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商业 - 金融

希腊或许需要来一次银行挤兑

Nin-Hai Tseng 2012年05月23日

希腊需要一剂猛药?或许将这个经济窘困之国的银行业推到悬崖边上,财政紧缩措施才能最终得以实施。

    银行挤兑通常都会带来金融灾难。任何一个负责任的政府都会尽量避免挤兑的出现,但希腊的状况可能比较特殊。如果每个人都从希腊银行往外取钱,或许反而能够避免这个负债累累的国家退出欧元区。

    这个不同寻常的建议来自彼得森国际经济研究所(Peterson Institute for International Economics)的雅各布•科克加德。科克加德在上周发布的一份研究报告中声称,如果银行挤兑加速到来,或许能给选民们一记当头棒喝,让他们醒悟过来。

    本月的希腊选举没有产生明显的获胜者,因此,下个月希腊将进行二次大选。不过,在本月的选举中,选民还是表现出了相对更支持由阿里西斯•齐普拉斯领导的、反对紧缩措施的左翼联盟(Syriza)——很多人认为这是一个令人不安的现象。如果新一届的希腊政府不认可紧缩承诺,国际货币基金组织(IMF)和欧盟(European Union)可能会切断救助贷款的供给——两年来正是这些资金在很大程度上帮助希腊得以避免了破产的厄运。

    希腊问题搅动了全球市场,但却丝毫没能影响希腊选民,他们用街头骚乱来反对紧缩措施。他们拒绝承认,如果不同意IMF要求的大幅缩减开支,希腊将难以为继。银行挤兑能起到这种效果吗?不可否认,科克加德的这个建议应谨慎对待——他本人也同样这么认为。

    但他高呼银行挤兑应尽快到来,值得关注,也带来一个更普遍的问题:形势需要恶化到什么程度才能让希腊人认识到需要大大缩减开支?

    诚然,正如《大西洋月刊》(The Atlantic)最近所指,过去3年,希腊也出现过银行挤兑。希腊银行已损失了25%至30%的存款,很多人将此称为“银行存款缓慢流失”(bank jog)而不是银行挤兑。希腊财政状况恶化已导致政治危机,但它是否会加剧银行存款流失尚不得而知。

    如果流失加速,科克加德认为,它或许可以成为拯救欧元的秘密武器,因为这会从根本上让人丧失对反紧缩政党的信任。欧洲央行很可能选择补上这些损失的存款。希腊银行体系倒塌,进而波及整个欧洲,甚至世界其他地区,这绝对不符合欧洲央行的利益。因此,欧洲央行很可能感到有压力来拯救希腊,但希腊必须遵循IMF的紧缩规划,废弃选举,组建由技术官员构成的政府。

    因此,银行挤兑或许就是希腊需要的一剂苦口良药。当然,知易行难。正如《Slate》杂志的马修•伊格雷西指出的那样,希腊出逃资本没有上升的一个原因或许是直接存款的增加使得传统的银行挤兑“逻辑上更难实现”。

    事实上,依然存在很多不断变化的因素。未来几个月,究竟什么因素能让希腊最终直面堆积如山一般的债务,我们拭目以待。

    译者:早稻米

    Bank runs typically spell financial disaster. Any responsible government would try to avoid one, but Greece could turn out to be a special case. If everyone pulled their money out from Greek banks, that might actually save the debt-ridden country from leaving the Euro.

    The advice, albeit unusual, comes from Peterson Institute for International Economics' Jacob Funk Kirkegaard. In a research note released last week, Kirkegaard spells out how a speedier bank run might finally give voters the wake-up call they need.

    Next month, Greece will have a national election after the May election failed to produce a clear winner. However, voters did show relatively strong support for anti-austerity party Syriza led by Alexis Tsipras – what many view as a troubling development. If the new government reneges on Greece's austerity pledges, the IMF and the European Union could cut off the flow of bailout loans – which, for the past two years, have largely kept Greece afloat from bankruptcy.

    Greece's problems have roiled global markets, but it has done little to sway voters who have met austerity measures with street riots. They refuse to see that Greece can't go on without agreeing to deep spending cuts supported by the International Monetary Fund. Might a bank run do the trick? Admittedly, Kirkegaard's suggestion should come with a big warning label – something he even acknowledges.

    But his urging for a bank run is worth attention, to the extent that it leads to a broader question: How bad do things have to get before Greeks realize it needs to spend way less?

    To be sure, there's been a bank run in Greece for the past three years, as The Atlantic recently pointed out. Greek banks have lost between 25% and 30% of their deposits in what many have called a "bank jog" rather than a bank run. Greece's worsening finances have led to a political crisis, and it remains to be seen if that will accelerate withdrawals from banks.

    If the pace sped up, Kirkegaard thinks that might be the secret sauce to save the euro, as it would essentially discredit anti-austerity parties. That's because the ECB would probably be tapped to make up for the lost deposits. It wouldn't be in the interest for the central bank to see a collapse of Greece's banking system and the ripple effects across Europe and possibly the rest of the world. So the ECB would probably feel pressured to rescue Greece but not without getting the country to sign up for the IMF program or perhaps scrap the elections and form a unity of technocratic government.

    So maybe a bank run is the bitter medicine Greece needs. Of course, that may be easier said than done. As Slate's Matthew Yglesias has pointed out, perhaps one reason why it appears more capital isn't fleeing Greece is because the rise of direct deposits has made old-fashion bank runs "a bit more logistically difficult."

    Indeed, there are plenty of moving variables here. And in the coming months, it will be interesting to see what might finally make Greece face its debilitating debt.

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