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希腊“有序违约”,后果吉凶难测

Nin-Hai Tseng 2011年09月21日

欧洲避免债务灾难的机会正在迅速消失。随着10月份最后期限的日益临近,希腊终于在上周末同意大幅削减预算,以求获得110亿美元得救助资金。希腊债务不断攀升,如果没有这些救助资金,违约将在所难免。

    欧洲避免债务灾难的机会正在迅速消失。随着10月份最后期限的日益临近,希腊终于在上周末同意大幅削减预算,以求获得110亿美元得救助资金。希腊债务不断攀升,如果没有这些救助资金,违约将在所难免。

    救助希腊已经演变成了一场代价高昂的乱局,于是官员们提出了“有序违约”的主意。德国财长菲利普•罗斯勒就公开表达了这一观点。显而易见,提到破产纯粹只是为了安抚全球投资者。

    德国总理默克尔对BBC新闻称,欧元区国家必须团结一致,目前还没有任何方法可以让希腊以软着陆的方式违约。默克尔可能一直在试图减轻投资者的忧虑,但现在大多数人已经看清了事实真相:虽然希腊尚未正式宣布破产,但该国已经开始为其所希望的有序违约做准备。

    有序违约相当于债务重组,也就是债权人接受部分损失,同时债务人同意偿还大部分债务。7月份,欧盟领导人同意了金额超过1,500亿美元的希腊救助计划,以帮助希腊满足今后几年的融资需求。该计划的一个关键内容(尚待最后批准)是债券掉期交易。在这一交易中,希腊债务负担得以减轻,同时该国私营部门的债权人同意接受价值低于原先所持债券的新债券。

    此前,曾有其他国家成功实现有序违约的先例。那么,希腊、爱尔兰、意大利和其他陷入麻烦的欧元区国家是否也能做到呢?从普遍飙升的欧洲外围国家国债收益率来看,这似乎不太可能。

    发展中国家曾经实现了有序违约。比如,上世纪80年代晚期和90年代早期,由于拉丁美洲国家屡次贷款违约,为了减轻他们的债务负担,布雷迪债券(Brady bonds)应运而生。

    乌克兰和巴基斯坦也曾发生过有序违约。还有2003年时的乌拉圭,该国成功实施了出于自愿的债券掉期交易。在这一交易中,乌拉圭政府把几年内到期的债券换成了较晚到期的类似债券。这一举措足以令投资者相信,乌拉圭的问题只是暂时的,随着时间的推移,该国情况将会好转,因为其经济增长前景依然良好。

    The opportunity for debt-troubled Europe to avoid a disaster is shrinking. Fast. Over the weekend, Greek leaders struggled to agree to a set of radical budget cuts as the country approaches an October deadline to qualify for $11 billion in aid without which it will certainly default on its growing debt.

    As the bailout of Greece spirals into a costly mess, officials have raised the idea of an "orderly default." Germany's economy minister Philipp Roesler publicly introduced the concept and, needless to say, the mere mention of bankruptcy was anything but calming for global investors.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in, telling BBC News that the eurozone must stick together and that there aren't any procedures underway to ease Greece into a default that promises a softer landing. Merkel may have been trying to allay investors' fears, but most now see it for what it is: Greece is already preparing for what it hopes will be an orderly default, even though the country has not yet technically declared bankruptcy.

    An orderly default is equivalent to restructuring debt -- whereby creditors accept a loss while debtors agree to pay most of its debts. In July, European Union leaders agreed to a rescue plan for Greece worth more than $150 billion, which would help it cover its financing needs for the next several years. One of the key elements of the plan, which is awaiting final approval, is a bond swap deal in which Greece's debt burden is reduced, while the country's private-sector creditors agree to accept new bonds worth less than their original holdings.

    In the past, other nations have pulled off orderly defaults successfully. Could Greece, Ireland, Italy and other troubled nations in the eurozone do the same? Judging by the general surge in bond yields of the peripheral countries, it looks less likely.

    Developing nations have completed orderly defaults before. For instance, the Brady bonds in the late 1980s and early 1990s arose from an effort to reduce debt held by mostly Latin American countries that were frequently defaulting on loans.

    The Ukraine and Pakistan have also defaulted in orderly fashion. So did Uruguay in 2003. The country successfully did a voluntary bond swap in which the government offered to exchange bonds coming due in a few years for similar ones that matured later. The move was enough to convince investors that its problems were temporary and that with time, Uruguay would be better off since its growth prospects were strong.

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