低利率保证高资产价格吗?

世界范围内的资产价格—股票、商业不动产,甚至石油—都处在历史的高位。虽然通过历史可以很好地预测未来趋势,但根本性的变化不时发生,从而催生新的模式。现在的一个重要问题时,今天高企的资产价格是否是某些根本性变化的产物,或者说泡沫是否已经形成。

一种对高资产价格耳熟能详的辩护认为实际的(计入通胀因素的)长期利率是非常低的。但投资者们应该对这种观点保持警惕。它看似有理,但却并不是结论性的,更重要的是,它的确没有告诉我们这种高价格是可持续的。

当然,不可否认的是,实际长期利率已经显著降低—这种变化不是突如其来,也不是最近才有,而是在过去的二十多年里以一种较为平稳的速度发生的。根据国际货币基金组织(IMF)的说法,世界实际长期利率在1984年达到顶点,平均为7%,而到了2004年则降低到2%以下。在此期间利率有所起伏,但总体上呈下降趋势,且下降的幅度—近5个百分点—是惊人的。

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