国家利益:全球负利率时代来临,美国何去何从
2016-03-15 17:00:27
国家利益:全球负利率时代来临,美国何去何从(2016.03.15)

  提要:随着日本央行在1月份出人意料地宣布将利率下调至-0.1%,负利率政策已经成为全球货币政策的主流。对美国现行和未来政策而言,这使得美联储和美国经济处于一种陌生的境地。鉴于美国储蓄率在本轮经济复苏期间已经上升以及负利率政策的成效如何尚难知晓,负利率政策难以成为美国货币政策的一个选项。

  (外脑精华·北京)日本负利率政策出乎市场意料

  目前,负利率政策在全球大行其道。出乎很多观察人士的意料,日本在1月底宣布其将推行负利率政策,虽然日本只是将其利率微幅下调至-0.1%,但这向市场传达了日本央行未能实现其既定目标以及日本央行愿意付诸更多努力的讯息。

  外界对日本央行的此举有所误解。日本央行推出负利率政策显然是为了刺激日本经济和引发通胀,而这恰是货币政策的典型动机。但负利率政策发挥作用的方式不同于大多数刺激性货币政策,更像是通过一种税收方式对不消费行为做出的一个威胁。就日本的情况而言,其主要针对的是银行业,但在一个更广泛的范围应用将给寻求通过重新配置所持现金来进行投资的消费者带来压力。

  与典型货币政策不同的是,负利率政策对汇率的影响力远不及典型货币政策。首先,利差是汇率发展动态的一个重要驱动力,但并非唯一的驱动力。负利率政策通道不同于主要以汇率为导向的量化宽松政策,而且这两项政策可以通过依次发挥作用来形成一项连贯的央行战略。量化政策的特点是央行购买债券,致力于通过推动一个国家的汇率贬值来放宽融资环境,本币汇率的贬值会导致一个国家的商品和服务的出口量超过了其进口量,进而推动这个国家出口额的增长和进口额的下降。

  进出口的这种平衡表被称为经常帐,而且虽然利差和政策偏差肯定会促使汇率变动,但经常账水平也会对汇率走势产生影响。通过持续压力汇率,日本和欧洲使得其经常帐盈余日益增长。但即使是利率水平越来越低,巨额经常账盈余未能演化成当前的消费和投资。

  在经常账盈余持续增长后,央行需要促使这笔新资金进入实体经济领域。因而这些国家的央行推出了负利率政策。若是量化宽松未能令大量资金得到释放,货币刺激将是一种浪费。而且就这一点而言,负利率是表明央行认为现金成本和投资回报率太低的一个指标。负利率增加了持有现金的成本。这导致储蓄减少,因而现金不再没有成本,以及投资增长,因而现金需求获得收益。

  在金融危机时期,各国央行纷纷通过汇率渠道来提升其全球出口份额,进而重振本国经济,而各国取得的成效不一。但这些“以邻为壑”政策仍在得以贯彻执行,而且这些政策在未来的成效或许充其量只能是微乎其微。问题已经进化成储蓄额过高问题,即所谓的“节俭悖论”问题。

  在实践中,负利率政策有许多潜在的目标。许多美国企业囤积了大量现金,而且美国政界也对是否应该(以及如何)准许资本回流美国问题展开争论。这是负利率政策具有潜在作用的一个例证,作为一种释放现金机制来提振经济。这个概念乍听起来显得荒谬,但负利率政策拥有其他政策选项所不具备的向经济领域渗透的渠道。

  负利率政策也在缓解政府债券融资压力方面充当着一种伪财政政策。而且这是负利率政策可以产生长期刺激性影响的一个重要领域。因为“传统”货币政策(例如量化宽松政策)的边际效应目前已经锐减,在短期内刺激经济增长将更多地依靠财政政策。负利率也使得采取财政措施的成本大幅下降。实际上,由于借贷成本为负(或接近于零),负利率使得不实施财政刺激的成本上升。

  负利率政策难以成为美国的政策选项

  对现行和未来政策而言,这使得美联储和美国经济处在一个陌生的境地。在经济复苏期间,美国的储蓄率已经上升,这意味着大量现金在等待流向经济领域。如果美国利率降至负值区间,美国储户将损失惨重,损失甚至超过固定收入和储蓄账户收益率低下时期。这个事实本身就将使得负利率政策成为一个不受欢迎以及难以经受政治考验的政策,尤其是在对这些政策的有效率缺乏了解的情况下。

