《灰犀牛》作者:中国央行继任者将面临"超"灰犀牛

灰犀牛2018-12-01 11:39:29

本文转载自网易研究局


在担任中国人民银行行长15年的过程中,周小川在领导中国渡过2008年全球金融危机及其余波,以及今天在促进公众和其他政策制定者洞察即将来临的挑战方面发挥了重要作用,赢得了国际上的尊重。


他的即将离任给我们带来一个机会,让公众仔细思考即将到来的、显而易见又未解决的“灰犀牛”风险,以及这些风险对继任者的意义。


米歇尔·渥克(Michele Wucker) 畅销书《灰犀牛》作者


自2008-09年全球市场经历了崩盘及其余波以来,中央银行开创了一个新时代,试验政策和频繁使用“前所未有”这个词。同样在此期间,中央银行家们继续转变风格,从保持神秘气氛的旧式风格转变为把猜测结果公诸于市,抢先发布新的,受欢迎的,更开放的风向信号。


在这种情况下,周小川直言金融体系面临的挑战——特别是他在11月4日关于中国人民银行网站的文章中详述的中国金融风险“灰犀牛”。这种开放性对中国有利,因为它有助于创造变革所需的紧迫感,并提高公众对降低危险的政策的理解。一些金融灰犀牛在过去可能没有得到如此多的关注,因为其他问题似乎更加紧迫,但现在它们在经济中愈发明显。


因此,任何人都不会感到惊讶的是,中国正在寻求降低财务杠杆和流动性,降低不良贷款和债券违约率上升的信用风险,并解决跨国影子银行和金融犯罪带来的风险。


周小川和中国专职的经济政策行动者在诊断问题方面做得很好,并以系统的方式传达了共同解决金融“灰犀牛”问题的决心,创造了一种真正的紧迫感。


关于如何解决这些问题的辩论以及宏观审慎政策、监管、监督、资本流动、发展政策等方面的权衡,辩论中没有详细的细节,别处也没有良好的文档记录。但我的确希望更加密切地关注中国央行面临的一些挑战,特别是在处理中国以及全球金融“灰犀牛”方面发挥的特定作用中面临的挑战。具体来说,就是我称之为“超”灰犀牛(“meta” gray rhinos)的,鉴于央行现有的政策工具,在流程和系统中可能对央行产生特定障碍和机遇的挑战。


“超”灰犀牛I:工具箱的本质

“超”灰犀牛是能影响我们应对特定情况下的灰犀牛的能力的系统性因素。例如,它们可能在决策过程、资源或容量限制或结构制约方面发生扭曲。


央行最大的“超”灰犀牛是它们的工具非常广泛。这使得它们在塑造经济和金融格局方面显得非常强大,非常重要。但这也限制了他们应对一些具体因素的能力,这些因素可能影响央行的效率以及整体财政和经济前景。


如果说央行是一幅画的画布,那么监管者、监督者、税务机关、投资者、交易者和微观经济参与者的工具就是画笔和颜料。


这种分工意味着中央银行往往必须对它们很难精确控制的财政状况做出回应。这种分工还会产生一种反馈循环,其中包含可能会逐渐削弱其行为的意外后果。


“超”灰犀牛II:独立性和协调性

央行享有的独立性越大,大多数市场参与者就认为它们越有效。但是,矛盾的是,它们在与其他经济政策合作时最为有效。


从这个意义上说,中央银行家们也必须坚决主张有效的,往往涉及经济参与者的政策。其中一些最重要的是政策就是财政政策、数据收集和宏观审慎政策。


财政政策:在金融危机期间,许多西方国家的政府选择了顺周期的财政紧缩政策,这些政策可能存在延长和加深衰退的威胁性。欧洲中央银行和美国联邦储备委员会以历史低利率反击通货紧缩。大多数西方国家政府削减预算,但没有充分利用历史低利率去实施财政刺激措施。如果他们这样做了,那么经济复苏很可能会更加强劲,央行就能更快地实现政策的正常化。


