【英语中国】中国的汇改声明实乃权宜之计

  • A+
所属分类:双语中国

2010-6-23 01:28

小艾摘要: John LeeThe statement by the People's Bank of China Saturday that it will again insert more 'flexibility' into its exchange-rate regime is being heralded as a big economic move. In reality, it's m ...
John Lee

The statement by the People's Bank of China Saturday that it will again insert more 'flexibility' into its exchange-rate regime is being heralded as a big economic move. In reality, it's more about deflecting global attention away from China's currency policies in the lead-up to Group of 20 meeting in Toronto next weekend than it is about Beijing's determination to fundamentally rebalance its growth model away from exports and toward domestic consumption.

Beijing accepts that a large reevaluation of the yuan upward versus the dollar is in the country's long-term interest. As Premier Wen Jiabao himself admits, China's 'unbalanced' economy depends too much on exports and fixed investment and not enough on domestic consumption. China imports around half of its basic consumer goods as well as fuel. Making imports cheaper through currency reevaluation would be one way of enhancing citizens' purchasing power.

China has also come under strong political pressure from the United States to revalue its currency upward to correct trade 'imbalances.' Senator Chuck Schumer is threatening, as he did in 2005, to whack Chinese exports with duties if the yuan isn't appreciated soon. President Obama underlined this call last week in a letter to the Group of 20 when he underscored 'market-determined exchange rates are essential to global economic vitality.'

Seen in that light, China's announcement can be seen as a political salve -- because economically, there are sufficient clues in Saturday's statement to believe that any exchange-rate adjustment will be insignificant. No timeframe was given for any move, and the statement ruled out 'large-scale appreciation.' As from 2005-2008, a more 'flexible' yuan exchange rate will likely only mean methodological tinkering with the make-up of the basket of currencies on which the peg is based. Beyond the statement itself, there are several reasons why any significant yuan reevaluation is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

First, a surprising number of Communist Party officials believe that Washington is attempting to manufacture a Chinese slowdown by pressuring Beijing over its currency. These officials recall Japan's experience in the 1980s when Congress struck a remarkably similar tone. Tokyo eventually signed an accord with Washington in 1985 to revalue the yen upwards. The dollar fell to 160 from 240 yen over the next two years, but the current-account imbalance between the two countries was unaffected. When Japanese growth subsequently slowed, Tokyo boosted government spending and lowered interest rates, leading to the rise of a real-estate bubble that eventually burst and is still haunting that economy today.

China has its own property-market bubble to deflate following record government spending and bank lending, much of which state-controlled enterprises and local government officials have used to invest in real-estate assets. Housing starts almost doubled in late 2009 from a year earlier and property prices in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing have risen around 50% in a matter of months. Beijing can't afford a further slowdown in its exports since it is already committed to deflating asset bubbles by decreasing government spending and bank lending that has propped up its economy since the 2008 financial crisis.

Second, Beijing still cares more about creating jobs at home than it does about macroeconomic rebalancing. Although official unemployment hovers between a respectable 4-5%, these figures measure less than one-tenth of the Chinese workforce. Local officials have privately admitted to me that joblessness is likely more than double the official figure. According to official figures, there were over 127,000 instances of 'mass unrest' in 2008, up from 87,000 in 2005. The vast majority of these arise due to job losses, or inadequate or unpaid wages, in addition to illegal land seizures. An estimated 20-40 million export-related manufacturing jobs were lost in the year following the Lehman collapse, which explains why Beijing abruptly put a stop to the yuan's gradual rise against the dollar that occurred from 2005-2008.

The regime can hardly countenance any further damage to the export sector. Beijing conducted extensive stress tests on over 1,000 export companies as recently as March 2010 to determine the effects of any significant yuan appreciation. The majority of firms examined were surviving on profit margins of around 2-4%. The results suggested that for every 1% in the yuan appreciation against the dollar, the profit margin of labor-intensive exporters would decline by around 1%, giving the central bank little room to move.

Furthermore, government policies enacted during the global financial crisis have worked to strengthen the state sector at the expense of the private sector. Between 80-90% of the 2008-2009 stimulus and bank loans were offered to state-controlled enterprises, according to official statistics. While the state sector grew from 2008 onward, the private sector has shrunk in both relative and absolute terms. This is important since private businesses both in export and nonexport sectors in China are doubly as efficient at job creation than the state-led sector.

Beijing's Saturday announcement ignores the pleas of its own economists, who have consistently counseled leaders to liberalize the yuan or at least let it rise substantially. Given the obsessive but understandable focus on employment, this would first require more emphasis on China's vibrant private enterprise to drive job creation, leading to a gradual loosening of the Party's grip on economic power. Unfortunately, Beijing is unwilling to take such a risk.

Far from a new era of global rebalancing, the latest People's Bank of China statement is better understood as a well-timed kowtow to relieve the political pressure on President Hu Jintao to 'do something' about the Chinese currency prior to his arrival in Toronto Saturday.

(Editor's Note: Mr. Lee is a foreign-policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington and the author of 'Will China Fail?' (CIS, 2007).)

