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降息、减税、直升机撒钱…哪个是最管用的纾困措施?

降息、减税、直升机撒钱…哪个是最管用的纾困措施?

Geoffrey Smith 2020年03月26日

世界各国的决策者和央行行长可能会想尽一切办法挽救经济。本文列举了几项讨论最激烈、也是争议最大的措施。

新冠疫情蔓延之下,多国政府大举干预经济似乎已成定局。尽管具体细节仍有待敲定,但应当可以限制疫情对经济产生的严重影响。

但疫情的影响究竟有多严重呢?圣路易斯联邦储备银行总裁詹姆斯·布拉德在上周日(3月22日)举例说,美国第二季度经济产出或将减少一半,进而导致失业率飙升。

世界各国的决策者和央行行长可能会想尽一切办法挽救经济,例如不限量购买债券、降息、补贴薪水、推行免税期、发放现金等,但人们仍然担心,这类举措是否真能让国家最终走出困境。

就目前而言,以下是几项讨论最激烈、也是争议最大的措施。

财政援助

仅在上周,美国总统特朗普就表示愿意为遭受重创的航空业提供救助。而在12年前强烈反对援助通用汽车公司的白宫经济顾问拉里·库德洛也承认,政府此次会考虑入股挽救相关公司。

法国总统马克龙承诺,不会有公司因为新冠疫情而破产,法国财长布鲁诺·勒梅尔则公开表示可能会将部分企业国有化;德国出台了价值1万亿欧元的一揽子计划,其中有1000亿欧元(约合7674亿元人民币)可用于购买陷入困境的企业的股权;另据英国《金融时报》报道,英国也在考虑为三大航空集团注资。

目前,航空公司每月亏损高达100亿美元,为其注资的提议难免最受舆论关注,同时也激起了最高的政治热度。一些人指责波音等航空公司重蹈华尔街在2008年危机来临前的覆辙,在经济繁荣时期提取了太多的现金,导致资金储备不足,无法应对经济低迷的走势。

双线资本公司债券领域专家杰弗里·冈拉克上周在推特上发文称:“如果政府决定为那些举债过度的公司提供财政援助,美国人民是不会答应的。这些公司通过在历史高位回购股票,使得众多高管和对冲基金投资者从中获益。”

不过,TS Lombard公司首席美国经济学家史蒂文·布利茨认为,这种分析过于简单化了。他在接受《财富》专访时表示:“债务是一种便宜得多的资本形式,所以(公司)这么做无可厚非。”批评人士需要认识到,如此高难度的资产运作背后,有来自公共和私人养老基金等各方股东的压力。他指出:“经济体并没有产生投资者偿还自身债务所需的股本回报率……所以纯粹将其归结于道德风险是不公平的。”

战略储备

然而急需政府出手纾困的远不止少数几家航空公司,而且它们面临的困难各不相同。由于石油需求大幅减少,美国政府上周已向遭到重创的石油和天然气行业伸出援手,承诺为国内战略石油储备采购7700万桶原本销路堪忧的石油。

这一举措仅拨款20多亿美元,对石油行业而言无疑是杯水车薪。截至上周日晚,美国国会仍在就一项由参议院共和党人起草、价值超过1万亿美元的一揽子刺激计划争执不下。在上周,美国国会已通过了一项价值5000亿美元的一揽子计划。

直接注资?

多数情况下,直接注资是政府采取的最后一种手段。至少在欧洲,政府首先会对企业债务提供担保,辅以监管措施,确保银行不会降低困难企业的信贷额度。本周,德国起草的一项预算法案拟提供超过5500亿欧元的政府贷款,这一数字超过了德国所有银行对企业贷款的三分之一。

如果信贷质量保持不变,担保举措对政府财政的现金影响微乎其微。而只有经济在疫情消退后迅速反弹,就像很多人期望的那样,信贷质量才有可能保持稳定。美国和中国等国推出的放松会计规则措施也是如此。

减税与薪资补贴

一旦政府延长了缴税期限(例如美国、法国和英国出台的措施),其资金投入规模就相当庞大。而假如政府决定出手帮助失去收入的员工,或者阻止企业因为业务萎缩而裁员,那么所需的成本就更高。上周五(3月20日),英国政府公布了一项计划,将帮助企业支付因疫情无法工作的员工最多80%的工资,每月不超过2500英镑(约合2.07万元人民币)。这也意味着每100万员工每月最多将耗费35亿英镑。相比之下,据多家媒体报道,德国劳动部预计全国将有215万人通过现有渠道寻求薪资补贴。美国国会目前仍在为具体补贴力度争论不休。