最新的发展给全球经济带来了一项特别的挑战:美国在经济已经相对强劲的时候通过减税来刺激财政。与此同时,美联储正试图使货币政策正常化。有观点认为财政刺激会使提高利率和减少资产负债表变得更容易。但由此产生的对预算的双重打击——从收入的下降和利率的提高——将产生赤字上升和信贷质量下降的恶性循环。少数经济学家预计这会有好的结局。


信息收集:中央银行需要准确的信息来做出最佳决策。中国最近在强调的改善政府数据报告的重要性——这不是一项小任务——一旦实现,将使中国人民银行的工作更轻松。提高对经济数据的信心也是中国决策者可以向国际投资者发出的最强烈信号之一。笔者可以满怀自信地凭借本人在20世纪90年代拉丁美洲的经历说出这句话。


同时,人们对于“哪些指标最重要”这一点存在激烈的争论。例如,许多专家合理地质疑国内生产总值(GDP)是否准确地反映经济健康——哪些指标可能更有效。


另一个例子:总体而言,全球各国的央行都将工资通胀看作是危险的迹象,但对资产膨胀和泡沫的关注度过低。(这在美国现在尤其重要,因为公司已经表明,他们的首要任务是增加股票回购,进一步过热市场,而不是增加工资。)

中央银行有很大优势通过鼓励数据的稳健提升和选择他们在决策中使用和公布的数据来形成这些富有成效的辩论机制。


宏观审慎政策:在一个政策制定者优先考虑去杠杆化的经济体(如中国的经济体)下,央行可以抵消债务重组和减记所产生的负面经济影响,以及由此产生的连锁反应。


将影子银行和新型金融产品纳入宏观审慎保护伞是中国的一个重要目标。随着新兴财富管理、资产负债表外融资结构和互联网金融的资产监管和报告不断完善,协调机制将会出现。追踪货币供应量的变化在短期内会变得更加复杂,但随着时间的推移会带来更大的收益。


“超”灰犀牛III:意想不到的副作用

因为货币政策是一个很迟钝的工具,所以央行造成了许多意想不到的后果。


例如,宽松的货币政策会伤害储户,给债务人带来好处,并助长金融市场的投机活动。相反,货币紧缩——例如保罗·沃克尔(Paul Volcker)在20世纪80年代抑制通货膨胀的利率——可能会使债务人陷入无力偿债的境地,并且在没有支持的情况下,也会拖垮他们的债权人,正如拉丁美洲债务危机那样。


不平等:当今最大的问题之一是过去十年量化宽松对经济发展不平衡的副作用。它伤害了养老金领取者,储蓄者和中产阶级,并鼓励对实际经济增长进行金融投机。不平等的加剧导致了美国和欧洲的民粹主义浪潮和仇外心理,如果政策不改变,将导致日益危险的社会和政治动荡。自危机发生以来,有传言说中央银行有可能使用“直升机撒钱”——本质上是增印钞票并将其分发给更广大公众。这个想法最初由美国经济学家米尔顿·弗里德曼(Milton Friedman)于1969年提出,在2002年本·伯南克(Ben Bernanke)发表的讲话中被再次提起,随后本·伯南克毫无疑问地成为了美联储的领导者。它仍然是一个假设的想法,但它是中央银行可以直接抵消不平等的几个领域之一。


资产泡沫:当货币政策并未证明自身能够有效地帮助实体经济增长时,太多国家过度依赖中央银行去尝试刺激经济。据一项估计,超过90%的美国股市上涨是量化宽松政策的直接结果。据另一项估计,美国实体经济中只有四分之一的量化宽松政策进入实体经济。


金融自由化:扩大金融自由化是周小川任期的标志之一,这带来了好处和新风险。他的继任者的首要任务将是继续平衡风险和收益,并把握实施其他改革的时机,以尽量减少潜在的冲击。


金融自由化的好处之一是提高利用市场信号引导投资的能力,从而减少扭曲并有效分配资本,但这需要密切监测市场失灵造成的缺口。


同样,金融全球化增加了货币价值和资本流动波动的风险,必须极其谨慎地进行管理。但它也可以提高资本市场的流动性。将新股权融入银行体系可以巩固资本结构。在整个经济体中增加股权与债务融资的比例也可以调整激励机制,因为股东和债权人在塑造公司的未来和反过来影响整体经济方面的表现完全不同。


