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【經濟學人料理】歐債 --- 掩耳盜鈴的A計畫

照理說,這禮拜的高峰會就應該為歐債危機劃上句點。
實際上並沒有。



你終於可以了解到什麼是自High的情況。在10月27日凌晨,結束了馬拉松式的討論,歐元區的領袖們協議採取一套「全面的計畫」,來消除糾纏歐元區將近兩年的危機。這些計畫分別是:擴大歐洲金融穩定基金(EFSF)的規模,以援助情況糟糕的債務國家;著手進行歐洲銀行的復興計畫;從根本上調減希臘的債務;同時提出一些方法,讓歐洲的政府們朝正確的方向前進。在經歷過夏天愁雲慘旦的金融威脅後,這些歐洲官員們已經向市場證明了,他們才是老大。

《一分鐘譯者摘要》
10月27日歐盟高峰會祭出一系列的政策,來挽救歐債危機。簡單地說,有兩個部分:(1)以希臘作為停損點,調減(write down)50%的債務。(2)築起防火牆,保護義大利、西班牙不要受到波及。
「自願性的」調減希臘債務,就不算違約。這聽起來感覺就是甩賴,但不得不佩服最先創造出這方法的人。說實話,反正希臘也還不了錢,就讓他還一半。加上歐洲銀行與避險基金手中持有希臘債券或CDS,如果可以避免希臘違約,也能免去歐洲金融業倒閉的風險。
要建立防火牆目前歐盟領袖們提出幾個方法:(1)讓EFSF為新發行的債券做擔保,有EFSF做擔保,市場就會對債券有信心。(2)讓EFSF成立「特殊目的機構(SPV)」,可以達到風險隔離的好處。(3)提高歐洲銀行的資本率,目的在提高銀行承擔風險的能力。
但是,這套「全面計畫」是漏洞百出的。首先,市場真的能相信EFSF替歐債作擔保的能力嗎?再來,德國自己都不願意再掏錢填平歐債的錢坑,如何可以說服中國或巴西拿錢出來?最後,透過縮減資產負債表來提高銀行資本率,可能會讓資金不流動的情形變得更嚴重。
歐債危機並沒有解除,只是再一次地將災難延後罷了,而且情況可能更糟糕。

當白晝降臨,這套「全面計畫」被攤在陽光下,計畫的漏洞顯露無疑。這項方案不僅讓人摸不著頭緒,也說服不了人。之所以讓人摸不著頭緒,歸咎於歐元領袖自以為這是精心設計的援助案。實際上卻因不夠周全,導致容易招受意想不到的後果,而又不堪一擊。之所以說服不了人,在於有太多的細節被忽略了,加上計畫的核心,並不是以保護歐元為目的。

這是歐元區今年實行第三次的「全面計畫」。目前看來,這不會是最後一次。

說得簡單,做起來難…


這個高峰會最主要的成果就是:各國同意把民間單位手上所持有的希臘債券,將其債務額度調減(write down)50%,也就是希臘目前只要歸還一半的債務即可。經濟學人很早以前就已經討論過要這麼做了。除了調減希臘債務外,另一件同等重要的事,築起一道「信心防火牆」,來保護像義大利這類高負債、但具有償還能力的國家。只有如此,才能恢復投資人的信心,和保護歐洲銀行的收支平衡,讓銀行可以持續地進行放貸業務。

不幸地,歐元區的防火牆是本次「全面計畫」裡面最脆弱的一環。歐洲最主要的援助基金,歐洲金融穩定基金(EFSF)沒有足夠的財力,去承擔義大利和西班牙的債務 [注1]。德國和歐洲央行(ECB)已經對外宣布,無限制地提供歐債國家金錢援助是不可能的。歐元區北方的債權國(尤指德法)政府,也早已拒絕從自己口袋掏錢出來彌補這個巨大的錢坑。

[注1]請參考圖2,若將希臘債務調減50%來計算,EFSF可以輕鬆地同時負擔希臘、愛爾蘭和葡萄牙的債務。但EFSF目前的借款能力只有4,400億歐元,從圖上看來,也只能涵蓋到義大利債務的一半。西班牙若跟義大利一起爆發倒債危機,那整個歐洲的金融體系可能就瞬間瓦解了,這也就是為何要築起一道「防火牆」的原因。將停損點設在希臘、要求中國和巴西資金注入EFSF,重拾投資人信心,是歐元領袖們心目中最完美的救援計畫。會成功嗎?讓我們拭目以待。

