Policy à la Modi
Why foreign investors are losing interest in India
It would be wrong to say that the only people who attended English county cricket in the 1980s were scoreboard enthusiasts, old men with flasks of cold tea and red-faced types there for the all-day bar. A few oddballs went to watch the cricket. A big draw was Graeme Hick, a Zimbabwe-born batsman and a relentless runmaker for Worcestershire. He eventually qualified to play for England in 1991. In front of bigger crowds and faster bowling, he could not reproduce his blistering county form.
如果你以为上世纪80 年代英国郡级板球比赛的观众只是些分数控、捧着凉茶瓶的老头，以及在通宵酒吧里喝得面红耳赤的人，那你可就错了。也有一些怪咖去看板球。吸引大批人前往观赛的焦点之一是格雷姆·希克（Graeme Hick），这位出生于津巴布韦的击球手为伍斯特郡（Worcestershire）队拿起分来毫不手软。1991年他终于入选英格兰国家队。不过，面对更多的观众和更快的投球，他没能重现在郡比赛中的雄风。
In cricket-mad India, a parallel might be drawn between Mr Hick and Narendra Modi, the prime minister. Mr Modi was also the object of high hopes. He was elected with a thumping majority in May 2014 on his record in Gujarat, a well-run Indian state. But on the bigger stage, the form he showed as a state minister has often deserted him. A recent clash with the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (rbi), that led to the resignation of its governor, Urjit Patel, is the latest—and most serious—mis-step.
在痴迷板球的印度，或许可以拿希克和总理莫迪做个类比。莫迪曾经同样被寄予厚望。2014 年5 月，他凭借在古吉拉特邦（Gujarat）的出色政绩，以压倒性多数当选总理。但在更大的舞台上，莫迪的表现却常常有失自己之前作为邦首席部长的水准。近日他与印度储备银行（RBI，即印度央行）之间的冲突导致行长乌尔吉特·帕特尔（Urjit Patel）辞职，这是他最新也是最严重的一次失误。
The rupee fell after Mr Patel resigned. But India under Mr Modi has been one of the more stable emerging markets. The stockmarket has seemed to defy gravity, thanks in large part to domestic investors steadily switching from gold and property into shares. That buying has masked the disquiet among foreign investors, who have quietly pulled money from India. The sense that Mr Modi has blown a good chance to transform India is widespread.
The hallmarks of Mr Modi’s 12 years in Gujarat were ambitious projects run by honest civil servants. The results are tangible. The roads around Ahmedabad, the state’s commercial capital, are excellent. The water supply is abundant. Gujarat’s 18,000 villages are connected to the electricity grid. Gujarat was already a state with lots of factories and formal jobs. One of Mr Modi’s innovations was to use it to cut through red tape for new businesses. He was project-manager-in-chief. A handful of trusted civil servants gave orders. Those further down the chain of command were held to account.
莫迪在古吉拉特邦执政12 年的标志性政绩是由廉洁的公务员负责的宏大项目。成果是实实在在的。该邦的商业中心艾哈迈达巴德（Ahmedabad）周边的道路状况堪称一流。供水很充足。古吉拉特邦的1.8 万个村庄接入了电网。该邦早在莫迪执政之前就已拥有大量工厂和正式工作岗位。莫迪的创举之一是利用信息技术为新企业削减繁文缛节。他扮演着项目大总管的角色。由少数几个他信得过的公务员发号施令，下面各层级的官员负责实施。
Mr Modi excels in this “project mode”, says Reuben Abraham of the idfc Institute, a think-tank. Judged by the number of toilets installed or kilometres of road laid, his time in the top job is a success. India’s gdp growth rate of 6-7% on his watch is not too shabby. Yet for a poor country with a fast-expanding population, 6-7% growth is a baseline. A government in project mode will not lift it. “You need deeper, systemic reforms,” says Mr Abraham. Those require a coherent strategy and policymakers capable of adapting it as conditions change. This is at odds with Mr Modi’s command-and-control style.
智库IDFC 研究所（IDFC Institute）的鲁本·亚伯拉罕（Reuben Abraham）表示，莫迪特别擅长这种“项目模式”。不管是从建造的厕所数量还是铺设的道路公里数来看，作为最高领导人的莫迪都是成功的。在他的任期内，印度的 GDP 增长率为6%至7%，不算太差。然而，对于一个人口快速增长的穷国来说，6%到7%的增长只是基本底线。项目模式下的政府无法做得更好。亚伯拉罕指出：“需要更深层次的系统性改革。”这种改革需要的是连贯的策略以及能够随机应变的政策制定者。而这与莫迪命令控制型的风格大相径庭。
His defenders point to some big-bang reforms. A national goods-and-services tax (gst) has replaced a mosaic of national, state and city levies that were a barrier to trade within India. The country has a newish bankruptcy code. The central bank has an inflation target and a monetary-policy committee. But these were ideas bequeathed by the previous administration. The single Modi-branded policy—cancelling high-value banknotes to crush the black economy—probably did more harm than good.
And progress has been set back by the clash with the rbi. The government pressed it to remit more of its reserves and to go easy on state-owned banks with bad debts. There are two sides to every dispute. Central bankers have a habit of standing on their dignity while dodging accountability. But Mr Patel was clearly sinned against. Mr Modi has not grasped that there is little point in a bankruptcy code to aid the clean-up of banks, or a state-of-the-art monetary policy, if the government overrides the central bank when elections loom.
The sales pitch about India’s potential was already wearing thin. “A lot of investors have tuned out,” says Dec Mullarkey of Sun Life Investment Management. The trade dispute between America and China is just one more missed opportunity. A pickup in foreign direct investment in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines may be a sign that American firms are seeking to reshape supply chains to exclude China. India ought to benefit, too. But its bewildering array of labour laws and scarcity of commercial land hold back its progress as a manufacturing hub. The gst apart, Mr Modi has done little to change that.
鼓吹印度潜力的说辞已经没什么市场了。“很多投资者已经不吃这一套了。”太阳人寿投资管理公司（Sun Life Investment Management）的戴克·穆拉基（Dec Mullarkey）说。印度错失了很多像中美贸易争端这样的机会。印尼、越南和菲律宾的外国直接投资的回暖可能表明美国公司正试图打造新的供应链来排挤中国。印度照理也该从中受益。但一大堆让人晕头转向的劳动法以及匮乏的商业用地阻碍了印度成为制造业中心的进程。除了 GST，莫迪在改变这种现状上无所作为。
Mr Hick could not adapt his game to more testing conditions. His poor form for England is sometimes attributed to the burden of expectation and technical flaws. Perhaps the same goes for Mr Modi in economic policymaking.