经济学人官方译文 | 中国金融大而脆弱:欧阳德表示中国须忍痛开放金融体系

更多精彩,请关注微信公众号:田间小站

​​Finance in China
中国金融
Big but brittle
大而脆弱
China needs to free up its financial system, even if it hurts, says Simon Rabinovitch
欧阳德表示中国须忍痛开放金融体系

THE HEAD OFFICE of Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank is a reassuringly solid building. Its grey stone façade and arched doorways convey a feeling of prosperity, a splash of high finance in this small county town in eastern China where grain fields nip at the edges of factories. But look a little closer, and you will still find a couple of scars from the bank’s near-collapse two years ago. One is a digital sign running in a loop over the entrance: “Treasure your hard-earned money, avoid the temptation of high returns, stay far from illegal financial schemes.” The second is a prize draw for cars, a pair of gleaming white Kias on a red platform outside the bank. “Deposit 100,000 yuan today and win the chance to drive a new car home,” blares the announcement. The bank is fighting to attract customers because it knows all too well what it is like to lose them.
射阳农商银行总部大楼造型稳固,令人安心。它灰色石砌外墙及拱形门廊透现着繁华感,为这座农田环抱工厂的华东小县城添上一抹高级金融的气派。但稍稍细看,你还是会发现两年前该银行濒临崩溃的些许痕迹。一个是大门上的显示屏循环显示的信息:“珍惜自己的血汗钱,拒绝高利诱惑,远离非法集资。”第二个是汽车抽奖活动,两辆闪闪发亮的白色起亚汽车停在银行外面的红毯奖台上。广播里大声宣告:“今天存款十万元,就有机会把新车开回家。”。该银行太清楚流失储户的滋味,所以现在正全力争取顾客。

Decades of heady growth had put money into the pockets of Sheyang’s residents. But China’s big banks had little time for the countryside. Farmers who wanted to buy homes or start companies struggled to get loans. Illegal lenders stepped into the gap; they collected cash from those with idle savings and lent it out, often at double-digit interest rates. Business boomed. As locals put it, the lenders sprouted up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain—until a few years ago, when a harsh wind uprooted them. The economy was slowing and investment plans relying on superfast growth fell apart. Borrowers could not pay back what they owed. The unregulated lenders started defaulting on their depositors. Panic spread. In March 2014 it was rumoured that even Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank, which is owned by the government, was low on cash.
几十年的高速增长令射阳居民的腰包充实起来。但中国的大银行无暇顾及农村小镇。想购房或创业的农民借贷无门。非法放贷便趁虚而入——它们向有闲钱的民众集资,然后放贷,利息往往高达两位数。这门生意一度火爆。正如当地人说的,这类放贷机构像雨后春笋般涌现——直至几年前一场飓风将其连根拔起。中国经济放缓,依赖超速增长的投资计划落空。借款人无力偿债。这些未受监管的放贷机构开始对储户违约。恐慌情绪蔓延。2014年3月,连国有的射阳农商银行也传出现金不足的谣言。

This was enough to spark China’s first bank run in years. Crowds gathered outside its branches, waiting for hours in the drizzly chill to get their money out. Bank managers stacked up bricks of 100-yuan notes (China’s largest denomination) to show they had sufficient cash. Yet fear travelled like a virus, infecting another nearby bank. On the third day of the panic the China Banking Association, an industry group, entered the fray and declared the rural banks to be healthy—in effect, pledging to stand behind them. That ended the run. It had taken the full weight of the nation’s banks acting in concert to restore calm.
这足以引发中国多年来的首次挤兑事件。大批人群聚集在银行网点门外,冒着寒风细雨等候数小时只为提取存款。银行经理码起整叠的百元钞票以显示银行现金储备充足。但恐慌如病毒般扩散,附近另一家银行也受到波及。挤兑潮的第三天,行业组织中国银行业协会出面调停,宣称这些农村银行状况良好,这实际等于承诺为其提供支持,这才结束了挤兑。这场风波最终依靠全国的银行协力行动才得以平息。

One county’s travails might not seem worth making a big fuss about. After all, the deposits at Sheyang Rural Commercial amount to just 13.5 billion yuan ($2.1 billion), barely 0.01% of the total in banks nationwide; and the problems were successfully contained. But the run raised troubling questions. How could the authorities have let so many illegal lenders operate? Why were they suddenly collapsing? If they were in such bad shape, were proper banks safe? Was China on the brink of a financial crisis?
一个县城的阵痛似乎不值得拿来大做文章。毕竟,射阳农商银行的存款总额仅为135亿元(21亿美元),刚刚占到全国银行总存款的0.01%;而且局面已经被成功控制。但挤兑事件显示了令人忧虑的问题。当局怎能任由那么多非法贷款机构运营?它们为何突然倒闭?非法放贷情况如此糟糕,正规银行是否就安然无恙?中国是否处在金融危机的边缘?

