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一、经济学人杂志双语文章摘要

在下一轮债券发行的洪流汹涌而至之前修缮管道是明智之举。眼下有一些明显能立竿见影的做法。目前允许银行在计算杠杆率时将现金和国债剔除在外,这项临时性的规定应该永久固定下来。银行不应该为几乎零风险的资产预留资本金。此外,一级交易商的数量也可以扩大,这样万一哪一家陷入了麻烦,问题也不会那么严重。

二、经济学人杂志双语文章中英对照翻译

Fixing the plumbing 修管道

2020.11


A well-functioning Treasury market is crucial—whoever is in the White House. Time to fix how it works
无论谁入主白宫,运转良好的国债市场都至关重要。是时候修整一番了 

经济学人双语杂志


THIS HAS been an extraordinary year for American government debt. The Treasury market is usually the world’s most liquid bond market and a haven in stormy times. But in March it seized up as panic about the pandemic led to fire sales and failed trades. The Fed fixed the problem by buying, in two months, nearly as many Treasuries as it did during five years of quantitative easing after the global financial crisis. The market is now being drenched with new issuance as the federal government spends like mad. Since the start of April it has raised a net $3.3trn to fund its stimulus programmes, expanding the outstanding stock of bonds by 19%. Over the past week bond yields have seesawed as investors have weighed and reweighed the likelihood of more stimulus after the election.
今年对美国政府债务来说是非同寻常的一年。一般来说,美国国债市场是世界上流动性最强的债券市场,也是动荡时期的避风港。但今年3月,疫情引发的恐慌导致了低价抛售和交易失败,让这个市场突然失灵。为了化解危机,美联储大举买入国债,两个月的购买量就接近于全球金融危机后的五年量化宽松期间的总和。随着联邦政府疯狂扩大支出,市场现在充斥着大量新发行的债券。自4月初以来,美国政府已经为经济刺激计划筹集了3.3万亿美元的净融资,使未偿付债券存量增加了19%。过去一周里,随着投资者再三权衡大选后是否可能出台更多刺激措施,债券收益率也起伏不定。
An even more extraordinary decade lies ahead. Regardless of whether a big stimulus is passed in 2021, the budget deficit will probably stay above 8% of GDP. An ageing population will continue to lift health-care spending. And with the Federal Reserve unable to cut rates much more, bigger deficits might be necessary to stimulate the economy during future downturns. A supersized bond market will amplify both the probability of more market stress and its consequences. Randal Quarles, the vice-chairman of the Fed, recently warned that the “sheer volume” of issuance means the market’s plumbing may come under strain. That could disrupt the government’s ability to borrow and cause tremors across the world’s financial system.
接下来的十年会更不寻常。无论2021年会不会通过大规模经济刺激方案,预算赤字都可能保持在超过GDP的8%。随着人口老龄化,医疗支出也会继续膨胀。而美联储已没有大幅降息的空间,在未来的经济低迷期可能还是需要通过扩大赤字来刺激经济。一个超大规模的债券市场将放大市场承压增大的概率及后果。美联储副主席兰德尔·夸尔斯(Randal Quarles)最近警告称,“巨量”国债可能会让这个市场的流通管道不堪重负。这可能会破坏美国政府的举债能力,并在全球金融体系引发震动。
There are two fault lines. When Uncle Sam issues debt a group of middlemen known as “primary dealers”—mostly banks—are obliged to buy it up at “reasonably competitive” prices. Primary dealers also act as intermediaries for investors who wish to trade with one another. In a crunch Treasuries can pile up on dealers’ balance-sheets, causing them to swell and pushing the banks closer to breaching the capital requirements set by regulators. That makes it harder for them to act as intermediaries, and investors do not like trading without a big institution sitting in the middle. In the spring, as investors rushed to unwind their bets, primary dealers were overwhelmed.
其中存在两个薄弱环节。美国政府发行债券时,一批被称为“一级交易商”的中间商(多为银行)有义务以“具有一定竞争力的”价格大量买进。投资者互相交易时,这些一级交易商也充当中间商的角色。发生危机时,美国国债会在这些交易商的资产负债表上积压起来,使其资产负债表膨胀,导致银行濒临突破监管机构设定的资本金要求。这样一来它们便难以继续充当中间商的角色,而一旦缺少大型机构居中,投资者彼此交易的意愿也会打折扣。今年春季投资者纷纷急于平仓时,一级交易商就不堪重负了。
