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银行抛售欧洲国债,监管部门难辞其咎

Charles P. Wallace 2011年11月25日

欧盟监管部门希望各大银行提高资本充足率,却没有想到银行会采用抛售资产的方式来实现这一目标。

    目前欧洲债券市场一片狼藉,投资者争先恐后地抛售。监管部门很担心抛售风潮可能蔓延到美国银行。而这一切,很大程度上都是欧洲监管部门和银行管理当局一系列政策失误造成的。

    10月26日,欧盟领导人达成共识,要求银行业将其资本充足率从5%提高到9%。这一决定乃是建立在下列假定之上:欧洲最大的70家银行将从投资者手中融资,或者放弃派发股息,从而筹到所需的资金,籍此重建各界对金融系统的信心。可是,决策者们忽视了另一种筹资途径——抛售资产。眼下看起来,欧洲大型银行恰恰选择了这种方式。

    例如,法国巴黎银行(BNP Paribas)——按资产总额衡量,这是该国最大的银行——11月3日宣布,已经抛售了价值240亿欧元(320亿美元)的主权债券。法国巴黎银行首席执行官博杜安•普罗特接受彭博社电视(Bloomberg TV)采访时说:“我们显著降低了对主权债券的风险敞口。”他还承认,加速抛售所持国债的原因正是亟需新资本。所出售的债券中包括110亿美元的意大利政府债券。该行表示,甩卖资产预计将带来超过13亿美元的亏损。

    法国兴业银行(Societe Generale)和德国商业银行(Commerzbank)也分别宣布了出售所持主权债券的计划。此外,人们普遍认为许多其他金融机构都在不声不响地抛售所持意大利政府债券。

    “这是个重大的错误,”纽约外交关系协会(Council on Foreign Relations)国际经济事务总监伯恩•斯泰尔称。“银行研究了筹集资本的代价,认为成本太过高昂,无法承受。他们的回应相当清晰:只能走甩卖资产这条道路。”

    查尔斯•达拉雷曾向欧洲领导人发出警告,称上述资本充实计划可能导致严重的问题。达拉雷是国际金融协会(Institute of International Finance)的常务董事,该组织正代表450家银行与希腊谈判。他致函在法国会面的二十国集团领袖,称“随着各大银行开始甩卖主权债券,受到最严密审视的国家的债券市值很可能会进一步下降。” 

    The selling spree currently swirling through the European debt markets, which regulators worry may spread to U.S. banks, was caused in large part by a series of policy gaffes by European regulators and banking authorities.

    On Oct. 26, the European Union's leadership agreed to force banks to raise their capital to asset ratios from 5% to 9%. The assumption was that Europe's 70 largest banks would get new money from investors or forego dividends, thereby restoring confidence to the financial system. But the decision left open another possibility: dumping assets, which is exactly what major banks appear to be doing.

    For instance, BNP Paribas, which is France's largest bank by assets, announced on Nov. 3 that it had sold off 24 billion euros ($32 billion) worth of sovereign bonds. "We very much reduced our exposure to sovereign debt," BNP Paribas CEO Baudoin Prot said in a Bloomberg television interview, acknowledging that the demand for new capital was the cause for the speeding up of the process. Among the sold items: $11 billion of Italian government bonds. The bank said it expected to lose more than $1.3 billion on the asset sales.

    Societe Generale and Germany's Commerzbank have also announced sell-offs of their sovereign debt, and it is believed many other institutions are quietly dumping their Italian bonds.

    "This was a big mistake," says Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "The banks looked at what it would cost to raise capital and they said that's prohibitive. They have been quite clear about their response: they are going to shed assets."

    Charles H. Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, which is representing 450 banks in their negotiations with Greece, warned European leaders that the recapitalization plan would cause serious problems. "The market value of the debt of the countries most under scrutiny is likely to decline further as banks unload sovereign bonds," Dallara wrote in a letter to G20 leaders meeting in France.

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