经济学人:信贷紧缩侵蚀欧洲 银行业查漏补缺更待何时?

Non-bank finance in Europe

欧洲非银行金融机构

Embracing the alternatives

采用新方法

Banks are changing. That means other providers of capital must step forward, especially in Europe

银行有变,资本家须出手,尤其是向欧洲

Fixing one problem often creates another. The financial crisis has produced a wave of regulation to make the banking system safer. Banks are being required to hold more capital. They are being pushed out of riskier areas of activity. This week regulators in America and Britain gave more details of plans to impose losses on bank bondholders to spare taxpayers the cost of resolving failing lenders (see article). Such reforms are needed. Banks must be better cushioned against losses and it must be possible for them to fail.

左支右绌的事时常发生。在本次金融危机的影响下,为增强银行体系安定性,银行业监管开始受到重视。银行需要提高其资本持有量,并远离金融海啸的高危地带。本周,英美两国的银行监管当局为避免让其纳税人来承担不良债务,就提高银行债券持有人的损失负担一事,进一步交流了该计划的细节问题。此举必不可少。一方面,对银行应增加保护力度以免遭亏损;而另一方面,也须置银行于破产的风险之中。

But refashioning the banks carries a cost. By making it more expensive to fund assets, both because of higher capital charges and because bondholders will bear more risk in future, the new rules are forcing lenders to be pickier. European banks are under particular pressure. They are huge, accounting for most lending (compared with 25-30% in America’s more diverse system). The Europeans are more reliant on flighty wholesale funding. Before the crisis, they financed a lot of long-term assets such as infrastructure. That has to change: funding such holdings with short-term debt is frowned on, and long-term bank debt is hard to come by. The IMF said in October that European banks could end up shedding assets worth $2.8 trillion. Beyond such enormous numbers, the simple reality is that many borrowers can no longer rely on the banks.

但此般银行改革也会引起成本。在新的监管规则下,资本费用将会增加,债权人的未来风险也将提高,因而抬高基金资产的价格。其结果,银行借贷者在挑选银行时不得不更为挑剔。而欧洲银行面临的压力尤为巨大。这些银行规模庞大,占欧洲借贷业务的多数(相比之下美国借贷体系更为分散,银行借贷仅占全部的25-30%)。欧洲对于变化无常的批发性融资依赖较大。本次金融危机前,融资项目包括大量基础设施等长期资产。而现在这一结构需要改变,含短期债务的资产融资无法通过的话,长期银行债务也难以获得。国际货币基金组织(IMF)在10月份表示,欧洲银行最终将以丧失2.8万亿美元的资产收场。除了这一巨大亏损之外,众多人无法再依靠银行借贷。

For companies with an investment-grade rating or a big brand name, there is an obvious alternative. The bond markets are hoovering up corporate debt in enormous quantities, in part because investors are desperate for a yield of any kind in an environment of ultra-low interest rates. This year is likely to be the first in which non-financial firms in Europe will have issued more debt than financial ones.

而那些被评为投资等级或驰名中外的企业,显然有其他对策。债券市场正在大量吸收债务,其部分原因是投资者急需在极低利率的投资环境下取得回报。今年,欧洲非金融企业可能首次比金融部门发行更多债券。

The capital markets are not for every borrower, however. That opens the door to other providers of non-bank finance. At one end of the spectrum peer-to-peer lenders are experimenting with entirely new forms of finance in which individual savers and borrowers are matched in an electronic marketplace. At the other the world’s biggest insurers and asset managers are building up their credit-analysis capabilities so that they can lend money directly to mid-market companies, property developments, infrastructure schemes and the like. The banks are often partners in this process, originating debt and then passing it on to institutional investors.

然而,资本市场并非适合所有借贷者。该市场还面向银行以外的资本家。其中一端发生在电子化市场中的存款个体与贷款个体之间,两者相互配对形成全信的借贷模式,为P2P借贷人所尝试。而另一端则由世界领头的保险公司和资产管理公司建立起自己的信用分析能力,借此直接向中型企业、房地产开发、基础设施建设等项目进行出资。而银行常充当其中的合伙人,推动贷款并将资本流向机构投资者。

Light, not shade

光非影

The idea that more funding activity will pass from the banks to non-banks makes many people queasy. One lesson of the financial crisis was that systemic risks can build up outside the formal banking sector: think of AIG’s catastrophic derivatives bet. The term “shadow banking” is often used to conjure up this dark world. And anxiety is warranted when the non-banks ape the banks in taking on lots of leverage, or in using short-term liabilities to fund longer-term assets. This newspaper would like to see much tougher regulation of American money-market funds, for example, which promise to pay all their investors all their money back the moment they ask for it.

越来越多的借贷活动将从银行转向非银行机构,这使人们一想到就深感感不适。金融危机教会了人们,在正规银行部门之外,系统风险也会不断积累,美国国际集团(AIG)当初押注于金融衍生品上而引发灾难一事历历在目。“影子银行”一词常用以联系至这些阴暗面。而非银行机构效仿起银行,动用各种金融杠杆,或以短期债务资助长期资产,以此打消人们的担忧。例如,本刊希望美国加强金融市场监管,以承诺投资者随时可回收全部资本。

But plenty of non-bank finance is benign. Insurers and pension funds, for example, have long-term liabilities (such as annuities and pension payments) that make them ideal candidates to invest in longer-term assets like project finance. Peer-to-peer platforms do not use leverage. Private-debt funds lock their investors in for a defined period, which reduces the risk of a run. Firms can put the piles of cash on their balance-sheets to good use by offering finance to their suppliers. And having diversity of supply is a good thing in itself. In America’s financial system risk is spread among many more sorts of lenders, and borrowers can call on a large base of credit-savvy institutional investors.

但非银行机构的数量增多有益无害。例如,保险公司和养老基金通过长期借贷(年金或养老金等),而成为项目贷款等长期资产的理想投资者。P2P平台无需使用金融杠杆。私人贷款基金会绑定投资者一段时间,以降低临时撤资的风险。企业则可向其供应商贷款,以此有效利用资产负债表上大额现金。同时,分化供应商本身就比较有利。在美国,金融系统风险就分担到了各个投资者身上,而借贷者则有众多信誉良好的机构投资者可供选择。

Given the credit squeeze now afflicting Europe, it would be desirable to speed up the emergence of the good sort of non-bank finance. Europe’s regulators can help this happen. There is a strong case for allowing UCITS investment funds (Europe’s equivalent of mutual funds) to be able to hold loans, for instance. Resolving the uncertainty over new capital rules for European insurers known as Solvency 2 would hasten investment in things like infrastructure.

鉴于目前信贷紧缩正在侵蚀欧洲,推动优良的非银行金融发展将比较有利。欧洲各国的银行当局可推波助澜。允许有“欧洲版共同基金”之称的法国证券投资基金业(UCITS)持有贷款就是有力的一例。欧洲保险业在资本运作上已采用新规则,对于其中的不确定因素予以解决的“欧盟偿付能力II”(Solvency 2)将加快基础设施等方面的投资。

Replacing the hole left by the banks is bound to be a gradual process. It must not be glacial.

银行业查漏补缺注定是一个漫长的过程,但绝不会止步不前。 翻译:沈骜

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