【英语中国】分析:唱衰中国论再起 The naysayers of China’s boom are surfacing

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2014-3-5 09:02

小艾摘要: The Chinese administration has a tricky course to steer in the coming months. It must live up to expectations that it will implement economic reforms and choke off ever-increasing credit supply, witho ...
The naysayers of China’s boom are surfacing
The Chinese administration has a tricky course to steer in the coming months. It must live up to expectations that it will implement economic reforms and choke off ever-increasing credit supply, without destabilising the economy and provoking popular unrest.

Because China is a Communist state, however much it may have opened itself up to the market, the government still has a great deal of power over all aspects of the economy, but even it is unable to achieve its various goals without a long drawn-out process.

“The naysayers of China’s economic boom are surfacing again, warning all those who care to listen that the country’s debt-fuelled growth will eventually prove its undoing,” says Philip Ehrmann, manager of the Jupiter China fund. He thinks these concerns are misplaced. “The new Chinese administration has made quite clear that it is engaging in meaningful reform to manage the excesses, intended or otherwise, that have been building up in the economy.”

“In a Chinese discussion, you always have the bulls and the bears, and it always comes down to faith in the Chinese government,” says Erwin Blaauw, a senior country-risk analyst at Rabobank. “It has some control over every aspect of the economy, and that explains why it is not in crisis – yet.”

One of the main risks for a Chinese crisis is the ever-expanding supply of credit. The government has made it clear it would like to limit this supply, making individual banks more aware of their responsibility to manage their own liquidity instead of relying on the People’s Bank of China to inject liquidity into the market whenever it is asked.

On a number of occasions, the PBoC has not responded to a need for extra liquidity immediately, causing significant market volatility, such as spikes in Shibor, the key overnight lending rate. In each case, however, the central bank has ultimately supplied the requisite liquidity. The question then is whether Chinese financial institutions are reading this as a comforting message they will not be hung out to dry, or a warning that they should get their houses in order.

Mr Blaauw is optimistic “banks are becoming more aware of their own responsibility for liquidity”. This could eventually lead to a situation where a bank failure would not risk a systemic crash, but “we are not there yet”, he warns.

These actions have failed to curb credit growth, as January produced record new credit figures. Mr Ehrmann says he is confident this is nothing to worry about, as “it has been accompanied and supported by very healthy foreign currency reserves and levels of domestic savings”.

Over the summer, the Chinese government will probably have a series of opportunities to demonstrate its determination to allow markets to move to more efficient capital allocation, as a series of trusts, wealth management vehicles that are a significant source of liquidity to the credit market, mature. It is expected that more than one may struggle to find the necessary liquidity.

Just such an event occurred toward the end of January, when the China Credit Trust threatened to become the country’s biggest failure of this kind in a decade. In the end, investors got their capital back as a bailout was organised just before the Chinese new year, sparking concerns that investors will fail to learn their lesson about default risk.

“The question is, will they let one fail later in the year?” says Mr Blaauw. The PBoC will be concerned about market reaction to such a failure, as it was in January, but “the downside of a bailout would be that investors think [such a product] will never fail”.

Klaus Wiener, chief economist at Generali Investments, is more sanguine. He expects a number of defaults among trusts during the summer, “but they will be idiosyncratic, not systemic”.

Mr Blaauw explains the government has a difficult balancing act to manage the needs for economic reforms, slower credit growth and financial stability.

Financial stability is relatively straightforward to achieve, Mr Wiener points out. “They have the monetary policy and the fiscal levers and they are able to use them. And historically they have been proven to work.”

Financial stability with continued credit growth and inadequate economic reform merely postpones the crisis, says Mr Blaauw. “At the moment, reform is a very gradual process; they are taking it step by step. But will it be fast enough to prevent some crisis in the future?”

“China’s critics would have a point if nothing were to change over the next few years,” says Mr Ehrmann, who is optimistic that reform is on its way. “True, making the necessary structural reforms will probably jar with vested interests, but key is whether the government of President Xi Jinping has the stomach to drive through these reforms. Signs are good, in our view.”

