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《经济学人》:欧洲的问题不在于货币

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One nation overdrawn

欧洲的问题不在于货币
Lessons for Europe from America’s history
美国历史对今天欧洲的启示
IN THE frantic race to save the euro, many Europeans have sought inspiration from the United States, perhaps the most successful monetary union in history. Germany’s council of economic experts has proposed a debt “redemption pact” modelled on the American federal government’s assumption of state debts in 1790. To European federalists, America demonstrates that monetary union cannot survive without fiscal union. And proponents of a European lender of last resort to insulate sovereigns from liquidity crises note how America can still borrow at 2% thanks to a deep and liquid government bond market backstopped by the Federal Reserve.
在拯救欧元的燃眉时刻,很多欧洲人试图从美国经验中寻找启示,因为美国的货币联盟大概是历史上最成功的了。德国的经济专家委员会最近提出的“债务救赎协议”, 就是以1790年美国联邦政府承担州政府债务的行动为范本的。在欧洲的联邦主义者看来,美国历史已经证明,没有财政联盟的支持,货币联盟不可能独立存在。为了避免主权基金发生流动性危机,一些人士认为,应当有一个统一的欧洲债权人作为最终保障。他们注意到,正是由于美国存在着一个由联邦储备作后盾的丰富并流动性高的公债市场,政府才能仍以2%的低利率借贷。

Look more carefully, however, and the American example is more complicated. Fiscal and currency union did indeed kick-start America’s early economic development. But fiscal and monetary frameworks were so rudimentary that they contributed little to nation-building.

但仔细考察一下就可以发现,美国的经验没有人们想象的那么简单。财政联盟和货币联盟确实促进了美国初期的经济发展,但当时两者的结构仍是非常初级的,对于美国的立国过程并没有发挥太大作用。

America began life as a fiscal basket-case. The federal and state governments were deeply in arrears on loans taken out to finance their war for independence from Britain; federal debt traded at 50 cents on the dollar, state debt for 20 cents or less. Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary, considered it vital to America’s economic health to re-establish faith in the national credit. He proposed in 1790 that the federal government assume the states’ war debts and then arrange a new schedule of payments and interest to refinance all of the republic’s unpaid bills. Holders of the restructured bonds would be encouraged to exchange them for capital in a new central bank that would issue a uniform currency to unify the states’ financial systems.

建国初期,美国的财政状况非常困顿。为筹措资金支撑脱离英国的独立战争,联邦和州政府都承受着沉重的债务负担。联邦债券只能以面值的一半价格出售,而州政府债券只能以20%甚或更低价格出售。因此,美国第一任财长亚历山大?汉密尔顿认为,重振人们对国债的信心,对美国经济的健康发展至关重要。于是他在1790年提出,由联邦政府承担州政府的所有战争欠款,并安排新的还本付息计划,为全国所有未偿付债务进行再融资。政府鼓励新公债持有人到新的中央银行把手中公债兑换为现金,而中央银行将发行单一货币以统一各州的财政系统。

Foreshadowing the rifts within Europe today, Hamilton’s plan was deeply divisive. Virginia and other southern states that had paid off their debts resented being asked to pay taxes to bail out the others. Hamilton at one point feared for the future of the union if his plan did not pass: “Our credit will burst and vanish; and the States separate, to take care every one of itself.”

和今天欧洲内部纷争的状况类似,汉密尔顿的计划当时也是毁誉参半。弗吉尼亚和南方其它已付清债务的各州,都不愿再交税以帮助其它州还债。汉密尔顿曾担心,他的计划如果通不过,会危及联邦的命运:“我们的债务系统会崩溃以至消失,各州将分道扬镳,各顾各的。”

重点单词   查看全部解释    
credit ['kredit]

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n. 信用,荣誉,贷款,学分,赞扬,赊欠,贷方

联想记忆
inspiration [.inspə'reiʃən]

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n. 灵感,吸入,鼓舞人心(的东西)

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assumption [ə'sʌmpʃən]

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n. 假定,设想,担任(职责等), 假装

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liquid ['likwid]

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adj. 液体的,液态的
n. 液体

 
divisive [di'vaisiv]

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adj. 区分的,分裂的,不和的

 
fiscal ['fiskəl]

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adj. 财政的,国库的

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frantic ['fræntik]

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adj. 疯狂的,狂乱的

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monetary ['mʌnə.teri]

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adj. 货币的,金融的

 
liquidity [li'kwidəiti]

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n. 流动性;流动资产;偿债能力

 
bond [bɔnd]

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n. 债券,结合,粘结剂,粘合剂
vt. 使结

 


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