John Lee

中国央行上周六发表声明说,将重启人民币汇率形成机制改革,增强汇率灵活性。此举被赞扬为一项重要的经济举措。实际上,这更多地是为了在周末加拿大多伦多召开的G20峰会前,把全球注意力从中国的汇率政策上转移开来,而不是中国政府下决心从根本上把增长模式从出口导向型转变成内需主导型。

中国政府接受人民币兑美元大幅升值有利于中国长远利益的看法。正如中国国务院总理温家宝承认的一样,中国“不均衡”的经济过于依靠出口和固定投资,而对内需的依赖不够。中国约有一半的基本消费品和燃料需要进口。通过升值人民币令进口商品更加便宜将是增强民众购买力的一个途径。

中国还面临来自美国的强大政治压力,需要升值人民币以解决贸易“失衡”问题。美国参议员舒默(Chuck Schumer)又像2005年时一样扬言,如果人民币不很快升值,将用税收打压中国出口商品。美国总统奥巴马上周强调了这一说法,他在致G20的信中强调“市场决定的汇率对全球经济活力至关重要”。

在上述背景下,中国的汇改声明可以被视为一项政治药膏,因为从经济角度讲,上周六的声明中有充足的线索让人相信任何汇率调整都将是小幅的。声明中没有给汇改设定时间表,并且排除了“大幅升值”的可能。正如2005年至2008年的情况一样,更加“灵活”的人民币汇率可能只是意味着人民币盯住的一篮子货币的构成规则有所调整。除声明本身之外,有多个理由可以说明在可预见的未来人民币不太可能大幅升值。

首先,有相当多的中国共产党官员认为,华盛顿方面正试图通过在汇率问题上向北京施压来造成中国增长放缓。这些官员回顾了80年代美国国会提出类似要求时日本的经历。东京方面最终与华盛顿在1985年签订了升值日圆的协议。在接下来的两年中,美元兑日圆从240日圆跌至160日圆,不过美日两国之间的经常项目失衡并没有受到影响。当日本的增长随后放缓时,东京方面增大了政府支出并降息,引发了房地产泡沫,泡沫最终破裂,如今依然在困扰着日本经济。

在创纪录的政府支出和银行放贷(其中很多被国有企业和地方政府官员用来投资于房地产资产)之后,中国也出现了房地产泡沫,需要为楼市降温。2009年底,新屋开工数较上年同期增长了近一倍,上海和北京等城市的房价在短短几个月中就涨了约50%。北京方面无力承受出口的下一步下滑,因为政府已经承诺要通过减少政府支出和银行放贷为房地产降温;自2008年金融危机以来,政府支出和银行放贷提振了中国经济。

其次,北京方面仍更加关心在国内创造就业岗位,而不是恢复宏观经济平衡。尽管官方的失业率在体面的4-5%之间徘徊,这些数据衡量的对象不足中国总体劳动力的十分之一。地方政府官员私下里向我承认,失业率很可能比官方数据高出一倍以上。据官方数据显示,2008年发生了12.7万起“群体事件”,较2005年的8.7万起有所上升。其中绝大部分是因为失业问题、或工资太低或拖欠工资,以及非法征地造成的。在雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)倒闭之后的一年中,约失去了2千-4千万出口相关制造工作,正因为如此,北京方面突然叫停了2005年至2008年实施的人民币兑美元逐步升值的做法。

政府几乎不会允许对出口业的任何进一步打击。就在2010年3月份,北京方面还对1,000多家出口企业进行了全面的压力测试,以确定人民币的大幅升值会带来怎样的影响。参与测试的大部分企业当时的利润率都在约2-4%。测试的结果显示,人民币兑美元每升值1%,劳动密集型出口商的利润率就会下滑约1%,这让央行几乎没有调整汇率的空间。

此外,政府在全球金融危机期间实施的政策增强了国有企业的实力,却牺牲了私营领域。据官方统计数据显示,2008年至2009年刺激资金和银行贷款中有80%-90%发放给出了国有企业。2008年以来,在国有企业增长的同时,私营领域无论是相对值还是绝对值都出现了萎缩。这非常重要,因为无论是出口还是非出口领域的私营企业在创造就业岗位方面都比国有企业的效率高一倍。

北京上周六发表的声明忽视了国内经济学家的呼声。中国的经济学家一直建议领导层取消对人民币汇率的控制,或至少大幅升值人民币。鉴于政府对就业的极度关注(这是可以理解的),这首先就要求对中国富有活力的私营企业投入更多关注以推动就业岗位的创造,致使共产党对经济力量的把持逐渐放宽。不幸的是,北京方面不愿冒这样的风险。

中国央行的声明远远没有开启恢复全球平衡的新篇章,而最好被理解为权宜之计,为的是在中国国家主席胡锦涛周六抵达多伦多之前,减轻他面临的在人民币汇率问题上采取措施的政治压力。

(编者按:本文作者John Lee现为悉尼独立研究中心(Centre for Independent Studies)外交政策研究人员,华盛顿哈德逊研究所(Hudson Institute)访问学者,曾出版《中国会失败吗?》(Will China Fail?)一书。)

本文关键字:双语阅读,小艾英语,双语网站,双语中国,实时资讯,互联网新闻,ERWAS,行业解析,创业指导,营销策略,英语学习,可以双语阅读的网站!
  • 我的微信
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin
  • 微信公众号
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin

发表评论

:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: