《经济学人》:世界经济增长放缓,中国从中受益
日期:2011-06-07 11:09

(单词翻译:单击)

FOR the past year or two, the big economies have experienced a “multi-speed” recovery, as the IMF calls it. The recovery has resembled third-world traffic, where juggernauts and rickshaws, cars and cycles ply the same lanes at different speeds, often gettingin each other’s way.

在过去的一两年,各大经济体经历了一次被国际货币基金组织称为“倍速”的复苏。此次复苏就像第三世界的交通,货车、人力车、汽车、单车以不同的速度行驶在同一条道路上,经常互相驶入别人的车道。

But for the past month or two, this traffic has slowed in unison. The deceleration is evident in the prices of commodities, which have fallen by 8.6% since mid-February, according to The Economist’s commodity-price index. It is also reflected in American manufacturing. New orders for durable goods, such as engines and cars, fell by 3.6% in April (albeit after a strong rise the month before). Factory output is still growing modestly, according to the Philadelphia Fed’s latest survey, but has lost more momentum since March than in any two months since November 2008.

但在过去的一两个月,这股复苏车流同时放缓,这减速可从商品价格看出。根据《经济学人》商品价格指数,自从二月中旬,商品价格已跌8.6%。这亦能从美国制造业看出。四月份耐用品(例如发动机与汽车)新订单数跌了3.6%(虽然前一个月才大幅上升)。根据费城联邦的最新调查,工厂输出虽然仍然保持一定程度的增长,但自从三月份便失去持续的动力,这两个月是2008年11月至今最疲弱的两个月。

America’s recovery relied for longer than most on fiscal injections. But by early August the federal government will bang up against a debt limit imposed by Congress. Any deal to raise the limit would almost certainly require spending reductions, and failure to strike a deal at all would require drastic cuts as the government stops selling debt. Even if the government is allowed to keep selling debt, the Federal Reserve will soon stop buying it, as it reaches the end of its latest round of “quantitative easing”, a programme to buy longer-dated paper with freshly printed money.

美国依赖注资来复苏的时间较其它国家要长,但联邦政府的债务将于八月初冲破国会所准许的顶限。要抬高债务顶限,就要节省开支;若不能产生一个各方满意的办法,政府将停止出售债券,使各方面预算剧减。即使政府能继续发售债券,由于这一轮“量化宽松”政策——一个用新印钞票收购旧钞票的项目——临近结束,联邦储备局早晚会停购。

The euro zone’s prospects of growing its way out of trouble are receding, according to surveys of purchasing managers by HSBC and Markit, an information provider. Their “flash” (ie, preliminary) index for the euro-area economy fell sharply from 57.8 in April to 55.4 in May, a drop not seen since late 2008. In services the pessimism expressed about the coming year was reminiscent of mid-2009, before the recovery had picked up any speed at all.

而根据恒生银行及信息服务商Markit所做的采购经理调查,欧元区摆脱泥淖的前景不佳。他们的欧元区经济初步指数从四月的57.8急跌至五月的55.4,是2008年末以来首次。悲观论调认为对于服务业,在复苏重获任何一点动力之前,来年会是2009年中的再版。

The “flash” causing the biggest splash this week was, however, not in Europe but in China. HSBC’s preliminary estimate for Chinese manufacturing fell to 51.1 (see chart), well below the long-term average of 52.3, confirming a slowdown evident in April’s industrial-production figures. The release hurt stockmarkets worldwide. In a single day the Shanghai Composite index gave up its gains for the year.

但本周引发最大哗然的却不在欧洲而在中国。恒生对中国制造业的初步预计跌至51.1,远低于52.3的长期均值,确认了四月份工业—生产数据证明的放缓。此项数据发布大挫全球股市。仅仅一日,上海综合指数便将今年升出来的又跌了回去。

This strong reaction was curious. In China, unlike the euro area or America, a slowdown is overdue. Its growth in the past two quarters was too fast to sustain, resulting in a worrisome rise in inflation. The government has been trying to slow the economy, by reining in runaway lending. The industrial slowdown is welcome evidence that these measures are working.

如此强烈的市场反应令人生疑。不似欧美,中国的放缓是早就应该有的。过往两个季度的增长过快,难以维持,导致令人担忧的通胀。当局已经努力放慢经济增长,严加管制贷款流失。工业增长放缓是这些措施生效的证据,令人欣慰。

A PMI reading above 50 indicates rising output; one of 51.1 is consistent with GDP growth of 9%, says HSBC. But the figure immediately raised fears of a much harder landing. Observers may worry that inflation has already got out of hand, forcing the government to hammer the economy to bring prices back under control. At the end of 1994, for example, China faced inflation of over 25%. In the next two years, tight macroeconomic controls knocked 4.6 percentage points off its growth rate.

