订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

什么是量化宽松,为什么大家都在等它救市?

Bob Sellers 2019年11月21日

很多华尔街人士并不认为,新一轮的量化宽松会刺激经济的进一步增长。

美联储于两周前再次宣布降息,这已经是美国今年第三次降息了。消息一经传出,立即引起了各大媒体的关注。但是除了降息之外,华尔街(和华盛顿)也在争论美联储是否应该祭出另一个“大杀器”——量化宽松,以及它能否使美国的经济增长保持到第11个年头——而且这一年恰恰还是美国的大选年。

IVOL ETF基金的投资组合经理、Quadratic Capital公司的创始人南希·戴维斯表示:“量化宽松是传统工具失效后,才会使用的一种非常规的货币政策工具。”这种非常规工具帮助我们走出了上一轮经济危机,但2019年毕竟不是2008年了,很多人认为,量化宽松已经不再是一剂灵丹妙药。

这里的“很多人”并不包括美国总统特朗普。他曾经多次呼吁美联储采取降息政策。比如今年春天,他不仅呼吁美联储降息,还敦促美联储实施量化宽松,以提振经济和股市。他在4月5日的一条推特中说:“(如果实施了量化宽松),你会看到经济就像坐火箭一样。”而这还是在美国第一季度的GDP增长了3.1%之后。据两周前公布的消息,美国今年第三季度的GDP增速下降至1.9%,这也让特朗普再次打起了降息的主意,并点名批评美联储主席杰罗姆·鲍威尔没有跟上其他国家的降息步伐。

2008年,美国银行业一度到了崩溃的边缘。就在这时,美联储放出了量化宽松的大招,如同一个英雄踏着七色祥云拯救了这一切。当时的美联储主席本·伯南克是“大萧条”的学生,他通过量化宽松政策增加了金融系统的流动性和储备金。量化宽松是如何起作用的?南希·戴维斯解释道:“美联储会购买特定数额的金融资产,从而抬高了这些金融资产的价格,降低了它们的收益率。”

具体来说,美联储购买了大量由抵押贷款支持的证券——当时很多金融机构连碰都不想碰这些证券——以及大量国债和其他债券。总的来说,这种做法确保了金融机构手里不至于只剩下一些毫无价值的债务工具(比如一些抵押贷款证券)。美联储通过这种大规模的购买行为(是为“量化”),全面压低了利率,降低了消费者和企业的借贷成本(是为“宽松”)。戴维斯表示:“量化宽松的理念,是让企业和个人可以在较长时间里以很低的成本借钱,从而刺激经济。”

到了2014年,在经历了三轮量化宽松之后,美联储的资产负债表总值接近4.5万亿美元。而在经济危机之前的2006年,这个数字还不到9000亿美元。不过量化宽松政策确实奏效了。那么应该如何退出量化宽松政策呢?答案就是让美联储“缩表”。

2017年,在美联储主席珍妮特·耶伦的领导下,美联储开始对资产负债表进行“正常化”,不再在债务证券到期时将收益(资金)进行再投资。没有了美联储作为金融市场的客户,债券发行者只得提高收益率和降低价格以保持竞争力。不过由于“正常化”的过程持续了好几年(直到最近的一次波动,我们将在稍后讨论),这个过程对利率并没有产生太大影响。回归“正常化”也使得美联储可以在未来形势必要时再次启动量化宽松政策。而至于什么样的形势才是启动量化宽松所“必要”的,各方的争论还在持续。

量化宽松会刺激经济增长吗?

很多华尔街人士并不认为,新一轮的量化宽松——甚至是继续直接下调联邦储备金利率,会刺激经济的进一步增长。仲量联行(JLL)的首席经济学家瑞安·塞维里诺指出:“你不能说‘我们正处于有史以来最好的经济时期,但我们需要量化宽松来改善我们的境况。’” 塞维里诺认为,降息并不能够解决经济增长疲软的问题。“今年第二季度,企业的投资出现了下跌。阻碍企业投资的主要是政策的不确定性,包括贸易的不确定性,而不是利率问题。”他还担心当下一次经济衰退到来时,量化宽松的效果将会有所减弱。“很可能我们使用了很多货币武器,却并不会产生很大的影响。”

上个月,关于量化宽松的争论再次有所抬头。由于成员银行的隔夜交易流动性不足,当时美联储不得不向金融体系注入现金。由于利率的短暂飙升,加之美联储出手安抚市场,最终导致美联储主席鲍威尔宣布,美联储将每月购买600亿美元的短期债券。在很多人看来,这听起来就像是量化宽松了。

不过南希·戴维斯表示,这并不是量化宽松,因为美联储购买的是短期债券,而不是长期债券。“实际上,这种买入行为绝不能与我们在金融危机后实施的大规模资产购买计划相混淆。”

总之,新一轮的量化宽松很可能不会有太大的效果。一些商业调查显示,多数企业的首席执行官对降息并不感冒,而是更加关心贸易政策上是否有明确的方向,因为它对经济和商业投资行为的影响更大。塞维里诺表示:“如果企业变得过于悲观,最终会影响到招聘行为和工资增长,进而会影响到消费者。”

