【英语财经】为新兴市场分类 Guest post: the great EM divide – China-centred east Asia vs the rest

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2014-7-1 01:07

小艾摘要: MSCI has moved in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform… and again left Chinese stocks out of its global benchmark indices. At the same time, we learn that, after three years in index limbo, it wil ...
Guest post: the great EM divide – China-centred east Asia vs the rest
MSCI has moved in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform… and again left Chinese stocks out of its global benchmark indices. At the same time, we learn that, after three years in index limbo, it will not add South Korea and Taiwan to the family of developed markets. These decisions have happened despite the fact that all three nations are among the world’s top 25 economies: China at number 2, Korea at 15 and Taiwan at 25.

As always, MSCI justified its decisions with reference to technical reasons relating to capital controls, market accessibility and tradability. Yet one cannot help but think that there are – deep down – other factors at work. Indeed, it is hard not to conclude that, like so many multilateral organisations that are located in and have grown out of the West, the likes of the MCSI are having difficulty coming to terms with admitting the leading lights of the emerging world – and especially China and east Asia – into their developed world clubs. Think of how distorted the IMF voting quotas remain: Belgium has 1.86 per cent (with a population of 11m and a GDP of $535bn) against South Korea with 1.37 per cent (50m and $1.27tn respectively), while the UK has a voting quota of 4.29 per cent (64m and $2.8tn respectively) versus China with 3.81 per cent (1.35bn and $9.2tn respectively.)

For us investors, determining just how to deal with these Asian “pretenders” to developed market status has highlighted an even deeper issue of classification that is increasingly dividing emerging markets: there is a growing recognition that there are effectively two sub-categories – call them clubs – within the EM asset class. In one club, there is China-centred east Asia: China, Korea, Taiwan and Asean; in the other club, there is everyone else in the emerging fraternity: Latin America, Africa, eastern Europe and the Indian sub-continent.

Who belongs to which club is not simply a matter of geography; economic practice also plays a part. With isolated qualifications, the former category tends to run structural current account surpluses (Indonesia being the only exception) while the latter group tends to run structural deficits (with the oil exporters being the main exceptions). In economic size, China-centred east Asia outranks the rest of the emerging world combined; indeed as a single economic unit, it now outranks North America as well as Europe. Even excluding China, this group would rank as the world’s fourth largest economy, after the US, China and Japan.

Even though EM is still the asset class that attracts most investor interest, investors are starting to appreciate that there is something ‘special’ about China-centred east Asia. As a result, some – the smart money sovereign wealth funds in particular – are seeking a more focussed exposure to this region, in all asset classes: fixed income, equities, property and even cash. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund recently sold European bonds to fund an increased exposure to Asian bonds, whilst the Azeri sovereign wealth fund is seeking to add the Chinese renminbi to its cash holdings.

There are a number of distinct economic advantages that tend to set the countries of China-centred east Asia apart from their EM peers. Typically they operate managed currency regimes that give rise to their current account surpluses, with the result that their external account is buffered with significant foreign exchange reserves and, selectively, sovereign wealth funds; these cushions help reduce their downside currency risk. Their exchange rate policies also allow their monetary authorities a degree of independence when it comes to setting interest rates and so determining the duration and shape of their credit cycles; such independence arises from not being reliant on external liquidity to fund current account deficits and so, by extension, not being exposed to the capricious behaviour of Western monetary authorities in the operation of the latter’s various quantitative easing programmes. The resulting lower volatility in the east Asian bloc’s credit cycles helps underwrite less volatile investment cycles and so generate smoother GDP growth trajectories. Furthermore, being a region that is generating capital surpluses means their investment cycle and with it their capital markets are not so exposed to the ebb and flow of foreign-funded debt and equity investment.

For now, current account deficit running Indonesia is the east Asian exception that proves this normal rule. Thus far, it has not followed standard China-centred east Asia practice; indeed it has even been designated one of the fragile five emerging markets along with Brasil, South Africa, Turkey and India. However, investors are now wondering whether this 240m-strong archipelago nation will, especially if Joko Widodo is elected the next president, do a Malaysia and continue to diversify its export profile away from natural resources towards manufactured exports. If so, it could move across to the more-normal-for-an-east-Asian-nation structural current account surplus camp. (A perhaps even more intriguing prospect might be whether, in the wake of Narendra Modi’s comprehensive electoral victory in India, South Asia’s giant might similarly do a Bangladesh, pursue a policy of export-led growth and move away from the current account deficit camp.)

