【英语中国】中国打喷嚏,世界就感冒

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2012-10-24 00:00

小艾摘要: To this day, Chinese people of a certain age can recite a slogan from Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign that exhorted the masses to “overtake Britain and match America” in steel production.T ...
To this day, Chinese people of a certain age can recite a slogan from Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign that exhorted the masses to “overtake Britain and match America” in steel production.

That disastrous attempt to industrialise in the late 1950s led to the worst man-made famine in history – one that few outside the country knew about because China was so isolated from the rest of the world.

More than 50 years later, China is so integrated into the global economy that even relatively minor shifts in its domestic production or spending can have a big impact on the other side of the world.

“China can transmit real shocks widely,” the International Monetary Fund said in a recent report, “whether these originate domestically or elsewhere.”

Beijing is scheduled to publish quarterly figures today that are likely to show the economy slowed for the seventh consecutive quarter. Many expect growth of less than 7.5 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

While still fast by the standards of most developed countries, this would represent a significant slowdown for an economy that was growing at nearly 12 per cent as recently as the start of 2010.

China’s deceleration has affected a diverse range of industries and trading partners to varying degrees – and, in recent months, its economic prospects have become almost as big a concern for global investors as the fate of crisis-hit Europe and the trudging US economy.

Given how rapidly China has come to dominate many global commodities markets, particularly in the past decade, these have been the most obvious victims.

To cite a statistic that would have warmed Mao’s heart, China now produces seven times more steel than the UK and the US combined, and accounts for nearly half of global output of the metal. The country’s share of global imports of iron ore, a crucial steelmaking ingredient, has increased from less than 10 per cent in the early 1990s to about 65 per cent now.

But in response to slowing demand from China, prices of commodities such as iron ore, copper and coal have fallen dramatically this year. This is already having an impact on the economies of Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, parts of Africa and other exporters.

Ric Deverell of Credit Suisse says the prices of iron ore and other commodities could fall in the long run below their current levels. “The ingredients are building for a train wreck. I think [iron ore prices] are more likely to be $70 in 2015 than $150.”

China is increasingly important to a broad range of other industries and exporters, too. The IMF says it is now the first- or second-largest trading partner of 78 countries, which account for 55 per cent of global gross domestic product. In 2000, it was the first- or second-largest trading partner of just 13 countries, accounting for 15 per cent of global GDP.

The Chinese slowdown has so far been gradual, but the fall in investment and infrastructure spending has affected demand for the types of machinery and capital goods in which producers such as Japan and Germany are particularly strong.

Consumer-oriented sectors, such as electronic components and luxury goods, have proved more resilient, although here too some weaker brands are suffering.

The rapid integration that has made China a driver of the global economy also means that a fall in the breakneck pace of growth will have a profound effect on the rest of us. Just half a century ago, 36m people died in the country and few outsiders heard about it. Today, when China’s nouveaux riches buy fewer cars and handbags, the rest of the world pays attention.

Jamil Anderlini

. . .

Commodities

From Australia to Brazil, from Jakarta to Cape Town, economies that have boomed thanks to China’s hunger for resources have been hit hard by its slowdown.

For most of the past decade, China’s growth has driven a commodities “supercycle”. Never in the history of the modern global economy have prices risen so much and stayed as high for so long. In the past decade, Chinese demand for steel has grown by 15 or 20 per cent most years. This year, however, demand is expected to expand at between 2 and 4 per cent.

The prices of steelmaking ingredients have plummeted accordingly. Iron ore, which accounts for the bulk of profits of miners such as Brazil’s Vale and London-listed Rio Tinto, fell 40 per cent from its April high to its September low, although it has since rebounded.

Economies such as Australia, which sends a quarter of its exports to China, most of which are iron ore, have felt the slowdown acutely. Last week the central bank lowered interest rates after concluding the peak in resource investment would occur sooner, and at a lower level, than expected. Falling commodities prices have also caused leading miners to axe large projects in Australia, including BHP Billiton’s planned $20bn expansion of its Olympic dam copper and uranium mine.

For many other commodities, although China’s imports have not fallen outright this year, they have slowed sharply from the double-digit growth once taken for granted. In August, coal imports were up 5 per cent from the previous year compared with 27 per cent year-on-year growth in August 2011.

Leslie Hook and Neil Hume

...

Industry ?AFP

Amid a bitter territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing, Japan’s carmakers received a painful reminder of the risks of growing dependence on China. Patriotic Chinese drivers turned against Japanese brands. Sales of Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas in the country plunged by between a third and a half.

