【英语中国】中国在海外收紧信贷的后果 Consequences of China tightening will be painful

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2014-4-29 06:39

小艾摘要: Until recently, China Development Bank, and to a lesser extent China Export Import Bank, were the best friends the emerging markets ever had. They lent money to companies and governments in places whe ...
Consequences of China tightening will be painful
Until recently, China Development Bank, and to a lesser extent China Export Import Bank, were the best friends the emerging markets ever had. They lent money to companies and governments in places where the availability of capital was low, the tenure short and the cost high. They helped companies from Petrobras in Brazil to?telecoms?groups?in?Bangladesh and India, to the governments of countries in Africa and Latin America, obtain financing.

Moreover, when borrowers encountered difficulty, these were the most patient bankers. They were reluctant to seize collateral and more willing to roll over loans than their western counterparts.

But the two Chinese policy banks are now stepping back. As the Beijing government puts pressure on its banks generally, mainland credit is being tightened both at home and abroad. While speculation about credit tapering continues in the US, it is already happening in China – big time. And the consequences for parts of the rest of the world will be painful.

It used to be that one external adviser to China Development Bank would visit the bank almost every week to review up to half a dozen international projects. He would travel overseas in the entourage of the bank’s former head, Chen Yuan, until last year, receiving red carpet treatment everywhere. No longer. “The volume of international lending has dropped as much as 50 per cent,” this adviser calculates in reference to CDB.

Less forgiving

In part the slowdown reflects more prudent lending as a result of improved project evaluation. The two banks have also become less forgiving. Rather than report a borrower as current by collecting token amounts of interest, the two have begun to act more commercially. They declare borrowers in default, take possession of the assets backing loans and sell those assets on the international markets, where they can get paid more than in China itself.

There are other signs of the tightening. For example, a banker at one of the French banks in Hong Kong says the Chinese banks are asking foreign banks to play a greater role in financing Chinese exports, since they lack the liquidity to do so (although the Chinese banks would supply a guarantee to the foreign banks for the transaction). But many foreign banks are not keen to do that because they are nervous about increasing their counterparty risk to Chinese financial institutions, especially those below the level of the big state-owned banks.

For the Chinese banks, themselves, that scaling down may be a good thing. For borrowers in emerging markets, though, it is less than ideal – especially in combination with other trends outside China.

At the same time, regulations in the developed world are also making it harder for the big international banks such as Citigroup, JPMorgan and HSBC to be as active as they used to be in channelling funds to credit-poor parts of the world.

For example, HSBC has terminated about 500 correspondent banking relationships in exactly those parts of the world that most need capital. That is because regulators require the banks not only to know their own customers but in these cases to know the customers of their customers.

Harsh effects

Given the practical difficulties in heeding that edict, it is simpler to get out of the business. The same is true of leading competitors such as JPMorgan and Standard Chartered. The banks themselves are reluctant to talk about this in case they attract further regulatory ire and pressure from the countries from which they are withdrawing.

It is concerns about money laundering and terrorist financial flows that have led to the heightened pressure on these international banks. But the consequence is less money from outside flowing to parts of the world that desperately need it if they are to grow out of poverty.

The consequences are especially harsh because rich people in poor countries will always have access to financial services. It is the less affluent that will be the victims of these well meaning policies.

On a macroeconomic level as well as a financial?level,?China?is?also less supportive. Real GDP growth in China slowed to 1.4 per cent quarter over quarter for the three months to the end of March, according to government data published last week, while imports rose a mere 1.6 per cent for the period compared with a year ago. In the month of March, imports fell 11.3 per cent compared with March 2013.

All this suggests China’s role as the engine of growth for the world, and particularly for emerging markets, is likely to diminish in the future. And the sharper the tightening and slowdown in China is, the worse for the rest of the world. Possible replacements have yet to emerge – perhaps there are none.

