紧缩和债务的现实

美国剑桥—当今世界许多(如果不是所有的话)最重要的宏观经济问题都与各种各样的债务大规模积压有关。在欧洲,外围国的公共债务、银行债务和对外债务相互交错,已经威胁到了欧元区的生存。在大西洋对岸,民主党、茶党和老派共和党之间的僵局不禁让人疑惑:从长期看,美国应该怎样消除占GDP 8%政府预算?日本的预算赤字相当于GDP的10%,即便不断增加的退休群体从日本国债的买入者转变为卖出者。

除了焦躁不安之外,政府应该怎样做?一个极端是简单照搬凯恩斯主义疗法,认为在经济陷入深度衰退时,政府赤字无关紧要,甚至可以说是越大越好。另一个极端是债务上限绝对论,认为政府应该从明天(既然往者不可追)就开始平衡预算。这两种观点都太过轻率。

债务上限绝对论者大大低估了自我发生的债务融资“骤停”所造成的巨大调整成本。这类调整成本正是希腊等缺钱国在金融市场失去信心、资本流突然告竭时出现重大社会和经济混乱的原因。

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