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Annette Heuser 談掌控經濟成敗的三大機構

Annette Heuser: The 3 agencies with the power to make or break economies

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Annette Heuser

2013年6月攝於TEDGlobal 2013

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恒

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

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關於這場演講

評級機構改革者Annette Heuser說,目前評估國家經濟的方式是錯誤的。藉由隱秘且不為人知的方法,美國三大私人信用評級機構主宰全球經濟成敗,這將帶來嚴重後果。但如果有其他方式呢?在這場膽識十足的演講中,Heuser分享她的願景:一家可為這個系統帶來更多公平與正義的非盈利性機構。

 

關於Annette Heuser

Annette Heuser提出關鍵改革方案,以擺脫評級機構對國家信用評分的鐵腕控制。

 

為什麼要聽她演講

擁有降低全球國家信用評級權力的信用評級機構遭受嚴格檢視,最近的事件使它們的可信度及透明度遭受質疑。如果有其他方法擺脫限制,並削弱三大機構的正當性呢?

 

德國博德曼基金會華盛頓分會執行董事Annette Heuser創造一個新型非營利性解決方案藍圖,擺脫這些機構的鐵腕控制。國際非盈利性信用評級機構(INCRA)主動進行國外風險評估,將主權信用評級重新定義為公共產品,可顯著改變全球金融的未來。

 

Annette Heuser的英語網上資料

Twitter: @AnnetteHeuser

Website: Bertelsmann Foundation

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Annette Heuser 談掌控經濟成敗的三大機構

 

大約兩年前,我在德國開車,打開收音機。歐洲當時正處於歐債危機中,所有新聞頭條都是關於歐洲國家被美國評級機構降級的消息。我一面聆聽、一面思考:「這些評級機構是什麼?為何大家如此在意它們的評級?」

 

好,如果那天你坐在我身旁,告訴我未來幾年我會致力於改革這些機構,顯然我會說你瘋了。但猜猜真正瘋狂的是什麼:這些評級機構的運作方式。我想跟各位解釋的,不僅是為何現在是著手改革的時機,還有該如何進行。

 

因此我稍微說明一下評級機構到底在做什麼。就像你買新車之前會先閱讀汽車雜誌,或先瀏覽產品評價後,再決定買哪種平板電腦或手機;投資者先看評級再決定將資金投資在哪一項產品上。評級範圍從所謂的AAA,意味著表現最突出的產品;到最差的級別,即所謂的BBB–,意味著相當冒險的投資。評級機構的評級對象包括公司、銀行,甚至金融產品,例如聲名狼藉的不動產抵押貸款證券。但國家也能納入評級這種評級,稱為主權信用評級。今天我的討論將著眼於這些主權信用評級。

 

我看得出,各位肯定一邊聽、一邊想著,為何我該在意這件事,對嗎?好,這些評級對你和所有人都有影響。如果評級機構對國家進行評級,基本上評估的是一個國家的債務狀況,以及那個國家償債的能力及意願。因此如果一個國家被評級機構降級,就得付出更多成本才能在國際市場借貸,因此身為公民及納稅人的你將受到影響,因為你和你的同胞必須付出更多成本才能進行借貸。但如果一個國家無法負擔呢?因為成本太過高昂。好,這個國家將削減其他服務,例如道路、學校、醫療,這就是你該在意的原因。因為主權信用評級影響每一個人,這就是我認為它們應定義為公共產品的原因。它們應透明化、易於取得、免費提供給所有人。

 

但目前情況是:評級機構市場僅由三家公司主導:標準普爾、穆迪、惠譽國際。眾所皆知,當市場集中時,競爭就不存在,改善產品品質的動力亦不存在。面對現實吧!評級機構曾使全球經濟瀕臨危機,因此其運作方式必須有所改變。

 

第二點是,你買車時會單憑經銷商的建議做決定嗎?顯然不會,對嗎?那是不負責任的做法,但這確實是評級機構長久以來的情況。這些評級機構的客戶,例如國家或公司,藉由付費獲得評級,顯然其中存在利益衝突。

 

第三點是,評級機構不曾說明它們評級的根據。但在這個時代,如果不一一列出成分清單,你連一顆糖果都不能賣。但對評級這項經濟要素而言,我們確實對其中細節一無所知。我們任由評級機構以不透明的方式運作,我們需要改變這個情況。

 