参议院共和党人将竭尽全力,阻止美国像欧洲各国计划的那样,直接向企业和工人发放薪资补贴。然而随着时间推移,美国的政策正在不断向欧洲靠拢。

回购债券和公司债务

本周一,美联储宣布了最新一轮无限量化宽松行动,计划购买5000亿美元美国国债和2000亿美元住房抵押贷款支持证券,这将对信贷紧缺的企业和市政当局起到巨大提振作用。这一行动也与欧洲央行推出的7500亿欧元量化宽松计划相似,后者对企业较为友好。美联储不得“挑选赢家”,但即使在新冠疫情爆发之前,欧洲央行的量化宽松计划就可以让诸如奢侈集团LVMH这样的巨头,用实质上免费的资金收购蒂芙尼公司。

为了让企业维持运转,政府本能的反应无论多么自然,最终难免会产生各种问题。瑞银环球资产管理首席经济学家保罗·多诺万上周在一档播客节目中指出,法国总统马克龙的承诺有效维持了数以千计本应离开市场的企业的生计(去年法国共有5.2万家公司破产)。如今英国和德国的纳税人可能会怀疑,10年前政府用他们的钱救助苏格兰皇家银行和德国商业银行的行为是否明智。

然而,现在没有人会理睬那些敢于指出此类风险的人。奥地利央行行长罗伯特·霍尔茨曼上周警告称,此类措施会抵消经济衰退带来的“净化效应”。他援引奥地利学派重要人物约瑟夫·熊彼特的理论,认为经济衰退的“创造性破坏力”会在长远上促进经济健康。结果欧洲央行不但发表了一份声明,反驳他在另一次采访中所说的话,还在24小时内推出了7500亿欧元的安抚计划。

德国左倾报纸《时代》周报驻欧洲央行记者马克·席里茨尖锐地指出:“奥地利学派在这场危机期间应该歇一歇了。”(财富中文网)

译者:智竑

新冠疫情蔓延之下,多国政府大举干预经济似乎已成定局。尽管具体细节仍有待敲定,但应当可以限制疫情对经济产生的严重影响。

但疫情的影响究竟有多严重呢?圣路易斯联邦储备银行总裁詹姆斯·布拉德在上周日(3月22日)举例说,美国第二季度经济产出或将减少一半,进而导致失业率飙升。

世界各国的决策者和央行行长可能会想尽一切办法挽救经济,例如不限量购买债券、降息、补贴薪水、推行免税期、发放现金等,但人们仍然担心,这类举措是否真能让国家最终走出困境。

就目前而言,以下是几项讨论最激烈、也是争议最大的措施。

财政援助

仅在上周,美国总统特朗普就表示愿意为遭受重创的航空业提供救助。而在12年前强烈反对援助通用汽车公司的白宫经济顾问拉里·库德洛也承认,政府此次会考虑入股挽救相关公司。

法国总统马克龙承诺,不会有公司因为新冠疫情而破产,法国财长布鲁诺·勒梅尔则公开表示可能会将部分企业国有化;德国出台了价值1万亿欧元的一揽子计划,其中有1000亿欧元(约合7674亿元人民币)可用于购买陷入困境的企业的股权;另据英国《金融时报》报道,英国也在考虑为三大航空集团注资。

目前,航空公司每月亏损高达100亿美元,为其注资的提议难免最受舆论关注,同时也激起了最高的政治热度。一些人指责波音等航空公司重蹈华尔街在2008年危机来临前的覆辙,在经济繁荣时期提取了太多的现金,导致资金储备不足,无法应对经济低迷的走势。

双线资本公司债券领域专家杰弗里·冈拉克上周在推特上发文称:“如果政府决定为那些举债过度的公司提供财政援助,美国人民是不会答应的。这些公司通过在历史高位回购股票,使得众多高管和对冲基金投资者从中获益。”

不过,TS Lombard公司首席美国经济学家史蒂文·布利茨认为,这种分析过于简单化了。他在接受《财富》专访时表示:“债务是一种便宜得多的资本形式,所以(公司)这么做无可厚非。”批评人士需要认识到,如此高难度的资产运作背后,有来自公共和私人养老基金等各方股东的压力。他指出:“经济体并没有产生投资者偿还自身债务所需的股本回报率……所以纯粹将其归结于道德风险是不公平的。”

战略储备

然而急需政府出手纾困的远不止少数几家航空公司,而且它们面临的困难各不相同。由于石油需求大幅减少,美国政府上周已向遭到重创的石油和天然气行业伸出援手,承诺为国内战略石油储备采购7700万桶原本销路堪忧的石油。

这一举措仅拨款20多亿美元,对石油行业而言无疑是杯水车薪。截至上周日晚,美国国会仍在就一项由参议院共和党人起草、价值超过1万亿美元的一揽子刺激计划争执不下。在上周,美国国会已通过了一项价值5000亿美元的一揽子计划。

直接注资?

