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希腊悲剧继续仍未终结:继续改革还是脱离欧盟?

Nicholas Econmides 2017年01月09日

对希腊来说,改革和财政自律是在欧盟生存下来并繁荣发展的唯一途径。脱离欧盟则会让希腊陷入贫穷和恶性通胀之中。

希腊违反了援助条款——希腊政府最近宣布,将为国内退休人员送上可观的“圣诞礼物”。但要这样做就得再向欧盟借钱,原因是希腊政府尚未实现预算平衡,不能通过货币市场筹集资金。此举已经迫使欧盟财政部长们冻结了债务重组工作。希腊又一次站在了悬崖边上。

这是现代版的希腊经济悲剧。但和希腊的古典三幕悲剧不同的是,这出戏已经上演了很多幕,而且舞台上经常出现可怕场面。主要演员中,希腊政府一再用“自杀式”选举威胁别人;国际货币基金组织(IMF)试图用同样的条款来约束所有国家,不管其发展水平如何;欧盟官员描绘着美好的前景,完全脱离现实或经济情况;德国财长沃尔夫冈·朔伊布勒则一直在宣读同样的紧缩规则,无论环境变成什么样。更糟糕的是,这些演员之间几乎没有任何交流——他们擦肩而过,演绎着自己的独角戏,想取悦的歌队也各不相同。怎么(又)到了这一步呢?还有希望吗?更重要的是,将如何收场呢?

希腊在2010和2012年得到了欧盟和IMF的大规模援助,又通过谈判将债券减免了1000亿欧元。到2014年,希腊已经处于复苏边缘。2010年逾15%的财政赤字得到了扭转,实现了少量基本预算盈余(支付利息前),衰退了四年的经济也重新开始增长,甚至发行了新的债券。然而,财政调整的途径不是削减开支,而是大幅增加税收,这就造成经济连年萎缩。在收入下降25%,失业率达到25%的情况下,一腔怨气的选民在2015年初把一个很小的激进左翼党派推上了权力宝座。

2015年初,由于激进左翼政府姿态强硬,希腊的银行关门歇业,资本受到管制,经济由升转跌,货币市场也将希腊拒之门外。随后,希腊政府签署了条件苛刻的协议。后者又为希腊提供了870亿欧元贷款,但要求希腊的财政盈余连续几年都要达到GDP的3.5%(更多地通过财政紧缩来实现)。这个目标显然不可行,希腊央行建议将其定为GDP的1.5-2%。IMF赞同这样的建议,而且已经要求欧盟按照这样的目标对希腊的债务进行重组,以便通过实施结构性改革让希腊经济变得有竞争力。但欧盟坚持3.5%的目标。同时,为了让这个目标显得可行,欧盟还为希腊经济描绘了不切实际的美好前景,却没有敦促希腊进行改革。

希腊的选择原本再简单不过,那就是和IMF站在一起,不那么用力地勒紧裤带,立即而彻底地重组债务,并且实施那些能提高希腊的竞争力并助其摆脱危机的改革。然而,希腊政府站在了欧盟那边,同意加大紧缩力度而且不重组那么多债务。这是为什么呢?原因就在于希腊政府想避开改革和对政府机构的压缩,因为公务员是它的主要支持者。让这个错误雪上加霜的是,希腊政府现在违反了财政紧缩协议,而且又拿出了2015年上半年的强硬战术。不过,希望依然存在。

希腊危机的解决方案显而易见,而且一段时间以来一直如此,那就是进行改革,削减政府开支,减少税收,简化投资程序,开放市场并接纳竞争,同时推动私有化。这些工作希腊政府一项也没能完成。

所幸的是,希腊开始出现支持改革的舆论。除了共产党和新纳粹主义政党,其他反对党现在都支持改革。此外,主要反对党,即中右翼阵营的新民主党推选改革派人士基里亚科斯·米佐塔基斯为领导人,而且该党目前在民调中遥遥领先。米佐塔基斯一直在倡导紧锣密鼓地进行改革。

如今还有两个因素让改革更有可能获得成功。首先,IMF完全支持改革,而且愿意为了债务重组、较少的紧缩以及更深入的改革和欧洲方面针锋相对。其次,在进行了各种尝试之后,许多希腊人现在都认为改革是摆脱危机的唯一出路。

