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废钞的可为和不可为

坎布里奇—11月8日晚8:15,印度总理莫迪政府宣布,从午夜开始,流通中的500和1,000卢比钞票将不再属于法定货币,需要换成新的500和2,000卢比钞票。莫迪的“废钞”干预影响了印度85%的流通中货币。这是一项前所未有的举措,不仅是印度,在全世界几乎所有地方都是如此,其程度之激进远超莫迪迄今为止的所有政策干预。

莫迪政府的目标是与逃税、腐败和假钞有关的“黑钱”,因此针对的是从事这些活动的毒品贩子、走私犯和恐怖分子。印度纳税工薪阶层乃至穷人一开始热烈欢迎这一政策,将它视为对将非法所得藏匿起来的逃税犯的甜蜜复仇;他们因为有传言说腐败官员将成箱的现金烧掉或扔进河中而欢呼雀跃。

但每过一天,一开始的欢呼就会减去几分。如今,公众越来越失望,因为政府无法满足新钞需求。印度现金-GDP高达10%,其商业严重依赖现金交易,而非正式经济和小企业经营如今也已经陷入停顿,因为银行门前取现的队伍见首不见尾,而ATM机也严重短缺。

短期影响等于实施了“反刺激”政策干预,而随后的需求拖累将十分巨大。此外,随着房地产价格的下跌,家庭财富也将缩水。尽管房价下跌让新房子变得更加平易近人,但售出房屋存量在短期将远超新购房量,因此负财富效应将压倒收益。

考虑到这些巨大的前端成本,一个合理的问题是废钞对于打击逃税和腐败效果如何,以及是否存在成本更小的废钞方法。

1976年,在一篇题为《如何让暴徒痛苦》(How to Make the Mob Miserable)的文章中,美国经济学家詹姆斯·亨利(James S. Henry)解决了有效性的问题,他将废钞描述为打击黑手党经营之道。但决策者没有认真对待他的方案。亨利的方案,用他自己的话说,“因为不具备管理上的可行性或被视为无法对犯罪行为形成长期影响的短期行动而被否决。”

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在新书《现金的诅咒》(The Curse of Cash)中肯尼斯·罗格夫(Kenneth Rogoff)主张取消高面额钞票以打击逃税和犯罪行为。罗格夫提供了大量证据证明增加囤积现金的成本能威慑非法行为。尽管逃税者也用非货币形式保存财富,如土地、艺术品和珠宝等,但由于现金具有天然的流动性,它仍然是非法所得的主要载体。换句话说,莫迪的批评者所提出的关于现金在导致黑钱存量增加的质疑搞错了对象。

尽管如此,罗格夫提出了不同的策略解决黑钱的威胁——这个策略破坏性很小,并且可以说效果更好,至少在长期是如此。这个策略在两个基本方面与莫迪政府的干预有所不同。首先,它是渐进的,需要多年时间实施。其次,它永久取消大面额钞票。

这一渐进策略不会惩罚现有囤现者——他们会找到各种新奇的办法回收现金——但随着大额钞票永久退出流通,它更有可能增加纳税遵从度,逐渐减少腐败。印度的当前政策是用2,000卢比钞票替换1,000卢比钞票,这不利于该政策的长期效果。

此外,渐进方针在管理上可行,它能让实体经济的附带伤害最小化,并确保有足够的时间将金融服务和金融知识推广到印度大部。在过去两年中,莫迪政府采取了Jan Dhan计划推动金融包容,取得了令人印象深刻的效果。Jan Dhan计划促使银行账户新增了2.2亿。2015年,世界银行对不同地区的银行账户使用和休眠率做了研究,研究表明,只有15%的印度成年人报告使用银行账户收钱或付钱。在这样的环境下,现金紧缺对经济十分不利。

莫迪的政策干预十分果断,其背后的经济学原理也无可指责。但包括永久取消大额钞票在内的渐进方针的效果更好,即使它无法产生如同当前政策一样的“震慑”。随着未来几个月废钞行动给经济造成的巨大代价逐渐出现,这一点也将变得更加明显。

http://prosyn.org/5Whc0Te/zh;

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