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[克魯曼專欄] 摧毀歐元 原文載於(2011/12/02)

作者:首領八奇│2011-12-12 12:48:22│巴幣:0│人氣:202
原文出於NY Times


Killing the Euro 摧毀歐元 (2011/12/02)


Can the euro be saved? Not long ago we were told that the worst possible outcome was a Greek default. Now a much wider disaster seems all too likely.


歐元還有救嗎?不久前大家還在說最糟的結果就是希臘違約,如今看來可能有更大的災難即將來臨。


True, market pressure lifted a bit on Wednesday after central banks made a splashy announcement about expanded credit lines (which will, in fact, make hardly any real difference). But even optimists now see Europe as headed for recession, while pessimists warn that the euro may become the epicenter of another global financial crisis.


沒錯,多家重要銀行在星期三發表了備受好評的聲明,宣布擴大信用額度。雖說此舉其實幾乎沒有實質意義,但市場壓力因此還是稍有疏緩。然而就算是樂天派如今也會認為歐洲正步入衰退,而悲觀者則發出警告,歐元會成為另一場全球金融危機的震央。


How did things go so wrong? The answer you hear all the time is that the euro crisis was caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Turn on your TV and you’re very likely to find some pundit declaring that if America doesn’t slash spending we’ll end up like Greece. Greeeeeece!


事情怎麼會走到這地步?每每得到的答案都是財政上的不負責任導致歐元危機。打開電視,大概一定會看到有專家稱美國若不削減支出,最後的下場會和希臘一樣。天啊,希臘耶!


But the truth is nearly the opposite. Although Europe’s leaders continue to insist that the problem is too much spending in debtor nations, the real problem is too little spending in Europe as a whole. And their efforts to fix matters by demanding ever harsher austerity have played a major role in making the situation worse.


可是真相幾乎正好相反。儘管歐洲領導人依舊堅持問題出在債務國家支出過多,但真正的問題是整個歐洲的支出實在太少,而各國的解決方案是要求更嚴苛的財政緊縮,反而成為市場惡化的主要原因。


The story so far: In the years leading up to the 2008 crisis, Europe, like America, had a runaway banking system and a rapid buildup of debt. In Europe’s case, however, much of the lending was across borders, as funds from Germany flowed into southern Europe. This lending was perceived as low risk. Hey, the recipients were all on the euro, so what could go wrong?


目前的情況如下,在邁向2008年金融危機的前幾年,歐洲一如美國,金融體系發展有如脫韁野馬,債務也迅速累積。不過歐洲有點不同,就是大多借貸跨越國界,資金由德國流入南歐。大家認為這種借貸風險不高,畢竟借錢的國家也都是使用歐元,怎麼會有問題呢?


For the most part, by the way, this lending went to the private sector, not to governments. Only Greece ran large budget deficits during the good years; Spain actually had a surplus on the eve of the crisis.


順帶一提,大多這類借貸都是流入民營部門而非政府機關。只有希臘在繁榮的那幾年預算赤字大幅增加,西班牙甚至在危機前夕都還擁有盈餘。


Then the bubble burst. Private spending in the debtor nations fell sharply. And the question European leaders should have been asking was how to keep those spending cuts from causing a Europe-wide downturn.


接著泡沫破滅了,債務國家的民間支出巨幅滑落,歐洲領導人應該尋求如何避免支出減少成為蔓延全歐的衰退。


Instead, however, they responded to the inevitable, recession-driven rise in deficits by demanding that all governments — not just those of the debtor nations — slash spending and raise taxes. Warnings that this would deepen the slump were waved away. “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, then the president of the European Central Bank. Why? Because “confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery.”


然而歐洲領導人卻反其道而行,面對因為衰退而必然引起的赤字增加,反應卻是不單要求債務國家,而是要求所有政府嚴格削減支出以及增稅,對所有認為此舉會加深衰退的警告充耳不聞。歐洲央行總裁特里謝聲稱「財政緊縮會導致經濟停滯的看法是錯的。」為什麼呢?「這種增加市場信心的政策,會促進而非阻礙經濟復甦。」


But the confidence fairy was a no-show.


