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                      歐洲央行開始進行債券利差管理

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                      Finance & economics

                      財經板塊

                      The European Central Bank: Moment of truth

                      歐洲央行:關鍵時刻

                      The ECB gets into bond spread management.

                      歐洲央行開始進行債券利差管理。

                      Surging inflation and a weakening economy are not the only worries preoccupying the European Central Bank (the ECB).

                      飆升的通脹和疲軟的經濟并不是困擾歐洲央行(ECB)的唯一問題。

                      As inflation rose higher still, the bank promised on June 9th to raise interest rates over the coming months and to end its asset purchases.

                      隨著通貨膨脹率進一步上升,歐洲央行在6月9日承諾,將在未來幾個月內提高利率,并終止其資產購買。

                      Then, in subsequent days, financial markets decided to remind the central bank that the new policy could mean Italy’s public debt, at 150% of the country’s GDP, might look wobbly as interest rates start to rise.

                      之后,在隨后的幾天里,金融市場決定提醒歐洲央行,這一新政策可能意味著,隨著利率開始上升,意大利相當于國內生產總值150%的公共債務可能會出現波動。

                      Italian government-borrowing costs started to climb.

                      意大利政府借貸成本開始攀升。

                      As the yield on Italy’s ten-year sovereign bonds surpassed 4%, the central bank called an emergency meeting on June 15th.

                      意大利十年期主權債券的收益率超過4%,歐洲央行于6月15日召開了緊急會議。

                      Its governing council tasked the staff with coming up with an “anti-fragmentation” tool, a government-bond-buying scheme that would help prop up sovereigns in distress.

                      其管理委員會要求工作人員設計出一個“反分裂”的工具,即一個政府債券購買計劃,來幫助支撐陷入困境的主權國家。

                      The announcement marks a fundamental change in how the ECB sees its role in bond markets.

                      這一聲明標志著,歐洲央行對其在債券市場中所扮演角色的看法發生了根本性變化。

                      Being a central banker in a monetary union is hard.

                      在貨幣聯盟中擔任央行行長并不容易。

                      The euro’s members differ according to their growth prospects and debt levels, leading to gaps (or “spreads”) between their bond yields and the German bund yield, which is regarded as the risk-free rate.

                      歐元區成員國的增長前景和債務水平各不相同,導致它們的債券收益率與被視為無風險利率的德國國債收益率之間存在差距(或“利差”)。

                      Investors routinely debate the threat of a country defaulting, or exiting the euro.

                      投資者經常就一個國家違約或退出歐元區的威脅展開辯論。

                      By contrast, there is little doubt that the Bank of England stands behind gilts; no one worries that Britain might leave sterling.

                      相比之下,英格蘭銀行會支持金邊債券這件事是毋庸置疑的;沒有人擔心英國可能會脫離英鎊。

                      Differences in liquidity and the extent to which a government’s bonds are seen as benchmark assets matter, too.

                      資產流動性的差異以及政府債券被視為基準資產的程度也很重要。

                      In a recently published paper, Hanno Lustig of Stanford University and colleagues estimate that this “convenience yield”, the yield that investors are willing to forgo for safety and liquidity, explained more than half the variation in spreads between euro countries from 2008 to 2020.

                      在最近發表的一篇論文中,斯坦福大學的漢諾·盧斯蒂格和他的同事估計,2008年至2020年歐元區國家之間的利差變化中,有一半以上都源于這種“便利收益率”,即投資者為了安全和資產流動性而愿意放棄的收益率。

                      In times of stress—as when the pandemic struck in March 2020—investors seeking safety drive up the spread between, say, Italian and German bonds.

                      在壓力時期--像是2020年3月疫情爆發時--尋求避險的投資者會推高比如意大利和德國債券之間的利差。

                      These spreads between government bonds then translate into differing borrowing costs for firms and households.

                      這些政府債券之間的利差之后就會轉化為企業和家庭的不同借貸成本。

                      Despite sharing a currency (and the Alps), borrowers in Tyrol, Austria, and South Tyrol in Italy could face quite different interest rates, because their respective national governments are charged different rates by investors.

                      盡管奧地利蒂羅爾和意大利南蒂羅爾共用一種貨幣(也共享阿爾卑斯山),但由于投資者向兩地國家政府收取的利率不同,兩地的借款人可能面臨截然不同的利率。

                      And too big a divergence can be a problem for the ECB, because it sets short-term interest rates for the euro area as a whole.