The second vulnerability is that the Treasury market is symbiotically connected with another crucial market: the one for “repo” lending, whereby banks and other financial firms borrow from one another by temporarily exchanging Treasuries for cash. Because primary dealers typically use repo transactions to fund their purchases of Treasuries, the two markets are closely linked. The repo interest rate is important to the economy (more so than the “federal funds” rate that the Fed officially targets) and anchors borrowing rates for businesses and households. But when Treasury issuance or the Fed’s operations suck cash out of the banking system, the repo rate can spike unexpectedly, catching policymakers off-guard. This happened in late 2019.
第二个弱点是国债市场与另一个关键市场的共生关系:“回购”借贷市场。在这个市场上,银行和其他金融公司彼此之间用持有的国债临时换取现金,也就是相互借钱。由于一级交易商通常都利用回购交易来为购债筹措资金,因此这两个市场密不可分。回购利率对经济非常重要(甚至比美联储官方设定的“联邦基金”利率更重要),而且是企业和家庭贷款利率的基准。但当国债发行或美联储的操作从银行系统吸走资金时,回购利率可能意外飙升,令政策制定者措手不及。2019年末就发生过这种情况。
It would be wise to mend the pipes before the next torrent of issuance gushes down them. Some quick fixes are obvious. A temporary exemption of cash and Treasuries from banks’ leverage ratios should be made permanent. Banks should not have to hold capital against assets which are all but risk-free. And the number of primary dealers could also be expanded, so that it matters less if any one of them gets into trouble.
在下一轮债券发行的洪流汹涌而至之前修缮管道是明智之举。眼下有一些明显能立竿见影的做法。目前允许银行在计算杠杆率时将现金和国债剔除在外,这项临时性的规定应该永久固定下来。银行不应该为几乎零风险的资产预留资本金。此外,一级交易商的数量也可以扩大,这样万一哪一家陷入了麻烦,问题也不会那么严重。
But it would be better still to implement a deeper overhaul. The primary-dealer system is needlessly complex and would never be designed from scratch today. It should be phased out in favour of a central clearing house for Treasury trades which would let smaller firms deal with each other without an intermediary clogging up the market. More debt issuance could take place without middlemen, too.
但是,来一场更彻底的大修会更好。一级交易商制度的复杂度没有必要——如果今天重新设计的话绝不会如此。它应该被逐步淘汰,让位给一个国债中央清算所,让较小的公司可以彼此交易而没有中间商阻塞市场。此外,也可以不经过中间商直接发行更多债券。
The Fed must also get a better grip on rates in the repo market, which influences the entire economy. Currently it puts a floor under repo rates but, in normal times, does not cap them. The answer is a “standing repo facility”, through which it would lend at its target interest rate to any counterparty that can provide short-term Treasuries as collateral. These Fed loans would pose little risk to the taxpayer. And with a firmer grip on rates the Fed would have less need to buy government bonds in a panic, a tactic which over time is destined to cause a political stink because it looks as if the government is being financed by the printing presses.
美联储也必须更有力地控制影响整个经济的回购市场利率。目前,美联储为回购利率设定了下限,但在正常时期并不设上限。这个问题的对策是“常设回购便利机制”,以其目标利率向任何能够提供短期国债抵押的交易对手提供贷款。美联储这种放贷并不会给纳税人带来什么风险。而且,在更有力地控制住利率的情况下,它在市场发生恐慌时也就不那么需要买入政府债券了。长期而言,这种策略注定要引发政治上的争议,因为看起来政府好像完全在靠印钞机来钱。
Dodgy financial plumbing is tricky to fix but it has the capacity to cause an almighty mess. It determines how well policy is being transmitted to the economy as a whole. As the pandemic leads to an epic amount of government borrowing and blurs the boundary between fiscal policy and the Fed, it is time for reforms to make the pipes safer.
运转不良的金融管道不易修复,却能造成巨大的混乱。它决定了政策传导到整体经济的顺畅程度。这次疫情促使政府借下巨量债务,也模糊了财政政策与美联储之间的界限。是时候实施改革把管道变得更安全了。