长期来看,人民币国际化也将带来类似于美联储面临的挑战。由于美元是储备货币,并且被用于美国境外的许多金融交易,美联储政策的影响并不像在一个封闭系统里那样容易控制。


例如,2008年金融危机后的美联储量化宽松政策引发了巴西和其他新兴市场的抗议,他们抗议“热钱”扭曲了他们的金融市场并限制了他们的货币政策。随着资金外流,这一现实也削弱了美国实体经济中量化宽松政策的影响。


这给我们带来了最后一个重要的问题:中央银行的全球角色和中央银行业新时代对中国人民银行的挑战。


中央银行与中国的全球角色

多年来,全球经济严重依赖——有些人认为是过度依赖——中国去推动全球经济增长。其宣布的向“质量增长模式”的转变可能令一些投资者感到震惊,但对于那些关心金融风险的人来说,这种新模式令人鼓舞。


危机后,通过基础设施和其他国家投资,中国的政策把一个有前瞻性的财政刺激措施和——与全球其他中央银行一样——急剧增加货币供应量结合起来。这种有效的做法与西方相反,西方没有利用低利率来进行必要的公共投资,而现在正在努力寻找前进的道路。


由于中国的金融力量日益增强,其全球领导责任也在不断加重。鉴于此,全球性的考量正在成为中国央行面临的越来越大的挑战,其决策将激起世界范围内越来越大的金融涟漪。


对世界各国的中央银行而言,这些新的发展正处于关键时期,经过大多数人现有记忆中最大的金融危机后的十年大胆的政策试验之后,这些中央银行继续开辟新道路。


由于近年来全球量化宽松的范围并没有可靠的历史比较数据,根据定义,世界各国央行将其正常化的所有努力都归于试验范畴。


中国人民银行在未来几个月和几年内将面临的金融灰犀牛,与中国整体金融和经济格局面临的灰犀牛是一样的。但为了优化其解决灰犀牛问题的能力,中国人民银行需要密切关注那些影响它在降低金融风险、保持价格稳定性和支持高质量经济增长方面发挥效力的“超”灰犀牛。


作者米歇尔·渥克(Michele Wucker)为畅销书《灰犀牛》作者

(附英文全文)

The “Meta” Gray Rhinos Facing the Next Central Bank Governor:

A Global Perspective

By Michele Wucker

Author of THE GRAY RHINO

During his 15 years as governor of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan has gained international respect for the important part he has played in steering China through the depths of the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008 and its aftermath, and today in promoting understanding of the next set of challenges among the public and other policy makers.

The eve of his retirement offers an opportunity to reflect on the obvious but unresolved “gray rhino” risks that lie ahead, and what they mean in particular for his successor at the central bank.

Since the 2008-09 global market crash and its aftermath, central banks have experienced an era of breaking new ground, policy experimentation, and the frequent use of the word unprecedented. Also during this period, central bankers have continued a shift from the old style of maintaining an air of mystery and leaving the markets to guesswork, to a new and much welcomed, more open practice of signaling intentions as far in advance as possible.

In this context, Zhou has been forthright about the challenges facing the financial system –China’s financial risk “gray rhinos” particularly as he detailed in his November 4th article on the PBoC website. This openness benefits China because it helps to create the sense of urgency needed to make changes, and to raise public understanding of policies that are taken to lessen the danger. Some financial gray rhinos perhaps did not get as much attention in the past because other issues seemed more urgent, but they are now looming large in the economy.

As a result, it is no surprise to anyone that China is seeking to reduce financial leverage and increase liquidity, to lower credit risk from non performing loans and rising bond defaults, and to address the risks posed by cross-border shadow banking and financial crime.

Zhou, along with China’s dedicated economic policy actors, has done a good job in diagnosing the issues, communicating shared resolve to address a group of related financial gray rhinos in a systemic way, and creating a real sense of urgency.