未来几个月,中国政府将面临困难重重的局面。它必须不辜负人们的期望:在不破坏经济稳定、不引发社会动荡的情况下,实施经济改革并遏制不断增长的信贷供应。

中国是一个社会主义国家,不管在多大程度上开放市场,在经济的方方面面,政府仍然拥有很大权力。即便如此,不经历一个漫长的过程,中国也无法实现各种不同的目标。

Jupiter中国基金(Jupiter China Fund)的经理菲利普?埃尔曼(Philip Ehrmann)表示:“否认中国经济形势大好的人又出现了,他们向那些愿意聆听的人发出警告:中国由债务拉动的增长终将失败。”他认为这些担忧是没必要的。“中国新一届政府已明确表示,将展开切实改革,应对经济中越来越明显的(不管有意与否)过度现象。”

“在讨论中国经济时,总是会有看好和唱衰的人。这归根结底要看他们相不相信中国政府,”荷兰合作银行(Rabobank)高级国家风险分析师埃尔文?布洛(Erwin Blaauw)表示,“中国政府在一定程度上控制着经济的方方面面,这是中国迄今没有出现危机的原因。”

可能导致中国陷入危机的一大风险是日益扩张的信贷供应。中国政府已明确表示,希望控制信贷供应,让各家银行更明确自身在管理流动性方面的责任,而不能每回都依赖中国人民银行(PBoC)会在请求之下向市场注入流动性。

有些时候,中国央行没有立即对市场需要增加流动性的局面做出回应,结果引发了市场的剧烈波动,例如关键隔夜贷款利率——上海银行间同业拆放利率(Shibor)——出现飙升。然而,央行最终无一例外都会向市场提供必需的流动性。接下来的问题是:中国金融机构是将这解读为一种令人宽慰的信息,说明政府不会不管它们,还是将这看作一种警告,表示它们应该管好自己?

布洛的看法很乐观,他认为,“银行越来越清楚地意识到自己在流动性方面的责任”。最终可能出现这样的结果:某一家银行破产,但不至于引发系统性崩盘。但他又说,“我们还没有到那种境地。”

中国央行的做法未能遏制信贷增长,1月份新增信贷达到创纪录水平。埃尔曼表示,他相信,这一点并不令人担心。因为“与此同时外汇储备和国内储蓄水平十分稳健,可起到支持作用。”

今年夏季,随着一系列信托机构——这种财富管理机构已成为信贷市场一大流动性来源——走向成熟,中国政府可能会有很多机会,展示其让市场朝着更有效配置资金的方向发展的决心。到时候,可能不只一家机构难以获得必要的流动性。

今年1月底就发生过这种事,中诚信托(China Credit Trust)险些酿成中国10年来规模最大的此类破产案。最终,投资者拿回了本金,因为该机构在春节前得到了纾困。这令外界担心,投资者将无法从中吸取关于违约风险的教训。

布洛表示:“现在的问题是,今年晚些时候,他们是否会让某家金融机构破产?”就像今年1月那样,中国央行将担心市场对此类破产的反应,但“进行纾困的缺点是,投资者将认为(此类产品)永远不会违约。”

Generali Investments首席经济学家克劳斯?威纳(Klaus Wiener)的态度更为乐观。他预测,今年夏季将出现一些违约事件,“但它们都会属于个别情况,不会引发系统性反应。”

布洛解释道,中国政府需要实施经济改革、控制信贷增长并维护金融稳定,很难三者兼顾。

威纳指出,维护金融稳定相对容易。“他们有货币政策和财政工具可以动用,这些工具历来行之有效。”

布洛表示,金融稳定和信贷持续扩张,再加上不充分的经济改革,只会拖延危机的发生。“目前,改革是一个渐进的过程;他们在一步一步地推行。但这个过程是否足够快,能够及时防止未来爆发某种危机?”

“如果未来几年情况没有任何改变,唱衰中国就有其道理,”埃尔曼表示,他乐观地认为中国确实正在进行改革。“确实,施行必要的结构性改革可能会与既得利益群体发生冲突,但关键是,习近平主席的政府是否有勇气将这些改革进行到底。在我们看来,目前情况还是不错的。”

译者/梁艳裳

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