Nissan sold one in four of its cars in China in the quarter to June; Toyota one in 10. Goldman Sachs responded to the anti-Japanese furore by cutting estimates of the main Japanese carmakers’ full-year earnings per share by between 2.4 and 9.5 per cent.

It will come as cold comfort to Japanese car company executives but, in terms of falling Chinese sales, they are merely catching up with some other industries as the pace of China’s economic growth falters.

Demand for excavators used in mining and construction is weakening. Sales have fallen since mid-2011 and were down by a quarter in July compared with a year earlier.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, has 18 plants in China but, due to a shortage in orders, has begun exporting to the Middle East and Africa. Komatsu, the industry number two, has seen China sales fall by about half this fiscal year. Data show sharp drops in Chinese demand for many goods, from chemicals to turbines.

European and South Korean car producers have benefited from Japanese groups’ woes but here too there are signs of a broader industry slowdown. Goldman expects growth in passenger car sales to decelerate from an estimated 13.9 per cent this year to 7.8 per cent next year.

Jonathan Soble

...

Electronics

The race by Foxconn and other Asian suppliers to meet record demand for Apple’s new iPhone suggests that the technology sector is not suffering unduly from China’s slowdown.

While slowing Chinese consumer demand has weighed on electronics sales, high-profile launches including the iPhone 5 and a new version of Windows have kept technology companies busy.

“This product launch cycle is actually taking a life of its own now,” says Waiho Leong, an economist at Barclays. “Foxconn’s factories in China are going full swing.”

Still, demand from Chinese consumers has worried some. Taiwan’s Synnex, a distributor of IT goods in mainland China, says its sales fell 9 per cent last month. Nomura analysts say macroeconomic uncertainty is pushing Japanese electronic companies to rein in production.

But a more important problem for the sector, analysts say, is the falling global demand for new PCs – an area where Chinese consumption has remained stronger than that of US and Europe.

China’s PC market grew sluggishly last quarter but sales in the US and the rest of Asia fell more than expected.

Like Foxconn, Korean companies have done well in China recently, notably Samsung with its Galaxy smartphones.

Exports to China from Taiwan, home to key semiconductor manufacturers, rebounded last month to increase

11.9 per cent year-on-year after falling 7.5 per cent in August. A growth in electronics exports played a particularly important role.

Many such exports are meant for assembly in China and are then re-exported to Europe and the US.

Sarah Mishkin

...

Luxury

?Reuters

It appears to take more than a fall in the Chinese economy to dent the appetite of the Chinese for luxury.

Burberry grabbed headlines last month when it issued a profit warning, raising fears that the mainland economic slowdown had begun to depress Chinese luxury sales. But it seems, with hindsight, that Burberry was affected more than most – and its problems on the mainland could herald a larger shift in Chinese spending patterns away from logo-driven luxury brands, such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton, and towards more niche brands and exclusive products.

“At the top end, consumers are still spending on luxury in China, even if the overall luxury market has slowed. The super wealthy prefer Bottega Veneta and Hermès and they tend to avoid Burberry and Louis Vuitton, which are considered not as exclusive,” says Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research in Shanghai.

Sales also remain robust for Diageo’s top whiskies, rising 40 to 50 per cent year-on-year for the past eight quarters in China. “I see very strong evidence of domestic demand still going strong,” says Gilbert Ghostine, president of Diageo Asia Pacific.

Burberry says sales in China over the past three months have slowed but “remain positive”. Spending in China has also been hit by a downturn in gift- giving ahead of the upcoming change in the Chinese leadership. “Gifting is part of the Chinese culture of giving to people in authority,” says Stacey Cartwright, Burberry’s finance director. “Until you know how things settle down, who are you [giving gifts] to?”

Patti Waldmeir, Andrea Felsted and Vanessa Friedman

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时至今日,中国上了年纪的人仍记得毛泽东在“大跃进”中提出的、勉励民众在钢产量方面“超英赶美”的口号。

这场发生于上世纪50年代末的灾难性的工业化尝试,造成了史上最为严重的人为饥荒。由于当时中国与世隔绝,因此在中国之外很少有人知道这场饥荒。

50多年后的今天,中国已在相当程度上融入到全球经济中,中国国内生产或消费即使出现相对较小的变化,也能对世界的另一端产生巨大影响。

国际货币基金组织(IMF)在最近的报告中表示:“中国能将真正意义上的冲击传播到很广的范围,无论这些冲击源自中国国内还是源自其他地方。”

