Simon Johnson:无人监督而被使用的美国资产

上周,似乎没有哪个美国人注意到,国际货币基金组织宣布,他们将展开资金募集工作,把针对有困难国家的可贷资金增至目前的两倍。IMF把新增的这4300亿美元资金称为全球防火墙的补充。

美国拒绝参与此轮资金募集,因此IMF转向欧洲、日本、印度和其他较大经济体寻求出资承诺。

新增资金将被提供给正在面临资金压力的欧元区国家,比如西班牙和意大利。从表面上看,美国的纳税人一毛未拔而全球的金融稳定性却得以增加,美国似乎是捡了个便宜。

可惜这一解读是种误读,且从更广泛的角度看,这种误读还表明我们的预算思路出了问题。

IMF代表着美国纳税人的或有负债,它的地位有点类似于以前的房利美和房地美;同时,IMF也像现在的银行业巨头一样,因为规模太大,以至于整个经济都无法承受它的破产。

从财政预算的角度看,那些政府支持的企业都可以被视为或有负债,即一旦经济出现问题,纳税人就会被它们套牢。

IMF既不是一家公司,也不曾设立任何法律实体。但是,试图理解IMF如何将美国的纳税人套牢,就必须明白一点,即与任何一家企业一样,IMF的各类活动也是靠资产和负债的运作支持的。

按照传统,IMF拥有资金的大部分都是自有资产”——它们是由成员国支付的会费。在40年代该组织成立之初,美国就支付了相应的美元和黄金(那时,黄金仍然被作为国际支付系统的主要支付手段)。其他国家也以黄金和其它硬通货的方式进行了出资。

IMF的官方网站显示:“IMF的黄金储备量达到了9050万盎司(约2814.1公吨),这使得IMF成为世界第三大黄金储备机构。

(本周二,黄金的市场价格为1640美元一盎司,因此IMF所持有黄金的市场价值接近1480亿美元。更详细的信息,包括为何出资国有可能取回它们的黄金,见链接所示的情况说明。)

近期,特别是2009年以来,IMF借贷能力的提升主要是通过负债,而不是通过传统的增加资产(术语称之为份额)的方法。事实上,正是为了把资金借给一些国家,IMF向其它国家借钱。

造成这一转变的原因非常简单。IMF的份额是与表决权相联系的,因此这种资金募集方式会对那些4050年代具有举足轻重的地位的国家造成偏袒(IMF成立于1944年)。那时,美国具有否决权,而欧洲的表决权显然过多。

现如今,拥有巨额现金储备的,是像中国这样的新兴市场国家和主要的产油国。这些国家非常乐意对IMF增加出资,以获得更多的发言权;但已经习惯了在IMF里发号施令的美欧及其盟国,绝无理由心安理得地接受这种变化。

事情的微妙之处产生于此。试图将它看清,就需要想想欧盟何以批准了对IMF2000亿欧元(约2600亿美元)的借款。倘若欧盟迫于压力,直接借款给欧洲各国,一旦最坏情形出现,它将血本无归。但倘若它先借给IMF,再由IMF借款给欧洲各国,最起码作为IMF大股东,它还能够享受某些下行风险保护。

在包括IMF在内的机构借款人违约或彻底拒付时,股东只能首当其冲,承担直接损失。从这种意义上说,IMF就像一家拥有能够吸收存款的股本银行。倘若它的资产被损失消耗殆尽,它也将无力偿还之前的借款。

一些官员断定,这样的事情绝不可能发生,因为通过这样或那样的方式,IMF总是能够清偿借款。在过去,IMF可能确实有过一定的资金运营模式;但如今,世界金融系统正承受着自1930年代以来最强的压力,各种规则都被一再撕毁,我们又如何相信这一模式可以照常运转呢?

周末一过,IMF的杠杆化程度(即其负债相对于资产的变动幅度)陡升。之所以说美国纳税人的未来负债也随之上升,是因为信用损失的风险正在增加,而这些损失将由最重要的股东来承担(美国占有IMF17.69%的份额,以及16.8%的表决权)。

另外,美国还对IMF提供了一个隐含的担保(且是极具争议的无限责任担保)。二战以后,世界贸易体系在美国的主导下建成,这一体系一旦崩溃,美国的损失将最为重大。同时,与其它国家相比,也只有美国的财力最雄厚。

与典型的公司不同,IMF的股东所承担的并不是有限责任,因此,我们必须对下行风险倍加关注。欧洲目前的行为——借钱给IMF,再用这笔资金充当未来违约出现时自救资金的一部分——加大了这种风险。

比起从前,国会预算办公室已经更加善于对或有债务进行评价——哪怕是评价美国对IMF的出资义务。但在这方面,依然任重道远。

对美国预算(以及与之类似的国际债务渠道)而言,近期IMF的这种变化有何意义?是时候让国会山更多关注了。美国企业研究院研究员戴斯蒙·拉克曼在其国会发言中也表达了类似的观点(见第12至第16条)。

对于全球领袖的言论,我们不应浅尝辄止而应深入理解。无论在其它问题上立场如何,国会的领袖都应要求国会预算办公室对美国对IMF所做承诺(包括明示承诺和暗示承诺)进行重新评价。

作者是MIT斯隆管理学院教授,《White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You》一书的合作者,他于2007年到2008年间担任IMF的首席经济学家和研究主任。

译者:盛薇

原文地址:U.S. Assets at Work, Unsupervised

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