Combined, the economic characteristics detailed above tend to reduce the risk profile of all the asset classes of China-centred east Asia in that they tend to create a less volatile economic environment. For investors, this means more capital protection on the downside and, yes, a lower likelihood of outsized capital gains on the upside. On balance, over time, the net effect of market movements when measured in US dollars has tended to yield better risk-adjusted returns, particularly for fixed income, property and cash spaces.

Given that many investors are tied to the way MSCI defines the emerging world, the option of going materially overweight say east Asia is simply not available to them. MSCI defines who is a member of which club and most investors are obliged to live within this straitjacket whether they like it or not and whether it fits with changing global economic realities or not. By 2025, China will probably have the world’s largest GDP; but do not be surprised if, even then, it is still classified as emerging!

Groucho Marx once quipped he would not want to be a member of any club that would have him as a member. So when the time eventually comes that MSCI can no longer come up with yet another reason to say ‘no’ to China, Korea and Taiwan and deigns to accept them as members to the developed market club, the latter may yet feel the same way as the more amusing Marx. Looking at the sclerotic growth prospects – both economic and demographic – facing the West and Japan today, one would sympathise with such east Asian reticence at the prospects of being admitted to what has recently been described as an “old age people’s home”. This may also explain why the Asian region has decided to set up its own club: the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. And who can blame them?

Michael Power joined Investec Asset Management as a strategist in December 2002. His current responsibilities include understanding how the shift in the centre of economic gravity from West to East is impacting on the world of investment.

摩根士丹利资本国际(MSCI)行事神秘,不可思议……而且再次未将中国A股纳入其全球基准指数。与此同时,我们得知,在经过3年的犹豫不决之后,MSCI最终不会将韩国和台湾列入发达市场行列。所有这些决定都不顾一个事实,即这三者全都属于全球25大经济体之列:中国排名第二,韩国居第十五位,而台湾则位列第二十五名。

和往常一样,MSCI为其决定解释理由时,提到了资本控制、市场准入和可交易性这些技术性理由。然而,人们不禁会想,其实还有其他因素在起作用。实际上,人们很难不得出这样的结论:与总部位于并成长于西方的众多跨国组织一样,MSCI这类机构很难放下身段,接受新兴世界的主要经济体(尤其是中国和东亚经济体)加入它们的发达世界俱乐部。想想国际货币基金组织(IMF)的投票权配额依然是多么扭曲:人口1100万、GDP为5350亿美元的比利时占1.86%,而人口5000万、GDP达到1.27万亿美元的韩国仅占1.37%,同时人口6400万、GDP为2.8万亿美元的英国拥有4.29%的投票权份额,相比之下人口13.5亿、GDP达到9.2万亿美元的中国仅占3.81%的份额。

对我们投资者而言,在决定如何看待这些“觊觎”发达市场地位的亚洲经济体的过程中,一个甚至更深层次的分类问题突显出来。现在新兴市场日益分成两类:人们越来越认识到,事实上在新兴市场资产类别中有两个子类别——人们将它们称为俱乐部。一个俱乐部是以中国为核心的东亚:中国、韩国、台湾和东盟(Asean);另一个俱乐部是新兴市场中的其他所有地区:拉美、非洲、东欧和印度次大陆地区。

谁属于哪个俱乐部不是简单的地理问题;经济活动也是决定因素。从单个的资格条件来看,前一类经济体往往处于结构性经常账户盈余(仅印尼除外),而后一类经济体往往处于结构性赤字(主要的例外是那些石油出口国)。从经济规模来看,以中国为核心的东亚超过了其他新兴经济体的总和。实际上作为一个经济集团来说,它们也超过了北美和欧洲。即便不包括中国,该集团也会是全球第四大经济体,排在美国、中国和日本之后。