中国政府在上周四发布了季度国民经济运行报告,报告显示第三季度国内生产总值(GDP)同比增长了7.4%,增速连续第七个季度放缓。

尽管以多数发达国家的标准而言,这个增速仍算得上是快的,但对一个2010年初经济增速接近12%的经济体而言,这个增速就意味着显著放缓。

点击看大图

中国的放缓在不同程度上影响了各个行业和各个贸易伙伴。近几个月,全球投资者对中国经济前景的担心程度,几乎已经赶上了他们对受危机打击的欧洲以及步履蹒跚的美国经济的担心。

考虑到中国因素是多么快地发展为多个全球大宗商品市场的主导力量(尤其是在过去十年),这些市场已成为中国放缓最明显的受害者。

这里引用一个也许会令毛泽东欣喜的统计数据:中国目前的钢产量是英美两国总和的七倍,约占全球钢产量的一半。中国铁矿石进口量现已占到全球铁矿石进口量的65%,而上世纪90年代初时只占不到10%。铁矿石是炼钢的关键原料。

然而,由于中国需求放缓,铁矿石、铜和煤等大宗商品的价格今年出现大幅下跌。这对于澳大利亚、巴西、印尼、部分非洲国家以及其他出口国的经济已经产生了影响。

瑞信(Credit Suisse)的瑞克?戴佛瑞尔(Ric Deverell)表示,长远来看,铁矿石等大宗商品的价格可能会跌至当前价位之下。“种种因素正在促成一场灾难,我认为2015年时,(铁矿石价格)更有可能是每吨70美元,而不是每吨150美元。”

对其他许多行业和出口国来说,中国也变得日益重要。IMF表示,中国现在已是78个国家的第一大或第二大贸易伙伴国,这78个国家的GDP总计占全球GDP的55%。2000年时,中国只是13个国家的第一大或第二大贸易伙伴国,这13个国家的GDP只占全球GDP的15%。

中国的放缓迄今仍是逐步的,但投资和基建开支的萎缩,已影响其到对日本和德国等制造国尤其擅长制造的那几类机械和资本品的需求。

事实证明,电子配件以及奢侈品这类面向消费者的产业更有弹性——尽管某些实力较弱的品牌也受到了影响。

中国快速融入全球经济后,它已成为全球经济的引擎之一。但这种融入同时也意味着,一旦中国的高速增长放缓,世界其余地区都将受到深远影响。就在半个世纪前,这个国家曾有3600万人丧生,而外界却很少有人听说过此事。今天,如果中国的暴发户们少买了些轿车和手袋,全世界都会予以关注。

吉密欧(Jamil Anderlini)报道

……

大宗商品

从澳大利亚到巴西,从雅加达到开普敦,那些曾因中国对资源的渴求而蓬勃发展的经济体,已受到中国经济增长放缓的沉重打击。

在过去十年的大部分时间里,中国经济增长一直是大宗商品“超级周期”的驱动因素——大宗商品价格上涨之多、在高位停留时间之长,是现代全球经济史上从来没出现过的。过去十年的大多数年份,中国钢材需求量的年增幅都达到15%至20%。而今年,中国钢材需求量预计只会增长2%至4%。

炼钢原料的价格因此出现暴跌。以铁矿石为例,铁矿石是巴西淡水河谷(Vale)与伦敦上市公司力拓(Rio Tinto)等矿商的主要利润来源。铁矿石价格4月份高点至9月份低点的跌幅达到40%,尽管在9月份低点之后价格有所反弹。

澳大利亚等经济体深切地感受到了这种放缓。澳大利亚对华出口占其出口总额的四分之一,其中大部分是铁矿石。澳大利亚央行断定资源投资会比预期更早见顶、峰值水平也会低于预期,为此它于近日下调了利率。不断下跌的大宗商品价格还导致主要矿商大幅削减在澳大型项目,其中包括必和必拓(BHP Billiton)原计划对旗下奥林匹克坝(Olympic dam)铜铀矿的扩建。

就众多其他大宗商品而言,尽管今年中国的进口没有一下子由增长变成萎缩,但增速已大幅放缓、不再是人们曾认为理所当然的两位数。今年8月,中国煤炭进口同比增长5%,而去年8月的同比增速为27%。

何丽(Leslie Hook)、尼尔?休姆(Neil Hume)报道

……

工业

日中两国之间激烈的领土争端让日本汽车制造商痛苦地意识到,日益依赖中国市场是有风险的。爱国的中国司机纷纷抵制日系车。丰田(Toyota)、日产(Nissan)以及本田(Honda)的在华销量暴跌三分之一到一半。

今年第二季度,日产在华销量占到其总销量的四分之一,丰田则为十分之一。针对中国的反日浪潮,高盛(Goldman Sachs)下调了对日本几大汽车制造商全年每股盈利的预测值,下调幅度为2.4%到9.5%。

