【英语财经】银行业的真正危险 Complexity, not size, is the real danger in banking

  • A+
所属分类:双语财经

2016-4-25 21:39

小艾摘要: Poor Bernie Sanders. How can you expect to become US president if you are not familiar with the relative spheres of competence of the Federal Reserve and Treasury department in the supervision of the ...
Complexity, not size, is the real danger in banking
Poor Bernie Sanders. How can you expect to become US president if you are not familiar with the relative spheres of competence of the Federal Reserve and Treasury department in the supervision of the nation’s banks? If you are not au fait with the different roles of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The senator from Vermont was part of the Congress that passed the Dodd-Frank Act extending financial regulation. Yet he has not even mastered the thousand pages or so of the act, far less the regulations and explanatory documents that have been published since.

Mr Sanders’ recent stumbles illustrate a misdirection in his attack on the banking establishment. The central problem is not so much “too big to fail” but “too complex to fail”: Lehman was a systemically important financial institution but not an important financial institution. Nor was it a big one; it had fewer employees than Citigroup today has compliance staff. Lehman’s collapse created major problems for the global financial system because of the extent of its interactions, with more than 1m outstanding contracts at the time of its bankruptcy. Similarly, Long Term Capital Management was insignificant in size when it failed but capable of massive impact by virtue of the exposure of other institutions to its activities.

There is some force in the claim that size in banking has actually been conducive to stability. Britain had no banking crisis in the Great Depression because the sector was highly concentrated. The US had many failures because the fragmentation imposed by restrictions on interstate banking meant that many banks lacked sufficient geographical or sectoral diversification to weather losses.

Ahead of the global financial crisis, it was argued that the growth of securitisation and other complex instruments similarly contributed to financial resilience. The reverse proved to be the case; trade between institutions represented concentration and multiplication of risks rather than diversification.

Complexity is the enemy of stability. Financial conglomerates have become too diverse and sprawling for their chief executives or boards to understand what they do. The same complexity creates endemic conflicts of interest and is associated with cross subsidy between activities. There are fundamental differences in the cultures required to trade derivatives, to give private financial advice to big corporations, to manage assets on behalf of savers and to provide an efficient retail banking service.

And these conflicts and interdependencies undermine resilience. Vertical chains of intermediation, which channel funds directly from savers to the uses of capital, can break without inflicting much collateral damage. When intermediation is predominantly horizontal, with intermediaries mostly trading with each other, any failure cascades through the system, as happened with Lehman. Today the assets of major financial institutions are predominantly the liabilities of other financial institutions; and vice versa.

These issues are compounded by the regulatory complexity that follows from attempts to monitor behaviour in impossible detail. As the size of the Dodd-Frank legislation shows, we have locked ourselves into a spiral in which regulatory complexity gives rise to further organisational complexity and the construction of yet more esoteric instruments. Even if legislators had better motives than the present corrupting structure that US campaign finance seems to allow, they cannot hope to have more than a basic knowledge of the rules they promulgate or the workings of the regulatory institutions they have created.

So should we break up banks? Bring it on, Bernie.

可怜的伯尼?桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)。如果你不了解负责监管全美银行的美联储(Fed)和财政部(Treasury department)的相对胜任范围,如果你不清楚证交会(SEC)、联邦存款保险公司(FDIC)和货币监理署(OCC)的不同职能的话,你怎么能够当美国总统?

这位佛蒙特州参议员是通过了实施金融监管的《多德-弗兰克法》(Dodd-Frank Act)的国会的一份子。不过,他甚至看不懂该法大约1000页的文本,自那以来发布的规定和解释文件就更不必提了。

桑德斯最近的错误表明,他对银行业现有体制发起的攻击在方向上是错误的。核心问题不是“大到不能倒”,而是“复杂到不能倒”:雷曼(Lehman)曾经是一家具有系统重要性的金融机构,而并非一家重要的金融机构。雷曼也不是一家大机构;它的员工还没有如今花旗集团(Citigroup)的合规人员多。雷曼倒闭给全球金融体系造成重大问题,是因为它与其他机构的业务往来太广,其破产时留下100多万份未结合约。同样,当年长期资本管理公司(LTCM)在倒闭时的规模也不大,但由于其他机构对其活动的敞口之大,该公司的倒闭造成了巨大冲击。

有种说法有一定的说服力,那就是银行规模大实际上是有利于稳定的。英国在大萧条时期(Great Depression)没有发生银行危机,因为英国银行业是高度集中的。美国有很多银行倒闭,原因在于,限制跨州从事银行业务带来的分散化,意味着许多银行在地理或行业方面缺乏多元化,无法抵御亏损。

在全球金融危机之前,有人辩称,证券化与其他复杂工具的发展同样有利于增强金融弹性。事实证明情况恰好相反;机构之间的交易代表着风险的集中与倍增,而不是分散。

复杂是稳定的敌人。大型金融企业集团的业务变得太广泛,规模变得太大,以至于它们的首席执行官或董事会都搞不懂公司在做什么。这种复杂性还带来普遍的利益冲突,并且与不同活动之间的交叉补贴有关。交易衍生品、向大企业提供专门金融建议、替储户管理资产和提供高效率的零售银行服务所需要的文化存在根本差异。

这些冲突和相互依赖削弱了弹性。垂直的中介链——把资金从储户直接输送至资金的使用者——可能在不造成太大附带损害的情况下断裂。当中介链变成基本上水平的形态时——中介主要在相互之间交易——任何失灵都会传导至整个系统,正如雷曼倒闭时的情况那样。如今,大型金融机构的资产主要是其他金融机构的负债;反之亦然。

监管者企图以不可能达到的程度监视企业行为,由此造成的复杂性使问题变得更糟糕。正如冗长的《多德-弗兰克法》所显示的那样,我们把自己锁进了一个螺旋:监管复杂性加剧了组织复杂性,并带来更难懂的工具。相比美国竞选资金募集似乎放任的现行腐败体系,即便立法者有更好的动机,他们除了对自己颁布的规则或创建的监管机构的运作有个基本了解,也不能指望具备更深入的知识了。

那么,我们应该分拆银行吗?想试就试一试吧,桑德斯。

译者/何黎

本文关键字:财经英语,小艾英语,双语网站,财经双语,财经资讯,互联网新闻,ERWAS,行业解析,创业指导,营销策略,英语学习,可以双语阅读的网站!
  • 我的微信
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin
  • 微信公众号
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin

发表评论

您必须登录才能发表评论!