                      對于歐洲央行來說,差距太大可能是個問題,因為它為整個歐元區設定了短期利率。

                      The wider the spreads, the less likely it is that its desired interest rate is reflected in conditions on the ground.

                      利差越大,其期望的利率在實際情況中出現的可能性就越小。

                      But the precise point at which spreads become wider than economic differences warrant is controversial.

                      但是,利差擴大到什么程度,會超過經濟差異所能保證的范圍,這一確切程度是有爭議的。

                      In a speech on June 14th Isabel Schnabel, a member of the ECB’s executive board, explained the bank’s thinking.

                      在6月14日的一次演講中,歐洲央行執委會委員伊莎貝爾·施納貝爾解釋了該行的想法。

                      She argued that safe interest rates were rising around the world at a time when threats to growth were becoming more prominent.

                      她說,在經濟增長面臨的威脅日益突出之際,世界各地的安全利率都正在上升。

                      Widening spreads meant that financial conditions had tightened more in some parts of the euro zone than in others.

                      利差不斷擴大意味著,歐元區某些地區的金融狀況比其他地區更為緊縮。

                      The ECB would seek to avoid any “disorderly repricing of risk” that could impair the functioning of monetary policy, and so pose a threat to ensuring stable inflation.

                      歐洲央行將力圖避免任何可能會損害貨幣政策的功能,從而對確保通脹穩定構成威脅的“風險溢價的無序重新定價”。

                      The question is what counts as “disorderly”.

                      問題是,什么才算“無序”。

                      Shortly before the emergency meeting, Italian ten-year spreads on bunds rose to 2.4 percentage points.

                      在緊急會議前不久,意大利十年期國債利差升至2.4個百分點。

                      Not everyone agrees that was a problem.

                      并不是每個人都認為這是個問題。

                      Volker Wieland, a former member of the German council of economic experts, agrees that Italy’s debt is not unsustainable and that spreads did not warrant action by the ECB.

                      德國經濟專家委員會前成員沃爾克·維蘭德也認為,意大利的債務并非不可持續,利差并不值得歐洲央行采取行動。

                      In addition, he points out, the ECB already has the means to contain panicky rises in spreads.

                      此外,他指出,歐洲央行已經有辦法遏制利差的恐慌性上升。

                      Yet the existing tool, outright monetary transactions (or OMT)—announced in 2012 when Mario Draghi, the ECB’s former president, said he would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro—has become politically toxic.

                      然而,在2012年,歐洲央行前行長馬里奧·德拉基稱他將“不惜一切代價”保衛歐元時公布的現有工具,即直接貨幣交易(OMT),已具有政治破壞性。

                      It comes with tough conditions—namely that the countries in need of ECB support subject themselves to an IMF-style reform programme.

                      它附帶著苛刻的條件--即需要歐洲央行支持的國家必須接受國際貨幣基金組織式的改革計劃。

                      Luis Garicano, a Spanish member of the European Parliament, argues that the ECB will seek to recreate OMT without the toxicity.

                      歐洲議會西班牙議員路易斯·加里卡諾稱,歐洲央行將力圖在沒有政治破壞性的情況下重建直接貨幣交易。

                      The central bank itself has been at pains to emphasise that any new tool to contain spreads would “remain within its mandate”: in other words, that any bond purchases would be either limited, or tied to conditions.

                      歐洲央行本身一直在努力強調,任何遏制利差的新工具都將“保持在其職權范圍內”:換句話說,任何債券購買都將受到限制,或與條件掛鉤。

                      Unless the euro zone comes closer to being a federal entity, with a common finance ministry and shared taxes and benefits, spreads will be a fact of life.

                      除非歐元區向成為聯邦實體更進一步發展,擁有共同的財政部,共享稅收和福利,否則利差將是無法改變的事實。

                      Further banking or fiscal integration could help narrow them without central-bank action.

                      在央行不采取行動的情況下,銀行業或財政進一步一體化可能有助于縮小利差。

                      But progress on those cannot be counted upon.

                      但不能指望在這些方面取得進展。

                      With its announcement, the ECB has made clear that it sees managing spreads as part of its job.

                      歐洲央行在其聲明中明確表示,管理利差是其工作的一部分。

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