对希腊来说,改革和财政自律是在欧盟生存下来并繁荣发展的唯一途径。另一个方案,也就是脱离欧盟,则会让希腊陷入贫穷和恶性通胀之中,从而在欧洲引发委内瑞拉式的危机。(财富中文网)

 

作者:Nicholas Econmides

译者:Charlie

审校:詹妮

作者为纽约大学斯特恩商学院经济学教授。

Violating the terms of its bailout program, the Greek government recently announced that it will distribute a sizeable “Christmas gift” to Greek pensioners even though this requires additional borrowing from the EU since the Greek budget is not balanced and Greece cannot borrow from money markets. The move has prompted the EU finance ministers to freeze implementation of debt restructuring. Greece is at the brink again.

This is the modern-day, Greek economic tragedy. But unlike the three-acts ancient Greek tragedies, we’ve seen many acts and often the horrible events happen on stage. Of the main actors, the Greek government repeatedly threatens with suicide elections; the IMF tries to apply the same rules to all countries irrespective of development level; the EU bureaucrats paint a rosy picture with no grounding in reality or economics, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble keeps reading the same austerity rulebook no matter what the circumstances. Even worse, there is practically no dialogue among the actors – they deliver their monologues past each other, each trying to please a different chorus. How did we get here (again), is there hope, and, more importantly, and how does it end?

After two large bailouts in 2010 and 2012 from the EU and the IMF, and after a negotiated haircut of €100 billion off its bonds, Greece was close to recovery in 2014. It had reversed the 2010 15-plus percent deficit and achieved a small primary surplus (before paying interest), reached growth after four years of recession, and even issued new bonds. However, the fiscal consolidation did not happen through spending cuts but rather through large increases in taxation, resulting in a multi-year recession. With Greeks having lost 25% of their income, and unemployment at 25%, disaffected voters brought to power a tiny, radical left party in early 2015.

Following a defiant stance in early 2015, which resulted in closed banks, capital controls, reversal of growth and exclusion from money markets, the present radical left Greek government signed an onerous agreement. The agreement provided Greece a new loan of €87 billion, yet required that Greece achieve a 3.5% of GDP surplus (through more austerity) for a number of years. This target was clearly not feasible, and the Bank of Greece proposed a surplus of 1.5% to 2% of GDP. The IMF agreed with this target, and has asked the EU to restructure Greek debt obligations consistent with this target as well as for implementation of structural reforms that would make the Greek economy competitive. However, the EU has insisted on the 3.5% surplus target and painted an unrealistically rosy picture of the Greek economy to make this target appear feasible, while not pressing Greece on reforms.

Greece’s choice was a no-brainer: side with the IMF, have less austerity, have immediate and deep debt restructuring, and implement reforms that will make Greece more competitive and bring it out of the crisis. Instead, the Greek government sided with the EU, accepted higher austerity and less debt restructuring. Why? The Greek government wants to avoid reforming and shrinking the State because civil servants are its main block of voters. Compounding this error, the Greek government has now violated the fiscal agreement and reverted to the defiant tactics of the first half of 2015. But there’s still hope.

The solution to the Greek crisis is obvious and has been obvious for some time: make reforms, cut state expenditure, cut taxes, simplify investment procedures, open markets to competition, and proceed with privatizations. The present Greek government has failed in all of these dimensions.

Fortunately, for Greece, a pro-reforms consensus is emerging. All opposition parties with the exception of the Communist and the Nazi party are now pro-reform. Additionally, a reformist politician, Kyriakos Mistotakis, has been elected leader of the main opposition party, center-right New Democracy, which presently has a large lead in polls. He has advocated a strictly reformist agenda.

There are two additional factors that make reforms more likely to succeed now. First, the IMF fully supports the reforms and is willing to battle with the Europeans for debt restructuring, less austerity, and more reforms. Second, many Greeks, having tried everything else, now see reforms as the only way out of the crisis.

Reforms and fiscal discipline is the only way for Greece to survive and prosper in the European Union. The alternative, Grexit, would plunge Greece to poverty and hyperinflation leading to a crisis a-la-Venezuela in Europe.

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