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斯蒂格利茨:如何防范下一个华尔街危机(译文完成)

斯蒂格利茨:如何防范下一个华尔街危机(译文完成)

斯蒂格利茨

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斯蒂格利茨认为: 美联邦监督者和金融机构经营者在华尔街危机中起了推波助澜的作用。

美联储为了挽救房产泡沫投入了太多资金;金融机构的新牟利策略隐藏了过度借贷;管理者们为了追寻短期利益,不惜创造和承担高风险;为了防范未来再次出现危机,必须大规模变革。人文与社会编辑小组译(http://humanities.cn
作者简介: 斯蒂格利茨
约瑟夫·尤金·斯蒂格利茨(Joseph Eugene "Joe" Stiglitz,1943年2月9日-),美国经济学家,哥伦比亚大学教员。他于1979年获得约翰·贝茨·克拉克奖(John Bates Clark Medal),2001年获得诺贝尔经济学奖。斯蒂格利茨曾担任世界银行资深副总裁与首席经济师,提出经济全球化的观点。他还曾经在国际货币基金组织任职。

CNN发表斯蒂格利茨评论文章

人文与社会编辑小组译(http://wen.org.cn)转载请注明

CNN前言: 约瑟夫·斯蒂格利茨,现在是哥伦比亚大学的教授,2001年获得诺贝尔经济学奖,2008年他参加的气候变化小组获得诺贝尔和平奖。他支持奥巴马,在克林顿时代是经济顾问委员会的成员和主席,后来加入世界银行。他和琳达·比尔姆斯合写了《三兆美元的战争:伊拉克纷争的真实代价》。

经济学家斯蒂格利茨称,美联邦监督者和经营者在华尔街危机中起了推波助澜的作用。

纽约 (CNN) -- 很多人看来都震惊于目前的经济动荡的广泛性和严重性。我,还有几个经济学家,早就看到这次危机的来临,也警告过它的风险。

要责难的方面很多,但提出责难是为了降低类似情况复发的可能性。

布什总统不久前说了句众所周知的话,这次的问题很简单:"造了太多房子。"对,不过这个答案太粗糙了:为什么会出现那样的情况呢?

可以说美联储失败了两次,一次是做为监督者,一次是做为金融政策的执行者。美联储的流动资产(可以低息贷出的金钱)和松缓的规定导致了房产泡沫。当泡沫破灭的时候,基于超额估价的资产而做出的融资过度的贷款就成为坏账。

对于所有那些新发明的经济手段来说,这只是基于过度融资(或者说借贷)和金字塔结构而造成的另一起金融危机。

这些新"发明"只是隐藏了系统化融资的规模,把风险变得比较不透明;正是这些发明才让这次的经济危机变得比早期的经济危机更加戏剧化。但我们需要追问,为什么美联储失败了?

首先,关键的监督者们,比如阿兰·格林斯潘,没有真正相信监督的作用。当金融系统的不节制被指出的时候,他们提倡的是自我监督--这个词本身就自相矛盾。

第二,科技泡沫的破灭使得宏观经济陷入困境。2001年的税率下调本意不是刺激经济发展,而是给有钱人的慷慨礼物--而这个社会群体在过去的4分之一世纪中,已经享受了很多好处。

伊拉克战争是致命的一击,这是油价暴涨的原因之一。原来用于购买美国产品的金钱被用到海外了。美联储很重视保持经济发展的任务,但它的做法是用另一个泡沫--房产泡沫--来取代科技泡沫。家庭存款降低到了零,这是自从1929年大萧条以来最低水平。这样虽然维持了经济,但这种维持方式是短视的:美国人靠借来的时间和金钱生活。

最后,责难的中心必须放在那些金融机构本身。它们--更严重的是它们的经营者--的奖励机制跟我们的经济与社会的需求很不一致。

这些金融机构的经营者得到的回报很丰厚,说起来是因为他们冒了风险并且分配资本,这两方面被认为能提高经济效率,因此也使得他们的高收入看起来合理。但是他们错误地分配了资本,他们错误地处理风险问题--他们实际制造了风险。

他们的行动是基于他们的奖励机制的:专注于短期赢利,鼓励承担过度风险。

这并不是我们的金融制度的第一个危机,我们也不是第一次看到那些信奉自由、不受限制市场的人向政府寻求帮助。我们可以看到一个规律,这个规律显示着深层的系统问题,--当然也显示着很多不同的解决问题的方法:

第一. 我们首先需要纠正管理人员的奖励制度,降低利益冲突的程度,提供给持股者更多关于股票期权造成的股票价格稀释的信息。对于长期以来盛行的基于过度风险和短期利益的奖励机制,应该加以抑制,抑制手法可以是把每年的分红改成基于五年的收益支付的奖金。

第二. 我们需要创造一个金融产品安全委员会,以保证银行、养老基金等等买卖的金融产品对"人类消费"来说是安全的。成年人只要同意就可以享受高度的行动自由,但这并不意味着他们可以用其他人的钱来赌博。某些人可能会担心这样的措施会压制创新。但考虑到我们过去见到的创新(也就是试图推翻会计制度和规定)都是什么样的,那也许是件好事。我们需要的是针对普通美国人的需要提出的创新,让他们能够在经济条件发生变化的时候仍能保持他们的住房。

