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The threat to Europe of a sharp fall in the dollar

http://finance.sina.com.cn 2004年02月05日 10:41 新浪财经

  中文标题:美元大幅贬值对欧洲的威胁

最近在瑞士达沃斯举行的世界经济论坛(World Economic Forum)年会上,有一个问题一再浮出水面:为什么欧洲人对美元弱势不怎么忧心忡忡?欧洲央行行长特里谢(Jean-Claude Trichet)轻描淡写地表示,他不赞成过度的汇率波动。而德国经济部长克莱门特(Wolfgang Clement)虽然承认美元多多少少是一个问题,但表示这个问题需要美国自己解决。

One question came up again and again at the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos: why are the Europeans not more worried about the dollar? Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, merely said he did not favour excessive exchange rate volatility. Wolfgang Clement, the German economics minister, acknowledged that the dollar was something of a problem, but said it was a problem for the US to sort out.

真实情况是,无论布什政府还是美联储都丝毫无意阻止美元比值的调整过程;归根结底,这种调整过程对于美国乃至世界经济是必要的。而欧元区面临的风险是被卷入这一过程,在错误的时机被估值过高的欧元比值拖累。然而,欧元区的官员们对这种前景似乎并不担忧,更谈不上有所准备。

The truth is that neither the US administration nor the Federal Reserve has the slightest interest in preventing an adjustment process that is ultimately right for the US economy and for the world economy at large. The eurozone risks getting caught up in this process with an overvalued exchange rate at the wrong time. Yet eurozone officials seem unconcerned and unprepared for this eventuality.

美国经常项目状况的恶化,主要是相对于实行“盯住美元”汇率政策的国家和地区而言。相比之下,美国与欧元区之间的双边经常项目近年来几乎没有变化。换句话说,欧元比值攀升的原因,与欧元区本身无关。

The US current account has worsened mainly in relation to countries that have pegged their currencies against the dollar. By contrast, the bilateral current account balance between the US and the eurozone has hardly changed over the past few years. The euro is rising for reasons that have nothing to do with the eurozone.

为什么欧元比值的上升速度会快于其他自由浮动的货币,如日元以及(在较小程度上的)英镑呢?去年,美元比值相对于欧元下跌了18%,而相对于日元仅下跌了11%。主要原因是,日本央行对外汇市场进行了干预,而欧洲央行则没有采取干预措施。

So why is the euro rising faster than other freely floating currencies such as the yen or, to a lesser extent, the pound? Last year the dollar fell by 18 per cent against the euro, but by only 11 per cent against the yen. The principal reason is that the Bank of Japan has intervened in the foreign exchange markets, while the ECB has not.

根据高盛(Goldman Sachs)的计算,美元的贸易加权汇率需要下跌27%,才能把美国的经常项目赤字减少一半。该项计算还假定,美国以外的全球需求增长率,将高出其趋势线2.4个百分点。

According to a calculation by Goldman Sachs, it would take a 27 per cent fall in the dollar's trade-weighted exchange rate to reduce the US current account deficit by half. This calculation also assumes that demand in the world outside the US would increase by 2.4 per cent relative to its trend.

为论证起见,让我们假定美元的贸易加权汇率在今后一年内真的下跌了27%。由于许多国家和地区实行“盯住美元”的汇率政策,从逻辑上讲,要使加权汇率下跌27%,美元兑欧元的汇率下跌幅度必须更大,假定为40%。

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the trade-weighted exchange rate of the dollar does indeed fall by 27 per cent over the next year. Since many countries have their currencies pegged to the dollar, the dollar/euro rate would then logically have to fall by more insgroupsto achieve the 27 per cent average - say by 40 per cent.

上周五,1美元能买到0.808欧元。下跌40%之后,1美元将只能买到0.485欧元。换算成我们更熟悉的汇率表示方式,1欧元将相当于2.06美元。鉴于工业产品出口对经济增长的重要拉动作用,这种高得可怕的汇率将使欧元区陷入经济衰退。

Last Friday, one dollar bought 0.808. After a 40 per cent fall, it would buy only 0.485. Translating this backsintosthe more familiar exchange rate that expresses the dollar value of one euro yields an equivalent rate of .06. Given the importance of the export industry as a generator for economic growth, such a hideously overvalued exchange rate would throw the eurozone economysintosrecession.

当然,汇率变动的预测之难是众所周知的。但我们可以确定的是,当前全球经济的不平衡状况,只有在美元下跌的情况下才能得到调整。从这个意义上说,企求保持眼前的“稳定”,无异于企求不要调整当前的不平衡状况。

Of course, exchange rates are notoriously difficult to forecast. What one can say, however, is that the present global imbalances will not adjust unless the dollar falls. Praying for currency stability is like praying for present imbalances not to adjust.

不平衡状况也许会持续相当长一段时期。但各国政府不能一点没有作为。下周末将在佛罗里达举行的七国集团财长会议,应当处理这个问题,其宗旨不是要企图阻止汇率调整过程,而是要确保这个过程明智、合理地发生。

Imbalances may persist for long periods. But it would be bad policy to bet on this. Thesgroupsof Seven meeting of finance ministers in Florida next weekend should address this problem, not by attempting to prevent the adjustment but by ensuring that it happens intelligently.

即使没有协调一致的全球努力,欧洲央行仍可单方面采取一些行动。它可以(而且应该)立即降低欧元利率。它还可以象日本央行那样在外汇市场进行干预。作为升值货币的央行,欧洲央行在干预汇市时将处于强有力地位。

In the absence of a global concerted effort there are a few things the ECB could do unilaterally. It could and should lower interest rates right away. It could also intervene in the foreign exchange markets, just as the Bank of Japan has done. As the central bank of the appreciating currency, it is in a strong position to do so.

为什么欧洲人还没有惊惶失措呢?原因之一是,大型出口商都已为其汇率风险安排了对冲保护,所以几乎没有来自出口利益集团的游说压力。但这些对冲合约终究是要到期的。另一个原因是,没有一个个人乃至机构觉得自己对欧元区的经济增长负有责任。欧盟财长们花费大量时间讨论预算赤字;成员包括欧元区财长和特里谢先生的所谓“欧元小组”,只是一个非正式的清谈沙龙;而欧洲央行作为一个机构,则把维持价格稳定视为自己的唯一使命。

So why are the Europeans not panicking? One reason is that the large exporters have hedged their currency exposures, so there is little pressure from the export lobby. But these contracts will run out eventually. Another reason is that no single individual or institution feels responsible for the eurozone's economic growth. The European Union's finance ministers spend an inordinate amount of time discussing budget deficits; the euro group, which includes the finance ministers of the eurozone and Mr Trichet, is an informal talking shop; and the ECB is committed to price stability only.

美元剧烈贬值将产生的巨大冲击,必将无情地暴露欧元区宏观经济调控体制的弱点。

A sharp depreciation of the dollar would be the kind of shock that could mercilessly expose the weaknesses of the eurozone's system of economic governance.

译者/和风

  来源:金融时报

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