以整体思维设计欧洲债券 Joined-up thinking

作者:未知 来源:经济学人 2013-06-19

    Finance and Economics;Free exchange;Joined-up thinking
    财经;自由交流专栏;以整体思维设计欧洲债券;

    Can a limited version of Eurobonds help solve the euro crisis?
    限制版的欧洲债券能否解决欧债危机?

    Anyone labouring under the illusion that the euro crisis could be solved by liquidity provision from the European Central Bank (ECB), however munificent, has been disabused. By encouraging banks to stock up on domestic government debt, the ECB's loans have reinforced the pernicious links between weak banks and weak governments. That connection is currently hurting Spain. Meanwhile, a German-inspired “fiscal compact” to insert public-debt brakes into national laws does nothing to help countries such as Italy climb out of the debt pit.
    人们曾经对欧洲央行(ECB)抱有不切实际的想法,认为只要它增加流动性供给,欧债危机便能药到病除。但现实情况是,无论欧洲央行出手怎么慷慨大方,依然无法扭转局势。欧洲央行向银行业发放贷款,鼓励它们购买自己国家发行的政府债券。各国银行和政府本就已经虚弱不堪,上述做法更加加剧了二者之间的极为有害的联系。西班牙现在便深受这种毒害之苦。与此同时,德国发起的“财政契约”要求各国将控制公共债务水平的条款纳入本国法律中,这丝毫无益于西班牙这样深陷债务泥潭的国家获得救助。

    “Eurobonds”, shorthand for euro-area sovereign debts that are jointly guaranteed by the 17 member countries, could provide a solution. In aggregate, the public finances of the currency block compare favourably with countries such as America which can borrow at dirt-cheap rates (last year's euro-wide budget deficit was 4.1% of GDP, less than half America's 9.6%). But replacing all national government bonds with collectively underwritten debt is a non-starter. A fully mutualised euro-zone debt market would be enormous—at 8 trillion Euro(10.5 trillion dollar), not far short of America's—and thus very liquid.
    “欧洲债券”是欧元区主权债券的缩写。这种由十七个国家联合担保的债券可能为解决欧债危机提供某种出路。总的来看,欧元区集团的公共财政状况与美国相比毫不逊色,但是却无法享受到后者那种以极低的利率借款的好处。(欧元区去年的预算赤字占到了GDP的4.1%,同一时期美国的预算赤字占GDP的比率为9.6%)。但因此取消欧元区所有国家的政府债券,并代之以各国共同承保的欧洲债券,无疑又是不现实的。一个完全统一的欧元区债券市场将极为庞大——市值约为8万亿欧元(10.5万亿美元),接近美国债券市场的规模——从而也将极具流动性。

    That would lower average borrowing costs a bit. But the big gains through lower yields would go to the block's fiscal sinners (the Signori), while the good guys (the Herrs) would be charged more to tap the markets than they are now. Such a move risks undermining the euro area's public finances in the long run by taking pressure off renegades. To prevent that, national budgets would have to be tightly controlled at a euro-zone level, entailing much deeper political integration than is currently conceivable.
    若这一设想得以实现,欧元区的平均借款成本将会有少许的下降。到那时,败坏财政纪律的罪犯(意大利的先生们)将享受到债券收益率下降的好处,而行为端正的好人(德国的先生们)则要承受比现在更高的发债成本。从长期来看,这种为恶棍缓解压力的做法将毁坏欧元区的公共财政基础。若要避免此种不幸,各国的财政预算必须从欧元区总体层面上加以严格控制,这势必要求各国打破思想上的框框,将政治一体化的进程向前继续推进。

