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储蓄过剩成世界难题

更新时间:2016-10-26 10:34:28 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

As Europe and Asia Hoard Cash, Economists See Echoes of Crisis
储蓄过剩成世界难题

European and Asian investors have been rushing into the United States bond market, spurred by a global glut of savings that has reached record levels.

受全球储蓄过剩达到创纪录水平的刺激,欧洲和亚洲的投资者在不断涌入美国债券市场。

Running from near-zero interest rates at home, foreign buyers are piling into the booming market for corporate bonds, including high-grade debt securities issued by the likes of IBM and General Electric and riskier fare churned out by energy and telecommunications companies.

为避开本国几乎为零的利率,境外投资者正在一片繁荣的企业债券市场扎堆,这里既有IBM、通用电气(General Electric)等公司发行的优质债券,也包括能源与电信企业大量推出的风险更高的债券。

A growing number of economists are concerned that this flood of money may inflate the value of these securities well beyond what they are worth, potentially leading to a market bubble that eventually bursts.

越来越多的经济学家开始担心,这样的资金流入可能会使这些债券的价格虚高,超过它们的实际价值,结果带来最终破裂的市场泡沫。

More broadly, however, these economists fear that an excess of ready cash in Europe and Asia is on the rise, which could keep a damper on global growth prospects.

不过,从更广泛的层面看,这些经济学家更担心欧洲和亚洲的现金过剩状况不断加重,这可能令全球经济增长的前景更加黯淡。

That is because the cash, instead of being spent on building bridges in, say, Germany, or individual shopping sprees in China and Japan, is accumulating and being recycled into global capital markets, keeping interest rates artificially low as investors chase after returns.

那是因为现金没有被德国用于建造桥梁,或者被中国和日本用于个人的大肆消费,而是在累积,循环进入全球资本市场,在投资者寻求回报时利率人为地保持着低水平。

And again, economists say, the burden is placed on the United States, with its still fragile economy, to be the growth engine for the world.

经济学家们还表示,这个重担又一次放在了美国身上。尽管自身的经济还十分脆弱,美国却要承担起拉动世界经济增长的重任。

“Asia and Europe keep exporting their savings to the rest of the world,” said Brad W. Setser, an expert in global financial flows who worked at the United States Treasury from 2011 to 2015. “All this money sloshing around looking for a home is not healthy — it indicates a real lack of demand in other parts of the global economy.”

“亚洲和欧洲持续地将自己的储蓄资金转移到世界其他地方,”研究全球资金流动的专家、曾在2011至2015年供职于美国财政部的布拉德·W·塞策(Brad W. Setser)说。“这些资金四处流动、寻找可以落地的地方,这是不健康的——它表明全球经济的其他部分的确存在需求匮乏的情况。”

The surge in flows echoes a wave of investment in the years right before the financial crisis, when mostly European investors snapped up billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities before the American housing market imploded.

这种资金流动剧增的情况,让人想到金融危机爆发前几年出现的投资浪潮。当时在美国房地产市场崩盘之前,主要来自欧洲的投资者抢购了价值以十亿美元计的抵押担保债权。

The current numbers are also arresting.

现在的数据也相当引人注目。

According to Mr. Setser’s figures, about $750 billion of private money has poured into the United States in the last two years alone. About $500 billion, he calculates, reflects European and Asian investors buying United States Treasury securities, bonds issued by Fannie Mae and debt issued by American companies.

据塞策统计,单单过去两年,就有大约7500亿美元私人资金流入美国。他推测,其中大约5000亿美元是欧洲和亚洲投资者在购买美国国债、房利美(Fannie Mae,美国联邦国民抵押协会的别称)发行的债券,以及美国公司发行的企业债。

The rest comes from American institutional investors unloading their zero-returning European bonds and looking for some extra yield closer to home.

其他的则来自美国的机构投资者,他们在抛售零回报的欧洲债券,转而寻找一些更靠近美国本土的超额收益。

The culprit, Mr. Setser argues in a new paper for the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is a senior fellow, is the biggest global glut of savings ever, driven by cash-hoarding in counties like China and South Korea.

