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欧洲将拉响新的警报

Mohamed El-Erian 2013年02月26日

欧洲委员会预言欧盟经济将进一步萎缩,就业形势也会进一步恶化,直到明年才会有所改观。果真如此,欧盟成员国今年预计会出现更大的社会和政治脆弱性问题,街头抗议等将成为反复出现的热点。

    欧洲委员会(European Commission)上周五公布了冬季预测。根据预测,今年欧洲将面临进一步的经济萎缩以及债务状况恶化的局面,到2014年(也可能是以后)将出现经济复苏和金融稳定。但结果真会是这样吗?

    我们首先来看看五个方面的官方数据:

    • 2012年收缩0.6%后,欧元区17个成员国的实际GDP预计将在2013年再度下降0.3%。因此,尽管预测的预算前景改善,欧元区成员国债务负担将保持升势,债务占GDP比值将再度上升2个百分点。与此同时,令人担忧的失业情况将进一步恶化,整体失业率将从11.4%上升到12.2%。

    • 这些令人失望的预测不局限于陷入困境的外围经济体。欧元区核心最大的经济体预计会出现轻微扩张(德国增长0.5%)或增长停滞(法国)。而在这个背景下,核心经济体的失业率也将小幅上升。

    • 而被视为欧元区稳定关键的意大利和西班牙经济将分别萎缩1.0%和1.4%。它将导致意大利失业率上升到11.6%,而西班牙失业率更将达到惊人的26.9%。

    • 欧元区内部将继续面临显著的分化。爱沙尼亚预计将以3%的增速再次引领欧元区成员国经济增长,而希腊则将以4.4%的经济萎缩幅度再度成为经济表现最差的成员国。

    • 最后,欧洲委员会预测2014年将出现显著复苏,尽管这个预测并没有将财政政策立场可能发生的变化考虑在内。(塞浦路斯除外)具体来说,所有欧元区国家预计都将出现经济增长,推动整个欧元区经济增长率达到1.4%。这个预测令人鼓舞,但仍不足以显著改变失业形势。

    如果这些经济预测是可信的,那么2013年预计会出现更大的社会和政治脆弱性问题。具体而言,席卷欧洲的普遍不满情绪将会持续。街头抗议仍将是反复出现的热点问题,尤其是在外围经济体。而传统的政治结构也会承受更大的压力,短期内不大可能出现能持久的替代方案。

    这样的低迷形势持续得越久,欧洲央行(European Central Bank)寻求保持金融稳定(到目前为止是成功的)所面临的挑战会越大。它强化了一种观点,即欧洲央行可以为到达更好的目的地提供桥梁,但它本身并没有办法提供这个目的地。

    所有这一切都应该为各成员国政府以及布鲁塞尔的欧洲委员会总部和法兰克福的欧洲央行敲响警钟。

    The European Commission (EC) published its winter projections Friday. They point to further economic contraction and worsening debt dynamics this year giving way to recovery and financial stabilization in 2014 (and presumably beyond). But will they?

    Let us start with the official numbers, focusing on five items:

    • After contracting in real terms by 0.6% in 2012, the GDP of the 17-member eurozone is projected to decline by another 0.3% in 2013. Accordingly, and despite forecasting an improving budgetary outlook, the debt burden would maintain its upward trajectory, rising by another 2 percentage points of GDP. Meanwhile, the alarming unemployment situation would worsen, with the overall rate increasing from 11.4% to 12.2%.

    • These disappointing projections are not limited to the struggling peripheral economies. The largest economies at the core of the eurozone are expected to expand marginally (Germany at 0.5%) or stagnate (France). And with this, joblessness in the core would edge higher.

    • Italy and Spain, viewed correctly by many as central to the stability of the eurozone, would contract by 1.0% and 1.4%, respectively. This would push unemployment up to 11.6% in Italy and to a stunning 26.9% in Spain.

    • Intra-eurozone dispersion would remain significant. With a projected 3% growth rate, Estonia would again lead the pack while Greece, expected to contract by another 4.4% would come last once more.

    • Finally, the EC forecasts a notable recovery in 2014, though this does not incorporate likely changes in the fiscal policy stance. Specifically, every eurozone country (except Cyprus) is projected to grow, with the area's growth rate coming in at 1.4% -- encouraging, though not enough to dramatically change the unemployment picture.

    If these projections are to be believed, they point to greater socio-political fragility in 2013. Specifically, the wave of popular dissatisfaction sweeping across Europe would persist. Street protests would remain a recurrent theme, especially in the peripheral economies. And traditional political structures would come under greater pressure, without a durable alternative emerging any time soon.

    The longer such malaise persists, the greater the challenges facing the European Central Bank in its (so far successful) quest to maintain financial stability – reinforcing the view that the ECB can provide a bridge to a better destination but cannot, on its own, deliver this destination.

    All this should be ringing loud alarm bells in national capitals, as well as in the EC's headquarters in Brussels and the ECB's Frankfurt.

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