Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where Will Europe Go

接下來看 Merkel 和 Sarkozy 如何處理歐盟財政政策統一的問題。下面這篇文章提出了一些可能的方向:

Wall Street Journal, 12/07/2011, "Seeking a Shortcut to EU Treaty Change" By STEPHEN FIDLER

簡單的說,最能說服市場的是直接更改 EU Treaty,不過現在會員國數目已經到達 27 個,其中加入歐元的只有 17 個,這使得直接修改 Lisbon Treaty 難度可能過高,而且等到修改完成,歐元可能已經只能在博物館裡面才能看得到了。不過如果要在歐元 17 個會員國之間簽署新的合約,又會違反 EU Treaty 裡面關於只要在 Treaty 包含的範圍就不得另立新的條約的規範。現在的做法看來還是要從 EU Treaty 著手,不過是先從附錄動起,將目前對那些欠債過多的國家所施加的 austerity plan 的一些步驟加進去,然後才動手漫長的修改 Treaty 的過程。

Geithner 目前也在歐洲,很努力的幫歐洲領袖敲邊鼓,替他們信心喊話。以美國的利益來說,他們當然希望歐洲能夠渡過難關,要不然美國的出口甚至銀行業對於歐洲的曝險部位,可能會把美國也拉下去。國際政治不是零和遊戲,歐洲垮掉並不一定會有其他國家受益,在這個例子裡面全部一起垮掉的可能性還比較高。Federal Reserve 沒有援助外國金融業的權力,上個星期他們所做的事情應該離他們的極限不遠了。Treasury Department 連當初要 TARP 都費盡千辛萬苦,在大選年也不可能跟國會要錢去救歐洲。這些歐洲領袖也看得清楚,所以他們從一開始就沒去跟美國人要錢,傳出來的消息都是中國。

中國人自己也有自己家裡的問題,最近他們的貨幣政策讓人非常擔心。明明稍早還在談通貨膨脹失控的問題,不旋踵間我們就看到中國人民銀行降息和調降存款準備率的新聞。周小川是很有能力的央行行長,他的政策如果有看起來不一致的問題,背後可能的原因是實際經濟情況比官方數據要糟的多,執政時必須要兩害相權取其輕 (通貨膨脹和硬著陸),以致於看起來亂了章法。就算他們自己家裡沒問題,也要等歐洲政客們把制度搞定,投資風險不那麼大了以後才有可能出手。美國人,特別是美國人中的保守派並不喜歡紓困,中國的人均所得還落後歐洲許多,他們的政治人物和老百姓自然更沒理由拿錢去救歐洲人。

接下來歐洲的問題關關難過,我們只能希望他們關關過。最近看完 Hank Paulson 的 memoir,聽他自己講在 TARP 從國會過關的過程是如何困難。對比歐洲的制度和各國之間的互信程度,我實在沒有辦法對歐洲人能夠解決問題感到樂觀。

11 comments:

Ryan said...

周小川雖然十分有能力, 但很可惜的是貨幣政策不是他一個人說了算, 而是由國務院拍板, 他最容易動用的工具大概就是準備金了

CCLu said...

這麼說是也沒錯,可是從通貨膨脹情況嚴重到調降利率和存款準備率,不管誰拍板定案,總是有一些矛盾沒有講清楚。

當然也不排除中國太大,但是資金流動不順暢,有些地方通貨膨脹嚴重,有些地方流動性不足甚至通貨緊縮。如果是這種情況,那是他們的地方政府各自為政彼此缺乏協調支援,中央政府又無能為力。

Ryan said...

從上海銀行間拆借利率跟回購利率常常大幅度爆衝看起來, 人行對於流動性跟公開操作的控制能力還有待加強; 中國整體流動性應該是夠, 不過很可惜受限負利差造成的存款外流與數量式的貨幣政策限制, 銀行是當下應該是較缺乏流動性的

CCLu said...

To Ryan,

『中國整體流動性應該是夠』這句話跟前後文不太搭,還是你要說中國整體"capital"足夠?如果個體流動性不足,總體不會夠的。

Ben said...

First time reader here.

A couple of thoughts:

- The Fed actually has the authority to buy foreign government debt. Bernake noted this power in his now famous (or should I say infamous:) helicopter speech and quoted below:

"The Fed can inject money into the economy in still other ways. For example, the Fed has the authority to buy foreign government debt, as well as domestic government debt. Potentially, this class of assets offers huge scope for Fed operations, as the quantity of foreign assets eligible for purchase by the Fed is several times the stock of U.S. government debt."

