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德国维持繁荣必须保住欧元

Cyrus Sanati 2011年11月17日

弱势货币是德国通往经济繁荣不可或缺的一张船票。这个国家不仅需要欧元,也需要欧元区里经济最弱的国家继续留在这个货币联盟内。

    将弱国赶出欧元区并不能解决欧洲大陆的经济问题。这样鲁莽的举动只会给欧元区核心成员国(尤其是出口型经济的德国)带来更多的伤害,而不是好处。同心协力,共同分担痛苦似乎是最好的选择,但现在还不清楚欧元区核心成员国到底愿意承担多少痛苦。

    欧债危机旷日持久,但欧元区的完整性一直被核心成员国视为神圣不可侵犯。希腊这样挥霍无度的成员国应该被赶出这个由17个成员国组成的共同货币联盟,这样的想法很快遭到了德国、法国等核心成员国主流政客们的否决。

    但如今在这个问题上已开始显露分歧。两周前,德法领导人们开始暗示可以预见希腊获准退出欧元区的情形。上周,法国总统萨科齐更进一步,甚至声称可以预见一个“双速”欧洲的出现。届时欧盟强国的经济增速将更加同步,而弱国将被远远地落在后头。

    交易员们将此解读为可能出现一个缩水的欧元区,即欧元区的核心成员国联合起来组建一个强有力的财政货币联盟,而边缘国家将退出欧元,深陷债务泥沼。表面上,这似乎是针对欧洲经济危机愈演愈烈的最佳解决方案。核心成员国一直以来牢牢地看着自家的钱袋子,它们不必为了拯救只有十年历史的欧元而出手救助边缘国家。

    当然,事情没有那么简单。过去十年,边缘国家欠下的债务多是向总部位于核心国家的银行借的。关于硬违约可能给欧元区脆弱的银行体系带来怎样的冲击,之前已有太多讨论。就算主权债务没有压垮它们,边缘国家民众欠下的几万亿欧元贷款也会达到同样的效果。

    对于普通的德国民众,这听起来可能非常不公。为什么他们必须要担起这些重任,既要拯救像希腊这样的整个国家,还要拯救总部位于巴黎、阿姆斯特丹等地有钱的大银行?鉴于这样的现实,有些人可能会问,为什么德国没有出现一场更大规模的、类似于“占领华尔街”(Occupy Wall Street)那样的运动,愤怒的德国失业青年们也没有去法兰克福的公园里露营抗议。

    Booting out the weak members of the eurozone won't solve the continent's economic problems. Such a bold move would cause more harm than good for core members of the euro, most notably, export-driven Germany. A coordinated effort to share the pain seems to be the best option out there, but it's unclear how much pain the core eurozone countries are willing to take.

    The integrity of the eurozone has been considered sacrosanct by its core members throughout the long running European sovereign debt crisis. The idea that a profligate member of the zone, like Greece, would need to be kicked out of the 17- member common currency was quickly dismissed by mainstream politicians of core member states, like Germany and France.

    But cracks in that resolve have started to form. Two weeks ago, the leaders of Germany and France hinted that they could envision a scenario in which Greece would be allowed to leave the common currency. French President Nicholas Sarkozy took the issue a bit further last week when he said he could envision a "two-speed" Europe, where strong members of the European Union would grow closer while weak members would be left to putter in the background.

    Traders have interpreted this to mean that a smaller eurozone may be on the horizon, one where the core members of the euro unite to form a strong fiscal and monetary union, while the peripheral nations exit the common currency and drown in debt. On the surface this seems like the best solution to a growing European economic crisis that shows no signs of abating. The core members have been good stewards of their money and shouldn't have to bail out the periphery just to save a 10-year-old common currency.

    Of course, things aren't that simple. Most of the debt that the periphery has racked up over the past decade has been financed by banks that are headquartered in the core countries. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding what a hard default could do to the region's fragile banking system. If the sovereign debt didn't crush them, then the trillions of euros in private loans that were extended to people living in the periphery would do the trick.

    To the average German citizen this probably seems very unfair. Why should they have to shoulder the heavy burdens of not only bailing out whole countries, like Greece, but also big rich banks headquartered in places like Paris and Amsterdam? Given this stark reality, some may question why there isn't a larger "Occupy Wall Street"-like movement made up of angry and unemployed young Germans camping out in Frankfurt parks.

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