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【雅思阅读杂志赏析】经济学人Why interest rates can be expected to stay low for years
文章来源:国际部   点击数:   更新时间:2017-05-05
【雅思阅读杂志赏析】经济学人Why interest rates can be expected to stay low for years


CENTRAL bankers have a reputation for snatchingaway the punch bowl just as the party gets going. So, almost as soon as Britain's economystarted to recover, commentators and markets started fretting about when interest rates wouldrise. Mark Carney, the Bank of England's governor, has tried to soothe them with “forwardguidance”, in effect promising to hold off until the economy recovers. But Mr Carney alsowhispered something else: that rates would stay unusually low even when they do budge. Thepunch bowl will go, he suggested, but there will still be plenty of booze around.

央行高管们因为“在宴会开始前拿走调酒杯”式的工作而备享荣耀。所以,几乎就在英国经济刚刚开始有起色时,评论员和市场就担忧利率可能会上涨。而英格兰银行主席马克.卡尼已经尝试以“前瞻指导”政策进行安抚(注2)。事实上,他承诺会拖住利率直到经济完全复苏。但是马克.卡尼也暗示了其他一些事情:即便到了必须妥协的时候,利率依然会不同寻常得停留在低位。他示意道:调酒杯也许会拿走,但成瓶的酒会留下很多。

Since the Bank of England was founded in 1694 its main interest rate has bounced around anaverage of 5%. It stood at 5.75% when the financial crisis struck in 2007; since 2009 it hasbeen at a record low of 0.5%. But as Britain's economy recovers, Mr Carney expects rates tosettle below the historical norm, and points to market expectations of 2-3%. That is only ashade higher than the bank's 2% inflation target.

英格兰银行成立于1694年,其主要利率在平均值5%%u9644近浮动。2007年金融危机到来时,利率达到5.57%;%u800C自2009年开始,其破纪录的停留在0.5%%u7684低位。随着英国经济恢复,马克.卡尼期望利率能维持在历史常规水平之下,即设定为市场所期望的2-3%%u3002这只比央行2%%u7684通胀目标略高了一点。

The bank believes Britain's “equilibrium interest rate”—the rate needed to keep inflation andeconomic growth on an even keel—is being depressed by three things. One is the ongoingfiscal contraction. With the state using a shrinking share of resources, the private sector hasto expand faster to take up the slack. A lower interest rate is needed to achieve that.

央行认为英国的“均衡利率”—这个利率要求稳定通货膨胀与经济增长—受到三个方面的压制。第一个因素是持续的财政紧缩。在国家所支配的资源的比例越来越少时,私人部门必须更快发展,以充分利用社会闲散资源。为此,利率必须降低。

The second has to do with the country's convalescing banks. During the crisis the spreadbetween the central bank's policy rate and the interest rates commercial banks charged theircustomers for loans jumped. Although the spread has fallen since, it remains much higher thanit was before the crisis. So the Bank of England need not raise its rate so high to generate agiven level of private-sector interest rates.

第二个因素与本国银行业的复苏有关。在这次金融危机中,央行的政策利率与商业银行向客户收取的贷款利率差额大幅上升。尽管之后利率差有所回落,却仍比危机之前高很多。所以英格兰银行不需大幅上调其政策利率来让私人部门的贷款利率达到设定水平。

The final factor is the rest of the world. Britain's openness, through trade and finance, ties itto foreign economies. The euro-zone crisis has hit the country's exporters and banks. “Secularstagnation”, a notion recently popularised by Larry Summers of Harvard University, might alsobe at play: falling investment demand in advanced economies, combined with a glut ofsavings in emerging markets, has pressed down on equilibrium interest rates throughout theworld.

最后一个因素在于世界的其他国家。通过贸易与金融的开放,英国经济与外国经济紧密相连。欧元区的危机打击了该国的出口商和银行。近日颇为流行的经济学术语“长期性经济停滞”或许可以解释这种情形。这个术语是由哈佛大学的拉利?萨默斯提出的,指的是在发达经济中,投资需求持续下降;再加上新兴经济体中储蓄过剩,这就使得全球市场中的均衡利率都被压低。

These pressures seem unlikely to abate soon. Britain's major political parties are allcommitted to eliminating the fiscal deficit over the next parliament. Credit spreads areunlikely to shrink to their pre-crisis lows, which reflected an overly sanguine attitude tofinancial risk. The euro zone faces a lengthy slog back to health. And if, as Mr Summerssuggests, global stagnation persists, the downward pressure on Britain's equilibriuminterest rate might even increase.

这些方面的压力不可能很快消失。英国的主要政党都承诺在下届国会中减少财政赤字。利率差降低到危机之前的水平也微乎其微。危机之前的利率差是对金融风险乐观过度的反映。欧元区经济也要经历一段漫长的跋涉方能恢复。如果正如萨默斯而言,全球经济停滞会持续,那么英国均衡利率的下行压力甚至还可能会增加。

A persistently low bank rate would be bad for savers but a boon for borrowers. Britain's 9m orso mortgage-holders are sensitive to the bank's policy rate: the average new mortgage isfixed for just two years (compared with 27 years in America) after which it tends to track thebank's rate. Matthew Whittaker of the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank, calculates that thedifference between a bank rate of 3% in 2018 and a rate of 5% is that 620,000 fewerhouseholds would be in “debt peril”, defined as spending more than half their disposableincome on debt payments.

长期的低利率对储户不利,但对借贷方则有利。英国九百万左右的按揭对银行政策利率很敏感:平均来看,新按揭头两年利率固定(相比之下美国可以有27年期),之后就倾向于锁定银行利率。智库决议基金的马修.惠特克这样计算:2018年3%%u7684银行利率与5%%u7684差别就是前者可以使六十二万户家庭脱离“债务危机”。后者指一半的可支配收入用于偿还债务。

The prospect of rates remaining low for years should also improve companies' behaviour. Britishinvestment is startlingly weak at present—still 20% below its pre-crisis peak, and lower than inany other G20 country as a share of GDP. The expectation of more cheap finance, togetherwith dwindling spare capacity and rising demand, ought to entice firms to build and buy. TheBank of England predicts an extraordinary 43% rise in business investment by 2016, whichwould boost both demand and productivity.

在未来几年,维持在低位的利率会对公司起到促进作用。英国的投资目前惊人的低迷—只有危机前峰值的20%%u3002其占GDP的比例比20国集团中任何一国都低。而对廉价贷款的期待,加上闲置产能的减少和市场需求的上升,应该能够刺激企业的创建与购买。英格兰银行预测2016年的商业投资会额外增加43%%uFF0C而这就能够支持需求和生产率。

But a low equilibrium interest rate should make Mr Carney nervous. Bank rates cannot easilybe cut to below zero. A new normal of 2-3% would thus leave the bank with little space to cutrates when future shocks hit. Britain's emergency monetary experiments, such asquantitative easing and forward guidance, are known as “unconventional”. In time theycould become part of the new normal, too.

但是一个较低的均衡利率让卡尼很紧张。银行利率不会轻易降低到负数。常规的2-3%%u7684利率会让银行在应对未来冲击时没有空间去降低利率。英国尝试了紧急状态下的货币政策,例如定量宽松和前瞻指导,都以“非传统”而著名。在适当时候,它们就可以成为新常规的一部分。


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