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更新时间:2015-7-1 9:50:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Loads of Debt: A Global Ailment With Few Cures

There are some problems that not even $10 trillion can solve.


That gargantuan sum of money is what central banks around the world have spent in recent years as they have tried to stimulate their economies and fight financial crises. The tidal wave of cheap money has played a huge role in generating growth in many countries, cutting unemployment and preventing panic.


But it has not been able to do away with days like Monday, when fear again coursed through global financial markets. The main triggers for the steep declines in stock and bond markets were announcements out of Greece and Puerto Rico. In China, meanwhile, the precipitous declines in its stock market were also a sobering reminder that stubborn problems lurk in the global economy.


Stifling debt loads, for instance, continue to weigh on countries around the world. Greece’s government has repeatedly called for relief from some of its debt obligations, and Puerto Rico’s governor said on Sunday that its debt was “not payable.” Both borrowers are extreme cases, but high borrowing, either by corporations or governments, is also bogging down the globally significant economies of Brazil, Turkey, Italy and China. And economists say that central banks and their whirring printing presses can do only so much to alleviate the burden.


“Monetary policy can only be a palliative,” said Diana Choyleva, chief economist at Lombard Street Research. “It cannot be a cure.”

“货币政策只能起到缓解作用,”朗伯德街研究公司(Lombard Street Research)首席经济师黛安娜·乔伊列娃(Diana Choyleva)说。“不是根治的方法。”

On Monday, the closing of banks in Greece ignited worries of a messy exit from the euro, and stock markets around the world fell sharply. Adding to the turmoil were expectations that the Greek government would not make a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund that is due on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 350 points, or 1.95 percent, while the benchmark index for investors, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index tumbled 2.09 percent, erasing its gain for the year. It was also the first decline of more than 2 percent since October last year.

周一,希腊关闭银行一事,让人们担心该国会退出欧元区,并引发混乱,全球股市大幅下跌。火上浇油的是,外界认为希腊政府可能不会向国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)偿还一笔周二到期的债务。道琼斯工业平均指数下跌350点,跌幅1.95%,与此同时,被投资者当做基准指数的标准普尔500指数下跌2.09%,抵消了今年的增长。这也是该指数自去年10月以来,跌幅首次超过2%。

Wall Street’s avidly watched fear gauge, known as the Vix, spiked to its highest level in months, suggesting more turbulence ahead.


The market turbulence was greater in Europe. The stock markets of Italy and Portugal fell over 5 percent, while Spain’s was down 4.6 percent. Ominously, each country’s government bonds also sold off, pushing up their yields, which move in the opposite direction to their prices.


In China, stocks fell again on Monday, leaving them down more than 20 percent from their recent peak, in bear market territory.


Investors sought the comparative safety of United States government bonds. Treasury prices rallied, pushing the yield, which moves in the opposite direction, on the benchmark 10-year note down to 2.33 percent, its sharpest decline since October.


The return of nervous selling on stock markets raises important questions about the health of the global economy. As central banks like the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have printed trillions of dollars and euros, markets in stock and bonds, as well as other types of assets, have responded optimistically, sometimes reaching highs that were unthinkable seven years ago in the depths of the financial crisis.

股市再现紧张抛售引发了对全球经济健康的重要质疑。因为美联储(Federal Reserve)和欧洲中央银行(European Central Bank)等央行已印制了数万亿美元和欧元,股票、债券及其他类型的资产市场,均作出了积极的回应,有时达到七年前金融危机最为严重的时候难以想象的高位。

Still, when everything is going well, it is easy to forget that there are limits to the power of the central banks, analysts say.


“Basically, they haven’t got as much bang for the buck, or bang per euro, or bang per yen, as they were expecting,” said Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research.

“基本上,他们未能从发行的美元、欧元或日元中得到期待的回报,”亚德尼研究公司(Yardeni Research)的埃德·亚德尼(Ed Yardeni)说。

Central banks can make debt less expensive by pushing down interest rates. Crucially, though, they cannot slash debt levels to bring much quicker relief to borrowers. In fact, lower interest rates can persuade some borrowers to take on more debt.