Sheyang’s bank run is just one of a series of problems to reveal cracks in the Chinese financial system in recent years. Others include a cash crunch in 2013, a wave of shadow-banking defaults in 2014, a stockmarket collapse in 2015 and a surge of capital flight at the start of 2016. Underlying it all, China has seen a dramatic rise in debt, from 155% of GDP in 2008 to nearly 260% at the end of last year, according to an estimate by The Economist. Few countries have gone on borrowing binges of that magnitude without hitting a crisis.
射阳的银行挤兑风波仅仅是近年来揭示金融体系裂缝的一系列问题之一。其它还包括2013年的流动性短缺、2014年的影子银行违约潮、2015年的股市崩盘,以及2016年初的资本外流剧增。所有这一切背后是中国债务水平的急速上升,据《经济学人》测算,中国的债务占GDP比例已从2008年的155%上升至去年底接近260%的水平。鲜有国家在如此规模的疯狂借贷后能免于危机。

The scope for potential trouble in China is immense. Its banking sector is the biggest in the world, with assets of $30 trillion, equivalent to 40% of global GDP. China’s four biggest banks are also the world’s four biggest. Its stockmarkets, even after the crash, together are worth $6 trillion, second only to America’s. And its bond market, at $7.5 trillion, is the world’s third-biggest and growing fast.
中国的潜在祸患规模巨大。其银行业总资产达30万亿美元,相当于全球GDP的40%,规模为世界之最。中国的四大银行也是全球最大的四家银行。中国的股票市场即使在崩盘后总市值也达到6万亿美元,仅次于美国股市。其债券市场规模为7.5万亿美元,排名世界第三,而且增长迅速。

A cocoon of regulations limits direct foreign involvement in China’s financial system, but connections are deepening by the day. Given its economic heft, serious problems could easily dwarf the global consequences of any previous emerging-markets crisis. Even the mild yuan depreciation at the start of this year (1% against the dollar in one week) sent shock waves around the world, upsetting stocks, currencies and commodities. Just imagine the effects of a big one.
层层法规限制了外国直接参与中国金融体系,但联系正日益加深。鉴于中国的经济规模,一旦发生严重问题所造成的全球性后果将会甚于之前的所有素有新兴市场危机。今年初人民币仅轻微贬值(一周内兑美元贬值1%)便对全球带来冲击,股票、货币、大宗商品市场纷纷随之波动。试想一下,要是严重贬值,后果会是怎样。

Still, it is worth recalling that predictions of financial doom in China have long been wrong. Because of the nature of the system—the state owns both the banks and their biggest borrowers—the government is in a much better position to dictate outcomes than those in most other countries. Until recently the financial system has been very conservative. Plain-vanilla bank lending is the dominant form of credit; exotic products such as securitised loans that caused havoc in rich economies barely exist in China. Moreover, liquidity buffers are strong: residents have historically had little choice but to stuff their cash in banks, and a semi-closed capital account has made it hard for them to send money abroad.
不过,值得回想的是,有关中国金融发展的各种末日预言一直以来都未能成真。由于中国金融体系的性质(银行及其最大借款方均属政府所有),中国政府比大多数其他国家更能操控局面。直至近期,这一金融体系一直非常保守。单纯银行贷款是信贷的主要形式;对富裕经济体造成严重破坏的证券化贷款等新奇产品在中国基本不存在。而且,中国的流动性缓冲强大:长期以来,居民除了把现金放在银行之外别无选择,半封闭的资本账户令人们难以把资金转移到国外。

All these controls have allowed China systematically to gather up its people’s savings in its banks and use the money to build infrastructure, factories and homes, fuelling economic growth. When lending has gone badly wrong, as it did in the 1990s, the state has recapitalised its banks and fired up the lending machine again. Not best practice for an advanced economy—but, as Taiwan and South Korea have shown, it can be a supremely effective model for development.
这一切控制因素使中国得以系统性地把居民储蓄汇聚至银行,并利用这些资金建造基础设施、工厂、房屋,拉动经济增长。如果贷款出了严重问题,像上世纪90年代时那样,国家会对银行做再资本化操作,重新启动放贷机器。这对发达经济体而言并非最佳做法,但正如台湾和韩国的经验显示,这也可能是极有效的发展模式。

Crunch time
关键时刻

Even so, China’s status quo cannot be sustained for ever. Returns on capital are declining. It now takes nearly four yuan of new credit to generate one yuan of additional GDP, up from just over one yuan of credit before the global financial crisis. As the population ages and the economy matures, growth is bound to slow further.
即便如此,中国的现状也无法永远持续。资本回报率正在下降。在全球金融危机前,中国GDP每增长一块钱仅需要一块多一点的新增信贷,如今则需要将近四块。随着人口老龄化及经济日渐成熟,增长必然会进一步放缓。

