英国《金融时报》 Lex专栏

Angela Merkel is right: the euro is in danger. The threat comes not from speculators, however, but from policymakers. The German government’s unilateral ban on naked short selling of eurozone sovereign bonds, either directly or using credit default swaps, is the equivalent of taking a wild swing at a straw man. It appears to be a politically timed move to win backing for the eurozone’s €750bn rescue package. The danger is that it saps confidence in that grand project. The ban was introduced without consultation with other eurozone governments, increasing the risk of regulatory discord when the opposite is needed. It reinforces the impression that Germany is seriously at odds with the financial markets.

安格拉·默克尔(Angela Merkel)说得没错:欧元正处于危险境地。不过,威胁并非来自投机者,而是来自政策制定者。德国政府单方面禁止“裸卖空”欧元区国债——无论是直接操作还是利用信用违约互换(CDS),相当于挥拳狠揍一个草人。从时机上看,此举具有政治动机,目的是让欧元区7500亿欧元的救援方案赢得支持。危险在于,这将削弱人们对那个庞大项目的信心。这一禁令是在未经与欧元区其它政府磋商的情况下出台的,这增加了监管不协调的风险,这与目前所需要的局面恰恰相反。它加深了人们的一个印象,即德国与金融市场严重不合。

Naked short selling is often a speculative trade. But it can also be a legitimate form of hedging, as when banks use it to protect their loan exposure to companies in troubled countries. There is a case for restricting it in illiquid securities, where shorting may manipulate or distort prices. But the €7,300bn eurozone government bond market requires no such protection. The International Monetary Fund estimates that investors’ net sovereign CDS exposure is only 0.5 per cent of total sovereign debt outstanding. Bafin, the German regulator, said on March 8 there was no evidence speculators using credit default swaps contributed to Greece’s woes. As a market, it is barely big enough to matter.


There is an urgent need to make markets more transparent and less prone to systemic shocks in light of the financial crisis. The proposal to route derivatives trading via clearing houses is sensible. There are consultations on a revision to existing derivatives market regulations. The unilateral German move must not detract from the wider effort to reduce opportunities for regulatory arbitrage. Germany has picked a battle it does not need to fight, against an opponent too small to merit its attentions. With friends like that, the euro doesn’t need enemies.