There is no space for detail here on the debates, well documented elsewhere, over how to resolve them and the tradeoffs involved in macro-prudential policy, regulation, supervision, capital flows, development policies and so on.

But I do want to look more closely at some challenges that face the PBoC in particular in its specific role in dealing with the gray rhinos in China’s financial landscape –and across the globe. In particular, I mean what I call “meta” gray rhinos: that is, challenges in processes and systems that create particular obstacles and opportunities given the policy tools available to a central bank.

“Meta” Gray Rhinos I: The Nature of the Toolbox

Meta gray rhinos are systemic factors that can affect our ability to manage gray rhinos involving specific situations. For example, they might be distortions in decision making processes, resource or capacity limitations, or structural constraints.

The biggest “meta” gray rhino for central banks is that their tools are very broad. This makes them very powerful –essential- in shaping the economic and financial landscape. But it also limits their ability to address some of the specific factors that affect the central bank’s success as well as the overall financial and economic outlook.

Thinking of a painting, you could describe the central bank as the canvas, and the brushes and pigments as the tools of regulators, supervisors, tax authorities, investors, traders, and micro-economic actors.

This division of labor means that central banks often must respond to financial conditions over which they rarely have precise control. It also creates a feedback loop that includes unintended consequences that may undermine its actions.

“Meta” Gray Rhinos II: Independence and Coordination

The more independence central banks enjoy, the more effective most market players perceive them to be. But, paradoxically, they also are most effective when working in cooperation with other arms of economic policy.

In this sense, central bankers also must be strong advocates for effective policies that often involve economic actors. Some of the most important of these are fiscal policy, data collection, and macro-prudential policies.

Fiscal policy: During the financial crisis, governments in many Western nations chose pro-cyclical fiscal austerity policies that threatened to prolong and deepen recession. The European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve countered with historically low interest rates to fight off deflation. Most Western governments reduced their budgets and did not take full advantage of historically low interest rates to implement fiscal stimulus. If they had done so, the recovery likely would have been stronger and central banks would have been able to normalize policy sooner.

The latest development offers a particular challenge to the global economy: the United States has enacted a fiscal stimulus through a tax cut at a time when the economy is already relatively strong. At the same time, the Federal Reserve is seeking to normalize monetary policy. One point of view is that the fiscal stimulus makes it easier to raise interest rates and reduce the balance sheet. But the resulting double hit to the budget –from lower revenue and higher interest rates- will create a vicious cycle of rising deficits and falling credit quality. Few economists expect this to end well.

Information gathering: Central banks need accurate information to make the best decisions. China’s new emphasis on the importance of improving government data reporting –not a small task- will make the PBoC’s job easier once achieved. Improving confidence in economic data also is one of the strongest signals that China’s policy makers can send to international investors. I can say this confidently from my experience in Latin America in the 1990s.

At the same time, there is a vigorous debate over which indicators are the most important. For example, many experts rightly question whether gross domestic product (GDP) accurately reflects economic health –and what measures might be more effective.

Another example: in general, central banks around the world have look for wage inflation as a sign of danger, but have paid far too little attention to asset inflation and bubbles. (This is particularly important in the U.S. right now, because corporations have indicated that their priority is to increase share buybacks, further overheating the market, and not to increase wages.)

Central banks are in a strong position to shape these fruitful debates by encouraging robust improvement in data practices and through the selection of data they use and publicize in their decision making.

Macro-prudential policy: In an economy where policy makers have prioritized de-leveraging, like China’s, the central bank can offset the negative economic impact of debt restructurings and writedowns, and the resulting ripple effect.

Bringing shadow banking and new financial products under the macro prudential umbrella is an important goal for China. As regulation and reporting of assets in newly developed wealth management, off balance sheet financing structures, and online finance, improve, there will be an adjustment process. Tracking changes in money supply will become more complicated in the short run, but with greater benefits as time passes.

“Meta” Gray Rhinos III: Unintended Side Effects

Because monetary policy is such a blunt tool, central banks create many unintended consequences.

