Jay Powell and Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

特朗普拿下美联储了吗?

发自纽约——美国总统的其中一项重要权力就是任命各个机构的成员和负责人,而这些机构不仅负责执行国家的法律法规,在许多情况下还要管理经济。而在这方面也许没有哪个机构比美联储更重要了。

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但特朗普总统却在行使这项权力方面打破了一个可以追溯到将近半个世纪前的悠久模式,即总统会(站在非党派立场上)重新任命表现良好的现任美联储主席。而在前几年那段特别艰难的时期,可能没有哪个主席比珍妮特·耶伦(Janet Yellen)做得更好了。

在两位前任因为玩忽职守而积累了巨量风险(以及大规模欺诈行为)从而令美联储颜面扫地之后,是耶伦挽回了美联储的声誉。是她以冷静平衡的手段在一个以多种经济哲学并存著称的联邦储备委员会中孕育了广泛共识,是她在狡诈的共和党人夸大赤字风险导致财政政策受到不必要限制时带领经济实现了缓慢复苏。共和党在财政方针一致性方面的肤浅承诺如今已经露出马脚,因为他们主张大幅削减企业和巨富阶层的税收,而这将导致在未来十年内增加一万亿美元的赤字。

平心而论,当特朗普所属党派中的很多人都推崇一名极端主义者时,他却选择了一位温和派。从不避讳利益冲突的特朗普拥有一种无以名状的本能去接纳那些对他个人有利的经济政策——比如提议中的减税。他意识到极端主义者会提高利率,而这显然是任何房地产开发商的噩梦。

特朗普还以另一种方式打破了先例:他没有选择一位经济学家。美联储将在回复到更为常规化政策的未来五年间面临巨大的挑战。由于资产价格经历了重大“修正”,利率上升可能引发市场动荡。许多人都预计未来五年将出现大幅下挫;否则经济就将经历一场近乎前所未有的十年半扩张。尽管在过去的十年里美联储的政策工具包已经极大丰富,但面对美联储的低利率以及庞大资产负债表(还有万一特朗普成功实现减税后大幅增加的债务),即使是最训练有素的经济学家也会相当头痛。

最重要的是,一直以来民主共和两党(以及全球)都在努力推行货币政策的去政治化。美联储因为手握货币供应权而坐拥巨大的经济力量,而这种力量也极易被滥用于某些政治目的——比如在短期内创造更多就业机会。但在这个法定货币的世界里(中央银行可以随意印制钞票),一但各界对央行失去信心就会削弱长期的经济表现,因为大家在某种程度上都担心通货膨胀。

即使不存在直接的政治化,美联储也总是面临着华尔街的“认知俘获(cognitive capture)”问题,在格林斯潘和伯南克主政时就是如此。后果现在我们都知道了:近3/4个世纪以来的最严重危机,只有靠政府大规模干预有所缓解。

然而不知何故,特朗普政府似乎已经忘记了不到十年前发生的事情。如何解释其试图撤销旨在防范下一场危机的2010年多德-弗兰克法案监管改革的做法?华尔街以外的共识是多德 - 弗兰克法案还是不够严格。过度风险承担和金融掠夺行为仍然存在,(比如有关次级汽车贷款金额不断增长的报道)。在最近一起更为隐蔽的渎职行为中,美国富国银行的职员竟然在客户不知情的情况下直接为后者开立账户,并以此收取额外的费用。

作为一名商人的特朗普对这类不道德做法并不陌生,当然也毫不介意。幸运的是,他选择的下一人美联储主席杰罗姆·鲍威尔(Jerome Powell)似乎对精心设计金融监管规则的重要性表示认同。

但是美联储的政治化应该被视为特朗普与他的前首席战略家史蒂夫·班农(Steve Bannon)所称的“行政国家”做斗争的另一部分。而这场斗争反过来应该被看作是一场更大范围战争的一部分——也就是要反对启蒙运动留下的科学,民主治理和法治遗产。坚持这一传统需要聘用专业人才,并像康奈尔大学法学院副教授爱德华·斯蒂格利茨(Edward Stiglitz)所强调的那样创造对公共机构的信任感。如今大量的研究都表明认为一个社会在缺乏这类信任的情况下会运行得更遭。

每隔那么几天,特朗普都会对美国的社会结构动些手脚并激发本已深刻的社会和党派分歧。而当前最为明显的危险是,这个国家越来越习惯于特朗普的出格行为并将其视之为“正常”。七十多年来,美国一直在奋力(当然往往是断断续续地)兑现其宣扬的价值观,对抗各种形式的偏见,法西斯主义和本土主义。可如今的美国总统却是一名厌恶女性的种族排外主义者,而他所推行的政策则体现出了对人权事业的极端蔑视。

人们可以选择赞成或不赞成共和党的税收建议,医疗保健“改革”(无视数千万可能失去保险的人)以及放松金融管制的承诺(将2008年危机的后果抛诸脑后)。但虽然美联储眼下看似比较安全,可与特朗普攻击美国最为珍视的制度和价值观所造成的严重政治和社会风险相比,这个议程可能带来的任何经济利益都会显得极为苍白。

http://prosyn.org/f2caItF/zh;

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