prices) and low investment an thus low economic growth and high unemployment. The winners in the long run are in my opinion the criminal sector and the populists.
    They benefit from increased poverty due to stagnant economic growth.

  4. CommentedJoshua Ioji Konov

    The Japanese QE may well be compared to the US policies whereas it is farther than the EU sterilized and not expanding their balance sheet, and very much conditional on austerity measures and strict EU policies.
    Both ways there is need of structural micro and macro economic changes to improve liquidity transmission-ability if these policies to be affective indeed..
    SEE
    How Globalization affects Market Economy

    If a Market Economy is considered the balance between Demand-to-Supply (in the currently used Economics it is Supply-to-Demand) for goods, services, resources and employment, the most recent changes of ongoing Globalization and rising Productivity have prompted, boosted and accelerated its role to some new levels never experienced through history. By including some huge marketplaces such as China, India, Brazil, Vietnam, and the expanding EU and by the rapid industrialization some of these countries are succeeding. High technologies in manufacturing and communications, the Internet and the open boarders trade, the open employment policies in EU, the high level education in India that give medical doctors and software specialists knowledge and skills to compete in US, and many more make the Global marketplace a common ground for competition well beyond any imagination in the past. However, these processes show the incredible vitality of the supply founded economics of Capitalism to fill any demand wherever and however such occurs elsewhere in the world. Hence, Market Economy is in its apogee, perhaps, only under the increasing sustained pace of economic development.

    Many economists associate Market Economy and Market Economics with the Supply-to-Demand trickle down economics of the Capitalism, and almost no one can even imagine major changes in the system. Regional and global lending founded on relatively high interest rate and relatively short term payoff could well help individuals and businesses live through short term economic turbulences, which approaches work very well when the term of such turbulence as long as economic activities returns to normal then the borrowers might payback and swim through. The supply founded Market Economy in theory self adjust economic turbulences and thus even improves the over all social and business environment by cutting off dead branches of over production, excessive financing, “artificial businesses”, crowded administration, and thus improves economies and marketplaces. This is the magic of the self-adjusting Market Economy of the Capitalism.

    However, many countries discovered that Market Economy, as explained by trickle-down economics, does not maintain best development and many business regulations and laws, and tax brakes and social programs are added to the powers of the Market Economy to distribute and redistribute wealth, to create jobs, and to balance demand-to-supply. Powerful socialization and governmental involvement into financial and business market operations prompted by the last Great Recession had more governments more involved into the Market Economy trying to save their economies from collapse. By pouring massive capital into financial institutions, or by taking over large corporations, or by implementing more social and employment generating programs the governments interfered with market forces and replacing such with vengeance.

    Market Economy is associated with a few indicators:
    • free flow of goods and services;
    • flow of free capital and trickle-down concentration of capital
    • return on invested capital;
    • free relocation and outsourcing of manufacturing that grew up into services and financial sectors;
    • large intercontinental corporations a main source for employment and the following fiscal reserves;
    • free employment marketplace based on demand and supply;
    Thus, the goods and services in a marketplace under the pressure of demand and supply balance prompt employment, whereas financing and capital being private or public, or both accelerate the spirals of economic growth and development.

    In the modern day Global Marketplace, the Market Economy is global too, where forces of demand-to-supply work globally and goods and services from one side and demand for such from another should prompt employment and supported by crediting, financing should accelerate growth and development.

    In a pro supply marketplace currently used instruments of economics it would be nothing wrong with this picture, however the conditions in the global marketplace of China’s and constantly rising Productivity prompted substantially different motors to maintain global balance. In case the pro supply-to-demand marketplace is in a progress to a pro demand-to-supply such, the distribution of wealth which always has been a minor problem for economic growth even in the opposite prompted by trickling-down such growth is becoming very contra-productive. Under these new economic conditions, such “stoppers” growth and development as Social and Infrastructural expenses that prompted inflations and market instability, in the past, are becoming more like a balance to rising unemployment and lack of growth of the present. In addition, the “shady” business practices of the past that prompted rapid growth are becoming more like a burden of the present, which instead of helping SME are making them not lend-able, while SME (small and medium enterprises) are the main still in place employer. Same with the financial system of speculative banks, exchanges and financial institutions, that use to help the trickle-down capital to concentrate and such boost business, in the past, now these are becoming more like additional burden to the small and medium investors and the middle class. By taking away 401s and 501s and not providing them with so much needed ROI (return on investment) that could be one of the free economic vehicles for wealth distribution and redistribution of the present.

    The industrialization of the past that built-up the most aggressive economic growth and development with prosperous middle class of the very developed economies of North Americas, Japan and Western Europe may not be successful anymore to perform. The high technologies are limiting needed manpower in manufacturing, China is becoming increasingly industrial super power able to fill any demand for industrial goods, whereas industrial production is either outsourced or moved already elsewhere. However, under the currently used economics industrial production adds the most to any country’s GDP (general domestic product); thus when some highly industrialized economies as the US are losing their abilities to maintain industrial growth the rest of the world of underdeveloped or developing countries with very few exceptions are losing any probability to startup such industrial production, indeed.

    Environmental changes caused by industrial pollution and the exhausting Earth resources are becoming more of pressing issues with which all countries must promptly deal. These are becoming more of economic issues than even the rest, because it is obvious that these issues affect any economy and the global market place directly. E.g., the high technologies for renewable energies are quite expensive, changing old polluting autos is expensive too, i.e. the Earth pollution, the deforestation going on in any poverty rotten country of Eastern Europe, Africa, South America are affecting the global environment in a progressive harmful overall.