第三. 我们需要建立一个金融系统稳定委员会来全盘处理整个金融系统,要认识到系统中各部分间的关系,并且防止我们刚刚经历的过度融资再度出现。

第四. 我们需要施行其他提高金融系统安全和健康的制度,比如限制借贷的"限速带"。历史上,高速扩展的借贷造成了相当大比例的经济危机,这次的经济危机也不例外。

第五. 我们需要更好的法令来保护消费者,包括防止吞噬性借贷的发生。

第六. 我们需要更好的法令来规范竞争。金融机构能够通过信用卡掠夺消费者的原因之一,就是缺乏竞争。但更重要的是,我们不应该看到一个机构"大得不可能失败"的情况。如果一个公司变成那么庞大,那么它就应该被分拆。

这些改革并不能保证我们不会再次遇到危机。那些金融市场中的人们实在有着令人惊叹的本事。最后他们还是会设法规避一切的规定。但这些改革能让另一次类似的危机变得不那么容易再现,而且,假设这样的情况重现的话,能让它不那么严重。

人文与社会编辑小组汉译(http://humanities.cn


Commentary: How to prevent the next Wall Street crisis
Story Highlights 

Joseph Stiglitz: Fed pumped too much money, aiding housing bubble

New-fangled instruments hid overuse of borrowing, Stiglitz says

Executives followed short-term interests and magnified risks, he says

Stiglitz: Widespread changes needed to prevent future crises



By Joseph Stiglitz
Special to CNN



Editor's note: Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for his work on the economics of information and was on the climate change panel that shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. Stiglitz, a supporter of Barack Obama, was a member and later chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration before joining the World Bank as chief economist and senior vice president. He is the co-author with Linda Bilmes of the "Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict." 


Economist Joseph Stiglitz says federal regulators and executives helped create the Wall Street crisis.


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Many seem taken aback by the depth and severity of the current financial turmoil. I was among several economists who saw it coming and warned about the risks.

There is ample blame to be shared; but the purpose of parsing out blame is to figure out how to make a recurrence less likely. 

President Bush famously said, a little while ago, that the problem is simple: Too many houses were built. Yes, but the answer is too simplistic: Why did that happen?

One can say the Fed failed twice, both as a regulator and in the conduct of monetary policy. Its flood of liquidity (money made available to borrow at low interest rates) and lax regulations led to a housing bubble. When the bubble broke, the excessively leveraged loans made on the basis of overvalued assets went sour.

For all the new-fangled financial instruments, this was just another one of those financial crises based on excess leverage, or borrowing, and a pyramid scheme. 

The new "innovations" simply hid the extent of systemic leverage and made the risks less transparent; it is these innovations that have made this collapse so much more dramatic than earlier financial crises. But one needs to push further: Why did the Fed fail?

First, key regulators like Alan Greenspan didn't really believe in regulation; when the excesses of the financial system were noted, they called for self-regulation -- an oxymoron.

Second, the macro-economy was in bad shape with the collapse of the tech bubble. The tax cut of 2001 was not designed to stimulate the economy but to give a largesse to the wealthy -- the group that had been doing so well over the last quarter-century.


The coup d'grace was the Iraq War, which contributed to soaring oil prices. Money that used to be spent on American goods now got diverted abroad. The Fed took seriously its responsibility to keep the economy going.

It did this by replacing the tech bubble with a new bubble, a housing bubble. Household savings plummeted to zero, to the lowest level since the Great Depression. It managed to sustain the economy, but the way it did it was shortsighted: America was living on borrowed money and borrowed time.

Finally, at the center of blame must be the financial institutions themselves. They -- and even more their executives -- had incentives that were not well aligned with the needs of our economy and our society.

They were amply rewarded, presumably for managing risk and allocating capital, which was supposed to improve the efficiency of the economy so much that it justified their generous compensation. But they misallocated capital; they mismanaged risk -- they created risk.

They did what their incentive structures were designed to do: focusing on short-term profits and encouraging excessive risk-taking.

This is not the first crisis in our financial system, not the first time that those who believe in free and unregulated markets have come running to the government for bail-outs. There is a pattern here, one that suggests deep systemic problems -- and a variety of solutions:

1. We need first to correct incentives for executives, reducing the scope for conflicts of interest and improving shareholder information about dilution in share value as a result of stock options. We should mitigate the incentives for excessive risk-taking and the short-term focus that has so long prevailed, for instance, by requiring bonuses to be paid on the basis of, say, five-year returns, rather than annual returns.

2. Secondly, we need to create a financial product safety commission, to make sure that products bought and sold by banks, pension funds, etc. are safe for "human consumption." Consenting adults should be given great freedom to do whatever they want, but that does not mean they should gamble with other people's money. Some may worry that this may stifle innovation. But that may be a good thing considering the kind of innovation we had -- attempting to subvert accounting and regulations. What we need is more innovation addressing the needs of ordinary Americans, so they can stay in their homes when economic conditions change.

3. We need to create a financial systems stability commission to take an overview of the entire financial system, recognizing the interrelations among the various parts, and to prevent the excessive systemic leveraging that we have just experienced.

4. We need to impose other regulations to improve the safety and soundness of our financial system, such as "speed bumps" to limit borrowing. Historically, rapid expansion of lending has been responsible for a large fraction of crises and this crisis is no exception.

5. We need better consumer protection laws, including laws that prevent predatory lending.

6. We need better competition laws. The financial institutions have been able to prey on consumers through credit cards partly because of the absence of competition. But even more importantly, we should not be in situations where a firm is "too big to fail." If it is that big, it should be broken up.

These reforms will not guarantee that we will not have another crisis. The ingenuity of those in the financial markets is impressive. Eventually, they will figure out how to circumvent whatever regulations are imposed. But these reforms will make another crisis of this kind less likely, and, should it occur, make it less severe than it otherwise would be.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. 

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