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商业 - 金融

欧洲:雷曼式破产幽灵徘徊不去

Cyrus Sanati 2011年09月20日

欧洲主权债务引发的危机愈演愈烈,而且正在缓慢地发生质变,大有引发灾难性银行系统危机的可能。正在我们眼前上演的似乎是一部重新上映的恐怖片——但结局更加可怕。

    

    过去18个月来,以主权债务危机面目登场的这场经济瘟疫肆无忌惮地蔓延,重挫欧洲经济,现在病毒又出现了危险的新突变,银行业的全面危机就在眼前。市场实际上已经认定希腊将会出现违约,欧元区基础薄弱的银行也随之陷入困境,因为他们的投资者、交易伙伴和客户纷纷撤回了短期融资。全球五大央行上周四联手向欧洲银行提供美元流动性,但这只是权宜之计。对欧元区规模最大的几家金融机构来说,雷曼兄弟式的突然崩溃或诺森罗克(Northern Rock)式的挤兑风潮仍然可能重演。

    在本轮市场异动中首先遭到重创的是法国银行,不过,意大利、西班牙、德国和英国银行同样面临着严重的资金问题。欧元区成员国必须迅速采取行动,提振投资者对处境维艰的欧洲银行业的信心。欧洲金融稳定基金(the European Financial Stability Facility)最近的拓展是个好的开始,但要想恢复投资者的信心,让他们放心的把资金存放于欧洲银行,该基金目前的规模还不够。

    本周,巴黎和纽约股市的走势首先给我们敲响了警钟,法国兴业银行(Société Générale)、法国农业信贷银行(Credit Agricole)和法国巴黎银行(BNP Paribas)——即法国三大银行的股价出现了剧烈波动,表面上是因为他们持有大量“有毒”希腊国债。周三,穆迪(Moody's)将法兴银行和农业信贷银行的债信评级各下调了一档,法国巴黎银行虽得以维持评级,但仍被列入负面观察名单。

    可是,这些银行股价的暴跌看起来不能仅用希腊国债风险敞口和评级遭下调来解释。以法兴银行为例,该行对希腊国债的风险敞口总共也只有约50亿欧元,其中还包括其希腊子公司所持有的国债。这个数字大概只相当于法兴银行总资产的1%,与“魔鬼交易员”热罗姆•凯维埃尔2009年使该行亏掉的钱差不多。

    截至周四,法兴银行过去三个月来市值累计已下跌56%,相当于该行所持希腊国债总价值的3.5倍,如果将此种暴跌解释为市场对其投资希腊国债的惩罚,那显然有些过头了。法兴银行的希腊子公司还参与了希腊私人信贷市场,这也带来了风险,该行股价下跌过度可能与这一因素不无干系。但总的来说,市场看起来是在发出信号,表明它对该行的担忧远远不局限于希腊国债风险,最值得担忧的是:与其他法国同行一样,法兴银行资本不足情况极为严重,因此可能随时崩盘。

雷曼事件的回响

    The European economic contagion that began 18 months ago as a sovereign debt crisis is dangerously mutating into a full-blown banking crisis. With Greece in de-facto market default, weak banks within the eurozone have started to fall ill as their investors, trading partners and clients pull short-term funding. The move by central banks on Thursday to provide extended U.S. dollar loans to European banks is only a stopgap measure. A Lehman Brothers-like collapse or a Northern Rock-like bank run still cannot be ruled out at this point for several of the eurozone's largest financial institutions.

    The market has hammered French banks into the ground first, but banks in Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom face serious funding issues as well. Swift action is needed on the part of eurozone members to shore up confidence in its crippled banking sector. The expansion of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is a good start, but more money will be needed to ensure investors that it's all clear to park their cash with European banks again.

    The alarm bells were sounded on trading floors in Paris and New York this week. Société Générale, Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas – the three major French banking institutions - have seen their share prices move violently in recent days, ostensibly because of their exposure to toxic Greek sovereign debt. On Wednesday Moody's downgraded the credit rating of Société Générale and Credit Agricole one notch and kept BNP Paribas on review for a downgrade.

    But the violent drops in their share prices seem to go beyond the banks' exposure to Greece and the credit downgrade. Take Société Générale for example. The bank's total exposure to Greek sovereign debt, including the amount held by its Greek subsidiary, is around 5 billion euros. That's equivalent to around 1% of the bank's balance sheet and around the same amount of money the bank lost at the hands of rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel in 2009.

    As punishment for its Greek sovereign investments, the market wiped out 56% off Société Générale's market value in the last three months up to Thursday. That's around 3.5 times the value of its exposure to Greek sovereign debt, which is clearly overkill. Some of the extra losses baked in to the market value haircut derive from the bank's exposure to the private Greek credit market through the bank's local subsidiary. But the market seems to be sending a signal that it is worried about much more than the bank's measly Greek exposure. The big fear is that Société Générale, along with its French banking brethren, is extremely undercapitalized and could therefore collapse at any moment.

Echoes of Lehman

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