威胁全球经济的断层

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威胁全球经济的断层 作者:英国《金融时报》首席经济评论员 马丁•沃尔夫   英文 对照 

从世界开始意识到金融动荡即将来临,距今已有近3年的时间。自那以来,我们经历了金融领域的地震,经济活动的崩塌,以及各国政府前所未有的货币和财政政策。世界经济如今已复苏。但这场危机还远未结束。

正如芝加哥大学布斯商学院(University of Chicago Booth School of Business)教授、国际货币基金组织(IMF)前首席经济学家拉古拉姆•瑞占(Raghuram Rajan)在发人深省的新书中所指出的,潜藏的“断层”仍未离我们而去*。未来可能还会有更多麻烦。他的话值得一听:2005年在杰克逊霍尔(Jackson Hole)年度货币政策会议上,他发表了一篇当时颇具争议、如今却广受赞誉的论文,题为《金融发展是否让世界更危险?》(Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier? )。他的回答?是的。

我们已经知道,过去几年的地震对西方经济体造成了破坏,新兴市场国家(尤其是亚洲)却完好无损。这场地震也摧毁了西方世界的威望。至少两个世纪以来,西方国家一直在经济上和智识上主宰着世界。那个时代已经过去(见图表)。迄今为止,新兴市场国家的统治者虽然不喜欢西方世界的装腔作势,却尊重其能力。不过现在已经变了。西方世界再也无法独自说了算。20国集团(G20)的崛起就反映了国力与威权的新现实。

然而,全球格局的改变远不止于此。这场危机暴露了西方经济体以及整个全球经济内部深埋的断层。我们或许无法避免更多的震荡。

瑞占在书中提到美国国内的政治压力。相关的压力也开始在西欧显现。我将此看作“交易”(the deal)的终结。那个交易是什么?它是二战后达成的一种安排:在美国,其核心是充分就业和个人高消费;在欧洲,其核心是政府提供的福利。

在美国,贫富差距急剧扩大和实际收入停滞不前,早就对这种交易构成了威胁。因此瑞占指出,“在1976年至2007年间,实际收入每增长1美元,最富裕的1%家庭就能得到其中的58美分。”这无疑令人震惊。

“对贫富差距扩大的政治回应……是扩大对家庭放贷,特别是对低收入家庭。”而这样做导致了金融崩溃。瑞占指出:“……最近这场危机中(金融部门)的过失包括动机扭曲、狂妄自大、嫉妒、信心错置以及羊群效应。但在政府的帮助下,这些风险获得了本不应有的吸引力,而且让市场无法执行纪律。”

宽松信贷(很大一部分受到住房的支持)的时代如今已经结束(见图表)。与此同时,在所有的西方国家,个人福利都由政府出资。不过这场危机的财政后果(即赤字大幅上升)将与老龄化的压力相互作用,让财政紧缩成为未来数十年的政策主旋律。股票市场长期熊市,以及“失业型复苏”的前景,都进一步加剧了这些苦难。

那么,西方国家(尤其是美国)出现政治上的不和也就没什么好奇怪的了。美国总统巴拉克•奥巴马(Barack Obama)——一个务实的中间派——受到诋毁。右派则呼吁摒弃现代政府制度,回归18世纪。因此,这是一场政府本身的危机。

世界经济的内在断层又加剧了西方经济体的内在断层。瑞占就此指出了两种风险:首先是许多经济体对出口的结构性依赖,尤以日本、德国为甚,现在又加上了中国;其次是金融体系中未解决的冲突。世界经济的断层与西方国家(尤其是美国)国内经济的断层相互影响,对触发危机起到了推波助澜的作用,如今又加大了危机后重建的难度。 

如同瑞占指出的那样,许多重要经济体都是围绕着出口构建本国经济的,由此产生的对外需的依赖,意味着它们在国内骄傲地得以避免的信贷依赖,却出现在国外。对它们的束缚,来自于瑞占所描述的“政治强势,但效率极低的内需导向型产业”。问题在于,往日的需求供应国——就全球层面而言是美国,在欧元区是西班牙——如今私人部门负债过重。因此我们看到它们为了争夺具有结构缺陷的全球需求的一些份额,而展开了一场零和战斗。这对于欧元区的存续,乃至开放的全球经济,都是一个威胁。

同样,要让基于市场的金融体系和基于个人乃至政治关系的金融体系实现一体化,事实证明会极其困难。大规模资金从前者流向后者的情节在危机中宣告结束。这随后导致了巨额外汇储备的积累,助长了当前的危机。今天,大规模跨境资本流动的风险已经彰显无遗,到了令人不安的程度。或许连维持金融业的整合都很困难了。

因此,这场危机可以被视为西方发达经济体(尤其是美国)内部断层,以及发达国家与世界其它国家关系断层的产物。若要在维系开放型全球经济的同时,回归某种形式的合理稳定,将面临巨大的挑战。如果有人认为,当前不堪一击的经济复苏代表着这些任务已经获得成功,目光短浅就是对他们最好的评价了。

我们面前摆着两个巨大的威胁。一是不能认识到通缩压力有多么强大(见图表)。即便大型新兴国家应该完全有能力自保,但过早收紧财政和货币政策最终可能让世界经济重新陷入衰退的风险并不小。另一个威胁是不能确保财政立场、金融部门的管理以及出口依赖的中期结构性转变,而若要实现持续而健康的全球经济复苏,这些转变是必要之举。

