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TheMoneyIllusion货币幻觉

美国本特利大学经济学教授斯科特·萨姆纳(Scott Sumner)

 
 
 

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美国本特利大学经济学教授

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不知该如何终止通货紧缩?问问中世纪的国王吧  

2009-06-29 09:59:52|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客 [Scott Sumner中文博客]  

下周也许我不会写太多的博客,但如果你感兴趣的话,不妨看看我和Lee Ohanian在CBSMoneyWatch.com上的辩论。

刚刚贴出了我的第一个专栏,而且计划还会再贴出三个。Ohanian教授也将发布三篇回复。需要提一下,这里有一些格式上的限制。虽然在字数上稍稍超过了要求的500字,但他们让我支持“当前之急是通缩而非通胀”的观点。正如你们可能知道的,我更担心的是价格以过慢的速度增长而非以过快的速度增长。然而,我同样也认为完全的通缩和“反通胀”并不是一回事。任何情况下,我都不太担心高通胀,所以决定站在“通缩”这边。文章需要考虑到大众受教育的水平,而非仅是经济学家的圈子,所以并不是很容易抓住这些微妙之处。无论如何,在这些约束之下我尽可能的做到最好,并且还会有两次大展身手的机会。我还有很多想在这里说的(而且已经在这个博客上说了)。

今天的新闻到处都是关于日本刚刚经历了其现代史上最严重的通缩的消息。对于新闻报道我没有任何具体的抱怨,就像如下这则:

“看来,日本正走向另一个长时期的通货紧缩,”麦格理证券的经济学家Richard Jerram警告道。

并补充,在此背景下,日本央行似乎准备在“一个较长的时期”内,把其关键利率控制在当前低水平的1%。

让我困扰的是,许多这类报道中都隐含着一种假设,把通缩描绘成一种神秘的弊病,它仅仅发生在像日本这样陷入困境的国家。并且我们也不知道该如何解决这样的难题。顺带一句,由于通缩会导致低利率,如果我是日本人,我就不会听信那些利率将长期持低的预测。

有一件和这些新闻报道相关的极其有趣的事情,中世纪国王的财政大臣们曾嘲笑通缩是个棘手的难题的主张。“解决流动性陷阱的万全之策”(借用普林斯顿大学Lars Svensson教授的说法),就是使货币贬值。在当前的背景下,就意味着使日元贬值。这可以通过逐步降低日元兑换美元的比率来实现。不幸的是,日元不仅没有贬值,实际上,在过去的几年里反而升值了。顺带一句,我并不是说日本想在汇率上做文章,只不过,我觉得这些新闻报道把日本央行描写得好像忘记了使用中世纪财政大臣的绝招似的,实在太可笑。我很确定,他们知道如何引导温和的通胀,只不过他们不想这样做罢了。

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)


英文原文(地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=1671):

Don’t know how to end deflation? Ask a medieval king

I may not post much for the next week, but if you are interested you can tune in to my debate with Lee Ohanian at CBSMoneyWatch.com.

  I just posted my first column, and three more are planned.  Professor Ohanian will also provide three responses.  I should mention that I was restricted a bit by the format.  I did slightly run over the 500 word limit, but I was also asked to take the side that “deflation is a currently a bigger risk than inflation.”  As you may know, I am more worried about prices rising at too slow a rate than too high a rate.  However I also think that outright deflation is less likely than “disinflation.”  In any case I don’t have much fear of high inflation, so I decided to take the “deflation” side of the debate.  It also needed to be written at a level for the average educated reader, not economists, so it wasn’t always possible to quickly sketch out these subtle distinctions.  In any case I did the best I could under those constraints, and will have two more shots.  There is much more I would have liked to say (and have said throughout this blog.)

  Today’s news was full of reports that Japan just experienced its worst deflation in modern history.  I don’t have any specific complaints about news stories like this one:

“It looks like Japan is heading for another lengthy period of deflation,” warned Macquarie Securities economist Richard Jerram.

Against this backdrop, the Bank of Japan looks set to hold its key interest rate at the current low level of 0.1 percent for “a lengthy period,” he added.

  What bothers me is the sort of implicit assumption in many of these stories that deflation is some sort of mysterious malady that simply fell on the poor benighted country of Japan.  And we don’t know what sort of medicine will solve the problem.  BTW, since deflation causes low interest rates, if I was Japanese I would not be reassured by the forecast that rates will remain low for a long time.

  One thing that is so interesting about these news stories is that the finance ministers of medieval kings have laughed at the claim that deflation was a difficult problem to solve.  The “foolproof escape from a liquidity trap” (to borrow Princeton Professor Lars Svensson’s term), was to debase coins.  In the modern context, that would mean devaluing the yen.  This could be done by gradually making the yen a smaller and smaller fraction of the dollar.  Unfortunately, not only has the yen not been debased, its value has actually increased in the past few years.  BTW, I am not recommending that Japan target exchange rates, it’s just that I find it amusing to read press reports written as if the BOJ had somehow lost the mysterious secret known to all medieval finance ministers.  I’m pretty sure they know how to generate mild inflation, but they don’t want to.

 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客 [Scott Sumner中文博客]  

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