這些北方債權國自己不想再掏錢出來救火,所以他們想到了兩個替代方案來「提升」EFSF的力量。其一,用EFSF來為債務國所發行「新的」債券作擔保,若新債券在未來有被實行任何的調減(write down),EFSF保證實損實賠(first loss)。理論上這樣的做為,會讓EFSF的力量被放大好幾倍。但實際上,這種「信用擔保」可能不會有太多的用處。債券市場可能懷疑這些擔保國到底有沒有能力承擔風險,尤其是當他們的鄰國因為債務而身陷泥沼時,擔保國也可能難以脫身。

其二,EFSF提供「特殊目的機構」來向投資人、或是向主權財富基金籌錢。再重申一次,這樣的做法是行不通的。每一個機構,似乎僅能針對單一國家進行資金援助,所以表面上好像真的可以防止危機擴散 [注2]。但仔細想想,當德國不願意再挹注資金救援的情況下,為何中國和巴西就應該砸大筆錢購買專案基金?

[注2]這裡的「特殊目的機構(SPV or SPE)」,可以把它想像成具有國家信用的空殼公司。以一般公司為例,如果A公司想要擴大投資,可能就要舉債或是發行新股票。大量舉債會降低A公司評性,然而發行新股票又會造成股權稀釋。若要避免舉債和發新股票的缺點,可以成立SPV來籌錢、擴大投資。這裡舉兩個SPV的優點:(1)可以表外融資(Off-balance-sheet Financing),由於不涉及資產所有權的轉移,融資金額不會反映在財務報表上。(2)風險隔離。舉例,假設今天A公司是個「煉油母公司」,想要探勘新油田,但又害怕承擔開發油田的風險,所以成立「探勘子公司」(也就是一間特殊目的機構)來籌資。如果發現油田存在,母公司就賺到了整片油田。如果沒有採到油田,就讓探勘子公司倒閉。對煉油母公司來說,損失的僅僅是其投入的有限資本。相反地,若母公司破產,只要子公司帳上和實質上和母公司是獨立的,「煉油母公司」的債權人無權追償「探勘子公司」的資產。資料來源:MBA智庫

合併這兩項替代方案,預計能夠擴大EFSF的規模到達1兆歐元(約1.4兆美金)或更多。遺憾的是,這個數字看起來像是個願望,不是個合理的預測。由於EFSF願意保證實損實賠,它的資金風險遠高於一般的借貸風險。EFSF暴露在這樣的風險下,連帶地威脅到了法國AAA的評等,因為法國是提供EFSF資金的主要國之一。換句話說,由於EFSF也部分依賴法國的AAA評等 [注3],若法國的評性被降級,這對目前急需資金挹注的EFSF來說,將會是個沉痛的打擊。

[注3]若法國評等高,則借錢成本就低。而法國將借來的錢注入EFSF,對EFSF來說,手上跟法國拿的錢不是不用還的,其實就是借錢。每一年也是要付利息給法國,直到到期日,本金加利息還清了才中止債務關係。所以,若是法國借錢成本低一點,要求EFSF支付的利息就會相對低一些。這也就是EFSF依賴法國AAA評等的地方。

如果這道防火牆地基打的不夠穩,上述對於銀行系統的計劃就會顯得太多,導致頭重腳輕。在2012年六月底,歐元區銀行被要求要達到9%的核心資本率。原則上,這是值得稱道的事。由於時間還很充裕,加上歐洲銀行們害怕因為發行新的股票會造成股東手上的股票被稀釋,所以他們改採取縮減資產負債表(shrinking their balance-sheets)的方式,來提升資本率。但歐洲銀行們這樣的做法將導致可怕的結果:會削弱了歐洲經濟的信用,同時讓歐洲的經濟狀況更糟 [注4]。