  但是,美联储尚未采取其他央行试行的一种机制也有积极的一面。这不大可能是日本央行或世界其他国家的央行采取的最后一次采取负利率措施。货币政策步入更深负值区间的可能性更大。零下限一度被认为是利率的底线。如今,问题变成了利率将降至何种负值水平、利率将在负值区间维持多长时间以及各国央行能否将本国利率维持在不变。

  

  英文原文:What negative interest rates mean for the American economy

Negative interest rates are everywhere. In a move that surprised many observers, Japan announced its pursuit of a negative interest rate policy at the end of January, and although it was only a marginal move to -0.10%, it signaled to markets that the Bank of Japan was failing to meet its targets-and that the BoJ was willing to do more.

The BoJ’s move is, to a certain degree, misunderstood. It is certainly meant to stimulate the Japanese economy and spark inflation-the typical motivation of monetary policy. But negative rates work differently than most stimuli-more like a threat of a tax for not consuming. In Japan's case, it is mainly targeted at banks, but a broader application would place pressure on consumers to reallocate their cash holdings toward investments.

Unlike the typical loosening of monetary policy, negative rate policies should have far less of an effect on currency exchange rates. For starters, interest rate differentials are a significant driver of exchange rate movements-but not the only ones. The negative interest rate policy channel differs from the predominantly currency-oriented quantitative easing (QE), and the two can work sequentially to form a coherent central bank strategy. QE, the easing policy characterized by central bank bond purchases, works to loosen financial conditions by pushing down a country's exchange rate, which causes a country to sell more goods and services than it buys, increasing exports and decreasing imports.

This balance of imports and exports is known as the current account, and while interest rate differentials and policy deviations certainly drive exchange rates, current account levels also play a role. Japan and Europe have been driving their current accounts higher and higher through ever weakening currencies. But even with lower and lower interest rates, the high current accounts have failed to evolve into current consumption and investment.

After increasing the current account-a sort of national savings-the central bank needs to push this new cash out into the real economy. Enter negative rates. Without unleashing the bounty gained from QE, monetary stimulus would be a waste. And to that point, negative interest rates are an indication that a central bank believes the cost of cash and the return on investment is too low. Negative interest rates increase the cost of holding cash. This causes a drawdown on savings as cash is no longer costless, and pushes up investment as the cash looks for a return.

In the wake of the financial crisis, central banks used the currency channel, with varying degrees of success, to reinvigorate their economies by increasing their share of global exports. But those "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies have run their course and their future effectiveness may be marginal at best. The problem has evolved to one of too much saving-“the paradox of thrift.”

In practice, there are number of potential targets for negative interest rates. Many U.S. corporations have tremendous stockpiles of cash, and there has been political debate about whether (and how) to allow the cash to return to America. This is an example of the potential usefulness of negative interest rates-as a mechanism to free up cash to jolt the economy. The notion at first sounds absurd, but negative rates filter into the economy in ways other policy options do not.

Negative interest rates are also a pseudo-fiscal policy in that they alleviate pressure on funding government debt levels. And this is a critical piece of the longer-term stimulative effect of negative rates. Because the marginal effect of "traditional” monetary policy (such as QE) is so diminished now, fiscal policies will be more heavily relied on to spur growth in the near-term. Negative interest rates also make it far less expensive to undertake fiscal measures. In fact, they make it more costly to not undertake fiscal stimulus due to the negative (or near zero) cost of borrowing.

This leaves the Fed and the U.S. economy in a strange position, both for current and future policy. The savings rate in the United States has moved higher during the recovery, meaning there is a pile of cash waiting to be thrust into the economy. If rates go negative, savers will be crushed, even more than they already have been with low yields on fixed income and savings accounts. This fact alone will make it an unpopular and politically difficult to justify, especially given the lack of knowledge about the efficacy of such policies.

But there is also the upside of having other central banks experiment with a mechanism the Fed has yet to pursue. This is unlikely to be the last negative step taken by the BoJ-or the rest of the world’s central banks. There is a higher likelihood that monetary policy progresses deeper into negative territory. The zero lower bound was once thought to be the bottom in rates. Now, the questions shift to how negative, and for how long, can central banks hold their interest rates?

Samuel Rines is an economist with Chilton Capital Management in Houston, TX.

来源:国家利益,作者:Samuel Rines
作者:Samuel

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