【英语财经】看好美联储“新招”应对影子银行 Make shadow banks safe and private money sound

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2014-6-19 07:03

小艾摘要: The rise of the shadow bank – a kind of credit intermediary that lies outside the range of much banking regulation – carries a subtler corollary. It has created a kind of money that is likewise beyo ...
Make shadow banks safe and private money sound
The rise of the shadow bank – a kind of credit intermediary that lies outside the range of much banking regulation – carries a subtler corollary. It has created a kind of money that is likewise beyond reach of central bankers’ traditional instruments of oversight and control. Rightly, the US Federal Reserve is responding by forging new tools.

Money created by governments comes in two forms. There is currency, the notes and coin you carry in your wallet; and there are reserves, balances held at the central bank by deposit-taking institutions. These liabilities always trade at par; a retail bank can reduce its reserves by $1m in return for receiving the same value in notes and coin from the central bank, just as you can exchange a dollar bill for four quarters.

But money also comes in private forms. Deposits in retail banks are one example. Balances in money market funds are another. (These institutions are similar to banks, except that they raise funds in the money markets instead of taking it from private depositors; and they use the proceeds to buy bonds instead of extending loans.) This “private” money usually trades at par, too. You can exchange $20 in bank deposits for a $20 bill as quickly as you can reach a cash machine.

As long as people expect this situation to continue, the system works well. But if confidence disappears, panic ensues, as happened time and again in the 1900s. Then came the creation of the Fed, which could lend to besieged institutions as a last resort to stop a run. Deposit insurance also prevented fears about the solvency of a bank from becoming self-fulfilling.

Such backstops were needed to give the public confidence that banks would always be able to deliver on their promise to exchange deposits for cash. They turned banking into a public-private partnership. But they applied only to the formal banking sector. There were no similar protections for shadow banks.

For most people, money is currency and insured deposits. These are the kinds of money included in the M2 monetary aggregate, which is closely followed by policy makers. But for asset managers and corporations, money begins where M2 ends. These economic actors must hold billions of dollars worth of liquid assets – far too much to keep in physical currency, and far larger than the maximum bank balance covered by government guarantees.

Such behemoths must resort to other forms of money. Uninsured bank deposits are one option – but not an especially attractive one, since they are just unsecured and undiversified claims on banks. A better alternative is “shadow” money: either balances in money market funds; or repurchase agreements, also known as “repos”, in which a borrower sells a security and promises to buy it back at a predetermined price and time. What is under-appreciated is that those who hold such shadow money do so not out of choice but because they lack access to better alternatives.

When this informal financial system seized up during the crisis, the response was to extend public backstops – this time to shadow banks, as well as hitherto uninsured deposits in regular ones. But these were temporary measures. Now the Fed has begun extending to shadow banks many of the same protections and controls that have been used to stabilise the formal banking sector for more than a century.

The Fed’s new “reverse repo” (RRP) facility in effect gives shadow banks an account at the Fed, similar to the reserve accounts that deposit-taking institutions keep there. It conceptually gives the Fed with a way to prevent excessive credit creation in the shadow banking sector. Regular banks are required to hold minimum levels of capital, placing a limit on the expansion of their loan books. The Fed could achieve a similar effect in the shadow banking sector by setting minimum “haircuts” – limits on the amount market participants can raise against safe assets such as Treasuries. This could give it a degree of macroprudential control it lacked pre-crisis, when haircuts became perfunctory. Similarly, just as regular banks are required to hold a certain level of reserves, so shadow banks could be forced to maintain minimum balances in the RRP.

The facility could also enable the Fed to become a “dealer of last resort”, just as it is a lender of last resort to regular banks. This would ensure a troubled shadow bank could always find a counterparty in the market. The Fed ended up playing this role in 2008 but only hesitantly – for counterparties whose books it did not intimately know and for whom it did not maintain reserve accounts. The RRP will formalise both the oversight mechanism and the rescue procedure.

The crisis of last decade was a reminder of the instability inherent in private money. The Fed is taking vital steps towards turning shadow banking – and the shadow money it creates – into a public-private partnership, much as was done with regular banking 100 years ago. This is wise. Individuals and small businesses are not alone in needing a safe form of private money.