多数情况下,直接注资是政府采取的最后一种手段。至少在欧洲,政府首先会对企业债务提供担保,辅以监管措施,确保银行不会降低困难企业的信贷额度。本周,德国起草的一项预算法案拟提供超过5500亿欧元的政府贷款,这一数字超过了德国所有银行对企业贷款的三分之一。

如果信贷质量保持不变,担保举措对政府财政的现金影响微乎其微。而只有经济在疫情消退后迅速反弹,就像很多人期望的那样,信贷质量才有可能保持稳定。美国和中国等国推出的放松会计规则措施也是如此。

减税与薪资补贴

一旦政府延长了缴税期限(例如美国、法国和英国出台的措施),其资金投入规模就相当庞大。而假如政府决定出手帮助失去收入的员工,或者阻止企业因为业务萎缩而裁员,那么所需的成本就更高。上周五(3月20日),英国政府公布了一项计划,将帮助企业支付因疫情无法工作的员工最多80%的工资,每月不超过2500英镑(约合2.07万元人民币)。这也意味着每100万员工每月最多将耗费35亿英镑。相比之下,据多家媒体报道,德国劳动部预计全国将有215万人通过现有渠道寻求薪资补贴。美国国会目前仍在为具体补贴力度争论不休。

参议院共和党人将竭尽全力,阻止美国像欧洲各国计划的那样,直接向企业和工人发放薪资补贴。然而随着时间推移,美国的政策正在不断向欧洲靠拢。

回购债券和公司债务

本周一,美联储宣布了最新一轮无限量化宽松行动,计划购买5000亿美元美国国债和2000亿美元住房抵押贷款支持证券,这将对信贷紧缺的企业和市政当局起到巨大提振作用。这一行动也与欧洲央行推出的7500亿欧元量化宽松计划相似,后者对企业较为友好。美联储不得“挑选赢家”,但即使在新冠疫情爆发之前,欧洲央行的量化宽松计划就可以让诸如奢侈集团LVMH这样的巨头,用实质上免费的资金收购蒂芙尼公司。

为了让企业维持运转,政府本能的反应无论多么自然,最终难免会产生各种问题。瑞银环球资产管理首席经济学家保罗·多诺万上周在一档播客节目中指出,法国总统马克龙的承诺有效维持了数以千计本应离开市场的企业的生计(去年法国共有5.2万家公司破产)。如今英国和德国的纳税人可能会怀疑,10年前政府用他们的钱救助苏格兰皇家银行和德国商业银行的行为是否明智。

然而,现在没有人会理睬那些敢于指出此类风险的人。奥地利央行行长罗伯特·霍尔茨曼上周警告称,此类措施会抵消经济衰退带来的“净化效应”。他援引奥地利学派重要人物约瑟夫·熊彼特的理论,认为经济衰退的“创造性破坏力”会在长远上促进经济健康。结果欧洲央行不但发表了一份声明,反驳他在另一次采访中所说的话,还在24小时内推出了7500亿欧元的安抚计划。

德国左倾报纸《时代》周报驻欧洲央行记者马克·席里茨尖锐地指出:“奥地利学派在这场危机期间应该歇一歇了。”(财富中文网)

译者:智竑

The details are still to be hammered out, but it seems already a nailed-on certainty that one of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will be a big expansion of the state into the economy, both in the U.S. and farther afield.

That ought to limit the short-term impact of the virus, which will be severe. How severe, exactly? St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, for one, said on Sunday that U.S. economic output could halve in the second quarter and send unemployment soaring.

But should policymakers and central bankers the world over throw the kitchen sink at the problem—think unlimited bond-buying, rate cuts, government financed wage supports, tax holidays, and cash handouts—such moves would raise uncomfortable questions about how the rich world digs itself out of the current hole in the longer term.

Until then, here are the most hotly discussed (and debated) options on the table.

Bailouts

In the last week alone, President Trump has flagged aid to the stricken airline industry, while White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who 12 years ago was fulminating against the bailout of General Motors, admitted that government equity injections are on the table this time around too.

In France, where President Emmanuel Macron has promised that no company will go bankrupt because of the virus, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has talked openly of nationalizing companies, while Germany has earmarked 100 billion euros of a 1-trillion-euro ($1.07 trillion) bundle of measures for equity investments in struggling firms. The U.K. is also considering injecting equity into three big airline groups, according to the Financial Times.

