《明報》名人教英文

量化寬鬆

16/11/2010 《明報》 名人教英文

美國聯邦儲備局為了刺激經濟復蘇,推出第二輪「量化寬鬆」貨幣政策,購買6000 億美元美國長期國債。

量化寬鬆,英文quantitative easing,是什麼回事?以下是一則標準的解說: “Quantitative easing" is when governments create money out of thin air,which is typically what happens when they realise there are no more interest rates left to cut.片語out of thin air 字面解法是「來自空氣」, create money out of thin air 即憑空創造錢財。

錢財怎麼可以像變魔術般無中生有呢?英文《維基百科》解釋說:A central bank implements quantitative easing by first crediting its own account with money it creates ex nihilo (“out of nothing"). It then purchases financial assets, including government bonds, agency debt, mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds,from banks and other financial institutions… The purchases…give banks the excess reserves required for them to create new money…

文中的out of nothing 和out of thin air 同解(ex nihilo 是同義拉丁文):中央銀行利用憑空創造出來的錢,向銀行和其他金融機構購買政府或政府贊助企業債券、按揭證券、公司債券等資產;銀行由此獲得多餘的儲備,便可藉以創造新錢。這就是無中生有的戲法,其實跟濫印鈔票沒有分別。

來自虛無的事物,最終也要回歸虛無;靠「量化寬鬆」創造的財富,自也不會例外,不過要蒙受財富損失的,可能是美國以外的國家:你的財富無中生有,我的財富卻化為烏有。化為烏有、消失得無影無蹤, 可以叫做vanish(或disappear)into thin air: The stock market crashed and trillions of dollars vanished into thin air. 股市崩潰,數以千億的財富被蒸發掉。

量化寬鬆也好, quantitative easing 也好,都是美化名稱,光看字面沒法知道它的意義。其實,如果中文名稱是譯自英文的話, 把quantitative 譯作「量化」,並不準確。來自quantity( 量) 的形容詞quantitative,是「量的」, 相對於qualitative, 「質的」;例如化學裏有quantitative analysis 和qualitative analysis, 即定量和定性分析。至於「量化」,應是動詞quantify, 如The economic benefits of this project cannot be quantified. 這項計劃的經濟利益是不能量化(用數字表達)的。

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