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索洛大战波斯纳(4):为什么信用会崩溃?  

2009-04-27 12:04:50|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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中文博主按:索洛可能是最没有激情的作者。但是,却可能是最严密的作者之一。由他来讲经济问题,也可能最可靠。


四、为什么信用会崩溃?

Why did I do such a risky and, as it turned out, stupidthing? Well, it had worked in the past, and made a lot of money for manypeople. If I had backed off, others would probably have continued to make moneyfor a while. I would have looked like a fool, and very likely an unemployedfool.

那么,我为什么要做这样冒险的愚蠢事情呢?而且,结果也证明它是一个愚蠢的事。哈,就是因为这在过去是行得通的,而且,许多人还挣了很多钱呢。如果我退缩了,那么,别人可能还会继续再挣一会儿钱呢。那么,我不就成变成了个傻瓜吗?而且,还像一个没用的傻瓜。

This sob story is just the beginning. Many highly leveragedfinancial institutions—banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies amongthem—have dug themselves into similar, interconnected holes. They have borrowedfrom other financial institutions to make complicated bets on risky assets, andthey have lent to other leveraged financial institutions so that thoseinstitutions could make complicated, risky asset bets. These are the"toxic assets" that weigh down the balance sheets of banks. No oneknows for sure what anyone else is worth: they own assets of uncertain value,including the debts of other institutions that own assets of uncertain value.

这个悲伤的故事,也只是一个开头。许多高杠杆的金融机构——其中有银行、对冲基金和保险公司——早已深陷入相似的、相互关联的陷阱之中。它们从其他金融机构借钱,在风险资产上进行着复杂的赌博,而且,它们也借钱给其他杠杆化的金融机构,这样,这些机构也可以进行复杂的、风险的资产赌博。这些都是“有毒资产”,压抑了银行的资产负债表。没人能确切地知道其他人值些什么东西:他们拥有着不确定价值的资产,包括那些拥有不确定价值资产的机构的债务。

All those banks and others are now unwilling to lend to oneanother because they fear that the potential borrower is already broke and willbe unable to repay. And so the credit markets freeze up and ordinary businessesthat need credit for ordinary business purposes find that they cannot get it onany reasonable terms. This is what happened in September 2008 when thecommercial paper market—the market for daily business borrowing—ceased to work.The breakdown of the financial system exacerbates the recession; many who wantto buy or build cannot get credit with which to do so. The recession thenendangers the solvency of more financial and nonfinancial borrowers and worsensthe state of the financial system.

所有那些银行和其他机构,现在都不愿意彼此借贷,因为它们担心这个潜在的借款者,早已破产了,也将不能偿还。这样,信贷市场就冻住了,为着常规商业目的所需的信用以从事常规业务,也不能以任何合理的条款来借款了。这就是20089月商业票据市场(每日商业借贷的市场)停止运作之时所发生的事。金融体系的崩溃,恶化了衰退;许多想购买或建设的人们,不能得到所需的信用。这样,衰退就威胁到了更多的金融与非金融借贷者的偿还能力,恶化了金融体系的情况。

I have deliberately kept this story stylized, omitting thejuicy details about complicated derivative securities that seem to bear onlythe most tenuous connection to the everyday economic realities of production,employment, consumption, and so on. I have also ignored the even juicierdetails of greed, stupidity, and corruption. Posner does not ignore thosethings. They provide an irresistible target for amusement and contempt. Iwanted instead to focus on the central role of leverage, because it is leveragethat turns large banks and financial institutions into ninepins that cannotfall without knocking down others that cannot fall without knocking down stillothers. That seems to be the key to the potential instability of an unregulatedfinancial system. It happens without any of the private actors violating thecanons of self-interested rationality. Those canons would have been differentif the SEC, the Fed, and other institutions charged with regulation hadinsisted both that all transactions be made public and that there be somelimits on leverage.

我是有意地典型化了这个故事,忽略了许多与复杂衍生证券有关的有趣细节,这些证券,与日常生产、就业和消费等的经济现实,似乎只有具有微弱的关联性。另外,我还忽略了像贪婪、愚蠢、腐败这样的更有趣的细节。波斯纳没有忽略这些东西。这些细节所带来的娱乐性和诱惑,是让人难以拒绝的。我想更加侧重于“杠杆‘的核心作用,因为,正是杠杆,使得大型银行和金融机构纷纷倒下,一个倒下,不可避免地让另一个倒下,依次倒下。这大概就是无监管的金融体系内在不稳定性的关键所在。而且,任何一个私人部门都没有违反自利理性的原则,而这事儿就这样发生了。如果拥有监管权的SEC、联储和其他机构,坚持交易公开化,坚持对杠杆施加限制,那么,那些原则就会有所不同了。

It is a noteworthy intellectual event that Posner has cometo this understanding and expressed it forcefully and fearlessly. This sameunderstanding must then also be the key to designing regulations that canreduce the frequency of financial crises like the current one, and limit thecollateral damage to the real economy that they entail. Regulation shouldrequire that the uses and amounts of leverage, still largely hidden, be madepublic and that limits be set on the amounts of leverage that financialinstitutions can bring into play.

波斯纳有这样的理解,并且,如此强烈而无畏地表达出来,这真是一个值得大书特书的知识界大事。这个思想,同样也必须是设计监管的关键,这样会降低当前这种金融危机的发生频率,会限制对其所导引的真实经济的间接伤害。监管应该:杠杆的数量和运用,现在大部分还处于隐性状态,以后要公开化;金融机构所运用的杠杆数量要受到限制。



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