欧洲的最后良机

发自斯坦福——希腊总理帕潘德里欧和意大利总理贝卢斯科尼的双双辞职凸显出希腊,意大利以及其他许多国家所面临的问题:面对其臃肿公共部门中长期存在的不可持续社会福利补贴,他们是如何久拖不决,乃至酿成苦果的。事实上对许多这样的国家来说,重大改革已经无从逃避了。

跟美国,日本以及其他国家一样,欧洲的社会保险体系是依据与当今形势截然不同的经济和人口状况(更快的经济增长,不断增加的人口和更低的期望寿命)设计的。各国政府(虽然目前焦点都集中在希腊和意大利身上,但它们并不是孤例)对过多的人许下了过多也过久的承诺。对此笔者在1986年出版的《过多承诺》一书也指出了美国社会福利系统存在的类似问题。

这些根本性问题如今在这些国家无以为继的债务循环上暴露无疑。欧元区成员的身份虽然在短期内允许其大量低息借债,但其实是加速了这一问题的恶化。

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