不過信心傳說從未成真。


Wait, there’s more. During the years of easy money, wages and prices in southern Europe rose substantially faster than in northern Europe. This divergence now needs to be reversed, either through falling prices in the south or through rising prices in the north. And it matters which: If southern Europe is forced to deflate its way to competitiveness, it will both pay a heavy price in employment and worsen its debt problems. The chances of success would be much greater if the gap were closed via rising prices in the north.


事情還沒完呢,在資金充分流動的那些年頭,南歐的薪資與物價成長幅度大多高於北部歐洲。如今這差異要顛倒過來,不是南部的物價下跌,就是北部的物價上揚。兩種選擇會有所差異,若強迫南歐透過通貨緊縮恢復競爭力,就業市場就要付出極大代價,而債務問題也會更加惡化。若藉由提升北部的物價來縮小差距,成功的機會要大的多。


But to close the gap through rising prices in the north, policy makers would have to accept temporarily higher inflation for the euro area as a whole. And they’ve made it clear that they won’t. Last April, in fact, the European Central Bank began raising interest rates, even though it was obvious to most observers that underlying inflation was, if anything, too low.


不過想透過提升北部物價縮小差距,制定政策的人必須接受整體歐元區暫時的高通貨膨脹,不過他們已經挑明絕不會這麼做。事實上去年四月,儘管大多觀察都顯示基礎通膨明顯過低,歐洲央行還是選擇升息。


And it’s probably no coincidence that April was also when the euro crisis entered its new, dire phase. Never mind Greece, whose economy is to Europe roughly as greater Miami is to the United States. At this point, markets have lost faith in the euro as a whole, driving up interest rates even for countries like Austria and Finland, hardly known for profligacy. And it’s not hard to see why. The combination of austerity-for-all and a central bank morbidly obsessed with inflation makes it essentially impossible for indebted countries to escape from their debt trap and is, therefore, a recipe for widespread debt defaults, bank runs and general financial collapse.


而也就是在去年四月,歐元危機進入了全新的可怕階段,這恐怕不是巧合。別管希臘了,希臘的經濟之於整個歐洲,也只大略等於稍大的邁阿密之於美國。目前市場已經對歐元喪失信心,連帶導致從未聽說浪費的國家如奧地利與芬蘭也利率上揚。理由很容易理解,就是全面要求歐元區財政緊縮,還有歐洲央行偏執的否定通貨膨脹其實可以幫助負債國家脫離債務困境。結果就是廣泛的債務違約,銀行擠兌和金融崩潰。


I hope, for our sake as well as theirs, that the Europeans will change course before it’s too late. But, to be honest, I don’t believe they will. In fact, what’s much more likely is that we will follow them down the path to ruin.


為了我們自己也為了歐洲,我希望歐洲人能在為時已晚之前改弦易轍。但老實說,我不相信他們會這麼做。更有可能的,是我們跟隨歐洲一起踏上通往殘破廢墟的道路。


For in America, as in Europe, the economy is being dragged down by troubled debtors — in our case, mainly homeowners. And here, too, we desperately need expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to support the economy as these debtors struggle back to financial health. Yet, as in Europe, public discourse is dominated by deficit scolds and inflation obsessives.


而美國就如歐洲,經濟受到深陷困境的債務人所拖累,我們主要的債務人是屋主。此外,在債務人掙扎著重回財務正常的同時,我們也需要擴大財政與貨幣政策來幫助經濟。但也像歐洲,我們公眾論述的聲音,都為嘮叨赤字與通膨妄想的聲音所壟斷。


So the next time you hear someone claiming that if we don’t slash spending we’ll turn into Greece, your answer should be that if we do slash spending while the economy is still in a depression, we’ll turn into Europe. In fact, we’re well on our way.


所以下次有人聲稱我們若不削減支出就會變成下一個希臘時,回答他若在經濟蕭條時削減支出,我們就會變成下一個歐洲。事實上,我們的確正在走這條路。



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冬眠熊
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