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经济学人:漏洞百出的防火墙

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Finance and Economics;The euro crisis;A firewall full of holes;

财经;欧元危机;漏洞百出的防火墙;
The euro zone's rescue strategy still does not add up;
欧元区救助策略依然一盘散沙;
There is a new swagger among European financial officials these days. As bond spreads narrow, share prices rise and the euro strengthens, many policymakers are convinced the crisis has been solved. At a G20 gathering of finance ministers in Mexico City on February 25th-26th, for instance, the European delegates were touting their success. It is a far cry from the browbeatings they suffered during 2011.
当前,欧洲财政官员们流露出新的自大情绪。随着债券息差缩小,股票价格上涨,欧元势头强劲,众多决策者坚信这场危机已经终结。如2月25日-26日在墨西哥城召开的20国财长会议上,欧洲代表不断吹嘘他们的成功。这与他们2011年危机中恐惧的样子可真是天壤之别。

This mood of confidence can largely be credited to the European Central Bank (ECB) and its provision of liquidity to banks. But add in Greece’s second bail-out deal, tough new euro-zone fiscal rules, bold reforms in Italy and Spain and—so the argument goes—it is clear that the Europeans are serious about fixing their problems. Just in case, the imminent introduction of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a permanent rescue fund, as well as an increase in the IMF’s resources, also mean that a solid firewall is being erected to cope with another conflagration.

这种自信情绪很大程度上要归因于欧洲央行及其向银行提供的流动资金。但是,一些人还考虑到第二轮对希腊的救助、强硬的欧元区新财政政策以及意大利和西班牙大刀阔斧的改革,因此出现了一种说法:欧洲显然是真的想解决问题。为了以防万一,欧洲即将推出一项永久救助基金——欧洲稳定机制(ESM),国际货币基金组织也将增加其资金,这意味着一道坚实的防火墙正在竖起,以应对另一场“大火”。

Unfortunately, with one exception, every part of that argument is weaker than it looks. The exception is the ECB’s Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO), which provides banks with three-year liquidity at its main interest rate, currently 1%, against a wide array of collateral. On February 29th the ECB announced that it had lent another EURO530 billion ($712 billion), taking the amount of three-year money it has pumped into the banking system over the past two months or so to more than EURO1 trillion (see chart). It is hardly surprising that markets are perkier.

可惜的是,这种说法的每个方面都没有看起来那么坚实,但其中有一项是例外。这个例外就是欧洲中央银行的长期再融资操作(LTRO),LTRO按其主导利率,在银行提供大量的抵押品作为担保的情况下,向其提供三年期流动资金来,当前主导利率为1%。2月29日,欧洲央行宣布又借出5300亿欧元(7120亿美元),这一举措使其在近两个多月的时间内向银行系统注入的三年期资金超过1万亿欧元(见图)。难怪市场会变得更加傲慢。

The amount lent at the second auction was slightly higher than expected, and went to far more banks than the initial auction in December. Since so many small banks have now tapped LTRO, hopes are rising that as well as slowing the pace of bank deleveraging and propping up sovereign-bond markets, the liquidity may encourage new lending to the real economy.

第二次竞标的贷款量略高于此前预期,获得贷款的银行数量也大大超过12月的首次竞标。LTRO不仅放缓了银行减债的步伐,支撑了主权债券市场,同时也因为众多小型银行现已从LTRO获得资金,人们越来越期望流动资金能够刺激新贷款流向实体经济。

It might, but all that money could also have nasty long-term side-effects. Hawks at the ECB are already muttering about the problem of banks becoming addicted to cheap central-bank funds. And by encouraging Italian or Spanish banks to buy their governments’ bonds, LTRO reinforces the close links between the peripheral economies’ sovereign debt and the health of their banks.

三年期贷款可能有这种作用,但也可能产生长期的负面影响。欧洲央行的鹰派已经开始抱怨各国银行沉溺于央行的廉价基金。三年期贷款刺激了意大利或者西班牙用所获资金购买国债,将次要经济体主权债务与其银行健康状况捆绑得更紧。

LTRO has bought time, however. So, too, has Greece’s latest rescue package. Germany’s Bundestag approved its share of the funds on February 27th. The temporary downgrade of Greek bonds to “selective default”, as a result of moves to restructure private creditors’ debt, has caused few ripples. In the short term a chaotic default has almost certainly been avoided. But few believe the Greek rescue plan will actually work. Eventually Greece will either need more help from its rescuers or will face default and perhaps an exit from the euro.

但是,LTRO买的是时间。最新一次希腊救助计划也是如此。2月27日,德国联邦议院批准了德国在该基金中承担的份额。希腊调整私人债权人债务的一系列动作导致其债券被临时降级为“选择性违约”,但却没有什么影响。短期看来,希腊几乎不可能出现违约动荡。但是,也几乎没有人相信希腊救助计划真的管用。最终,希腊要么向救助者寻求更多帮助,要么面临违约,也许还要退出欧元区。

What matters, therefore, is how well the euro zone uses the time it has bought itself. The signs are worrying. Policymakers’ overwhelming (and misguided) focus on budget austerity is facing increasing resistance. Spain announced on February 27th that its 2011 budget deficit, at 8.5% of GDP, was even bigger than first expected. It wants to renegotiate the 2012 deficit target of 4.4% of GDP.