作为对外关系委员会(Council on Foreign Relations)的高级研究员,塞策在为该机构撰写的一篇新报告中提出,其中的罪魁祸首是由中国和韩国等国家的现金囤积所推动的、有史以来规模最大的全球储蓄过剩。

“There is a glut, and the glut isn’t healthy,” Mr. Setser said.

“存在一种过剩,而且是不健康的过剩,”塞策说。

The philosophical grandfather of this global savings glut is Ben S. Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, who coined the phrase in 2005, before he became chairman.

美联储(Federal Reserve)前主席本·S·伯南克(Ben S. Bernanke)是全球储蓄过剩的观念鼻祖。在成为美联储主席之前,他于2005年首次提出了这种说法。

There are economic theories that daze and confuse, thanks to their opacity. And then there are a few that define a moment in time by explaining why asset markets overreach and implode.

现在存在很多因为晦涩难懂而让人感到茫然困惑的经济学理论。但其中有一些通过解释为何资本市场会贪功致败、陷入崩溃,而界定了一个时刻。

In September 2007, as the financial crisis was beginning to take shape, Mr. Bernanke gave a speech in Berlin in which he warned of the dangers that excessive global savings posed to the United States economy.

2007年9月金融危机开始显现的时候,伯南克在柏林发表了一个演讲,警告全球储蓄过剩给美国经济带来的危害。

Mr. Bernanke cautioned that an accumulating cash pile in fast-growing countries like China was keeping global interest rates low and steering money into risky investments.

伯南克还提醒,中国等经济快速增长的国家现金储备不断积聚,令全球利率维持在低水平,并迫使资金流入高风险的投资领域。

Within months, investment banks in the United States began their death march as the once-soaring market for mortgage securities collapsed.

没过几个月,曾经高涨的抵押证券市场便崩盘了,美国的投资银行开始走向死亡。

Over time it became accepted in academic and policy circles that the global savings glut that Mr. Bernanke had described played a crucial role in the boom and eventual bust of the housing bubble in the United States.

随着时间的推移,学术和政策圈开始接受这样一种观点,即伯南克之前描述的全球储蓄过剩,在美国房地产泡沫的壮大和最终的破灭中,扮演了至关重要的角色。

Now, nearly a decade after Mr. Bernanke’s warning, Mr. Setser and others are making the case that this cash pile is as large and dangerous as ever, driven by a persistent rise in excess savings in China and elsewhere in Asia, and in Europe, with Germany leading the way.

现在,在伯南克发出警告近十年之后,塞策等人正在证明,这次现金储备的规模仍和以前一样大,危险程度也一样高,个中原因就是中国和其他亚洲国家,还有以德国为首的欧洲国家的储蓄过剩情况在持续加重。

Not everyone subscribes to the savings glut theory, of course, especially not those nations that are sitting atop these piles of cash and facing pressure to take action, as Germany is.

当然,不是所有人都同意这种储蓄过剩论,尤其是那些坐拥大量现金、有压力要采取行动的国家,比如德国。

Their opposing view holds that it has been the reckless money-printing ways of the global central banks (jump-started by Mr. Bernanke himself) that pose a threat to the global economy.

他们持相反的观点,即对全球经济构成威胁的是全球中央银行不计后果的印钞票(而这恰是由伯南克助推启动的)。

Still, the total sum of the savings glut is a stunning number — $1.2 trillion — a bit above what it was in 2007 when Mr. Bernanke warned about it. Three-quarters of it comes from China and other Asian dynamos.

但储蓄过剩的总额的确十分惊人——1.2万亿美元——比2007年伯南克对此发出警告时又高出了一些。其中有四分之三来自中国和其他经济发展比较快的亚洲国家。

The rest comes from large savers in Northern European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, replacing oil producers in the Middle East that have seen their cash piles erode with the decrease in oil prices.

其余的则来自德国、荷兰等欧洲北部的储蓄大国,它们替代了中东产油大国的位置——随着油价走低,后者的现金储备有所萎缩。

In 2005, when Mr. Bernanke introduced the thought that there could be a downside to all this saving overseas, the American housing market was still robust and his remarks did not quite resonate.

