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4%不是灵药

巴黎—一段时间以来,有一种声音认为央行行长们已经“黔驴技穷”。他们已将政策利率降至近零水平,越来越多地采取了“量化宽松”“前瞻性指引”等“大招”。考虑到金融危机让实体经济活动状况不甚明了,很难确定地评估这些措施效果的好坏。但显然这些措施不是最好的办法。

让名义利率为零的下限羁绊货币政策早已毫无道理。一个简单又优美的解决方案是逐步向完全电子化的货币靠拢,使用电子货币后,支付利息(正或负)只要按个按钮就行了。而若使用纸币——特别是大面额钞票——实际上弊大于利,货币现代化可谓姗姗来迟。使用电子货币,央行能够如同现在所做的那样稳定通胀。(花旗集团首席经济学家威廉·布伊特(Willem Buiter)给出了多种解决纸币造成的不便的方法,但取消纸币是最简单的。)

其次,还有一种不那么优美的办法,即让央行将目标通胀率从今天的标准水平2%提高到仍属温和水平的4%。将通胀目标永久提高到4%的方案首先由IMF首席经济学家奥利佛·布兰查德(Olivier Blanchard)在一篇有趣又深邃的论文中提出,并获得了其他许多学者的支持,包括最近的保罗·克鲁格曼(Paul Krugman)。不幸的是,实现平稳而有说服力地向新目标转变可能是无法实现的任务。

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