Equity injections for the airlines, who are currently bleeding $10 billion a month, inevitably gain most attention and generate the most political heat. Some accuse Boeing and the airlines as repeating Wall Street’s mistakes ahead of the 2008 crisis, taking too much cash out of a cyclical industry during the boom, leaving it with too few reserves to handle a downturn.

“I don’t think government bailouts of overleveraged companies that got overleveraged via share buybacks at all-time highs, enriching executives and hedge fund investors, will sit well with the American people,” bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital said via Twitter last week.

However, Steven Blitz, chief U.S. economist with TS Lombard, thinks such an analysis is oversimplistic.

“Debt is a much cheaper form of capital, so it makes sense [for companies] to do that,” Blitz told Fortune. Moreover, he said, critics need to accept that the pressure for such balance sheet acrobatics comes from all kinds of shareholders, including both public and private pension funds. “The economy is not generating the return on equity that investors need to meet their own liabilities…so to make it purely a moral hazard story is unfair.”

Strategic reserves

But the coming flood of bailouts goes well beyond a handful of airlines, and it takes many shapes. Already, last week the government put a supportive hand under an oil and gas industry hit hard by the collapse in demand for fuel, promising to buy 77 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that otherwise could hardly be given away.

At a cost of just over $2 billion, that measure is small beer. On Sunday evening in Washington, D.C., Congress was still arguing over a stimulus package drafted by Senate Republicans with a sticker price of well over $1 trillion, which comes on top of a $500 billion package passed into law last week.

Direct equity injections?

In most cases, the equity injections are a last line of defense. In Europe at least, the first line is government guarantees of corporate debt, coupled with regulatory measures to ensure that banks don’t cut off lines of credit to stressed companies. A new German budget draft this week will include federal guarantees for over 550 billion euros—over one-third of all German banks’ lending to business.

Guarantees have a minimal cash impact on government finances if the credit quality holds, something that should be possible if—as many hope—the economy rebounds quickly when the virus recedes. The same is true of relaxing accounting rules such as the U.S. and China have done.

Tax relief and wage support

Things get more expensive when, for example, government waives tax deadlines, as the U.S., France, and the U.K. have all done. And they get more expensive still when government intervenes to support lost income for workers or to stop companies from laying staff off as their business dries up. The U.K. government said on Friday it will cover up to 80% of furloughed workers’ pay up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($2,900 a month)—a measure that could cost up to 3.5 billion pounds a month for every 1 million workers. For context, Germany’s Labor Ministry expects 2.15 million people to tap an existing facility for wage subsidies, according to various reports. Capitol Hill is still fighting over how far the U.S. should go in that direction.

Senate Republicans will do their best to keep an American plan free of direct wage supports, as the Europeans are plotting. And yet the U.S. and European approaches are beginning to look more similar by the day.

Buying bonds and corporate debt

The Federal Reserve’s latest unlimited quantitative easing program, unveiledon Monday, will see it buy $500 billion of Treasuries and $200 billion of agency commercial mortgage-backed securities, a huge boost for credit-strapped companies and municipalities. It follows a similar blueprint laid down by the European Central Bank’s 750 billion euro QE program, which is very business friendly. The Fed is not allowed to “pick winners,” whereas even before the coronavirus, the ECB’s QE program was helping the likes of luxury group LVMH to take over Tiffany & Co. with effectively free money.

The reflex to keep companies afloat—however natural—inevitably stores up trouble for a later day. Paul Donovan, chief economist with UBS Global Wealth Management, noted in a podcast last week that President Macron’s promise effectively keeps alive thousands of businesses that ought to be leaving the market (there were 52,000 insolvencies in France last year). British and German taxpayers looking at Royal Bank of Scotland and Commerzbank today may well wonder whether their money was spent wisely bailing the two banks out a decade ago.

However, those who dare to mention such risks at present don’t have a chance of success. Austrian central bank governor Robert Holzmann warned last week that such measures nullify the “purifying effects” of a downturn, citing the doctrine of the Austrian school of economics’ leading light Joseph Schumpeter, which holds that the “creative destruction” of recessions improves an economy’s long-term health. The ECB not only issued a statement contradicting what he said elsewhere in the interview, it also unfolded its 750 billion euro comfort blanket within 24 hours.

As Mark Schieritz, ECB correspondent for the left-leaning German newspaper Die Zeit, noted tartly, “The Austrian school should remain closed for the duration of this crisis.”

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