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欧洲如何走出经济泥潭?

Cyrus Sanati 2014年08月19日

市场预计欧洲央行将很快增加货币刺激,解决核心经济体增长乏力的问题。但这丝毫无益于于欧洲的长期经济前景。实施坚定的结构改革以吸引稳定的私人投资才是关键。

    欧洲经济要想摆脱低迷,没有任何捷径可走。

    虽然新一轮货币刺激可能帮助减缓一些症状,带来短期的好转,却无法真正达到“治愈”的效果。欧洲要想彻底走出经济泥潭,必须实施坚定的结构改革以吸引稳定的私人投资。要完成这个任务并不容易,但也不是不可能的。

    上周四公布的欧洲经济状况数据描绘出一幅惨淡的图景。今年第二季度,欧元区总体经济增长停滞,结束了许多人认为才刚开始萌芽的经济复苏。经济表现不佳的国家包括欧洲最大、最灵活的市场——德国。由于消费者信心疲弱,工业生产萎靡,德国经济比上一季度萎缩了0.2%。

    在其他欧洲国家,虽然一些边缘国家的表现令人鼓舞,西班牙的GDP有相对健康的上涨,但总体表现仍令人沮丧。此外,鉴于过去几年西班牙与其他边缘国经济下滑的幅度之大,要想恢复原有的经济基础,现在的表现还远远不够。

    随着令人沮丧的经济数据的公布,投资者纷纷逃向安全的市场,欧洲的主权债券收益率随之下跌。德国10年期国债的收益率首次低于1%。投资者们认为,疲弱的GDP数据将促使欧洲央行开始新一轮货币刺激,而这一次将通过资产购买计划实施。

    但欧洲央行并未立即做出反应,这并不意外,因为目前整个欧洲都处在假期。但投资者相信,欧洲央行很快将采取措施,通过增加刺激,解决欧洲核心经济体增长乏力的问题。

    这或许是正确的,但对于欧洲的长期经济前景没有任何助益。这种“大剂量”的货币刺激可能会推高利率,但却无法促进经济增长,尤其是目前欧洲大陆迫切需要的长期增长。

    以日本为例。日本经济缓慢而痛苦地衰退了25年。因为日本认为,它可以通过货币政策解决经济问题,期望坏消息很快会消失。当债券收益率低于1%时,日本也开始了一轮接一轮的货币刺激和量化宽松,希望能促进经济增长。十年后,日本经济依旧未见好转。上周二公布的第二季度经济数据显示,日本当季GDP较上一年缩水了6.8%。虽然很大程度上要归因于日本国内消费税上调,但这样的下降幅度依旧令人意外。

    There is simply no easy fix for Europe’s depressed economy.

    While another healthy dose of monetary stimulus might help bring down the fever and provide some short-term relief, it won’t cure the patient. For that, Europe needs to take on some tough structural reform aimed at attracting a steady stream of private investment. While that’s no easy task, it’s hardly impossible.

    Data released Thursday on the health of Europe’s economy painted a bleak picture. Overall economic growth in the second quarter of the year was flat, effectively ending an economic recovery on the continent some had believed was just in its infancy. Among the economic losers was Germany, Europe’s largest and most resilient market. Its economy contracted 0.2% from the previous quarter on weak consumer sentiment and tepid industrial production.

    As for the rest of the continent, while there was some encouraging news from Europe’s periphery, with Spain posting a relatively healthy uptick in GDP, things, for the most part, were pretty depressing. Given how far the economies of Spain and the rest of the periphery have fallen over the last few years, they’ll need to see much stronger growth if they ever hope to get back on sound economic footing.

    As the sorry economic news hit the tape, sovereign bond yields across the continent fell as investors fled to safety. That increase in demand pushed yields on the German 10-year bond below 1% for the first time ever. Investors were essentially betting that the weak GDP numbers would prod the European Central Bank to set off another round of monetary stimulus, this time through an asset buying program.

    The ECB didn’t react immediately, which isn’t a surprise given that the entire continent is on vacation at the moment. Nevertheless, investors are confident that the central bank will soon move to address the weakness at the heart of Europe’s economy through increased stimulus of some kind.

    That may be true, but it doesn’t shed any light on the fate of Europe’s long-term economic prospects. Such heavy doses of monetary stimulus may move rates, but it won’t foster economic growth on its own, especially the sort of long-term growth needed on the continent.

    Just look at Japan. Its economy has been in a slow and painful decline for the past 25 years. That’s because Japan thought it could solve its economic issues by throwing money at the problem and hoping the bad news would just go away. When bond yields fell below 1%, it too embarked on round after round of monetary stimulus and quantitative easing in the hopes of reigniting growth. A decade later, Japan is no better. It reported a 6.8% (annualized) drop in its GDP on Tuesday for the second quarter. While much of that decrease has been attributed to an increase in the state consumption tax, it remains a sizable move to the downside.

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