    Any feasible plan for Eurobonds will therefore have to be on a partial basis. That means limiting the scope of joint guarantees to specific portions of member states' sovereign debt, or setting a defined lifespan to the guarantees. One idea is to confine the maturity of Eurobonds to short-term debt. Wim Boonstra, chief economist of Rabobank in the Netherlands, advocates a facility for euro-zone countries to finance themselves for four years through jointly-guaranteed debt of up to two years in maturity. This plan would exclude Greece, Ireland and Portugal while they are receiving rescue finance, but it would take the heat off Italy and Spain and provide their banks with a safe common asset. One snag is that it encompasses the very maturity at which their governments already find it easiest to borrow. Another is that by encouraging countries to issue debt at shorter maturities, the programme would create a bigger refinancing hump at the point when it was wound up.
    无论欧洲债券采取何种发行方案,都将是一个类似半成品的事物。这意味着,或者成员国主权债务的某些部分,或者债券的期限,将受到限制。有人就建议将欧洲债券界定为短期债务工具。荷兰拉博银行首席经济学家维姆·布恩斯塔主张,欧元区国家应采取联合担保的形式,发行一种单期期限不超过两年,总期限四年的共同融资工具。按照他的计划,一方面,希腊、爱尔兰和葡萄牙由于已经接受了救助资金,将不会成为联合担保的对象;另一方面,意大利和西班牙将由此获得喘息的机会,两国的银行业也将获得欧洲债券这种比较安全的一般性资产。但是这个方案存在的一大问题是,即使没有欧洲债券,意大利政府和西班牙政府现在已经能比较轻松地获得这一期限内的贷款。况且,如果各国在这一方案的激励下都来发行短期债券,那么等到借新还旧的时候就会面对更大的融资压力。

    A much more ambitious scheme from Bruegel, a Brussels-based think-tank, first outlined in 2010, would use the original Maastricht-treaty cap for public debt of 60% of GDP—more honoured in the breach than the observance—to carve a dividing line between jointly-guaranteed debt and the rest. National borrowings below the 60% level could be switched into “blue” Eurobonds, while the remaining “red” debt would remain the responsibility of individual states. The blue bit would cover around 5.5 trillion Euro—a lot more than Mr Boonstra's plan, and it would be for keeps. The main objection to this colour-coded proposal is that the resulting pressure on countries to reduce their red debt could backfire. The now-riskier tranche of borrowing would turn toxic, with yields on it soaring as borrowers priced in the higher risk of default. In the ensuing panic, the guarantee would probably have to be extended. The limit for blue debt would turn out to be as binding a constraint as the original Maastricht ceiling.
    早在2010年,总部位于布鲁塞尔的智库机构勃鲁盖尔便提出了一个更为大胆的计划。该计划试图利用原《马斯特里赫特条约》中各国公共债务不得超过GDP60%的条款——尽管这一规定很少被遵守,常常被违反——将债券分成两类,即共同担保债券和传统的主权债券。主权债务中低于GDP60%的部分将划到“蓝色”欧洲债券中,60%以上的部分是“红色”债券,仍由各国独自承担还款责任。蓝色欧洲债券的价值接近55亿欧元——大大超过了布恩斯塔计划中的规模,而且它会是一种永久性债券。有人对这种颜色分类债券提出异议,认为这种债券的本意虽然是想迫使各国减少红色债券,但很可能起到适得其反的效果。现存的高风险债券一旦划成红色债券将变成问题资产,由于违约风险升高,政府的借款利率也将随之猛增。随后,市场将陷入一片恐慌之中,此种形势下,共同担保的范围不得不扩大,把红色债券也纳入进来。到头来,蓝色债券的范围界限毫无约束力可言,正如同当初《马斯特里赫特条约》设定的公共债务上限的条款一样,沦为一纸空文。