因此,关键是看欧元区怎么用好自己买到的时间。现在的迹象令人担忧。决策者误入歧途,过分强调预算紧缩,现在面临了越来越多的抵抗。2月27日,西班牙宣布其2011年预算赤字为GDP的8.5%,高于先期预测。西班牙欲就其2012年的赤字目标进行重新协商,该目标为GDP的4.4%。

More worrying still is the lack of progress in building permanent defenses against a loss of confidence in another sovereign’s bonds. Much faith is placed in the ESM, to be launched on July 1st. This EURO500 billion fund is supposedly stronger than the current iteration, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), because it is enshrined in legal treaties and because EURO80 billion of its capital will eventually be paid in, whereas the EFSF relies on guarantees. Although Germany still resists, most euro-zone members hope to run both funds simultaneously, which implies a theoretical cash-chest of EURO750 billion.

更令人担心的还是针对另一种主权债券信心缺失的永久防御建设未取得进展。很多人寄希望于7月1日将启动的欧洲稳定机制(ESM)。这笔5000亿欧元的资金可能比当前的机制——欧洲金融稳定基金(EFSF)——更为有力,因为ESM有法律条约作保障,并且其800亿欧元资本最终会兑现,而不是像EFSF那样只靠担保。尽管德国依然反对,但大部分欧元区成员国都希望两项基金同时运行,若同时运行,将意味着理论上会有7500亿欧元的基金。

The trouble is that this money is not actually to hand. The EFSF, whose AA+ credit rating was put on negative watch by Standard & Poor’s this week, must find its funds in the bond markets, and there is little evidence that it can raise a lot of money fast. And cash-strapped countries, such as France, are reluctant to pay in a lot of capital to the ESM quickly.

问题是这笔钱还没有到手。信用等级为AA+的EFSF本周被标准普尔公司设为负面观察,EFSF必须要在债券市场找到资本,但是还没有迹象表明EFSF可以快速筹到巨款。而资金短缺的国家,如法国,不愿意立即向ESM大量注资。

The Europeans’ reluctance to put a hefty amount of real money at risk has weakened the second part of the firewall, the IMF’s resources. In Mexico City G20 members made it clear that they would not stump up cash for the fund until there was a “credible” commitment from Europe.

欧洲国家不愿意冒险投入大量现款,这一点削弱了防火墙的第二部分——国际货币基金组织(IMF)的资金源。在墨西哥城召开的G20会议上,成员国明确表示在欧洲国家做出可靠承诺前,他们不会向该基金注资。

Worse, even if it were fully in place, this is still a rather flimsy sort of defence. Relying on vast infusions of money from the IMF could actually worsen the problems of a country like Italy, since the fund’s presumed preferred-creditor status(IMF) would push private bondholders further down the pecking order. Nor are the amounts being talked about enough to remove the risk of panic. As Willem Buiter of Citigroup points out, the weaker members of the euro zone collectively need to borrow some EURO2 trillion over the next two years.

更不妙的是,即使资金全部就绪,这也只能是一层脆弱的抵御。事实上,依靠IMF灌入大量资金对于像意大利这样的国家来说会将问题恶化,因为该基金的预期优先债权人身份会将私人债券持有人推向更低的社会等级。这笔数目也不足以消除出现大恐慌的风险。正如花期公司的维勒姆?布提尔指出的那样,在未来两年内,欧元区较脆弱的成员国共需借款2万亿欧元左右。

To get properly on top of its debt problem, Europe needs to be bolder. A growing chorus argues that this must entail some form of joint liability for countries’ debts. A proposal from the German Council of Economic Experts for a European Debt Redemption Fund, which would mutualize all euro-zone members’ debts above 60% of GDP, with strict rules to pay them off over 25 years, is gaining traction in some quarters. Germany itself remains staunchly opposed to anything that smells of Eurobonds, and the current period of calm has only reinforced that resistance. Meanwhile, the clock ticks.

要想恰当地处理好债务问题,欧洲还需要更加大刀阔斧。越来越多的人认为欧洲国家需要为债务问题负连带责任。德国经济专家委员会提出的欧洲债务赎回基金的建议在部分地区得到了响应。该基金吸收了欧元区各国债务占GDP 60%以外的部分,制定严格的制度使他们在25年内还清。德国本身坚决反对任何带有欧洲债券味道的东西,当前的风平浪静只是增强了这种抵抗。与此同时,钟表指针滴滴答答地走着。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
vast [vɑ:st]

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adj. 巨大的,广阔的
n. 浩瀚的太

 
default [di'fɔ:lt]

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n. 假设值,默认(值), 不履行责任,缺席 v. 默认

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announced [ə'naunst]

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宣布的

 
initial [i'niʃəl]

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n. (词)首字母
adj. 开始的,最初的,

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strategy ['strætidʒi]

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n. 战略,策略

 
reluctant [ri'lʌktənt]

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adj. 不情愿的,勉强的

 
evidence ['evidəns]

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n. 根据,证据
v. 证实,证明

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confidence ['kɔnfidəns]

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adj. 骗得信任的
n. 信任,信心,把握

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funds

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n. 基金;资金,现金(fund的复数) v. 提供资金

 
provision [prə'viʒən]

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n. 规定,条款; 供应(品); 预备
n.

 


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