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Has finance been fixed?

金融得到修繕了嗎?

The world has not learned the lessons ofthe financial crisis

世界并未從金融危機中吸取教訓

Banks are safer, but too much of what hasgone wrong since 2008 could happen again

銀行更加安全,但2008年以來出現的許多問題可能再次發生



WHEN historians gaze back at the early 21st century, they will identify two seismic shocks. The first was the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, the second the global financial crisis, which boiled over ten years ago this month with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. September 11th led to wars, Lehman’s bankruptcy to an economic and political reckoning. Just as the fighting continues, so the reckoning is far from over.

當歷史學家回顧二十一世紀初時,他們將發現兩次地震式沖擊。第一次是2001年9月11日發生的恐怖襲擊,第二次是十年前的這個時候爆發的全球金融危機,雷曼兄弟公司隨之倒閉。911事件導致戰爭,雷曼兄弟破產帶來經濟和政治報應。斗爭仍在繼續,報應遠未結束。

Lehman failed after losing money on toxic loans and securities linked to America’s property market. Its bankruptcy unleashed chaos. Trade fell in every country on which the World Trade Organisation reports. Credit supplied to the real economy fell, by perhaps $2trn in America alone. To limit their indebtedness, governments resorted to austerity. Having exhausted the scope to cut interest rates, central bankers turned to quantitative easing (creating money to buy bonds).

雷曼兄弟在與美國房地產相關的壞賬和證券方面遭受損失后破產,由此引發亂局。世貿組織在報告中提到的所有國家都出現貿易下滑,供應給實體經濟的信貸銳減,僅美國就可能減少了2萬億美元。各國政府為了限制債務而采取緊縮政策,各國央行已沒有削減利率的余地,于是付諸于量化寬松(創造貨幣來購買債券)。

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A better test is whether the likelihood and size of crises can be reduced. On that, the news is both good and bad.

更好的檢驗標準是能否減小危機爆發的可能性和規模,這方面喜憂參半。

First, the good. Banks must now fund themselves with more equity and less debt. They depend less on trading to make money and on short-term wholesale borrowing to finance their activities. Even in Europe, where few banks make large profits, the system as a whole is stronger than it was. Regulators have beefed up their oversight, especially of the largest institutions that are too big to fail. On both sides of the Atlantic banks are subject to regular stress tests and must submit plans for their own orderly demise. Derivatives markets of the type that felled AIG, an insurer, are smaller and safer. Revamped pay policies should prevent a repeat of the injustice of bankers taking public money while pocketing huge pay-packets—in 2009 staff at the five biggest banks trousered $114bn.

先說好的方面。現在銀行必須增加凈資產和減少債務,減少依賴交易來獲利,減少依靠短期批發借款來維持經營活動。即使在很少有銀行利潤豐厚的歐洲,整個銀行體系比以往更加堅固。監管機構加強了監管力度,尤其對太大而不能倒的大型機構。大西洋兩岸的銀行定期接受壓力測試,它們必須提交有序破產計劃書。曾經導致保險公司AIG(美國國際集團)破產的那種衍生品市場變得更小更安全。修改的薪酬政策應避免再次上演銀行家拿公款中飽私囊的不義之舉:2009年,五家最大銀行的職員撈取了1140億美元。

Yet many lessons have gone unlearned. Take, for example, policymakers’ mistakes in the aftermath of the crisis. The state had no choice but to stand behind failing banks, but it took the ill-judged decision to all but abandon insolvent households. Perhaps 9m Americans lost their homes in the recession; unemployment rose by over 8m. While households paid down debt, consumer spending was ravaged.

然而,很多教訓沒有被吸取。例如:危機爆發后決策者所犯的錯。國家別無選擇只能拯救破產的銀行,但做出欠妥的決策,幾乎拋棄了無力償還債務的家庭。在那場經濟衰退中,可能有900萬美國人失去住房;新增失業人口超過800萬。雖然美國家庭償還了債務,但消費性開支嚴重下滑。

It has taken fully ten years for the countervailing economic stimulus to restore America’s economy to health. Many of Europe’s economies still suffer from weak aggregate demand. Fiscal and monetary policy could have done more, sooner, to bring about recovery. They were held back by mostly misplaced concerns about government debt and inflation. The fact that this failing is not more widely acknowledged augurs badly for the policy response next time.

補償性經濟刺激用了整整十年才使美國經濟恢復健康,許多歐洲經濟仍受到總需求疲軟的困擾。財政和貨幣政策本可以更好更快地使經濟復蘇,但政府債務和通貨膨脹引起大部分無謂的擔憂,使這些政策受到阻撓。這種過錯沒有得到廣泛的認識,對于下次對策來說不是個好兆頭。

Stagnation has, inevitably, fed populism. And, by looking for scapegoats and simplistic solutions that punish them, populism has made it harder to confront the real long-term problems that the crisis exposed. Three stand out: housing, offshore dollar finance and the euro.

經濟蕭條不可避免地滋生出民粹思潮。通過尋找替罪羊和簡單的懲罰方案,民粹使人們更難以應對危機暴露出的真正長遠問題。三個突出問題:房地產、離岸美元資產、歐元。

To share divine

分享神圣

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The rise of nationalism also hinders Europe from solving the euro’s structural problems. The crisis showed how a country’s banks and its government are intertwined: the state struggles to borrow enough to support the banks, which are dragged down by the falling value of government debt. This “doom loop” remains mostly intact. Until Europe shares more risks across national borders—whether through financial markets, deposit guarantees or fiscal policy—the future of the single currency will remain in doubt. A chaotic collapse of the euro would make the crisis of 2008 look like a picnic.

民族主義的興起也阻礙著歐洲解決歐元的結構性問題。這場危機展現出一國的銀行和政府是如何緊密相連的:國家奮力借錢去幫助銀行,銀行因政府債務貶值而受連累,這種“厄運循環”至今未被打破。除非歐洲分擔更多的跨境風險,例如金融市場、存款擔保、財政政策,否則單一貨幣的未來仍受到質疑。如果歐元崩潰引發混亂,那么2008年那場危機只能算是小打小鬧。

Policymakers have made the economy safer, but they still have plenty of lessons to learn. And fracturing geopolitics make globalised finance even harder to deal with. A decade after Lehman failed, finance has a worrying amount to fix.

決策層已經使經濟變得更加安全,但還有很多教訓值得吸取。四分五裂的地緣政治使全球金融更加難以應對。雷曼公司倒閉十年后的今天,金融的修繕工作任重而道遠。