    Thus, if the changing market environment brings new issues and developments than the modern world must deal with appropriately. The economics should change too, to accommodate all of the above new developments. An economics of Marketism being able to abstract all the best from the Capitalism should be implemented promptly, because under the arising conditions only another alternative is a massive socialization and governmental take over, and such for sure would not bring prosperity to no one. Bureaucracy, diminishing liberties, dependence on social security could not balance properly market demand-to-supply, as the history has shown, but free entrepreneurships and personal freedoms must be saved then the appointed new arriving economics issues must be dealt promptly and properly with.

    New market economics is about low interest lending and subsidizing, because under the new conditions the recessions are not self-adjusting and short in time, therefore any high interest lending is not feasible instead financial instrument (law interest loans and subsidies) should prompt employment and SME activities for which as written above should be supported by higher “security” (by enhanced business laws, regulations, financial market regulations, risk management personal liability). Hence, financial instruments should prompt growth by using monetary and fiscal initiatives on a lower interest rate and subsidies the “old” system of national and global lending must be moderated to these new conditions. The World Bank, IMF, and WTO should promote growth on a global scale by using these new instruments and by changing their role of general lenders into general controllers. The main issue under these new conditions is for these institutions to use monetary and fiscal quantities to balance the global market demand-to-supply “as it comes: as it goes” approach of Quantum Factor. The market agents and tools are more as “parameters” in attempt of preventing economic turbulence, than setup of chaotic self-adjusting instruments to prompt productivity.

    The market economy of the 21st Century is a vivid fluctuating development dealt on a practical operational basis. Market economics is statistically formulated way for using economic agents and tools as parameters balancing market demand-to-supply and dispersing negative economic buildups.

    Hence, the Globalization affects Market Economy by establishing new conditions of demand-to-supply marketplace that require changing the ways economic instruments are used from the ideological approaches of the Capitalism to practical approaches of the Marketism.
    © Joshua Konov, 2010

  5. CommentedMukesh Adenwala

    Insufficiency of Monetary Policy in changing the perceptions of economic agents, enabling them to see a rosier picture is perhaps the cause of its failure. Perhaps direct measures at repairing major parts of balance sheets of financial institutions could go a long way in mending such insufficiency. The key could be as under:
    If economies decide to offer foreclosed assets for `winning' through lottery, rather than for `buying' - draw to be held only after enough amount has been collected through sale of lottery tickets so that financial institutions would cover book value of their assets - the size of market for such assets would increase manifold. If such assets change hands for cash, the banks would be free of toxic assets several times over because derivatives created on the basis of such assets would regain their value, and the insurance companies like AIG that had insured single asset many times over, would recover their losses. This would repair the balance sheets of major financial institutions to a large extent and restore the confidence in the markets and agents.
    Yes, there would be moral implications of such measures and also question of equity would need to be closely examined before such a scheme can be implemented.

  6. CommentedDanny Cooper

    Central banking is inherently political. They conduct monetary policy. They have to sell their policy to their constituent.

  7. CommentedSean Slater

    Wasn't the Fed's injection of liquidity a reaction to the need for liquidity in the failing financial sector not to create an increase in consumption?

  8. Portrait of Michael Heller

    CommentedMichael Heller

    My memory may be short, but I don't remember having read a more important article at Project Syndicate. In a nutshell Stephen S. Roach captures the present predicament caused by monetary crankery and procrastination over structural reform.

  9. CommentedPaul Jefferson

    ECB quantitative easing? What about Europe's widely hated austerity programs? And what about the weak EU members being deprived of currency flexibility, as they are constrained by the common euro currency they have adopted? These factors make Europe an inappropriate example for comparison with Japan.

    As for the USA, QE seems to have at last jump-started the real estate market, which should make a huge difference for US banks, and the economy as a whole.

    Also, if QE has sustained the economy while US consumers de-leveraged, all the better. Anyway, American consumers need to spend less on Chinese imports.

    Sustained American QE should eventually force the Chinese to value the yuan more fairly against the US dollar, which should reduce Chinese imports, and support US domestic job growth. Hence, QE is good for the USA. So how would it be bad for Japan?

    Abe's QE will devalue the yen, and thus he will have won the biggest battle. The high yen has been the root of Japan's economic problems for years. A lower yen will make Japan's products competitive again, and will boost domestic employment. Clearly, Abe is on the right track.

  10. Portrait of Pingfan Hong

    CommentedPingfan Hong

    In fact, BOJ has never been more timid than its counterparts in Europe and the US: BOJ was the first to use quantitive easing among major central banks. Measured by the ratio of assets purchased by the central bank to GDP, BOJ is leading ECB and the Fed in the scale of the QE so far: 30%, 27%, and 20% respectively for these three central banks.

    The only thing BOJ could not match its counterparts is that both ECB and the Fed have recently made their open ended: undefined total amount and duration of the new round QE for ECB and the Fed. BOJ is expected to follow the suit soon.

    However, as the author of this article pointed out correctly, all these QEs cannot substitute for painstaking balance sheet adjustment and restructuring of the real economy, as attested by the decade-long experience of QE by BOJ.

      CommentedAndrew Purdy

      Abe is going to do something that the USA has not yet done - outright monetization of deficits. When the CB buys up government debt, the Treasury still has to pay interest. If the deficit is covered with pure seigniorage, no interest is ever paid.

Featured