【英语中国】中国通胀攀升 工资会跟着涨吗?

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所属分类:双语中国

2010-11-16 00:37

小艾摘要: China is facing an upsurge in inflationthat has pushed the central bank into more aggressive efforts to cool the economy. Given that this year has also seen a wave of big wage increasesfor manufacturi ...
China is facing an upsurge in inflationthat has pushed the central bank into more aggressive efforts to cool the economy. Given that this year has also seen a wave of big wage increasesfor manufacturing workers, could China now be facing the risk of spiraling inflation, where higher wages and higher prices feed off each other?

The first place to look for an answer is in where inflation is coming from. The National Bureau of Statistics saysfood prices were up 10.1% from a year earlier in October, while non-food prices rose just 1.6%. Combine the two and you get the headline 4.4% jump in the consumer price index, the fastest in two years.

The villain of the piece seems to be food prices: An unusually bad year for natural disastersin China led to domestic supply shortages, and international commodity prices have also been on a tear.

So what about all those factory worker pay increases?

Non-food inflation is the main measure of core inflation in China, and is where wage gains would normally be expected to show up. Core inflation, says Louis Kuijs of the World Bank in Beijing, 'is basically determined by wage inflation in manufacturing.'

The World Bank's latest China Quarterly, of which Kuijs is the main author, found that 'unit labor costs in manufacturing rose significantly in the first three quarters of 2010 because of the particularly high wage increases granted earlier this year.'

Yet China's core inflation, after recovering from declines in 2009, has been pretty steady around 1.5% this year. Manufactured goods don't seem to be contributing much to the gains in the consumer price index. The biggest contributor to non-food inflation is housing; that component of the index, which mostly reflects rental costs and utility bills, was up 4.9% in October. Some other prices â ' in particular, clothing and transportation -- are actually falling.

The World Bank says overall inflation in China, while likely somewhat higher than in the past, is unlikely to get out of control. A key reason: The trend in unit labor costs â ' wages paid per unit of production â ' still looks good.

The gains in unit labor costs this year came after outright declines in 2009. Overall, the bank's data suggest, unit labor costs in China have barely budged since 2005. 'The manufacturing sector tends to be able to absorb wage increases through productivity growth,' Kuijs says. 'We have no strong reason to believe this has changed.'

China's changing population structure, with fewer and less mobile young workers, is still likely to keep pushing salaries up. Katherine Lewis, an analyst at IHS Global Insight who tracks labor costs globally, says she expects Chinese workers to get annual raises of 9% to 12% through 2020. 'The wage gains in 2010 are not at all exceptional' in that context, she says. But companies have been able to offset those increases by getting more out of their workers, so they don't face as much pressure to raise prices.

The changes in the labor market that are leading to higher wages could show up in other kinds of inflationary pressure, argues Deutsche Bank economist Jun Ma.

'The logic is that most low-end manufacturing and service sector workers are rural migrants, and their urban wages are the 'opportunity costs' for them to remain on the farmland. If minimum wages rise 15% per year, which is very likely in our view, farmers will expect a similar increase in income from farming,' he writes in a recent report.

And the main way that is likely to happen, Ma argues, is through â ' you guessed it â ' higher food prices.

Associated Press中国正面临通胀升级,这使得中国央行采取更强硬的措施来为经济降温。今年制造业工人工资此前也大幅提高,那么中国现在会不会面临高工资和高物价互相作用的螺旋式通胀风险呢?

要寻找答案,首先就要追溯至通货膨胀的来源。国家统计局说,10月食品类价格同比上涨10.1%,非食品类价格仅上涨1.6%。二者综合起来,总体消费者物价指数的增幅就是4.4%,是两年来最快的增长速度。

其中的罪魁祸首似乎是食品类价格:今年中国经历了异常严重的自然灾害,导致国内供应短缺,而国际大宗商品价格也纷纷上涨。

那么,工厂工人的工资会不会也上涨呢?

非食品类通货膨胀是中国核心通胀率的主要指标,这也是涨工资后通常会产生的现象。世界银行(World Bank)驻北京经济学家高路易(Louis Kuijs)说,核心通胀率基本是由制造业工资上涨所决定的。高路易是世界银行最新的《中国经济季报》(China Quarterly)的主要作者,他发现,制造业单位劳动力成本在2010年前三季度大幅上涨,因为今年早些时候工人的工资大幅增加。

然而,中国的核心通胀率从2009年下降后逐渐回升,今年一直稳定在1.5%左右。制造业商品似乎没有为CPI上涨贡献多少。非食品类价格上涨的最大因素是住房,主要反映了租金和电费的CPI的这部分指标在10月份增加了4.9%。其他商品的价格,尤其是服装和交通,实际上在下降。

世界银行说,中国总体通胀率虽然可能高于以往,但不会失控。关键的原因在于:单位劳动力成本的走势,也就是为单位生产量支付的工资,看起来仍然不错。

此前,2009年,单位劳动力成本曾急剧下降。整体来看,世界银行的数据显示,中国单位劳动力成本自2005年以来几乎未发生变化。高路易说,制造业似乎能够通过提高生产率抵消工资增长,我们没有强有力的理由相信这点有所改变。

中国的人口结构正在发生变化,年轻工人越来越少、流动性越来越弱,这仍然可能继续促使薪水上涨。跟踪全球劳动力成本的机构IHS Global Insight分析师路易斯(Katherine Lewis)说,她预计从现在到2020年,中国工人每年将会得到9%到12%的工资增幅。她说,这样看来,2010年的工资增幅是正常的。但各企业能够从工人那里获利更多,从而抵消这些增幅,因此他们不会面临涨价的太大压力。

德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)经济师马骏说,劳动力市场中可能导致涨工资的变化会在其他种类的通胀压力中出现。

他在最近的一份报告中写道,大多数低端制造和服务业工人都是农村的流动人口,他们在城市里获得的工资是他们留在农村的“机会成本”,如果最低工资每年涨15%,我们觉得这是很有可能的,那么农民的务农收入也将出现类似增长。

他说,实现这个目标的主要方式是什么?答对了,就是食品价格上涨。

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