《经济学人》:中国当小心中等收入困境
日期:2011-07-01 11:33

(单词翻译:单击)

Growth prospects
中国的经济发展前景

Beware the middle-income trap
中国当小心中等收入困境

China’s roaring growth cannot last indefinitely
中国经济的蓬勃发展无法永远持续下去

Jun 23rd 2011 | from the print edition

But will they consume enough? 中等收入家庭能够撑起足够的消费吗?

CHINA’S LEADERS ARE usually shy of telling things as they are, but the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, put it bluntly when he described China’s economy in 2007 as “unstable, unbalanced, unco-ordinated and unsustainable”. Some foreigners may extol China’s handling of the global financial crisis, but Mr Wen has stuck to his guns. The phrase even crops up in China’s recently adopted five-year economic plan, standing out as an indirect admission of the failings of his own administration and as a marker for the next.

中国领导人谈论中国的情况时常常羞羞涩涩,但是温家宝总理在谈到2007年中国的经济发展时却很直截了当的认为是“不稳定﹑不平衡﹑不协调﹑不可持续”。有些外国人也许会称道中国很好的应对了全球金融危机,但是温家宝总理却坚持了自己的立场看法。他关于2007年中国经济的表述甚至出现在中国最近出台的经济发展“十二五”计划里面,这等于间接承认了他在自己任内有些问题解决得不是很好,可以作为下一届政府的前车之鉴。

For all its problems, China in the coming 10-15 years is still likely to reach several symbolic milestones. The IMF predicts that in 2016 it will become the world’s largest economy on a purchasing-power-parity basis. The Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister organisation of this newspaper, reckons that on the basis of market exchange rates China will attain that glory in 2020. By the end of this decade, according to Daiwa Securities, GDP per person in Shanghai, China’s richest city, could be almost the same as the average for America in 2009.

尽管存在问题,中国在接下来十到十五年里还是很有可能实现某些具有象征意义的里程碑式的发展。国际货币基金组织预言,以购买力平价计算,到2016年中国将成为世界最大的经济体。本刊的兄弟机构“经济学家资讯中心”认为,按照市场汇率计算,中国将于2020年获得那份荣誉。根据大和证券公司估计,到这个十年(2010-2020)末,中国最富有的城市上海的人均国内生产总值将几乎与美国在2009年的人均国内生产总值持平。

And for all the bubbliness of China’s property market and the reckless spending of local governments, the country will probably avoid a crippling debt crisis. China has foreign-exchange reserves of more than $3 trillion and ran a modest budget deficit of 2.5% of GDP last year. Its worries are longer-term. The economy will certainly begin to slow in the next few years after three decades of nearly 10% average annual growth. Exports will be constrained by depressed Western markets, and investments in fixed assets will produce diminishing returns. But the slowdown will be less pronounced if the government succeeds in boosting consumption as a new growth engine.

尽管房地产市场存在泡沫,还有地方政府不计后果的支出,但是中国很可能能够避免严重损害经济的债务危机。中国拥有超过三万亿美元的外汇储备,而去年的财政只是适度赤字,维持在国内生产总值的2.5%。中国的担忧是更长远的。中国经济以接近10%的年平均增长率已经持续增长了三十年,接下去几年里,中国经济增长肯定会开始放缓。颓靡的西方市场将限制其出口,而固定资产投资的收益也会减少。但是如果中国政府能够成功刺激国内消费这一新的增长引擎,经济放缓将不会很明显。

Arthur Kroeber of GK Dragonomics, a consultancy, says the country still enjoys a considerable tailwind from urbanisation and a huge potential for productivity gains as it adopts new technology. He says a scattering of white-elephant projects (including the odd ghost-town of uninhabited new housing and office developments) does not concern him: “There’s no question that there are excesses, but the basic thing they are doing is sensible.” Louis Kuijs of the World Bank agrees. He sees the trend growth rate easing over the coming decade, but not dramatically. New infrastructure is generally being put to good use. Even though investment as a proportion of GDP is high, China’s accumulated investment in fixed assets is still low. Real wages have been rising strongly, which should help boost consumption. Standard Chartered, a bank, says that although China’s public debt is considerably higher than the 17% of GDP officially cited, it remains manageable. Even after allowing for bad loans to local-government investment companies, it runs at 80% of GDP, the bank estimates, about the same as Britain’s last year and well below Greece’s.

中国龙经济咨询公司的阿瑟﹒克罗伯指出,中国还可乘上城市化的顺风而且新技术的采用将使它拥有提高生产效率的巨大潜力。他说为数不多的几个项目工程浩大但是还没有实际用处并不让他感到担忧(包括建设了奇怪的“鬼城”,新建的住宅和办公楼里空无一人):“过剩无疑是存在的,但是他们正在进行的基础建设是有意义的。”世界银行的高路易对此表示赞同。他看到在接下来十年里中国的经济增长有放缓的趋势,但是不会迅速放缓。新建的基础设施总体上得到很好利用。虽然当前投资占国内生产总值的比例很高,但是中国累积的固定资产投资仍然不多。居民实际收入的强劲增长,将有助于刺激消费。渣打银行说虽然中国的国债水平远高于政府所称的达到国内生产总值的17%,但是仍然在可控的范围之内。即使考虑地方政府投资平台的不良贷款,国债占国内生产总值的比例在80%,渣打银行估计,与英国去年的国债水平相当,而远低于希腊。

Chinese leaders are perennial worriers about inflation, not least because of its role in fuelling the discontent that led to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. But even though it rose to 5.5% in May, considerably above the government’s 4% target for the year, it shows little sign as yet of returning to previous highs of about 20% in 1988 and more than 25% in 1994. It also has a useful political side-effect, easing some of China’s tension with America over the value of its currency. America’s Treasury says that because of the higher inflation rate in China, the yuan is in effect appreciating against the dollar by more than 10% a year. Chinese leaders have been debating whether to push interest rates higher, but Mr Kuijs says Chinese policymakers have become more tolerant of medium rates of inflation.

中国的领导人长期担心通货膨胀,尤其是当年通货膨胀增加了人们的不满情绪,引发了1989的“天安门抗议事件”。尽管五月里通胀率上升到5.5%,远高于政府今年设定的4%的目标,但是至今没有迹象表明通胀率将回到1988年的20%或者1994的超过25%的历史高点。这同时会产生有利的政治影响,可以缓解中美之间关于人民币币值问题的紧张关系。美国财政部说由于中国的高通胀率,人民币实际上每年相对美元升值超过10%。中国领导人一直在争论是否要进一步提高利率,但是高路易先生说,中国的政策制定者已经能够更多的容忍适度的通胀。

Yukon Huang of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think-tank in Washington, DC, says doomsayers are wrong to be so concerned about the fall in the ratio of household consumption to GDP. True, it has dropped from around 50% two decades ago to 35% today, among the lowest levels in the world, whereas investment is among the world’s highest; but such a decline, he says, is not unusual for an industrialising country. The efficiency of stimulus spending may be questionable, “but how efficient do you expect stimulus money to be?” He thinks growth could remain at 7-8% for a long time.

华盛顿智库卡内基国际和平基金的黄育川说,灾难预言者如此关注家庭消费相对国内生产总值的比例下降是错误的。的确,二十年来这个比例由大约50%下降到现在35%,这个比例在世界上属于最低之列,然而投资却位于世界最前列;他说,对于一个正在进行工业化的国家,家庭消费比例下降不足为奇。用于刺激经济的支出使用效率如何是存在疑问的,“但是又能期望刺激经济的钱如何有效使用呢?”他认为中国经济可以长期保持7-8%的增长。

The bears’ grumbles
But many analysts are far less sanguine. Some worry that China could be approaching a Japanese-style crisis: a boom in exports and investment along with bubbly property markets, followed by many years of stagnation. In China’s case the added sting would be that it has not yet got rich. Officials and experts debate endlessly whether the country is slowly heading towards a “middle-income trap”. China was already a lower-middle-income country last year, with a GDP per person of around $4,400. The fear is that it might suffer the same stagnation and turbulence as Latin American economies in the 1980s and 1990s.

悲观者的牢骚

但是许多分析家远非如此乐观。有些分析家担心中国正走入日本式的危机:出口及投资高速增长同时房地产市场泡沫越来越大,随之而来是持续多年的滞涨。而中国将更烦恼的问题是它还没有富裕。政府官员及专家一直争论中国会不会慢慢走入“中等收入困境”。去年中国的人均国内生产总值大约为4,400美元,已经是中低收入国家。人们担心它可能遭遇拉丁美洲各国在上世纪八九十年代所经历的滞涨与动荡。

The drafters of the new five-year plan adopted in March were clearly hoping to head off such a calamity. Five-year plans have evolved since the Mao era when they were used by the government to micromanage the economy, but they are still meant to play a crucial role in setting the economic tone. “China model” fans love them because, at least in theory, they commit leaders to an economic strategy that will not be undermined by the chop-and-change policymaking of democracies. When Mr Wen’s successor takes over in 2013, the current plan will still have more than two years to run. It calls for faster change in the “pattern of economic development” to address the imbalances, and sees boosting consumption as critical to this.

3月份出台的新五年计划的起草者显然希望避免这样的灾难。政府用以微观管理经济的五年计划自毛泽东时代以来有所演进,但是它们在设定经济基调中仍然起着至关重要的作用。“中国经济增长模式”的拥护者支持实行五年计划,因为至少在理论上它使领导人遵循一定的经济战略,不同于民主国家经济政策删改频频而效果大受削弱。2013年下一任总理接任后,现在实行的五年计划还将继续执行两年。它要求“经济增长模式”实现更快的转变,以解决经济发展的不平衡问题,而促进消费将在其中起到至关重要的作用。

Mr Wen himself is no touter of a China model. His previous five-year plan, which took effect in 2006, was also intended to shift the economy away from too much reliance on exports and investment. It set a target of 7.5% annual growth in GDP for the plan period, against 8% for the previous one. Instead, the rate accelerated to about 11% a year, compared with an average of 9.5% in the first half of the decade. Household consumption as a proportion of GDP fell sharply. And China’s 4 trillion yuan stimulus programme (about $620 billion at current exchange rates), launched in November 2008, allowed banks to lend almost at will, mostly to state-owned enterprises, raising the prospect of a flood of new bad debt.

温总理自己并不标榜中国的经济增长模式。自2006年开始实行的上一个五年计划也试图改变过分依赖出口和投资的经济增长模式。它设定了国内生产总值每年增长7.5%目标,而不是前一个五年计划的8%的目标。但是,对比前一个五年计划期间的9.5%的经济增长,2006年开始的五年计划期间经济年增长率上升到大约11%。家庭消费占国内生产总值的比重大幅下降。2008年11月中国开始实施4万亿人民币的经济刺激计划(按当时汇率计算大约是6200亿美元),银行几乎可以随意贷款,大部分贷款借给了国有企业,有可能形成大量新的不良贷款。

Despite Mr Wen’s calls for more evenly shared prosperity, the gap between rich and poor and between cities and countryside has continued to widen. Since he took office in 2003, absolute poverty has dropped markedly. But the number of people in relative poverty (with 50% or less of the median income) grew from 12.2% of the population to 14.6% between 2002 and 2007, according to research by Terry Sicular of the University of Western Ontario and Li Shi and Luo Chuliang of Beijing Normal University. By the end of the plan period the goal of establishing a “harmonious socialist society”, a favourite catchphrase of Mr Wen’s and Mr Hu’s, appeared even more remote than at the beginning. Protests over local injustices, already running at tens of thousands a year, were becoming ever more frequent.

尽管温总理呼吁财富实现更为平均的分配,但是城乡贫富差距依然不断扩大。自2003年他上任以来,绝对贫困人口已经大幅减少。但是,根据西奥特兰大学的特里.希库勒以及北京师范大学的李实和罗楚亮的研究,相对贫困人口(收入为国内中等收入的50%或更少)在2002年到2007年间从12.2%增加到14.6%。到新五年计划末,建设一个“和谐的社会主义社会”(胡锦涛主席和温家宝总理喜欢使用的新词)的目标看上去比预期的要更为遥远。每年针对地方不公正的抗议事件已经增加到数万起,而且正在变得更加频繁。

The new five-year plan adopted in March notes that the “external environment” for China’s development has become “more complicated”. In other words, markets abroad do not look promising. It calls for a “strategic readjustment” in China’s growth model, putting even more emphasis than its predecessor on domestic demand, especially consumption. It still envisages big investments, but in the hope that these will boost household consumption in the longer term. It promises 36m new “affordable housing” units, more than Britain’s entire housing stock. The hope is that cheaper homes will make it easier for the Chinese to get into the housing market without having to save quite so much. And the government has pledged to ramp up spending on health, education and other social-welfare programmes. Eventually too this could encourage people to save less and consume more.

3月出台的新五年计划指出中国发展的“外部环境”变得“更为复杂”。换句话说,国外市场看起来不是很光明。它要求中国增长模式实现“战略性调整”,将比前一个五年计划更加重视国内市场,尤其是消费。新五年计划仍然构想了大规模的投资,不过只是希望这在更长远的未来能够带动家庭消费。政府保证建设3600万套新的“保障性住房”,这多于英国住房的总存量。政府希望比较便宜的房子能使国民更容易进入住房市场而不必为此进行大量储蓄。政府还保证增加医疗、教育和其它社会福利项目投入。最终,这可能鼓励人们减少储蓄,增加消费。

The government also wants the high-speed railway network, already the world’s longest at 8,300km, to quintuple in length by 2015. Beijing, having completed one of the world’s largest airport terminal buildings in 2008, will get a whole new airport. So will 54 other cities, increasing the total number with airports by nearly one-third. These investments, officials hope, will help to boost urban growth, and with it consumption. Infrastructure targets are usually met in China because governments have little trouble with not-in-my-backyard protests.

政府还希望已经是世界上最长的8300公里的高速铁路网到2015里程能够增长为目前的五倍。2008年北京已经修建了一座全世界最大的航站楼,它还将修建一个全新的机场。另外54个城市也将修建机场,这将使机场总数增加近1/3。官方希望这些投资将有助于促进城市的发展,进而带动消费。在中国,基础设施建设的目标常常能够实现,因为政府不会遭遇什么麻烦,不会遭遇“远离我家后院的抗议”。

But some economists believe this is all too much. Among the bears is Michael Pettis of Peking University, who believes that investments are becoming increasingly inefficient and that China is heading towards a “brick wall” of government debt. Growth, he says, will remain high in the early half of the decade but could drop off sharply thereafter as loans turn sour. Even in the best case, he says, growth will fall below 5%. Victor Shih of Northwestern University also points to a looming debt problem, exacerbated by the recklessness of local governments during China’s stimulus-spending spree. Not being allowed to borrow directly, many of them set up companies to borrow on their behalf, using land as collateral. “There is a hidden danger of an asset bubble and [we] are facing a certain financial risk,” wrote Yu Peiwei of the party’s Policy Research Office in January. If the bubble bursts, land prices could plummet, leaving the banks dangerously exposed.