这对日本车企高管来说,只能算是个小小的安慰。不过,就在华销量下降的程度而言,汽车业只是追上了其他一些受中国经济增长放缓影响的行业而已。

中国对采矿业和建筑业中所用的挖掘机的需求不断下滑,其在华销量自2011年年中以来就一直在下降,今年7月同比下降了四分之一。

世界最大的建筑与采矿设备制造商卡特彼勒(Caterpillar)在华拥有18家工厂,但由于在中国国内缺少订单,该公司已开始面向中东和非洲出口。该行业排名第二的小松制作所(Komatsu),本财年在华销量下降将近一半。数据显示,中国对从化工品到涡轮机等多种产品的需求都出现大幅下降。

虽然欧洲与韩国汽车制造商从日本车企的这次麻烦中获益,但有迹象显示,汽车业在华销量增长整体上已然放缓。高盛(Goldman)预计,明年,中国乘用车销量增速将从今年的约13.9%降至7.8%。

乔纳森?索布尔(Jonathan Soble)报道

……

电子产品

富士康(Foxconn)和其他亚洲供应商正在拼尽全力满足人们对苹果(Apple)新一代iPhone的创纪录需求。这一事实表明,中国经济增长放缓并未对科技业构成过多影响。

尽管中国消费需求放缓拖累了电子产品的销售,但科技企业仍因iPhone 5和新版Windows的高调发布而忙得团团转。

巴克莱(Barclays)经济学家梁伟豪(Waiho Leong)说:“这一产品发布周期现在实际上已不受其他因素影响。富士康在华工厂正在满负荷运转。”

尽管如此,仍有人担心中国的消费需求。台湾联强国际(Synnex)表示,公司上月销售下滑了9%。联强国际在中国大陆分销IT产品。野村证券(Nomura)分析师称,宏观经济不确定性正促使日本电子企业控制产量。

但分析师表示,科技行业面临的更大问题在于,全球对新个人电脑(PC)的需求不断下滑——中国的PC消费一直比美国和欧洲更强劲。

上季度,中国PC市场增长乏力,而在美国及亚洲其他地方,PC销量的下滑程度超出了预期。

和富士康一样,韩国企业最近在华表现不俗,特别是生产Galaxy智能手机的三星(Samsung)。

作为诸多重要半导体生产商的大本营,台湾对大陆的出口出现回升:上月对大陆出口同比增长11.9%,而8月份则是同比萎缩7.5%。其中,电子产品出口的增长发挥了尤其重要的作用。

台湾出口到大陆的许多电子产品是要在大陆完成组装,然后再出口到欧美。

莎拉?米西金(Sarah Mishkin)报道

……

奢侈品

看起来,中国经济增长出现一次减速还不足以影响中国人对奢侈品的胃口。

博柏利(Burberry)上月发布的盈利预警成为很多媒体的头条新闻,这一预警让人们担心,中国经济增长放缓已开始对奢侈品在华销售形成抑制。但事后看来,多数奢侈品品牌受到的影响并没有博柏利那么大。博柏利在中国市场遇到的问题,可能预示着中国奢侈品消费模式将迎来一次较大的转变:博柏利和路易威登(Louis Vuitton)等标识驱动型奢侈品品牌的热度将减弱,更小众的品牌以及独特的产品会受到更多追捧。

上海中国市场研究集团(China Market Research)董事总经理雷小山(Shaun Rein)说:“尽管奢侈品市场整体上有所放缓,但中国的最高端消费者仍会花钱购买奢侈品。超富阶层偏爱宝缇嘉(Bottega Veneta)和爱马仕(Hermès),他们往往不愿考虑博柏利和路易威登,因为觉得它们不够独特。”

帝亚吉欧(Diageo)顶级威士忌的销售也很坚挺,过去八个季度在华销售的同比增幅达到40%至50%。帝亚吉欧亚太区总裁吉尔伯特?古斯廷(Gilbert Ghostine)说:“我看到非常有力的证据证明,中国国内的需求依然强劲。”

博柏利表示,过去三个月对华销售增长有所放缓,但它仍“保持乐观”。在即将到来的中国领导层换届前夕,中国奢侈品消费还因“送礼”活动的低迷而受到打击。博柏利财务总监斯泰茜?卡特赖特(Stacey Cartwright)说:“送礼是讨好有权之人这种中国文化的一部分。如果你还拿不准最终结果会是怎样,你打算(把礼送)给谁呢?”

帕提?沃德米尔(Patti Waldmeir)、安德烈?费尔斯特德(Andrea Felsted)、范妮莎?弗瑞德曼(Vanessa Friedman)报道

译者/简易

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本文涉及话题:中国经济全球经济奢侈品

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