However, this is the path of no-return for the Fed. If Bernake starts buying foreign debt, the Fed can probably kiss its independence good-bye.

- China is in no position to bail anyone out. I am with Jim Chanos on this one. China is probably the biggest bubble on earth right now.

Enjoy your blog tremendously. Please keep up the good work.

Ben

Ryan said...

不, 我指的是銀行本身目前的流動性不佳, 但是整體社會的流動性仍足, 只是流動性目前主要集中在非銀行大型企業上

CCLu said...

To Ben,

Thanks for your message. I should state clearly that Feds can buy foreign debts but in reality there are a lot of restrictions. The worst part is some of the restrictions are not written into law.

At this moment, I do not see the possibility that Fed can buy anything lower than AAA rating. This basically wipes out the possibility to bail out European countries. Given that S&P just gave negative outlook to all countries donning Euro, I don't see any chance of Uncle Ben opening his purse string.

The rise of Newt Gingrich does not help the matter either. Americans do not like bail out. They didn't like it in 2008, and they hate it more after Wall Street handing out huge bonuses in 2010. If Fed bails out some European countries, conservative media might put Bernanke for trial on treason. Well, that's just a figure of speech, but there's something true in it.

I can't get hold on the situation in China. The poor quality of data and lack of transparency in all areas make it hard to do research on it. I should pay more attention to China because it is so important to Taiwan, like it or not. However, I hate to waste my time reading something I don't even know if it is true.

CCLu said...

To Ryan,

如果是這樣的話,那麼中國銀行業的流動性問題來自於能力不足或制度不佳,人民還沒有失去信心。這跟美國在 2008 發生的事情完全不同。

在 Too Big to Fail 的電影裡面,有幾個片段我蠻喜歡的,其中一個是 Hank Paulson 在跟 Goldman Sachs 的 Lloyd Blankfein 通電話時 Paulson 的秘書跟他說 GE 的 Immelt 打電話給他,然後 Blankfein 問他說 Immelt 有什麼事情要打電話給你?這部份在書裡面也有,不過電影看起來設計的更有趣。2008 年 Wall Street 的信用危機一路擴散到 main street 去,中國現在還不至於如此。

我對中國相當沒輒,他們的資料品質不佳,從官方的透明度到媒體的可信度都有問題,我實在提不起興趣花工夫去看一些我自己都不太確定是否為真的東西,所以也只是從一些比較可信的西方媒體去看看他們所看到的事情。

Ben said...

I agree it is very very unlikely that the Fed will buy any foreign government debt. The political backlash will be too much to bear, even for the Fed.

The Fed is already buying non-AAA papers....namely the U.S. treasury:)

Newt is just the flavor of the month for the GOP, as Cain was the flavor of the month last month. If the GOP can't beat Obama in 2012, the Republican party needs to do some serious soul searching.

Regarding China, yes, it is a black box. I basically assume that every "official" economic number coming out China is false until proven true. And this is why the China situation is so dangerous. Madoff was an investment genius till the very last day. The longer China delays the inevitable, the worse the bubble aftermath will be.

I don't understand the West's fascination with this China economic "miracle." All one has to do is to depreciate its currency 600% and, bingo, you have a super competitive economy. I am simplifying things here but you get my point.

CCLu said...

Nah, U.S. bonds are still considered AAA, as long as Moody's haven't changed their mind.

I never thought Gingrich can get this far. A fight between Romney and Obama is gonna be interesting. I wouldn't be too concerned who wins the election eventually. With all Obama's faults, he's still pragmatic and he knows his job. If Gingrich gets nominated, I'll root very very hard for Obama.

The thing about China is complicated. We see some huge bubbles, no doubt about that. We've also seen some red lights, that is also for sure. However, in sovereign level the bubble can be inflated to an extent that it can never be in the private sector. We don't know how long it will last. Former Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince put it this way, "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance".

We've read the same story again and again, but history repeats itself nonetheless.

Ben said...

And we all know what happened to Citi and Chuck Prince. On a second thought, Chuck is probably retired and playing golf in Florida right now, while Citigroup shareholders got hosed.

As you suggested in your reply, one can never be sure of the exact timing of a bubble bursting, but one thing is for certain - all bubbles eventually burst. Of course, I can be in the poor house by then if I don't manage my short exposure prudently.

Thank you for your confidence in our sovereign papers. I guess we are the prettiest girl in an ugly contest:)

I voted for Obama in 08, but Hillary was my first choice. Obama has been a real disappointment, to say the least. And if Mitt became our next President and did what he said he was going to do, we might be looking at the beginning of a trade war with China.

We live in interesting times...