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欧洲应该欣然接受破产

Daryl G. Jones 2011年10月18日

欧洲从未认真考虑过破产这个解决方案。目前考虑的主要解决方案仍是继续支持和推动一个破碎的银行体系和失灵的货币联盟。

    失败并非坏事。没错,失败让人不好受,但失败和彻底调整适应能让人迎来更大的成功。因撰写哈利•波特(Harry Potter)系列而成为亿万富翁的作家乔安妮•凯瑟琳•罗琳2008年在哈佛大学(Harvard)的毕业演讲中智慧地总结了失败的益处,她说:

    “我为什么要谈失败的益处?很简单,因为失败意味着剔除那些并不重要的东西。我不再欺骗自己,我就是我,我开始集中所有精力,来完成唯一对我具有重要意义的事情。”

    联系到欧洲主权债务,破产作为解决方案从未得到过认真考虑。几乎所有欧盟官员和发言人提出的主要解决方案都是继续支持和推进一个破碎的银行体系和失灵的货币联盟。其实,还存在其他可能性,比如如果不能清理负债,不妨让希腊宣告破产,让其他主权国家宣告破产,让深陷其中的银行破产。

    将意大利、葡萄牙和爱尔兰现如今的信贷违约掉期(CDS)与2011年7月1日进行对比,便能在一定程度上说明选择破产策略的必要性。我们可以看到意大利掉期增长140%,葡萄牙增长38.2%,爱尔兰减少3.2%。公平地说,爱尔兰还没有破产,但它最大的三家银行Allied Irish、Irish Life & Permanent和Bank of Ireland已经历过“信贷事件”,而且爱尔兰的信贷质量因此有所改善。

    股市操作者面临的另一个更紧迫的问题是:当前的股市反弹会失败吗?近期股市的关键推动因素可能是公司业绩。为保持积极的股价态势,上市公司需要实现盈利预期,维持未来业绩指导值。彭博社(Bloomberg)的统计显示,市场普遍预计2012年标普500指数(S&P 500)每股收益为106.15美元,同比增长16%。

    当然,实现这样的盈利增长是有可能的,但它高度依赖经济增长。目前,我们的预测是2012年美国经济增速将低于1.0%。过去30年美国GDP增速有5年为1%或更低。这5年中标普500指数每股收益平均同比下降18.3%。因此,除非美国经济活动加速,要实现16%的收益同比增幅可能性很小。假定美国投资公司Hedgeye对经济增长的观点正确,当前市场普遍预期的2012年盈利增幅存在很大下调空间。历史告诉我们,正如前述,2012年盈利预期可能至少偏高了1/3。

    Failure is not a bad thing. Sure, losing or failing doesn't give you the warm fuzzies inside, but failing and adapting ultimately sets you up for greater success. In a 2008 commencement address to Harvard, author J.K. Rowling, who made a billion dollars for her Harry Potter series, adroitly summed up the benefits of failing when she said:

    "So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me."

    As it relates to Europe sovereign debt, the one solution that has not been seriously considered is failure. Instead, the key solution from almost every Eurocrat and talking head, is to continue to support and promote a broken banking system and failed monetary union. There are other possibilities: let Greece fail, let other sovereigns fail if they can't get their house in order, and let heavily exposed banks fail.

    The validation of the failure strategy at least partially comes in comparing the credit default swaps of Italy, Portugal and Ireland from July 1, 2011 to today. Respectively, Italian swaps are up 140%, Portuguese up 38.2%, and Irish down 3.2%. Now to be fair, Ireland hasn't failed, but three of its largest banks, Allied Irish, Irish Life & Permanent, and Bank of Ireland have experienced "credit events" and, as a result, Ireland's credit worthiness has improved, on the margin.

    A more pressing question facing stock market operators is: will this current stock market rally fail? In the near term, the key driver of the stock market will likely be corporate earnings reports. To sustain positive price momentum, companies will need to both hit their estimates and also maintain future guidance. Currently, according to Bloomberg consensus estimates, 2012 consensus expectations for EPS for the S&P 500 is $106.15, which implies 16% year-over-year growth in earnings.

    Certainly, that type of earnings growth is possible, but it is highly contingent on underlying economic growth. Currently, our view is the economic growth will be in the sub-1.0% range in 2012. In the last 30 years, there have been five years of 1%, or less, GDP growth in the U.S. On average, in those years, S&P 500 earnings declined 18.3% y-o-y. Thus, unless economic activity accelerates in the U.S., it is highly unlikely that 16% y-o-y growth in earnings is met. Assuming the Hedgeye view of economic growth is correct, there is substantial downside to current 2012 consensus earnings estimates. History would suggest, as outlined above, that 2012 earnings could be too high by at least one-third.

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