我認為無庸置疑地,這個領域需要徹底改革。不僅是無關痛癢的改變,我認為是大膽行動、改革這個系統的時候了。這就是為何博德曼基金會投入大量時間和精力,思考改革這個體系的方法。我們為非營利性主權信用評級機構開發了第一個模式,我們簡稱它為INCRA。

 

INCRA將改革現有系統,使其他非營利性評級機構加入這個體系。它以非營利性模式為基礎,以持續性基金作為後盾。這項基金將創造收入,使我們得以運作這個系統、這個評級機構,也使我們能提供評級給大眾使用。但這尚不足以改變現況,對嗎?INCRA亦建立於相當明確的管理結構,可避免任何利益衝突,其中包括許多來自各界的利益攸關者。INCRA不僅是歐洲人或美國人的評級機構,它是實質上的全球性機構,尤其是新興經濟體,將享有平等利益、發言權及代表權。

 

INCRA實現的第二項大改革是,其主權信用風險評估基於一系列更廣泛的指標。這麼說吧,如果進行主權信用評級,基本上我們觀察的是一個國家的經濟基本面,宏觀經濟基本面,但我們也必須考慮一個問題:培育國家經濟基礎的是誰,對嗎?好,一個國家擁有許多培育者,其中之一就是政府。因此下一個問題是:這個國家如何管理?如何運作?這就是為什麼我們開發了所謂的前瞻性指標,這些指標使你更能瞭解一個國家的社會經濟發展狀況。我希望你們認同,你應該瞭解-如果你的政府願意投資再生能源和教育,你應該瞭解你的政府是否有能力管理危機,政府最終是否能實現它所承諾的改革。例如,如果INCRA現在打算對南非進行評級,我們當然會密切觀察這個國家年輕人的失業率-它是全球最高的。如果一個國家35歲以下人口失業率超過70%,這對經濟當然影響重大。今日如此,更別提將來了。好,我們的同行,穆迪、標準普爾、惠譽國際會說,我們也會考慮這項因素,但事實上呢?我們無法得知它們如何將其列入考慮。

 

這將我們引入INCRA所做的第三項大改革:INCRA不僅公佈評級結果,也公佈評級指標及方法。

 

因此相較於與目前的系統,INCRA是完全透明化的。簡言之,INCRA在目前由三大評級機構主宰的系統中提供另一項選擇,藉由加入一個非營利性的新評級機構,這將增加競爭,提升這個系統的透明度及品質。

 

我知道對你來說,或許在複雜的全球金融系統中,主權信用評級只是滄海一粟。但我告訴各位,它相當重要,且亟需改革,因為主權信用評級影響所有人。它應該被視為、且定義為公共產品,這就是目前我們測試這個模式的原因。我們試著瞭解這是否能吸引一群有能力及意願的人,使INCRA有所發揮。我堅信建立INCRA關乎大眾利益。現在我們擁有絕佳機會使INCRA成為全新、更具包容性的金融系統奠基石,因為我們任由那些金融巨頭恣意妄為太久,是該介入的時候了。

 

謝謝。

 

(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this Talk

Onstage at TED2014, Charlie Rose interviews Google CEO Larry Page about his far-off vision for the company. It includes aerial bikeways and internet balloons … and then it gets even more interesting, as Page talks through the company’s recent acquisition of Deep Mind, an AI that is learning some surprising things.

About the Speaker

Annette Heuser proposes critical reforms to loosen the iron grip of rating agencies on national credit scores. Full bio

Transcript

Almost two years ago, I was driving in my car in Germany, and I turned on the radio. Europe at the time was in the middle of the Euro crisis, and all the headlines were about European countries getting downgraded by rating agencies in the United States. I listened and thought to myself, "What are these rating agencies, and why is everybody so upset about their work?"

Well, if you were sitting next to me in the car that day and would have told me that I would devote the next years to trying to reform them, obviously I would have called you crazy. But guess what's really crazy: the way these rating agencies are run. And I would like to explain to you not only why it's time to change this, but also how we can do it.

So let me tell you a little bit about what rating agencies really do. As you would read a car magazine before purchasing a new car or taking a look at a product review before deciding which kind of tablet or phone to get, investors are reading ratings before they decide in which kind of product they are investing their money. A rating can range from a so-called AAA, which means it's a top-performing product, and it can go down to the level of the so-called BBB-, which means it's a fairly risky investment. Rating agencies are rating companies. They are rating banks. They are rating even financial products like the infamous mortgage-backed securities. But they can also rate countries, and these ratings are called sovereign ratings, and I would like to focus in particular on these sovereign ratings.

