The conventional wisdom is that August is a sleepy month for markets, with politicians, policymakers and investors all at the beach rather than at their desks. The conventional wisdom is wrong. The credit crunch really kicked off on 9 August 2007, when the French bank BNP Paribas suspended three of its investment funds that had been dabbling in US sub-prime mortgages. Within a week, the Bank of England’s Mervyn King was getting warnings that Northern Rock was in grave danger if the squeeze in money markets dragged on (not that it had any effect on Threadneedle Street’s policies). Over the course of that month, the interest rate that banks charged each other for loans – the London inter-bank offered rate (Libor) – surged. Investors and commentators began talking about a credit crunch. Traders and fund managers who were catching some sun found themselves glued to their BlackBerrys and on the phone to their offices. These were the first steps that led to the collapse of Northern Rock in September, and ultimately to a near-death experience for the world financial system. And yesterday you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was happening all over again.
通常看法是八月份为市场休眠期，政治家、政策制订者和投资人都去海滩度假而不是在办公桌前工作。然而这看法错了。2007年8月9日，当法国巴黎银行中止了三支涉足美国次级贷款的投资基金时，信用紧缩真正开始了。一周内，英国银行行长默文·金（Mervyn King）得到警告， 如果货币市场紧缩拖下去的话，北岩银行就危险了（并不是说这会对针线街的政策有什么影响）。8月份当中，银行间互贷的利率–伦敦同业拆借利率（Libor）– 急剧上升。投资人和评论员开始谈论信用紧缩。正享受日光浴的交易商和基金经理发现自己无法离开黑莓手机和打往办公室的电话。这是导致9月份北岩银行倒闭的最初情况，最终整个世界金融体系几近崩溃。而昨天如果你认为这一切重来了的话是可以被谅解的。
Consider: the Dow Jones dropping 290 points in one morning (which makes 1,000 points within a fortnight). The FTSE 100 closing down 3.5%, with similar carnage in Frankfurt and Paris. And then there’s the market in government loans. The interest rate on a 10-year US Treasury bond has dropped below 2.5%, which just shows up what a nonsense all that rightwing talk was about “bond-market vigilantes” preparing to swoop on Washington. What investors are demanding right now is not urgent American spending cuts, but a port in a storm – which means IOUs from DC, Swiss francs and gold. What they don’t want is assets associated with the eurozone periphery: whether that be government bonds from Italy and Spain, or British banks (which took a pounding yesterday).
注意: 一早上道琼斯指数跌了290点 (14天内跌去1000点)。英国金融时报指数收盘跌3.5%，同等惨况也发生在法兰克福和巴黎。政府贷款市场并不乐观。10年期美国政府长期债券利息已经跌到2.5%以下，这显示右翼说的准备突袭华盛顿的“债券市场义务警员”都是废话。投资人现在要求的不是美国立即削减开支，而是暴风雨里的港口– 意味着商务部的白条、瑞士法郎和黄金。他们不想要与欧元区周边相关的资产，不管是来自意大利和西班牙的政府债券，还是英国银行的。后者昨天刚受到重创。
The alarming thing, as the European commission president, José Manuel Barroso, pointed out yesterday, is that the eurozone periphery keeps expanding. Italy and Spain are now in the firing line. But Belgium is in the distance, too: the gap between the interest on Belgian government loans and their German equivalents has now widened out to over 2.2 percentage points. Given that Belgium does not have an effective government, that fact is frightening: no one in the country has the legitimacy to drive through emergency policies. Incredibly, a gap has even opened up between French government bonds and those issued by Germany.
正如欧盟委员会主席巴罗佐（José Manuel Barroso）昨天指出的那样，值得警惕的是，欧元区周边危机正在扩张。目前意大利和西班牙在最前线。而距离比利时尚有一段距离。比利时政府贷款和德国政府贷款的利息差距已经扩大到超过2.2%。考虑到比利时政府并不是很高效，现实是令人害怕的： 国家没人有合法地位快速通过应急政策。难以置信的是，法国政府证券和德国政府债券间也出现了利息差距。
This panic comes down to two things: one chronic, the other acute. The abiding worry, the one that has been eating away at markets ever since the stimulus measures of 2008-09, is that the western economy has run out of emergency fuel and still lacks momentum. The immediate worry is that Spain and Italy are now borrowing money at unsustainable rates and may be forced into the kind of slow-motion default on sovereign loans that is happening in Greece. These stock-market drops and interest-rate spikes are largely the repricing of investor risk – amplified by the fact that few people are trading heavily in August.
At the height of the banking crisis of 2008, policymakers had two priorities: first, prop up the banks; second, protect the real economies as far as possible from the impact of the crash. This time, the task is again twofold, only much bigger: first, prop up the European banks, and ensure emergency low-cost loans for Spain and Italy; second, another round of reflation. Yet this requires money and moreover statecraft of a kind that has gone awol from European politics. The single-currency club does have an emergency fund – but it won’t be in place for years. In Jean-Claude Trichet it also has an intransigent central banker. The markets do not have time to wait around for either.
在2008年 银行危机高点时，政策制定者有两件紧急的事：一是资助银行，二是尽量保护经济实体不受破产的冲击。而这次，任务还是由两部分组成，不过更艰巨了：首先，资 助欧洲银行，确保西班牙和意大利得到紧急低息贷款；接着，开始另一轮通货再膨胀。然而，这需要资金外加某种欧洲政治缺乏的治国才能。欧元区是有这种应急基 金的，不过数年内不会到位。而特里谢（Jean-ClaudeTrichet）又是不会妥协的央行行长。市场是没有时间空等了。