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搭政策顺风车:为什么说德国是欧元区最大的受益者

Pavlos Eleftheriadis 2014年10月24日

牛津大学曼斯菲尔德学院法律副教授兼研究员帕尔沃斯•埃莱夫塞里亚迪斯认为,以弱小邻邦利益受损为代价,德国成了欧元区政策最大的长期受益者。

    对欧元区经济陷入衰退的担忧正在升温,但显然,德国的状况要远远好于其他邻国。如今的德国拥有低失业率、超低通胀、高贸易顺差和平衡的预算。相比之下,欧元区大部分成员国处境艰难,一些国家正经历灾难性的经济衰退和高失业率。德国政府表示,其自身的成功与邻邦的失败没有任何关联,邻邦艰难的处境应归咎于决策欠佳。但是,即便政策失灵确实存在,德国的这一分析仍是错的。

    德国多年来奉行限薪政策,很多经济学家将此描述为竞争性贬值或“以邻为壑”政策。德国获得的竞争力可以立即转化为贸易顺差,因为商品、服务、人员和资本的自由政策允许德国产品在整个欧盟地区自由迅速地流通。这些是欧盟法的基本自由条款,受欧洲法院(European Court of Justice)有力保护。若没有这些,德国政策一直以来不会如此成功。

    德国还受益于固定汇率:欧元的使用令德国与其他欧洲主要市场之间的货币保持固定汇率。这意味着出口繁荣不会被其自身货币升值所消减。如果德国一直在欧元区之外,货币升值会损害到德国的收益。但在欧元区内就不会有这个问题。

    德国从欧元区受益良多,而那些不那么成功的邻邦只能忙于招架。欧元区缺乏适用于其他货币联盟的财政自动稳定因素,即不同地区间的财政转移支付,比如失业和住房福利、共担型医疗保健成本等,以及银行风险和存款保险资金池。欧元区也缺乏美国享有的大规模州际劳动力迁移,这主要是由于语言和监管障碍的限制。欧元区的这些制度特点创造出了一个高度不公平的经济联盟,会令失败的后果被畸形放大。

    德国或许会这样回应:“活该,其他成员国应该预见到这样的状况。”欧元区所有成员都面临同样的竞争环境。所有成员都批准了相关的协议,表明它们认可这样的政策设计。所有成员都曾有机会进行调整的。然而,这种论调也是错的。

    As worries rise that the eurozone is slipping into recession, it’s clear Germany is doing way better than its neighbors. Today, the country has low unemployment, very low inflation, a large trade surplus and a balanced budget. By contrast, most members of the Eurozone are stagnating, while some are going through a catastrophic recession and suffering from debilitating unemployment. The German government says that its own success and its neighbors’ failures are unrelated; that poor performance is due to poor decisions. Yet, even though the policy failures are real enough, this analysis is false.

    Germany has for many years pursued a policy of wage suppression, which many economists have described as a competitive devaluation or ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policy. Germany’s gains in competitiveness were immediately translated to gains in trade, since the freedom of goods, services, persons and capital allowed German products to circulate freely and quickly throughout the European Union. These are the fundamental freedoms of EU law and are vigorously protected by the European Court of Justice. German policy would not have been successful without them

    Germany has also benefited from the fixed exchange rate that the Euro effectively secures between itself and its major European markets. This means that its export boom was not offset by a rise in its own currency. If Germany had been outside the Euro, currency appreciation would have hurt Germany’s gains. Not so in the Eurozone.

    While Germany has benefited so much from the Eurozone, its less successful partners are left to fend for themselves. The Eurozone lacks the automatic stabilizers that other currency unions apply among the various regions — namely, fiscal transfers such as unemployment and housing benefits, shared health care costs, or the pooling of bank risks and deposit insurance. The Eurozone also lacks the large movement of workers across state borders enjoyed by the United States, mostly due to language and regulatory barriers. These institutional features of the Eurozone have created a highly unfair economic union, which magnifies disproportionately the consequences of failure.

    Germany might respond, ‘Tough, the others ought to have seen it coming.” All members of the Eurozone are subject to the same competitive environment. All consented to its design by ratifying the relevant treaties. All had a chance to adjust. Yet this argument is false too.

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