爱尔兰为何没有陷入动荡?

作者:英国《金融时报》专栏作家 吉莲•邰蒂

What does Ireland have that Greece does not? Aside, of course, from rain and good beer. That is the question many western governments might do well to ask themselves, particularly in places such as London, Lisbon and Madrid.

什么东西爱尔兰有,但希腊没有?当然,雨水与好喝的啤酒除外。这个问题,许多西方政府都最好问一下自己,尤其是英国、葡萄牙以及西班牙。

In recent days Europe has been convulsed by the fiscal woes gripping Greece. But while Athens burns, there is an equally fascinating tale on the other side of Europe which has got less attention: namely the fact that Ireland has not been convulsed by political and fiscal disarray.

近些天来,困扰希腊的财政危机使欧洲动荡不安。但在希腊抗议者放火之际,欧洲另一边上演着另一则受关注较少、却同样吸引人的故事:即爱尔兰没有因为政治与财政混乱而陷入动荡这一事实。

After all, this time last year there was widespread speculation in the capital markets that Ireland would be one of the first of Europe’s more indebted nations to suffer fiscal shock. Its banks were a mess. It had just experienced a crazy property boom and bust. It was piling up public sector debt.

毕竟,去年的这个时候,资本市场普遍猜测,在欧洲负债率较高的国家中,爱尔兰将会成为首批遭受财政冲击的国家之一。它的银行一团糟。它刚刚经历了疯狂的楼市繁荣与萧条。它的公共债务积重难返。

Yet, thus far, Ireland has confounded the market doomsters by embarking on a draconian programme to tackle the debt, which includes large public sector pay cuts, and resolve the bad loan problems at its banks.

不过,爱尔兰随后出台了非常严厉的计划来解决债务,包括大幅削减公共部门工资,以及解决国内银行的不良贷款问题。迄今,爱尔兰击败了市场末日论者的预言。

While pledging to cut public sector spending by 7.5 per cent of gross domestic product this year alone has not spared Ireland all market pain – last week its bonds were trading at a spread of 3 percentage points over bunds – it has prevented the country from being labelled a full-blown basket case.

尽管今年一年就将公共部门支出占国内生产总值(GDP)比重削减7.5%的承诺,未能让爱尔兰免受所有的市场痛苦——上周,其债券与德国国债的息差触及3%,但它让该国避免被贴上“彻头彻尾的极差国家”这一标签。

Hence the fact that it was Portugal and Spain, not Ireland, hogging the headlines last week.

难怪上周占据新闻头条的是葡萄牙和西班牙,而不是爱尔兰。

Why? Part of the explanation lies in Ireland’s underlying economic situation, which is not as bad as that of Greece or Portugal. Net debt to GDP, for example, in Ireland is projected to be about 50 per cent next year, half the level of Greece. But numbers alone do not tell the whole tale. There are two other, less tangible factors that appear to have played a role in the Irish story – and which are also influencing the way international investors look at government bond risk.

为什么?部分原因在于爱尔兰的基本经济状况,它不像希腊或葡萄牙那样糟糕。举例来说,爱尔兰明年净债务占GDP的比重预计约为50%,是希腊的一半。但数字本身还无法解释事情的全貌。还有其它两个不那么显而易见的因素,似乎也在爱尔兰的故事中起到了一定的作用,而且也影响了国际投资者对其国债风险的看法。

One of these is the issue of political infrastructure or, more specifically, whether a country has the decision-making machinery in place to cut debt. The second is a question that financiers rarely worried about before: namely, social cohesion, and whether a government is able to impose tough choices on a society without sparking political instability, social turmoil or worse.

其中一个是政治基础设施问题,更明确地说,即一国是否拥有决策机构来削减债务。第二个是金融家此前很少操心的一个问题:社会凝聚力,也就是说,政府能否把艰难的选择强加于一个社会,而不致引起政治动荡、社会动乱,乃至更糟糕的情况。

Greece does not fare well on either of these counts, it would seem. As George Papandreou, Greek prime minister – who is, perhaps appropriately, a former academic sociologist – likes to explain, in recent years the country has been a “clientilist state”.

看来,希腊在这两个方面做得都不好。正如希腊总理乔治•帕潘德里欧(George Papandreou)——也许合适的是,他以前是一名学术社会学家——喜欢解释的,近年来,希腊已成为一个“侍从主义国家”(clientilist state,公权占有者伺候其主要庇护者、从事权钱交易的“寻租型国家”——译者注)。

Corruption has been rife, the rule of law patchy and political infrastructure is fairly weak. Social cohesion between rich and poor, or between different political parties, is flimsy. This, after all, is a country with a long tradition of violent protest. It thus remains an open question whether the hapless Mr Papandreou can knit the country to pull together to share pain.

该国腐败猖獗,法治不完善、政治基础设施相当薄弱。穷人与富人,或者,不同政党间的凝聚力相当脆弱。毕竟,这是一个拥有暴力抗议悠久传统的国家。因此,倒霉的帕潘德里欧能否让全国团结起来,齐心协力分担痛苦,仍是一个问题。

Ireland, however, feels very different. The previous, hated, British colonial rule has left the country with a well embedded legal and political infrastructure. The country’s small size makes it easier to manage. While Ireland has a history of bloody civil war, it appears to be facing the current woes with surprisingly high levels of social cohesion.

爱尔兰则感觉非常不同。之前令人憎恨的英国殖民统治,给这个国家留下了根深蒂固的法律与政治基础设施。该国较小的规模,使得它更容易进行管理。尽管爱尔兰有一段血腥的内战史,但它在眼下这场危机面前,出人意料地表现出高度的社会凝聚力。

In a sense, the crisis is being treated like a horrific new year’s day hangover: everyone knows that Ireland wildly overindulged during the credit boom, they also know that purging – if not repentance – is needed. So the nation is collectively lying on the sofa, groaning.

从某种意义上说,爱尔兰对待这场危机,就像对待可怕的新年宿醉一样:每个人都知道,爱尔兰在信贷繁荣时期疯狂地纵情,他们也知道,排泄——如果不是忏悔的话——是必要的。于是,国民都集体依偎在沙发上呻吟着。

Such cohesion may not last in Ireland. As public pay cuts bite, and some bankers are seen to be enjoying fat pay-outs, political tensions are rising. But the intriguing question for other western governments is whether they are heading for an outcome that is more “Irish” or “Greek”?

如此高的凝聚力也许不会在爱尔兰持续很久。随着公共部门工资削减造成生活困难,而一些银行家被发现享受着丰厚的薪酬,政治紧张正在升温。但对于其它西方政府而言,耐人寻味的问题是,他们是朝着更“爱尔兰”,还是更“希腊”的结局前进?

Could the next British prime minister, for example, appeal to the “Dunkirk” spirit of UK voters and ask them all to embrace shared pain in the face of a new fiscal war? Could this be replicated in Lisbon, Madrid or Rome? For the moment, the answers remain dangerously unclear; the bond markets are watching – and waiting.

比如,英国下任首相可以诉诸于英国选民的“敦刻尔克”精神,要求他们共同分担一场新财政战争带来的痛苦吗?葡萄牙、西班牙或者意大利可以复制这种做法吗?眼下,这些问题的答案尚不明确,这非常危险;债券市场正在观望——并等待。

Gillian.tett@ft.com

译者/何黎

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