[注4]即使本段只有5句話,但是訊息量很大。首先,什麼是資本率?就是一間公司的資本與風險加權資產的比例。接著,本段的大意是:歐洲銀行被要求提高資本率到9%。而提高資本率的方法有二種:(1)發行新股票來籌錢,增加資本(分子),以求達9%目標。(2)縮小資產負債表,也就是償還一部分債務,減小風險加權資產(分母),以求達9%目標。歐洲銀行目前選擇(2),這樣會讓銀行間的借貸行為減低,導致資金變得更不流通。在目前衰退的環境下,此舉無疑是雪上加霜。

接著是希臘問題。雖然歐元區領袖對於希臘債券調減50%的幅度感到滿意,但他們希望希臘債券的民間持有者是「自願的」調減債務。因為若非自願,希臘債券就算是違約,就會引發信用違約掉期(CDS [注5])。最令人害怕的是,違約的發生將會造成市場的混亂,因為CDS的市場是經不起這考驗的。這是實話,但如此大筆金額的「自願性」調減,將會讓其他歐洲主權債的投資人質疑,是否CDS真的能夠保障希臘債券的持有者呢?儘管第一項EFSF的替代方案,就是被設計出來向債券持有人提供保險,但歐洲領袖們執意推行的「自願性調減希臘債務」,將使得擔保歐元區債券的難度提高。

[注5]什麼是「信貸違約掉期呢(CDS)」?簡單的說,就是貸錢的一方害怕借錢的一方違約不還錢,於是乎向避險基金(hedge fund)買保險,由避險基金承擔風險。當然,投資銀行必須每年支付固定利息給避險基金作為報酬,直到借貸雙方契約終止。以本文為例,A投資人將手頭上的1百萬美金購買希臘債券,也就是希臘向A投資人借錢的意思。希臘每年答應支付利息15%給A。另一方面,A投資人擔心希臘到時還不出錢,就想要買個保險。這時EFSF跳出來說:讓我來替希臘做擔保!於是A投資人就跟EFSF達成CDS的協議,其面額就是1百萬美金。而A答應給EFSF的酬勞是以1百萬美金年利率3%作為風險報酬。而EFSF願意替希臘做擔保是有好處的,讓投資人有信心,因為EFSF的財力雄厚,即使希臘違約,EFSF也能夠支付賠償。在這樣的邏輯之下,希臘的債券利率就會下跌,減低了借錢的成本。另外,若今日希臘如期還錢給A,EFSF就可以輕鬆拿走3萬美金。倘若希臘真的違約了,EFSF就必須賠償A的損失。

「信任哥,你在哪?我找不到…」


因為德國的政治人物堅信,若沒有市場的壓力,那些經濟出問題的國家們就不會專注於自身的改革。儘管義大利總理,西爾維奧‧貝魯斯科尼(Silvio Berlusconi),一再保證要從事改革,但德國佬的擔心不是沒有理由的。義大利必須在制度上規範揮霍無度的政府,而不是只想貪婪地乞求資金援助。如同你所看到的,這套「全面的計畫」即使在最好的情況也解決不了歐洲危機;而最壞的情況卻會讓事情變得更糟。當每個環節的缺點都被暴露出來時,投資人的恐懼就會再度降臨,歐豬債券的殖利率將會攀升得更高、借錢的成本提高,而銀行間的借貸問題也會更加惡化。

災難未來必定還會降臨,而歐洲央行也會再一次地設法拖延。幸運地,即將就任歐洲央行總裁的馬里奧‧德拉基(Mario Draghi)在本周表明:「解決歐債是我的工作。」但無奈的是,悲劇仍然在本周的高峰會發生了。如果歐洲央行可以早在幾個月前保證,可以無限制地作為有償還能力政府的後盾,則當下歐債危機可能就得以解決。不過即使在今天,歐洲央行如果能保證無限制地提供援助,這仍會是個好選項。

歐洲領袖們期盼以這場高峰會,來證明他們挽救歐元的決心,是遠大於市場所預期的。所有會後的相互拍被肯定與豪情壯語,在過去也曾有過,但結果還是一再地失敗。我預測未來將會有更多的危機發生,更多的高峰會需要被召開。直到他們發現解決之道的時刻之前,他們付出的代價將會越來越高。

藍詩圖盾
現正在美國就讀經濟學研究所,師從國際經濟學家Winston Chang。藍詩圖盾對於國際經濟和總體經濟有興趣,樂於翻譯有興趣的文章,分享給每一位朋友。


原文網址:http://www.economist.com/node/21534849

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