The writer is chief economist at Pimco. This piece was co-written by Zoltan Pozsar

影子银行是一种不受大部分银行业监管措施约束的信贷中介工具,它的兴起造成了比较微妙的后果。它创造出了一种游离于央行官员传统监管控制手段之外的货币。美联储(Fed)打造新工具应对影子银行,是有道理的。

政府创造的货币分为两种形式。一是通货,即人们钱包里的纸币和硬币;二是准备金,即吸储机构存放在央行的余额。这些负债总是按票面价值交易;零售银行可以将准备金减少100万美元,从央行换取等值的纸币和硬币,就像你可以拿一张一美元的纸币换得四个25美分硬币一样。

但货币也以私币形式存在,零售银行存款便是一例,货币市场基金的余额也是一个例子。(货币基金与银行相似,但它们在货币市场募资,而不是从私人储户那里吸收资金;而且,它们使用收入购买债券,而不是发放贷款。)“私币”通常也按面值交易。用20美元的银行存款兑换一张20美元的纸币,就像去取款机一样方便快捷。

只要人们预期这种情况继续下去,这一体系便能有效运转。但一旦信心丧失,恐慌便尾随而至,就像20世纪头10年反复上演的那样。后来,美联储诞生了,它可以作为最后贷款人借款给陷入困境的金融机构,防止挤兑。存款保险制度还能防止银行清偿能力引发的担忧自我应验。

之所以需要这样的保障机制,是为了让公众相信,银行总能兑现诺言,将存款兑换为现金。这些机制将银行业变成了一种公私合伙部门。但这只适用于正规银行业。影子银行没有类似的保障措施。

对大多数人来说,货币是通货和有保险的存款。这些类型的货币被纳入政策制定者紧密关注的M2货币总量。但对于资产管理公司和企业来说,M2的结束才是货币的开始。这些经济主体必须持有价值数十亿美元的流动资产,但它们数额太高,无法以实体货币形式持有,也超过了政府提供担保的银行存款上限。

这些巨头必须求助于其他形式的货币。无保险的银行存款是一个选择,但它并没有特别的吸引力,因为它只是对银行持有的无担保、未分散的债权。更好的选择是“影子”货币:要么是货币市场基金的余额,要么是回购协议——即借款人售出一种证券,并承诺在约定时间以约定价格买回该证券。人们不太清楚的是,持有影子货币并非主动选择的结果,而是因为没有更好的选择。

当非正规金融体系在危机中陷入困境时,对策是扩大公共保障机制的覆盖范围——这次延伸到影子银行,以及正规银行里尚未得到保险保护的存款。现在,美联储把100多年来用于稳定正规银行业的许多保护和控制措施,延伸到影子银行。

美联储新的“逆回购”(RRP)措施实际上相当于影子银行在美联储开户,类似于吸储机构在美联储开设准备金账户的机制。从概念上说,它能让美联储防止影子银行业创造过多信贷。正规银行被要求持有不低于某一标准的资本金,其贷款规模的扩张受到限制。美联储可以设置最低“折价”(haircut),对影子银行业施加类似的影响。“折价”是指市场参与者以国债等安全资产为担保所募资金的上限。这可以让美联储实施一定程度的宏观审慎控制,而在危机前美联储做不到这一点,那时的折价不过是敷衍了事。类似地,正如要求正规银行持有一定水平的准备金一样,美联储可以强迫影子银行维持最低限度的逆回购余额。

该机制还能让美联储成为“最后交易商”,就像“最后贷款人”之于正规银行那样。这将保证陷入困境的影子银行总能在市场中找到对手方。在2008年,美联储最终扮演起了这个职责,但它出手时颇为犹豫——当时它不了解对手方的账目,对手方也没有开设准备金账户。逆回购会将监管机制和救助程序正规化。

过去10年的危机提醒我们,私币具有内在不稳定性。美联储正在采取关键措施,将影子银行业——以及它创造出的影子货币——转化为公私合伙部门,就像100年前对待正规银行业的那样。这是明智的做法。需要安全私币的,不只有个人和小企业。

注:本文作者是太平洋投资管理公司(PIMCO)首席经济学家。佐尔坦?波扎尔(Zoltan Pozsar)对本文亦有贡献。

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