直到不久以前,中国国家开发银行(CDB)和(在较低程度上)中国进出口银行(The Export-Import Bank of China)还是新兴市场有史以来最好的朋友。这两家银行为新兴市场的公司和政府提供贷款——这些地方不仅很难获得资本,而且贷款期限短、成本高。无论是巴西国家石油公司(Petrobras)、孟加拉国和印度的电信集团,还是非洲和拉美国家的政府,都在它们的帮助下获得了融资。

此外,当借款方遭遇困难时,它们也是最有耐心的银行家。它们不愿扣押贷款担保品,而且比它们的西方同行更愿意滚转贷款。

但中国这两家政策银行如今正在收缩。随着中国政府对本国银行全面施加压力,中资银行收紧了国内外的信贷。在市场猜测美国将继续缩减信贷的同时,中国已经在这么做了——而且幅度巨大。对全球某些国家来说,后果将是痛苦的。

曾几何时,中国国开行的一位外部顾问几乎每周都会拜访该行,审议多达6个国际项目。他会随同国开行前董事长陈元前往海外,所到之处均得到红地毯的礼遇。但这种日子已在去年结束。据这位顾问计算,就国开行而言:“国际放贷规模的缩水幅度多达50%。”

不那么宽宏大量了

信贷放缓在一定程度上反映了在改进项目评估之后,中资银行对放贷更为审慎。同时这两家银行也变得不那么宽宏大量了。这两家银行在经营上开始更加商业化,而不是象征性地收取一些利息后,就将借款人报告为当前借款方。它们会宣告借款人违约,占有贷款抵押资产,并在国际市场上出售那些资产(国际市场上的出售所得通常高于中国国内市场)。

还有其他迹象表明这些银行正在收紧信贷。例如,某家法国银行常驻香港的一位银行家表示,中资银行正请求外资银行在为中国出口融资方面发挥更大的作用,因为它们自己缺乏提供融资的流动性(尽管中资银行将为外资银行的相关交易提供担保)。但许多外资银行不太热衷这么做,因为它们对加大中国金融机构所带来的交易对手风险感到不安,尤其是那些低于大型国有银行水平的金融机构。

对中资银行本身来说,这种收缩可能是件好事。但对新兴市场的借款者就不怎么理想了,尤其是结合中国以外的其他趋势时就更是如此。

与此同时,发达世界的监管也让花旗集团(Citigroup)、摩根大通(JPMorgan)和汇丰(HSBC)等大型国际银行更难像过去那样,活跃地向世界上信贷匮乏的地区输送资金。

例如,汇丰在那些最需要资金的地区与大约500家代理银行终止了关系。这是因为监管机构要求银行不仅要了解自己的客户,而且在这一业务领域还要了解客户的客户。

严苛的影响

鉴于在操作层面很难满足这样的监管要求,更简单的做法是退出这块业务。摩根大通和渣打银行(Standard Chartered)等主要竞争对手也是如此。这些银行本身不愿谈论这种问题,以免引来监管机构进一步的不满和退出国家的压力。

导致这些国际银行承受更大压力的,是对洗钱和恐怖分子资金流动的担忧。但后果却是,那些迫切需要发展资金以摆脱贫穷的地区获得的外部资金减少了。

由于穷国的富人们总能获得金融服务。而那些不太富裕的民众将成为这些本意不错的政策的受害者,这种后果尤其显得严苛。

从宏观经济层面和金融层面上看,中国的支持力度也在下降。最近中国政府发布的数据显示,今年1季度中国实际国内生产总值(GDP)的环比增速放缓至1.4%,同期进口同比仅增长1.6%。今年3月份,进口同比下降11.3%。

所有这些都表明,中国作为全球(尤其是新兴市场)增长引擎的角色很可能在未来减弱。中国信贷紧缩和经济放缓的幅度越大,对世界其他国家的影响就越糟糕。迄今仍未出现可能接替中国角色的国家——或许根本就没有。

译者/邹策

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