当伯南克在2005年首次提出这些境外储蓄可能对美国不利的看法时,美国房地产市场仍然坚挺,他的言论没有引发太大反响。

It is easy to see why, given that the problem, as outlined by Mr. Bernanke, was not having too much debt, but having too much cash.

这很容易理解,鉴于按照伯南克的说法,问题不是债务太多,而是现金太多。

Past global blowups, like Mexico’s in 1994, and Southeast Asia’s in 1997 and 1998, were often stories of fast-growing economies running up debt and then running out of money.

之前的几次全球性经济危机,就像墨西哥1994年、东南亚1997和1998年经历的,往往是快速增长的经济体债务迅速增加,然后资金链断裂。

Now, Mr. Bernanke was proposing, the danger was that these and similar nations were safeguarding cash by increasing exports and not investing as much as they should, with the result being a savings surge.

而正如伯南克之前提到的,现在的危险则在于这些以及其他有着类似情况的国家为了维持现金储备,在出口增加的同时又没有进行应有的投资,结果就是储蓄过剩。

Recently, criticism has been directed toward large developed economies like Germany and other big savers in Europe like the Netherlands for allowing their current-account surpluses — essentially a country’s cash on hand after investments — to increase more than fourfold since the financial crisis, to $488 billion today.

最近,批评的矛头直接指向德国等大的发达经济体和荷兰等欧洲储蓄大国,理由是它们放任自己国家的往来账户过剩——尤其是除去投资之后的库存现金——使之达到现在的4880亿美元,自金融危机以来增加了四倍不止。

But Mr. Setser in his paper contends that the sharp upswing in East Asian surpluses has been less noticed.

但塞策在他的报告中认为,东亚储蓄过剩大幅上升的情况一直不太被人注意。

That is because, he says, even with China’s tremendous investment binge during recent years, its savings rate is still near 50 percent — which is just too high a level for the world economy.

他说那是因为,尽管中国最近几年出现了巨大的投资热潮,但它的储蓄率依然接近50%——相对于世界经济而言,这个比率实在太高了。

“This is a big problem,” said Nouriel Roubini, an economist at New York University who was recognized for his early warnings about the 2008 crisis. “There is no way to force those who are oversaving to spend more.”

“这是个大问题,”纽约大学(New York University)经济学家诺里·鲁比尼(Nouriel Roubini)说。他因对2008年金融危机提前发出警告而为人所知。“没什么办法能迫使这些过度储蓄的国家花费更多。”

All of which hangs like a pall over the global economy, depressing interest rates and prospects for growth.

所有这些就像个棺罩一样悬在全球经济上方,压低了利率,也降低了经济增长预期。

“Bernanke is even more right than he was in 2005 and 2007,” Mr. Setser said.

“伯南克的判断拿到今天,甚至比2005年和2007年更正确,”塞策说。

While no one is saying yet that the flood of investment has created an asset bubble similar to that of 2008, market participants accept that certain corners of the market, like junk bonds, have had a very nice ride of late.

尽管目前还没人表示,这股投资潮制造了一个与2008年那次类似的资产泡沫,但市场参与者承认,在这个市场的某些领域,比如垃圾债券,最近一片红火。

Ken Monaghan, who oversees high-yield bonds for the global fund manager Amundi Smith Breeden, says that he is seeing a surge in interest from Asian and European insurance companies and pension funds — many of them conservative clients not known for dabbling in these sorts of securities.

在全球性基金公司阿蒙迪-史密斯-布里登(Amundi Smith Breeden)负责高收益债券业务的肯·莫纳汉(Ken Monaghan)表示,他发现亚洲和欧洲的保险公司和养老基金对此类债券的兴趣激增——它们大多是保守型客户,原本不太会涉猎此类证券。

“It has really caused spreads to move,” he said, using Wall Street jargon to describe what happens when the interest rates of these bonds decrease as investors pile in. “We are seeing institutional investors come to us and ask for levels of risk that they have never asked for before.”

“这的确让利率差变化了,”他用华尔街术语描述了当这些债券的利率随着投资者大量涌入而降低时,会发生什么情况。“有机构投资者来找我们,提出了他们以往从没要求过的风险层级。”

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