“Rather than just reflecting the current weakness, low rates may in part have contributed to it by fueling costly financial booms and busts,” the Bank for International Settlements, an organization whose members are the world’s central banks, wrote in a recent analysis of the global economy.

“低利率不仅仅反映出了当前的疲软,可能还在一定程度上造成了这种疲软,因为它加剧了代价不菲的金融繁荣和萧条,”由全球央行组成的组织国际清算银行(Bank for International Settlements)前不久在分析全球经济时写道。

Many countries are now in a position where their governments and companies live in fear of an increase in interest rates. A further rise in the government bond yields of Spain and Italy could cause a contraction in the fiscal policy of those countries, noted Alberto Gallo, head of macro credit research at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

眼下,很多国家的政府和企业都生活在对利率上调的恐惧之中。苏格兰皇家银行(Royal Bank of Scotland)的宏观信贷研究负责人阿尔贝托·加洛(Alberto Gallo)表示,西班牙和意大利政府债券收益率的进一步上涨,可能会导致两国的财政政策转向紧缩。

“This ‘involuntary tightening’ is what the E.C.B. does not want,” he wrote in an email, referring to the European Central Bank.


Even faster-growing economies are also vulnerable. Debt in China has soared since the financial crisis of 2008, in part the result of government stimulus efforts. Yet the Chinese economy is growing much more slowly than it was, say, 10 years ago. This has prompted the Chinese government to pursue policies that expose more of the economy to market forces.


“They have realized that they cannot continue like this – and that monetary policy doesn’t solve all problems,” Ms. Choyleva said.


Countries with high-seeming debt totals are not necessarily fragile. The United States government borrowed heavily after the financial crisis. But as the economy recovered, the debt proved to be manageable — and some economists contend that it helped stoke the economic comeback. Japan’s gross debt is equivalent to 234 percent of its gross domestic product. Yet it has had no problems finding buyers for its government bonds over the years, defying gloomy predictions of some Western investors.


And some analysts contend that Europe’s debt problems are particularly acute because of the euro. Unlike Japan and the United States, countries in the common currency cannot unilaterally loosen monetary policy and let their currencies fall to try and generate the growth that would then make it easier to pay off debts.


“Greece needs far easier money than the rest of Europe and it can’t get it because it is locked in with the rest of Europe,” said Joseph E. Gagnon, a senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“希腊需要远比欧洲其他地方宽松的货币政策,但却不能如愿,因为它是和欧洲其他地方绑在一起的,”彼得森国际经济研究所(Peterson Institute for International Economics)的高级研究员约瑟夫·E·加尼翁(Joseph E. Gagnon)说。

Forgiving debts is another way to lighten the deadweight on economies. Writing off debt can hurt banks, but defaults can also clear the system of doubtful loans and accelerate a recovery. Some analysts contend that extinguishing the mortgage debt of households bolstered the United States recovery. But lenders are not always willing to give big breaks to borrowers. Greece’s creditors have so far denied the country’s most recent requests for debt relief.


And, in one of the most stressed countries in Europe, a grim standoff over debt is taking place. Ukraine is moving closer to default after creditors continued lending to the country despite zero growth and a corrupt and opaque political and economic system. Now, some of those creditors, including Franklin Templeton, an American investment firm, have resisted Ukraine’s insistence they take a loss on their principal investment, insisting instead on extending the repayment period.

此外,在欧洲最焦虑不安的国家之一乌克兰,围绕债务问题的严峻僵持正在上演。乌克兰正在接近违约的边缘。在此之前,尽管该国零增,且政治和经济制度腐败、不透明,但债权人仍继续贷款给该国。现在,乌克兰坚持要债权人承担自己的本金亏损,但包括美国投资公司富兰克林邓普顿(Franklin Templeton)在内的部分债权人拒绝了,转而提出延长回报期。