虽然新兴市场总体仍是吸引大多数投资者的资产类别,但投资者开始意识到,以中国为核心的东亚有某种“特殊”之处。因此,某些人(尤其是主权财富基金这种精明的投资者)正更加集中地构建对该地区的敞口,涉及所有资产类别:固定收益、股票、房地产甚至现金。挪威主权财富基金最近抛售欧洲债券,以便腾出资金加大在亚洲债券上的敞口,同时阿塞拜疆主权财富基金正寻求将人民币加入其现金头寸中。

以中国为核心的东亚往往有许多独特的经济优势,可以将自身与其他新兴市场经济体区分开来。一般来说,它们实行有管理的汇率制度,这使它们拥有经常账户盈余,于是它们的外部账户有庞大的外汇储备提供缓冲,有的还有主权财富基金作缓冲;这些缓冲有助于降低其货币的下行风险。就制定利率、从而决定信贷周期的长度和形态而言,它们的汇率政策也允许它们的货币当局保持一定程度的独立性。此类独立性源于不依赖外部流动性为经常账户赤字融资,也因此,不受西方货币当局随心所欲出台各种量化宽松项目的影响。这使东亚经济体集团的信贷周期波动性较低,有助于其投资周期保持较低的波动性,从而让GDP增长轨迹更加平稳。此外,东亚地区是一个产生资本盈余的地区,这意味着它们的投资周期以及资本市场较不易受到外资对债券和股票投资的起伏的影响。

就目前而言,对于得到东亚证明的上述常规,只有经常账户处于赤字的印尼是例外。印尼迄今没有追随以中国为核心的东亚的标准行为模式;实际上,印尼与巴西、南非、土耳其和印度一起被认为是5个脆弱的新兴市场。然而,投资者现在想知道这个有着2.4亿人口的群岛国家,是否会学习马来西亚的做法(尤其是如果佐科?维多多(Joko Widodo)当选为下任总统的话),继续降低其自然资源的出口,加大制造业产品的出口。如果能够做到,印尼就可能加入对东亚经济体来说更为正常的结构性经常账户盈余阵营中(一个或许更为引人关注的前景是,在纳伦德拉?莫迪(Narendra Modi)获得全面选举胜利之后,印度是否同样会向孟加拉国学习,实施一种出口拉动型增长政策,从而脱离经常账户赤字阵营)。

总的来说,上述经济特征往往会降低以中国为核心的东亚经济体所有资产类别的风险状况,因为它们往往会创造一个波动性较低的经济环境。对投资者来说,这意味着在经济下行时期更大的资本保护,但同时也意味着在经济上行时期获得超额资本收益的可能性较低。总的来说,随着时间的推移,以美元衡量的市场波动的净效应往往会产生更大的经风险调整后的回报,尤其是对固定收益、房地产和现金资产类别来说。

鉴于许多投资者比较依赖MSCI定义新兴世界的方式,他们根本不会想去大幅超配比如东亚经济体的资产。MSCI划定某个国家属于某个俱乐部,大多数投资者只知道接受这种划定,无论他们喜欢与否,也无论这种划定是否符合不断变化的全球经济现实。到2025年,中国的GDP很可能达到全球第一;但假如那时中国还被划分为新兴世界国家,不要感到意外!

格鲁乔?马克思(Groucho Marx)曾经诙谐地说道,他不想加入任何一个愿意吸收自己为会员的俱乐部。因此,当MSCI最终再找不出理由对中国、韩国和台湾说不,而屈尊接受它们加入发达市场俱乐部的时候,后者可能和更为诙谐有趣的马克思的想法一样。看看西方和日本如今面临的僵化的增长前景(无论是在经济上还是在人口结构上),人们不难理解,为何面对被最近有“老年人之家”之称的发达市场俱乐部接纳的前景,东亚沉默不语。这或许也能解释为何东亚地区决定建立自己的俱乐部:上海合作组织(Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)。谁能责怪他们呢?

本文作者于2002年12月进入天达资产管理公司(Investec Asset Management)担任策略师。他当前负责研究经济重心从西方转向东方如何影响投资界。

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