At the same time, bad debts from the past decade’s lending binge are catching up with banks. Given slower growth, it will be tougher to clean them up than it was 15 years ago, when the country was booming. Moreover, the edifice of control is getting shakier: shadow finance is eating away at the power of state-owned banks, and the capital account has sprung leaks that regulators are struggling to plug.
同时,过去十年的借贷狂潮正令银行业深受坏账之累。鉴于经济增长日益放缓,相比15年前经济蓬勃发展时,如今要清理这些坏账变得更加困难。加之管控架构越发摇摇欲坠:影子金融正蚕食国有银行的力量,资本账户漏洞滋生,监管机构疲于堵漏。

China has, in other words, reached a level of development where it needs a more sophisticated financial system, one that is better at allocating capital and better suited to the market pressures now bubbling up. The government pays lip service to this, and indeed some reforms point in the right direction: it is deregulating interest rates; the exchange rate, though still managed, is more flexible; defaults are chipping away at the notion that the state will guarantee every investment, no matter how foolish.
换句话说,中国已经发展到了需要更成熟的金融体系的水平——一个能更好地配置资本,并能应对日渐上升的市场压力的体系。政府对此信誓旦旦,也确实朝着正确的方向推出了一些改革——逐步放开利率管制;汇率虽然仍受管制,但比以前更灵活;连串违约事件正逐渐改变人们的观念,不再认为不论什么投资,哪怕是极其愚蠢的投资都会有政府做担保。

Yet the state has held the levers of finance so tightly for so long that the loosening of its grip generates new dangers. Coddled banks are being plunged into competition. People who once had few outlets for their savings have many choices, each riskier than the next. Companies probe for weakness in the mesh of regulations, with the government seemingly always one step behind. In the past year alone, it has spent nearly $200 billion to prop up the stockmarket; $65 billion of bank loans have gone bad; financial frauds have cost investors at least $20 billion; and $600 billion of capital has left the country.
然而,政府长期紧握金融杠杆,突然松手又会带来新的危险。原本备受宠溺的银行被投入竞争的洪流中。人们储蓄投资的渠道原本寥寥无几,如今却琳琅满目,一个比一个风险高。公司四处探寻监管漏洞,而政府似乎总是后知后觉。单单过去一年,中国政府已动用将近2000亿美元救市;650亿美元的银行贷款成为坏账;金融诈骗令投资者损失至少200亿美元;资本外流达6000亿美元。

This report will argue that China is faced with two unpalatable options. One is that it moves more boldly to free up its financial system. That would be the right thing to do for the future but would release pent-up perils now; defaults would climb, banks would rack up losses and many shadow lenders would go bust. The other is that China eschews reform and instead tries to patch up its current system. That would be easier in the short term, but the inexorable accumulation of debt would sap the economy’s vigour and raise the spectre of a fearsome crash.
本报道认为,中国正面对两个艰难选择。一是更大胆地放开其金融体系。为未来考虑,这是正确选择,但会让压抑已久的风险在当下爆发;违约将上升,银行会蒙受损失,许多影子贷款机构将破产。另一选择是不做改革,只是试图修补现有体系。这在短期内相对轻松,但债务积累不断加重将削弱经济活力,令人担忧中国将面临金融体系崩溃的可怕厄运。

In practice, the government has wavered between the two options. In good times, when the economy behaves as it should, it plods ahead with reforms. But at the first whiff of trouble it tends to lose its nerve, building up much bigger problems a few years hence. China needs to move faster, even at the cost of greater turbulence today.
实际上,中国政府在这两者之间举棋不定。顺境时,经济表现一如理想,政府便着力推进改革。但只要遇到一点麻烦便往往阵脚大乱,为之后几年遗留更大祸害。中国需要加快动作,即便在当下产生更大动荡也应在所不惜。

Some good at least came of the Sheyang bank panic. China introduced nationwide deposit insurance last year, trying to reassure savers that their money is safe, no matter what happens to their bank. Banks have also raised their game, as demonstrated by the car giveaway at Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank. People again line up at its doors, only this time to put their cash in the bank, not take it out. But financial fragility is surfacing nearby. Grass encroaches on the lot of a textile company that defaulted on a bond last year. And on the county’s outskirts, apartment blocks stand empty, totems to the debt that looms over China’s financial system.
射阳银行的挤兑事件至少带来了一些好处。中国去年出台了全国性的存款保险制度,目的是安抚储户,保证无论银行发生什么问题,存款都是安全的。银行也在奋力争先,从射阳农商银行的存款赠车活动便可见一斑。这家银行再次门庭若市,而这次,人们不是来挤兑,而是来存钱的。但金融的脆弱性正在附近浮现。去年因债券违约倒闭的一家纺织公司空地上杂草丛生。而县郊空置的公寓大楼则像是一座座图腾,象征着中国金融体系之上隐现的债务危机。

打赏

微信赞赏支付宝赞赏