但是一些经济学家认为这一切做得太过了。悲观者中北京大学的迈克尔﹒派提斯认为投资正在变得越来越没有效率,中国即将走到政府债务的“南墙”。他说未来十年之内,前五年经济将保持高速增长,但是贷款坏账之后,经济增长将快速下降。他说甚至在最好的情况下,增长率也将下降到5%以下。西北大学的史宗瀚也指出,在中国为刺激经济而大幅支出的狂欢中,地方政府不计后果的支出将加重隐约可见的债务问题。由于不可以直接从银行贷款,地方政府成立融资平台代表自己以土地作抵押从银行获得贷款。1月中共政策研究室的于培伟撰文说“潜藏的资产泡沫危机是存在的,而(我们)正面临某些金融风险”。假如泡沫破裂,地价可能暴跌,银行将暴露于危险中。

Bingeing on investment

投资大肆挥霍

Nouriel Roubini of New York University, a chronic bear, is in this camp. In a recent article he argued that the brick wall will most likely be hit between 2013 and 2015. He noted that China was spared a recession in the wake of the financial crisis because investment in fixed assets, such as transport infrastructure and factories, increased from an already very high 42% of GDP in 2008 to nearly 50% in 2010. No country, he says, could be productive enough to invest 50% of GDP in new fixed assets without eventually facing “immense overcapacity and a staggering non-performing loan problem”.

纽约大学的奴尼尔﹒鲁比尼长期看空中国经济,持有相同的观点。在最近的一篇文章中他认为政府债务最可能在2013和2015年间达到极限。他指出金融危机发生后中国能够避免衰退,因为交通基础设施和工厂建设等固定资产投资占国内生产总值的比例从2008年已经达到高位的42%增加到2010年的近50%。他说没有哪个国家足够的富饶能够把国内生产总值的50%用于新的固定资产投资,而最终不会面临“巨大的产能过剩和大规模的不良贷款问题”。

It is not just foreigners who worry. Ge Zhaoqiang, a senior researcher at China Merchants Bank, gave warning in May that China’s economy had become “seriously distorted” by prolonged dependence on high levels of investment. There was now a risk, he said, of an economic downturn “unprecedented in the past 30 years” with possibly damaging consequences for China’s social and political stability.

担心这个问题的不仅是外国人。招商银行的高级研究员葛兆强5月份警告说,由于长期依赖大规模投资,中国经济已经“严重扭曲”。他说现在面临“过去三十年前所未有的”经济拐点风险,可能严重危害中国的社会和政治稳定。

If China is not to stagnate, it will have to make a bigger effort to persuade rural dwellers to keep coming to the cities as its population ages ever more rapidly. In 1980 one-fifth of China’s people lived in urban areas. Today the figure is 49.7%. Very soon the country will become predominantly urban, with over 51.5% forecast to be living in urban areas by the end of the five-year plan. This implies a slower pace of urbanisation than in the past decade. For once, however, the government is not setting its goals too low. In future urbanisation will indeed become harder.

随着比人口老龄化的进程加快,假如中国不想经济停滞不前,它将必须更努力的说服农村居民不断走入城市。在1980年,1/5的中国人在城市生活。今天这个数字达到49.7%。很快国家的城市人口将占多数,预计到新五年计划末,将有51.5%的中国人生活在城市。这意味着比起过去十年,城市化步伐将会放缓。然而,这次,中国政府设定的目标并不低。今后城市化确实会变得更加困难。

分享到
重点单词
  • inefficientadj. 无效率的,无能的,不称职的
  • discontentn. 不满 adj. 不满的 v. 令(人)不满
  • strategicadj. 战略的,重要的,基本的
  • prospectsn. 预期;前景;潜在顾客;远景展望
  • efficientadj. 效率高的,胜任的
  • perennialadj. 四季不断的,继续多年的,永久的 n. 多年生植
  • immenseadj. 巨大的,广大的,非常好的
  • sensibleadj. 可察觉的,意识到的,实用的 n. 可感知物
  • socialadj. 社会的,社交的 n. 社交聚会
  • prosperityn. 繁荣,兴旺