【英语财经】专访罗奇:破解美中经济失衡之道 Eight Questions: Stephen Roach, ‘Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China

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2014-5-9 15:07

小艾摘要: For 30 years, China has prospered thanks to a low-wage, high-investment growth model--one in which workers see only a fraction of the fruits of growth and corporate profits are plowed back into ever g ...
Eight Questions: Stephen Roach, 'Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China
For 30 years, China has prospered thanks to a low-wage, high-investment growth model--one in which workers see only a fraction of the fruits of growth and corporate profits are plowed back into ever greater capacity. That model, though, is changing: the recent strike over unpaid social insurance payments that affected an Adidas and Nike supplier in southern China shows how workers are becoming more aggressive.

If China successfully manages to move from an investment-focused economy to a consumption-based one, such a shift will have an impact on the rest of the world too. That's especially true for the U.S., which has long ginned up its own consumption by selling Treasury bonds and other assets to foreign investors.

These are the issues Stephen Roach, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia who is now at Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, examines in his book 'Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.'

Mr. Roach argues that both the U.S. and China need to find new ways to manage their economies. America needs to start saving more, he says, while China needs to start serving its own consumers -- starting with a better social safety net. Edited excerpts:

Why did you write the book?

There's a lot of misinformation and outdated views about China in the U.S. I hope I know as much as almost anybody about the intersection between the two economies, and I thought the relationship needed to be addressed from both sides.

What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding Americans have about China?

The U.S. continues to look at China through the same lens through which it sees itself. It looks at excess investment or low consumption or rising debt and concludes that China is doomed. The U.S. misses the fact that China not only has a different system but it also is at a totally different stage in its development. It's certainly facing some daunting problems, but moving from a producer model to a consumer model built on urbanization still requires very high investment ratios. It still requires an active government promoting state-directed infrastructure and real estate construction. We can't rely on our own model to assess China's progress or lack thereof.

How would you rate China's chances of escaping from the so-called 'middle-income trap' that other emerging economies have faced?

I think the chances are reasonably good. Most developing economies do get caught in the middle-income trap largely because they stick with the same model that led them from early-stage development to middle income and they think it can provide the impetus for moving to higher income -- and it usually doesn't. China's changing the model, which is important, and so I'm optimistic China is on a course to escape this dreaded trap.

What are the advantages of China's relatively centralized system of economic planning, compared with the approach in the U.S.?

One word: strategy. Strategies don't always work, but all economies need some form of strategy. The United States is faced with daunting transitions right now and it has no strategy -- and it's suffering because of that. We operate on a very short-term basis. That constrains us from being proactive and planning for the future on issues like saving, U.S. competitiveness, and how to address income inequality. Politicians are afraid of having a debate because they know that when we make an effort to come up with solutions to our long-term problems there's likely to be some pain along the way. We don't have courageous leaders who are willing to take those risks.

You argue that the U.S. will need to find ways to save more without relying on savings imported from overseas. How can this be achieved?

First and foremost, we need to reduce the long-term budget deficit. But families also need to get their saving rate back up. American families were duped by bubbles, especially property bubbles, into believing that they had discovered a new way to save and didn't have to save out of their income. That bubble burst and they're left with no savings.

The saving rate now is close to 4%, versus a 30-year average of about 9.5% at the end of the last century. It's as low as it's ever been for any leading nation in modern history. We need to expand existing incentives like 401-Ks and IRAs, we need to provide savings incentives explicitly for low-income individuals. Then we need to address the current unsustainable monetary policy, in which zero interest rates have crushed returns for a generation of savers.

You've been pretty critical of the Fed's loose monetary policy. Why is that?

These policies were put in place in the depths of a horrific crisis. They were emergency measures. The emergency is long over, and yet the policies are still on emergency settings. When excess liquidity gets combined with what's still a weak economy with considerable slack in labor and product markets, the odds suggest that it shows up in asset markets, either at home or abroad. It's a recipe for instability in financial markets and for potential future bubbles. Which bubbles they are, no one knows.

You emphasize that China needs to provide more in the way of social benefits if it is to bring down its very high saving rate. Do you think America's welfare state is adequate -- or over-generous?

It's not perfect. We have massive unfunded liabilities in both our retirement system and in healthcare. But we at least have a well-defined system of contributions and benefits. China doesn't have that. The lack of a well-funded and secure safety net, both for healthcare and retirement, is a main reason why the saving rate is excessively high for Chinese households and continues to go higher. Uncertainty translates into fear, meaning any incremental growth in income that Chinese families earn won't show up in discretionary consumption. That will impede a consumer-led transformation.