西方世界不复往日霸主;依靠举债的西方消费者不复往日的需求源泉;西方金融体系不复往日的信贷来源;经济一体化亦不复过去30年的推动力量。世界主要经济体(无论是发达经济体还是新兴经济体)的领导人必须协力开展深入改革,否则未来几年世界经济还将遭遇更多震荡。

*《断层》(Fault Lines),普林斯顿出版社,2010年出版。

译者/管婧

THREE YEARS ON, FAULT LINES THREATEN THE WORLD ECONOMY

By Martin Wolf 字号最大 较大 默认 较小 最小 背景                    收藏 电邮 打印 评论[6条] 中文  

It is nearly three years since the world became aware of the coming financial tremors. Since then we have experienced a financial sector earthquake, a collapse in economic activity and an unprecedented monetary and fiscal response. The world economy has now recovered. But this crisis is far from over.

As Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund notes in a thought-provoking new book, the underlying “fault lines” are still with us.* More trouble may lie ahead. His voice is worth listening to: in 2005, he presented a controversial, yet now acclaimed, paper at the annual Jackson Hole monetary conference entitled “Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?” His answer? Yes.

We already know that the earthquake of the past few years has damaged western economies, while leaving those of emerging countries, particularly Asia, standing. It has also destroyed western prestige. The west has dominated the world economically and intellectually for at least two centuries. That epoch is over (see charts). Hitherto, the rulers of emerging countries disliked the west's pretensions, but respected its competence. This is true no longer. Never again will the west have the sole word. The rise of the Group of 20 leading economies reflects new realities of power and authority.

 

Yet this is far from the only change in the global landscape. The crisis has revealed deep faults within western economies and the global economy as a whole. We may be unable to avoid further earthquakes.

In his book, Prof Rajan points to domestic political stresses within the US. Related stresses are emerging in western Europe. I think of it as the end of “the deal”. What was that deal? It was the post-second-world-war settlement: in the US, the deal centred on full employment and high individual consumption. In Europe, it centred on state-provided welfare.

In the US, soaring inequality and stagnant real incomes have long threatened this deal. Thus, Prof Rajan notes that “of every dollar of real income growth that was generated between 1976 and 2007, 58 cents went to the top 1 per cent of households”. This is surely stunning.

“The political response to rising inequality . . . was to expand lending to households, especially low-income ones.” This led to the financial breakdown. As Prof Rajan notes: “ . . . [the financial sector's] failings in the recent crisis include distorted incentives, hubris, envy, misplaced faith and herd behaviour. But the government helped make those risks look more attractive than they should have been and kept the market from exercising discipline.”

The era of easy credit, much of it backed by housing, is now over (see chart). Meanwhile, in all western countries, the state supports the welfare of the individual. But the fiscal consequences of this crisis – a huge rise in deficits – will interact with pressures from ageing, to make fiscal stringency the theme of policy for decades. The long bear market in shares and prospects for a “jobless recovery” add further to these woes.

It is little wonder then that the politics of western countries and, above all, of the US have become discordant. President Barack Obama – a pragmatic centrist – is vilified. On the right, the call is to overthrow the modern government in an effort to return to the 18th century. This, then, is a crisis of government itself. 

Exacerbating these internal fault lines within western economies are those in the world economy. Here Prof Rajan notes two risks: first, the structural export-dependency of a number of economies, particularly Japan, Germany and now China; and, second, the unresolved clash of financial systems. The interaction between global fault lines and those inside the domestic economies of western countries, particularly the US, helped trigger the crisis and now make it hard to rebuild after it.

As Prof Rajan notes, a number of significant economies have built their economies around exports. The resultant dependence on foreign demand means the credit-dependence they proudly avoid at home emerges abroad. The constraint upon them is what Prof Rajan describes as a “politically strong, but very inefficient domestic-oriented sector”. The problem is that the countries that used to provide the demand – the US, at world level, or Spain, in the eurozone – have over-indebted private sectors. So we see a zero-sum battle over shares of structurally deficient global demand. This is a threat to survival of the eurozone and even the open world economy.

Similarly, it has proved extremely hard to manage the integration of market-based financial systems with ones based on personal and even political relationships. Episodes of large-scale capital inflows from the former to the latter ended up in crises. This then led to the huge accumulations of foreign currency reserves that helped to drive the current crisis. Today, the risks of large-scale capital flows across frontiers are all too disturbingly evident. It may even be hard to sustain financial integration.

The crisis, then, can be seen as the product of fault lines inside advanced western economies – above all, the US – and in the relationships between advanced countries and the rest of the world. The challenge of returning to some form of reasonable stability, while maintaining an open global economy, is enormous. Anybody who thinks that the present fragile recovery represents success with these tasks is myopic, at best.

We can see two huge threats in front of us. The first is the failure to recognise the strength of the deflationary pressures (see chart). The danger that premature fiscal and monetary tightening will end up tipping the world economy back into recession is not small, even if the largest emerging countries should be well able to protect themselves. The second threat is failure to secure the medium-term structural shifts in fiscal positions, in management of the financial sector and in export-dependency that are needed if a sustained and healthy global recovery is to occur.

The west is not the power it was; its debt-fuelled consumers are not the source of demand they were; the west's financial system is not the source of credit it was; and the integration of economies is not the driving force it proved to be over the past three decades. Leaders of the world's principal economies – both advanced and emerging – will need to reform co-operatively and deeply if the world economy is not to suffer further earthquakes in years ahead.

* Fault Lines, Princeton, 2010