每日新闻更新 — 萨默斯的启示录 The Daily Update – Summers apocalypse

本周早些时候,美国前财政部长兼发展经济学副总裁兼世界银行首席经济学家劳伦斯·萨默斯在葡萄牙召开的欧洲中央银行会议上发出严重警告:无论在政治上还是经济上,发达国家都不太具备应对另外一次经济衰退的措施。他补充说,中央银行在提高利率以控制通货膨胀时应该谨慎为之。正如萨默斯所说的那样:“困扰了金融危机之前这一代人的货币政策问题 — 避免通货膨胀 — 已不再是头等大事”;他认为,现在的头等大事已经变成维持健康的增长和力争完全就业。在萨默斯看来,央行在拉动政策反应的扳机之前,对待通货膨胀不用操之过急;他认为,全球经济下滑的危险“已经使得跟通货膨胀向上增加2%多一点有关的任何不利的影响显得微不足道了,而且远远超过了对方”。当被问及全球经济是否已经从全球金融危机中复苏时,萨默斯认为,导致资产价格膨胀的大规模刺激“已经使得整个局面显得模糊不清”;他还认为,央行用于应对经济下滑的弹药供应看上去不足,实在令人担心。

萨默斯一直认为,全球范围内至少有一些经济体处于长期停滞的状态;他辩驳的理由是,“有人认为这些经济体正在增长,这表明长期经济停滞的理论是错误的”。然而,他的观点则截然不同,“我的观点完全不同:实现经济合理增长需要巨大的财政刺激,这表示长期停滞论点的有效性”。他接着说道:“如果政策继续保持相对扩张性的货币政策,实施传统上被认为并不谨慎的财政政策,有可能我们会继续能让这种局面持续一段时间。”然而,他直言不讳地警告说:“我们生活在非常脆弱的经济中”,如果当它有一天真地发生时,中央的银行家们就无路可走了。他告诉彭博社,“衰退是经常发生的事情”;他还说:“当它们发生时,正常的做法就是将利率下调500个基点,但到那时不会有那么大的空间了”。

然而,虽然萨默斯并不是唯一担心全球经济要出问题的人,但其他人则对政府有能力应对经济低迷具有更多的信心。欧洲央行管理委员会成员菲利普·莱恩(Philip Lane)也认为,尽管他相信中央银行确实有能力应对经济低迷的工具,但具体情况并不明朗。正如他所说的那样,“拉里(Larry)昨晚没有关注到而我们作为央行的管理人员将关注的焦点是,利率政策只是其中一种工具”;他补充道,“即使在经济发展的缓慢期间,央行可以用来维持其控制通胀目标的工具的范围还是很宽的。”但是,令世界范围内的央行的银行家们记忆犹新的是,日本的经济在资产价格崩溃之后就发生了停滞 — “丢失的年代”。我们不禁要问,历史会重演吗? 甚至直到今天,日本的决策者都还在奋力摆脱这些影响。

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