An expansive monetary policy, for example, hurts savers, benefits debtors, and feeds financial market speculation. Conversely, monetary contraction –like Paul Volcker’s interest rates to smother inflation in the 1980s- can drive debtors into insolvency, and without backstopping, brings down their creditors too, as the Latin American debt crisis threatened to do.

Inequality: One of the biggest issues today is the side effect of the past decade’s quantitative easing on economic inequality. It hurts pensioners and savers and the middle class, and encourages financial speculation over real economic growth. This rising inequality has led to the populist waves and xenophobia in the United States and Europe, and will lead to increasingly dangerous social and political instability if policies do not change. There has been talk since the crisis of the possibility of central banks using “helicopter money” –essentially printing money and distributing it to the wider public. Originally proposed by the American economist Milton Friedman in 1969, the idea was revived in 2002 in a speech by Ben Bernanke, who of course later would go on to lead the Fed. It remains a hypothetical idea, but it is one of few areas in which central banks could directly offset inequality.

Asset bubbles. Too many countries have relied far too heavily on central banks to try to stimulate economies, when monetary policy is not proving itself to be efficient in helping the real economy grow. By one estimate, over 90 percent of the U.S. stock market’s rise is the direct result of quantitative easing. By another, only one fourth of quantitative easing went into the real economy in the U.S.

Financial liberalization: Extending the financial liberalization that is one of the hallmarks for which Zhou’s tenure is known brings both benefits and new risks. A priority for his successor will be to continue to balance risks and benefits, and to managing the timing of additional reforms to minimize the potential for shocks.

The benefits of financial liberalization includean increase in the ability to use market signals to guide investment, thus reducing distortions and efficiently allocating capital; but it requires close monitoring for gaps created by market failures.

Similarly, financial internationalization increases the danger of swings in currency values and capital flows, and must be managed extremely carefully. But it also can deepen and add liquidity to capital markets. And the infusion of new equity into the banking system can strengthen capital structures. Increasing the ratio of equity to debt financing across the economy also can align incentives in new ways, as shareholders and creditors behave very differently in shaping the future of a company, and in turn the broader economy.

Internationalization of the renminbi, over the long term, also will bring challenges like those that face the U.S. Federal Reserve. Because the dollar is a reserve currency and is used for so many financial transactions outside of the United States’ borders, the effects of Fed policies are not as easy to control as in a more closed system.

The Fed’s quantitative easing policies after the 2008 crisis, for example, provoked protests from Brazil and other emerging markets protesting “hot money” that distorted their financial markets and constrained their monetary policies . That reality also muted the effect of quantitative easing within the U.S. real economy, as funds went outside its borders.

This brings us to a final important point: the global role of central banks and the challenge a new era of central banking poses to the PBoC.

Central Banks and China’s Global Role

For many years, the global economy has relied heavily –too heavily, some argue- on China to drive global growth. Its announced shift to a “quality growth model” has perhaps alarmed some investors; but to those concerned about financial risk, this new model is encouraging.

Post-crisis, China’s policy combined a proactive fiscal stimulus via infrastructure and other state investments and, as with other central banks around the world, a dramatic expansion in monetary supply. This effective approach stood in contrast to the West, which failed to take advantage of low interest rates to make needed public investments and now is struggling to find its path forward.

As a result of China’s growing financial power, its global leadership responsibilities also are rising. With that, global considerations are becoming an increasing part of challenges for the PBoC, whose decisions will result in bigger and bigger financial ripples around the world.

These new developments come at a crossroads for the world’s central banks, which continue to chart new paths following a decade of bold policy experiments in face of the biggest financial crisis in most people’s living memory.

Because there is no reliable historical comparison to the scope of the global quantitative easing of recent years, by definition all efforts by the world’s central banks to normalize it are experiments as well.

The financial gray rhinos the PBoC faces in coming months and years are the same as those facing China’s broader financial and economic landscapes. But to optimize its ability to addressing them, it will need to pay close attention to the “meta” gray rhinos that affect its ability to be as effective as it can in reducing financial risk, maintaining price stability, and supporting quality economic growth.


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