经济学人:德国和欧元 请依法办事
日期:2014-09-16 17:09



Germany and the euro
You Kant do that
Many Germans fear that the European Central Bank is not on their side
HORST SEEHOFER, premier of Bavaria, sums up German attitudes to the European Central Bank (ECB). Based in Frankfurt, but run by Mario Draghi, an Italian, the ECB said on September 4th that it would cut its interest rate to 0.05% and start buying asset-backed securities from banks to get them to lend. By opening the money tap, taking on debt and buying “junk”, Mr Seehofer told Bild, Germany's biggest tabloid, the ECB frightens people. “It must be our job to criticise these policies.”

Like others on the centre-right, Mr Seehofer frets that a new anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany, will poach voters by bashing the ECB. The Alternative has just got into its first state parliament and may get into two more on September 14th. But scepticism about the ECB is growing across the country. Hans-Werner Sinn, boss of Munich's Ifo Institute and an economist, echoes Mr Seehofer: the ECB has “cut interest rates by too much”; and it is not authorised to buy bonds “as this is a fiscal and not a monetary-policy measure. Such a policy would be at the expense of European taxpayers, who would have to pay for the losses incurred by the ECB.”
Mainstream views in Germany are diverging from those elsewhere in the euro zone and in Anglo-Saxon countries. The world outside Germany is afraid of deflation. Germans, however, worry that cheap money could lead eventually to inflation. This may be surprising, since prices in the euro zone are rising by only 0.3% a year, far below the ECB's 2% target. But inflation fears have been etched into the German psyche since the hyperinflation of 1922-23.
Many are cross that cheap money is crushing interest rates on savings accounts and capital life-insurance policies, a common form of retirement planning. Real returns on such savings are laughable, just when greying Germans need them. Low rates may boost shares and property, but ordinary Germans shun such assets. One argument they use against low rates, indeed, is that they create asset bubbles.
But the roots of German scepticism are more fundamental, argues Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, in a forthcoming book, “The Germany Illusion”. Anglo-Saxon economists are guided by the utilitarian philosophy of John Stuart Mill or Jeremy Bentham, asking merely if a policy works. Germans side with Immanuel Kant, believing that nothing works except through law, and are horrified when the ECB strays from its narrow mandate.
Germans felt it was doing this in 2012 when Mr Draghi announced that the ECB would, under certain conditions, buy the bonds of euro countries in crisis. Outside Germany, this is considered the most effective step in the euro crisis to date. Inside Germany, it is seen as illegal. The ECB would indirectly finance governments when it may only manage the money supply, ruled the German constitutional court in February (though it referred the issue up to the European Court of Justice).
Buying asset-backed securities from banks is, by this logic, another step in the wrong direction. Worse, Germans fear that it could lead to “quantitative easing”: printing money to buy bonds. “Breaking the rules destroys trust,” warns Ralph Brinkhaus, a Bundestag member from the centre-right party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. And it sends the wrong message to crisis countries, he adds, by reducing the pressure on them to reform.
按照这种“德国认为是违法的”的逻辑,那么ECB从银行购买资产抵押债券也是在错误方向上的另外一步了。更糟的是,德国人害怕的是,ECB的这种做法会导致“量化宽松”:也就是印钞买债券。德国总理默克尔所属基督教民主联盟籍议员Ralph Brinkhaus 提出警告 “打破规则摧毁信任”。而且他补充道,这些做法通过减少改革的压力,给那些身处欧元危机中的国家发送了错误的信息。

1.sum up 总结;概述

He summed up the way of ours in a few words.

Then he summed up our opinions.

2.interest rate 利率

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates by half a point.

They could borrow at an interest rate only a bit over the Treasury rate and then accumulate large portfolios of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities earning the market rate.

3.pay for 赔偿;为…而付钱

We will not pay for your crisis.

All this may be the price we pay for progress.

  • illegaladj. 不合法的,非法的 n. 非法移民
  • reformv. 改革,改造,革新 n. 改革,改良
  • constitutionaladj. 宪法的,合乎宪法的,体质的,组成的 n. 散步
  • indirectlyadv. 间接地
  • certainadj. 确定的,必然的,特定的 pron. 某几个,某
  • propertyn. 财产,所有物,性质,地产,道具
  • accumulatevt. 积聚,累加,堆积 vi. 累积
  • illusionn. 幻觉,错觉,错误的信仰(或观念)
  • pressuren. 压力,压强,压迫 v. 施压
  • junkn. 垃圾,废旧杂物,中国平底帆船 vt. 丢弃