And I can tell, as you're listening to me right now, you're thinking, so why should I really care about this, right? Be honest. Well, ratings affect you. They affect all of us. If a rating agency rates a country, it basically assesses and evaluates a country's debt and the ability and willingness of a country to repay its debt. So if a country gets downgraded by a rating agency, the country has to pay more in order to borrow money on the international markets. So it affects you as a citizen and as a taxpayer, because you and your fellow countrymen have to pony up more in order to borrow. But what if a country can't afford to pay more because it's maybe too expensive? Well, then the country has less available for other services, like roads, schools, healthcare. And this is the reason why you should care, because sovereign ratings affect everyone. And that is the reason why I believe they should be defined as public goods. They should be transparent, accessible, and available to everyone at no cost.

But here's the situation: the rating agency market is dominated by three players and three players only -- Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch -- and we know whenever there is a market concentration, there is really no competition. There is no incentive to improve the quality of your product. And let's face it, the credit rating agencies have contributed, putting the global economy on the brink, and yet they have to change the way they operate.

The second point, would you really buy a car just based on the advice of the dealer? Obviously not, right? That would be irresponsible. But that's actually what's going on in the rating agency sector every single day. The customers of these rating agencies, like countries or companies, they are paying for their own ratings, and obviously this is creating a conflict of interest.

The third point is, the rating agencies are not really telling us how they are coming up with their ratings, but in this day and age, you can't even sell a candy bar without listing everything that's inside. But for ratings, a crucial element of our economy, we really do not know what all the different ingredients are. We are allowing the rating agencies to be intransparent about their work, and we need to change this.

I think there is no doubt that the sector needs a complete overhaul, not just a trimming at the margins. I think it's time for a bold move. I think it's time to upgrade the system. And this is why we at the Bertelsmann Foundation have invested a lot of time and effort thinking about an alternative for the sector. And we have developed the first model for a nonprofit rating agency for sovereign risk, and we call it by its acronym, INCRA.

INCRA would make a difference to the current system by adding another nonprofit player to the mix. It would be based on a nonprofit model that would be based on a sustainable endowment. The endowment would create income that would allow us to run the operation, to run the rating agency, and it would also allow us to make our ratings publicly available. But this is not enough to make a difference, right? INCRA would also be based on a very, very clear governance structure that would avoid any conflict of interest, and it would include many stakeholders from society. INCRA would not only be a European or an American rating agency, it would be a truly international one, in which, in particular, the emerging economies would have an equal interest, voice and representation.

The second big difference that INCRA would make is that would it base its sovereign risk assessment on a broader set of indicators. Think about it that way. If we conduct a sovereign rating, we basically take a look at the economic soil of a country, its macroeconomic fundamentals. But we also have to ask the question, who is cultivating the economic soil of a country, right? Well, a country has many gardeners, and one of them is the government, so we have to ask the question, how is a country governed? How is it managed? And this is the reason why we have developed what we call forward-looking indicators. These are indicators that give you a much better read about the socioeconomic development of a country. I hope you would agree it's important for you to know if your government is willing to invest in renewable energy and education. It's important for you to know if the government of your country is able to manage a crisis, if the government is finally able to implement the reforms that it's promised. For example, if INCRA would rate South Africa right now, of course we would take a very, very close look at the youth unemployment of the country, the highest in the world. If over 70 percent of a country's population under the age of 35 is unemployed, of course this has a huge impact on the economy today and even more so in the future. Well, our friends at Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch will tell us we would take this into account as well. But guess what? We do not know exactly how they will take this into account.

And this leads me to the third big difference that INCRA would make. INCRA would not only release its ratings but it would also release its indicators and methodology.

So in contrast to the current system, INCRA would be fully transparent. So in a nutshell, INCRA would offer an alternative to the current system of the big three rating agencies by adding a new, nonprofit player to the mix that would increase the competition, it would increase the transparency of the sector, and it would also increase the quality.

I can tell that sovereign ratings may still look to you like this very small piece of this very complex global financial world, but I tell you it's a very important one, and a very important one to fix, because sovereign ratings affect all of us, and they should be addressed and should be defined as public goods. And this is why we are testing our model right now, and why we are trying to find out if it can bring together a group of able and willing actors to bring INCRA to life. I truly believe building up INCRA is in everyone's interest, and that we have the unique opportunity right now to turn INCRA into a cornerstone of a new, more inclusive financial system. Because for way too long, we have left the big financial players on their own. It's time to give them some company.

Thank you.

(Applause)


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