    A third proposal—from the German Council of Economic Experts, an independent advisory group—recodes the colours and changes the intent. Eurobonds would replace national debt above, rather than below, 60% of GDP. This scheme would be smaller than Bruegel's, covering around 2.3 trillion Euro, and since its purpose is to redeem debt above the 60% threshold, the fund issuing the Eurobonds would eventually wind up—though that would take 25 years. The ultimate objective is manageable national rather than permanent joint debt.
    第三套方案来自一家独立的顾问团体,即德国经济专家委员。他们对颜色债券赋予了不同的含义,发债的目的也有了变化。在这份计划中,欧洲债券将替代超出GDP60%以上的部分(而非以下部分)的国家债务。该计划将发行大约价值2.3万亿欧元的债券,小于勃鲁盖尔方案的规模。该计划的目的是偿还超出60%上限以上部分的债券,因此一旦实现目标,负责欧洲债券的发行的基金也将最终停止运行——尽管可能要花上25年的时间。此一方案的最终目标是实现可管理的国家债务,而非永久性的共同债务。

    Let's try another colour scheme
    试试其他颜色的计划

    Since Greece, Portugal and Ireland cannot transfer debt into the fund while they are being bailed out, the German plan can be interpreted as a roundabout rescue for Italy. With public debt at 120% of GDP, Italy would transfer almost 1 trillion Euro into the fund as existing national debt came due and was replaced by the issuance of joint bonds. The next-highest amount—over 500 billion Euro—would come from Germany, whose fiscal standing is not in doubt (unless sapped by having to finance too many bail-outs).
    由于希腊、葡萄牙和爱尔兰三国正在接受资金救助,它们的债券将不会转入偿还基金,因此人们将德国方案视作是对意大利的曲线救援。意大利的公共债务占到了GDP的120%,随着国家债务到期日的日益接近,大约有1万亿欧元的意大利债券将转入偿还基金,并由共同担保债券取而代之。德国将向偿还基金注入5千亿欧元的债券,排名第二。德国目前的财政状况仍然良好(除非因救助过多而有所恶化)。

    The plan would need to be tweaked to help countries such as Spain, whose public debt is not far above the 60% limit but is rising sharply and may surge even more if its weak savings banks need extra help. Another issue is whether the discipline needed to pay off debt over such a long period can be sustained. But the plan should avoid the perverse effects of Bruegel's “blue-red” proposal. Yields on existing national bonds in a country such as Italy—those with maturities extending beyond the transfer period of up to four years—will be higher than those issued through the redemption fund, but overall borrowing costs should be reduced as investors see a credible path to debt reduction and fret less about a euro break-up.
    这一计划还需要做作少许修改,以适应救助西班牙等国的需要。西班牙的公共债务只是略高于60%的上限,但近来上升势头很猛。考虑到该国虚弱的储蓄银行可能需要额外的救助,公共债务还有大幅激增的可能性。另一个要注意的问题是,欧洲债券的偿还需要很长的一段时间,保证还款正常进行的纪律能否得到维持?尽管有以上各种问题,这一计划仍将避免勃鲁盖尔的“蓝债券-红债券”的弊端。意大利等国发行的债券期限超出了四年的转换期,收益率也会高于那些由偿还基金代发的欧洲债券的收益率。但它们的总借款成本还是会有所下降,这是因为一旦投资者看到债务确实在减少,他们对欧元解体的忧虑便会得到缓解的缘故。

    Of the three schemes, the German plan has most to commend it. It insists on tough conditionality: states being helped will have to provide the fund with collateral and earmarked tax revenue. It is also open about the fact that German borrowing costs will rise, by up to a percentage point. That is an awkward truth, but Germans will also pay if the single currency fails. From a poor starting-point, the German proposal is the least bad way forward.
    三个方案中,德国版本最为受到推崇。该方案坚持严格的限制性条件,即:受助国必须向基金提供专项的的税收收入作为抵押品。毫无疑问,德国的借款成本将会由此增加,大约上升一个百分点。成本上升的事实颇为令人尴尬,但换个角度看,如果欧元破产,德国还是要付出相应的代价。欧洲债券已经站在了糟糕透顶的起点之上,而德国的方案代表着最不坏的前进方向。

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