The credit crunch
Saving the system 拯救系统
Oct 9th 2008
From The Economist print edition
At last a glimmer of hope, but more boldness is needed to avert a global economic catastrophe
CONFIDENCE is everything in finance. Until this week the politicians trying to tackle the credit crunch had done little to restore this essential ingredient. In America Congress dithered over the Bush administration’s $700 billion bail-out plan. In Europe governments have casually played beggar-my-neighbour politics, with countries launching deposit-guarantee schemes that destabilize banks elsewhere. This week, however, saw the first glimmers of a comprehensive global answer to the confidence gap.
One clear sign was an unprecedented co-ordinated interest-rate cut on October 8th by the world’s main central banks, including the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and (officially a coincidence) the People’s Bank of China. Various continental European countries also set about recapitalizing their banks. But the most astounding developments were in America and Britain. The Fed doubled the amount of money available to banks on a short-term basis to $900 billion and announced that it would buy unsecured commercial paper directly from corporate borrowers. More surprisingly, Gordon Brown’s government, hitherto the ditherer par excellence, produced the first systemic plan for dealing with the crisis, not just providing capital and short-term loans to banks but also offering to guarantee new debt for up to three years.
一个明确的信号是10月8日全球主要央行空前地联合降息，其中包括美联储、欧洲央行、英国央行（英格兰银行）和中国央行（官方称是巧合）。许多欧洲大陆国 家也开始计划调整银行资本结构。但最令人惊骇的进展发生在美国和英国。美联储将对其短期内对银行提供的贷款规模扩大到9000亿美元，为原来的两倍，并宣布将直接从企业购买未担保的商业票据。更令人惊讶的是，迄今为止不知所措到极点的戈登?布朗政府采取了应对危机的第一个系统的计划，不仅向银行提供资本和 短期贷款，还对三年内到期的新债进行担保。
This is certainly progress, but it is not enough (see our extended finance section). The world’s finance ministers and central bankers, gathering in Washington, DC, this weekend for the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, should deliver a simple message: more will be done. The world economy is plainly in a poor state, but it could get a lot worse. This is a time to put dogma and politics to one side and concentrate on pragmatic answers. That means more government intervention and co-operation in the short term than taxpayers, politicians or indeed free-market newspapers would normally like.
The patient writhing on the floor
If the panic that has choked the arteries of credit across the globe is not calmed soon, the danger will increase that output in rich economies will not simply shrink, but collapse. The same could happen in many emerging markets, especially those that rely on foreign capital. No country or industry would be spared from the equivalent of a global financial heart attack.
Stockmarkets are in a funk. But the main problem remains the credit markets. In the interbank market the prices banks pay to borrow money from each other are still near record highs. Meanwhile corporate borrowers have found it hard to issue commercial paper, as money-market funds have fled from all but the safest assets. In emerging markets bond spreads have soared and local currencies plunged. And whole countries have begun to get into trouble. The government of Iceland has had to nationalise two of its biggest banks and is frantically seeking a lifeline loan from Russia. Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, says there could be balance-of-payments problems in up to 30 developing countries.