美国多年不温不火的GDP增长率表明,经济增长并非只是降息那么简单。在这里,塞维里诺引用了马斯洛的一句名言:“如果你唯一的工具是个锤子,那么你看什么都像钉子。”

量化宽松可能是一个强有力的“货币锤子”,但目前还算适度增长的经济,则未必是一个合适的钉子。它只不过在某些人看来像一个钉子罢了。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates again at two weeks ago, for a third time this year, and that got the headlines. But beyond the headlines there’s an argument taking place on Wall Street (and in Washington) over whether another tool in the Fed’s arsenal—quantitative easing—could help keep the economy expanding into an eleventh year, which also happens to be an election year.

“Quantitative easing is an unconventional monetary policy tool used after conventional tools have become ineffective,” says Nancy Davis, Portfolio Manager of the IVOL ETF and Founder of Quadratic Capital. The unconventional tool helped get us out of the Great Recession, but 2019 is not 2008, and there are many who believe QE is no longer a magic elixir.

That doesn’t include President Trump, who has repeatedly called on the Fed to lower interest rates, including in the spring, when he also pushed for the Fed to employ quantitative easing in order to give the economy and stock market a boost. In an April 5th tweet he said, “You would see a rocket ship.” And that was after a first quarter GDP of 3.1%. Two week’s ago, GDP print of 1.9% compelled him to return to the topic of lower rates again, calling out Fed Chief Jerome Powell for not keeping pace with other countries in lowering their key rates.

There was a time when quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve was like the cavalry riding in to save the day. Then-Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, a student of Great Depression, utilized the approach to add liquidity and reserves to the financial system when it looked like the banking industry was on the verge of collapse in 2008. Nancy Davis explains how QE works. “The Fed buys specified amounts of financial assets, thus raising the prices of those financial assets and lowering their yields.”

Specifically, the Fed bought Mortgage-backed securities—at a time when many institutions wouldn’t touch them—as well as Treasury notes and bonds. Collectively, these actions made sure that financial institutions wouldn’t be left with worthless debt instruments (like some of the MBS’s). It pushed down interest rates across the board with such large (“quantitative”) actions, making borrowing cheaper for consumers and businesses alike (that’s the “easing” part). “The idea,” says Davis, “is that individuals and corporations could borrow money cheaply for a long time, stimulating the economy.”

By 2014, following three rounds of QE, the Fed’s balance sheet was approaching $4.5 trillion, compared to a pre-financial crisis balance sheet in 2006 of less than $900 billion. The approach had worked. But how do you undo quantitative easing? By shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet.

In 2017, under the guidance of Chair Janet Yellin, the Fed started to “normalize” its balance sheet by not reinvesting the proceeds (money) when the debt securities matured. Without the Fed as a customer in the financial markets, issuers had to raise yields and lower prices to be competitive. Fortunately the effects on interest rates have been modest because the normalization has occurred over a number of years (until a recent blip, which we’ll address in a moment). The return to “normal” allows the Fed to use QE again in the future if conditions call for it. The debate continues over what those qualifying conditions are.

Will QE stimulate growth?

Many on Wall Street don’t believe that another round of QE—or even continuing to lower the Fed Funds rate directly—will stimulate more growth. Ryan Severino, Chief Economist at JLL, puts it this way: “You can’t say we’re in the best economy we’ve ever seen but we need quantitative easing to improve our situation.” Severino believes that lower interest rates are not the issue with tepid economic growth. “Investment by businesses fell in the 2nd quarter. The things that are holding them back are policy uncertainties, including trade uncertainties—not interest rates.” And he worries that when the next recession comes, QE will be less effective. “We’d be using a lot of our monetary artillery where it won’t have a lot of impact.”

The QE argument also reared its head last month when the Fed had to infuse the financial system with cash when there was a shortage of liquidity for member banks in overnight transactions. The momentary spike in rates, and the entry of the Fed to calm the markets down, led Chairman Powell to announce that the Fed will be buying $60 billion of short term debt each month. To a lot of people that sounds like quantitative easing.

Nancy Davis says it’s not QE because the Fed will be buying short term, not long term, debt. “In reality, those purchases should in no way be confused with the large-scale asset purchase programs that we deployed after the financial crisis.”

Another round of QE might not have much of an effect anyway. Business surveys show that CEO’s are less interested in lower interest rates and more interested in a clear direction on trade policy because of how it affects the economy and business investment. “If companies become too pessimistic,” says Severino, “it’ll eventually spill over into hiring and wage increases. That could affect the consumer.”

Several years of tepid GDP growth proves that the formula for growing the economy is not always as simple as lowering interest rates. “But if the only tool you have is a hammer,” says Severino, quoting Maslow, “then everything looks like a nail.”

QE may qualify as a monetary hammer, but today’s moderately growing economy is not necessarily a nail. It just looks like one to some people.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