中国30年来的繁荣发展得益于一个低薪酬、高投资的增长模式。在这样一个模式下,工人只享有一小部分经济发展成果,企业利润被用于不断扩大产能的再投资。不过,这种模式正在发生变化:最近中国南方一家阿迪达斯(Adidas)和耐克(Nike)供货商的工厂因社保支付问题发生罢工,表明中国工人正变得更加敢作敢为。

如果中国能成功实现从侧重投资到立足于消费的经济转型,这样一个转变也将对世界其他地区产生影响。尤其是对美国而言。长期以来,美国一直依靠向海外投资者出售国债和其他资产来支撑自己的消费。

这就是摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)亚洲区前主席、目前任职于耶鲁大学杰克逊全球事务研究所(Jackson Institute for Global Affairs)的史蒂芬·罗奇(Stephen Roach)在其名为《失衡:美国与中国的相互依附》(Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China)的书中所探讨的问题。

罗奇认为,美国和中国都需要找到管理本国经济的新办法。他表示,美国需要开始增加储蓄,而中国需要开始服务于本国消费者,首先要从改善社会保障体系入手。以下是采访的编辑摘录:

你为什么会写这本书?

在美国,有很多关于中国的错误信息和过时看法。关于美中经济的交叉点,我所知道的和大多数人一样多。同时,我认为美中经济之间的关系需要分别从两国各自的方面探讨。

你认为美国人对中国最大的误解是什么?

美国仍在以看待自己的方式看待中国。美国看到中国投资过度、消费偏低以及债务增加,就认定中国经济必将崩溃。美国忽略了一个事实,那就是中国不仅有一套不同的体系,而且处在和美国完全不同的发展阶段。中国显然正面临一些严峻的问题,但从生产型向基于城镇化建设的消费型经济模式转变仍需要很高的投资比例。中国依然需要积极推进政府主导的基础设施和房地产建设。美国不能用自己的模式去评估中国的进步和不足。

你认为中国避开其他新兴经济体遇到的所谓“中等收入陷阱”的机率有多大?

我认为这一机率相当高。多数发展中经济体确实陷入了中等收入陷阱,主要原因是沿用了帮助他们从早期阶段发展到中等收入阶段的模式,而且他们认为该模式能提供进入更高收入阶段的动力,而事实通常并非如此。中国正在改变发展模式,这很重要。我相信中国正走在一条能够避开这一可怕陷阱的道路上。

与美国的做法相比,中国相对集中的计划经济体制有何优势?

一句话,战略。战略并非总能奏效,但所有的经济体都需要某种形式的战略。美国目前面临着艰巨的转型任务,但因缺乏相应的战略而遇挫。我们的运作着眼于极短期。这会制约我们的主动性,制约我们在储蓄、美国的竞争力以及解决收入差异等问题方面为未来做打算。政界人士担心展开论战,因为他们知道当我们努力为长期问题找到解决方法时,随之而来的很可能是要受些苦。我们缺乏甘愿冒险的勇敢领导人。

您说美国将需要设法在不依赖来自海外储蓄的前提下增加储蓄。如何实现这一点呢?

首先,我们需要减少长期预算赤字。但家庭也需要提高储蓄率。过去,美国家庭被泡沫所蒙蔽,特别是房地产泡沫,他们以为自己找到了一条存钱的新途径,不必把收入存起来。泡沫破裂了,他们的积蓄也随之付诸东流。

目前储蓄率接近4%,而截至上个世纪末的30年平均储蓄率约为9.5%。美国目前的储蓄率是现代历史中主要国家中最低的。我们需要扩大现有的激励计划,比如401K和个人退休账户(IRA),我们需要为低收入个人提供明确的储蓄激励措施。我们还需要应对难以持续的现行货币政策。当前货币政策推行的近零利率压缩了一代储户的回报。

你经常批评美联储的宽松货币政策。这是为何呢?

这些政策是一场可怕的金融危机愈演愈烈时推出的。它们是应急措施。现在应急状态早已过去,但这些应急政策依然在使用。当流动性过剩,而经济依然疲弱,劳动力和产品市场状况仍不振时,可能发生的情况是,宽松政策的效果将在国内或者国外的资产市场得到体现。它是治疗金融市场不稳定的处方,但也可能在未来催生泡沫。泡沫会出现在哪里?没有人知道。

你强调说,如果中国想要把非常高的储存率降下来,它需要提供更多的社会福利。你认为美国的国家福利是否足够,还是过于慷慨了?

它并不完善。美国的退休系统和医疗保健系统都存在资金不足的情况。但美国至少有一个定义明确的缴付款项和享受福利的系统。中国没有这样一个系统。缺乏一个资金充足和安全的社保网络为医疗保健和退休提供保障,这是中国居民的储蓄率居高不下而且仍在上升的主要原因。不确定性带来恐惧,这意味着中国家庭任何新增的收入都不会用于可选择性的消费。这将阻碍中国向以消费为主导的经济转型。

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