恒生指出,高出50的采购经理人指数代表出口上升,而51.1与9%的GDP增幅一致。但此数字立即对经济更难着陆的担心。市场观望者可能会担心通胀已经控制不住,逼迫政府修理经济来控制物价。前车可鉴:1994年年末,中国面临着超过25%的通胀,在随后两年,紧缩的宏观经济调控硬是让增长率减去4.6个百分点。

But inflation in China is now only 5.3%. Vegetable prices have fallen, and non-food inflation may be easing. China’s inflation has proved more stubborn than expected. But growth will not have to slow by four points to quell it.

但目前中国的通胀率只是5.3%。蔬菜价格已经回落,而非食物产品的通胀情况或会缓解。中国的通胀较预期严重,但不必要砍掉4个百分点的增长来治它。

Some observers worry that the economy will run out of steam because coal is increasingly costly and electricity in short supply. In recent months Chinese industry has suffered power cuts reminiscent of 2004. But China had outages then because its power stations could not make enough power, points out Mark Williams of Capital Economics. It suffers cuts now because they cannot make enough money. The government has not allowed electricity tariffs to rise in step with coal prices, forcing producers to operate at a loss. Raising tariffs is the solution, even if it adds temporarily to the inflation figures.

一些观察者担心中国经济会因煤价暴涨及电力不足而后劲用竭。近来数月,中国工业重历2004年的停电灾难。但当时中国之所以电力短缺,“资本经济”的马克•威廉指出,是因为电站供电能力不足。但现在之所以停电,是因为电站没赚够钱。当局不允许电价与煤价同步上升,导致电站茫然运作。虽然抬升电价会短暂地抬升通胀,但这才是解策。

The final reason to worry is also the most grave. Many fear that China’s overstretched property market will collapse, leaving insupportable debts in its wake. The government’s curbs on mortgage borrowing and speculative homebuying are having some effect on sales (down by 10% in the year to April) but not yet on “starts”, or new homebuilding, points out Tao Wang of UBS Securities. Perhaps the government’s drive to build more affordable housing is offsetting a slowdown in unaffordable housing.

最后一个担心的原因最严峻:很多人担心中国过热的房地产市场就会崩盘,结果产生不能容忍的债务。UBS证券师王桃(音译)指出,当局打击炒楼、抑制抵押借款的措施在成交量上有成效反映(截止今年四月份下跌10%),但仍未能控制住新盘开发。或者政府推动建造更多的廉价房抵消了新建高价房的放缓。

If the bubble were to burst, developers would suffer horribly. Recent homebuyers would also find themselves out of pocket. But in China, unlike America, housing is a vehicle for saving, not for borrowing. Householders are not up to their necks in mortgage debt, although it has risen quickly to about knee height: over a third of disposable income last year, compared with less than a quarter two years before. If prices fell heavily, the damage to households’ wealth might dampen spending. But they would not be submerged in debt.

一旦泡沫破灭,发展商将陷入深渊。近期买房者亦会发现自己口袋空空。但在中国,购房推动的是储蓄,而不像在美国,推动的是借贷。虽然抵押债务在快速增长(去年占可支配收入的三成,而三年前少于二成五),但购房者并未深陷其中。如果物价过度回落,会对家庭财富带来破坏,进而阻碍消费,但不会被债务淹没。

Banks also say their exposure to property is manageable, at about 20% of loans. Their indirect exposure might go much deeper. But if their ratios of non-performing loans (NPLs) ever rose too high, the government would step in. As Stephen Green of Standard Chartered puts it, “small NPLs are a bank’s problem; big NPLs are the government’s problem.”

银行亦称其物业贷款在控制之内,占贷款20%。他们的非直接贷款可能更多。如果他们的不良贷款比重过大,政府就会介入。正如渣打银行的斯蒂芬•格林所言,“不良贷款不多,就只是银行自己的问题;不良贷款太多,就是政府的问题了。”

Given the improbability of a hard landing in China, the swings of sentiment towards its economy are difficult to understand. Ms Wang suggests one explanation: “Outside China most people’s exposure to the country is through the commodities market,” she says. “In that market, things tend to get accentuated…[they] are either great or they are a disaster.” It is like the little-known tale of Goldilocks and the Two Pandas. The Chinese economy is either too hot or too cold, but never just right.

鉴于中国经济硬着陆发生的机会不大,对待中国经济的观感波动不定令人费解。王女士提供了一种解释:“在中国外面,大家对这个国家的关注是通过商品市场。在这个市场里,事物一般会被突出强调,要么就是很好,要么就是很差。”正如童话故事“金凤花与两只大熊猫”中那样,中国经济要么就是过热,要么就是过冷,从不刚刚好。

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