The global consequences of Dubai’s debt problems
迪拜债务问题波及全球

FOR years, Dubai strove to capture the imagination of the financial world, projecting its young financial centre as a “global gateway” for capital. Last week it succeeded in grabbing attention. Its announcement that it would delay repayment of the debts of Dubai World, a vast government-owned conglomerate, swept through global markets like one of the blinding sandstorms that occasionally afflict the emirate, obscuring the gleam of its skyscrapers.
多少年来,迪拜把年轻的金融中心打造成资本的“全球通道”,绞尽脑汁来激发金融界的想象。上周,它成功吸引了世界的眼球。宣布暂停偿还大型国有集团迪拜世界债务的消息,像沙尘暴一样横扫全球市场,迷人双眼。沙尘暴在这个迪拜时有发生,湮没摩天大厦的熠熠光彩。

Like those storms, Dubai’s announcement was so damaging because it reduced visibility. Investors had assumed that the Dubai government was willing to rescue the indebted conglomerates it sponsors, and that Abu Dhabi, its well-heeled neighbouring emirate, was willing, in turn, to rescue Dubai. In particular, they had looked forward to the full and timely repayment of a $3.5 billion Islamic bond issued by Nakheel, a Dubai World subsidiary, on December 14th.
迪拜此次宣告模糊了人们的视线,危害堪比沙尘暴。投资者本以为迪拜政府会愿意出手干预,拯救自己赞助的集团,而腰缠万贯的酋长邻国阿布扎比也愿意助一臂之力。他们已经打好了如意算盘,认为迪拜世界子公司棕榈岛集团35亿美元的伊斯兰债券定会赶在12月14日前到账,数量分毫不差。

Dubai’s failure re-awakened a number of dormant fears in investors. Some worried about banks that had lent heavily to the region. Others wondered if Dubai was carrying far more than the $80 billion or so in debt that it has owned up to. The announcement reminded investors that tacit sovereign guarantees may be worthless. Earlier in November, for example, Ukraine’s state railway firm, Ukrzaliznytsya, failed to repay part of a syndicated loan, and its energy firm, Naftogaz, restructured its debt.
迪拜跌倒,投资者心中诸多已经睡去的恐惧被重新唤醒。有人对向迪拜地区慷慨借贷的银行忧心忡忡,还有一些人怀疑,迪拜背负的债务可能远远高于800亿美元的上限。投资者如梦初醒,发现就算合法如主权债券,也可能是废纸一叠。就在不久前的11月,乌克兰铁路公司无法偿还部分辛迪加贷款,而能源集团乌克兰国家石油天然气公司也进行了债务重组。

More fundamentally, Dubai’s wobble raised the spectre of a sovereign default. Dubai’s government is not technically on the hook for Nakheel’s debts. But the government’s hesitation in saving its national champions nonetheless demonstrates its fiscal limits.
更重要的是,迪拜的动摇燃起了人们对主权债券的恐惧。理论上迪拜政府同棕榈岛的债务并无致命干息。但既然政府拿不定主意是否要出手援助国家先锋,它的财政限度就展露无遗。

Elsewhere, governments have emerged from the crisis burdened by debt. Both Greece and Ireland are carrying heavy public liabilities denominated in a currency (the euro) that they cannot print. Doomsayers worry that the world has escaped from the financial frying pan into a fiscal fire.
放眼其他地区,政府摆脱危机,却负债累累。希腊和爱尔兰都身背沉重的欧元公共债务,而本国却无法印刷这种货币。悲观人士担心,世界好容易脱离了金融煎锅,又跳入了财政大火。

These wider fears are easy to exaggerate. Despite its self-aggrandisement, Dubai is not yet important enough to bring down the global financial system. Its troubles moved markets last week partly because so many traders were on holiday. Other investors were looking for cues to sell after the long rally in markets since the spring. By Monday November 30th, the principal stock indices were shaking off the dust and venturing upwards again.
上述恐惧一经煽风,马上蔓延。迪拜政府虽自命不凡,却还不至于重要到拉垮全球金融系统。上周,迪拜问题震动市场,也有许多贸易商度假的原因。还有一些投资商,春天股市回升过后,就一直在寻找售出迹象。截至11月30日(周五),主要股票指数都开始抖去沙尘暴的灰尘,再次窜上。

But the damage Dubai has done to itself is no passing storm. An emirate that has spent so much money and hired so many flaks to cultivate its image and inspire confidence saw much of that work undone in a single 200-word statement announcing the debt standstill.
但迪拜对自己的伤害可不比沙尘暴,过后即结束。为了塑造形象催生信心,这个酋长国家投入了太多的金钱,打出了太多的广告;而一纸200字宣告自己债务陷入停顿的声明,却让多年的心血化作乌影。

Had it announced the restructuring a few months earlier, with the ground properly laid, investors might have taken it in their stride. Those who lent to Dubai World at a premium can have no complaints if the risks for which they were compensated turn out to be real. And a standstill may buy time for the deeper restructuring that Dubai World undoubtedly needs. It is better to weed out the bad businesses within the group rather than cross-subsidise them to save face.
如果迪拜早几个月宣告重组,在妥善做好准备,投资商可能能够从容应对。倘若如此,迪拜世界的溢价债主所受到补偿的风险真正出现,他们就不会抱怨连连。债务停顿,也能给迪拜世界时间进行更深层次的重组,而这无疑正是迪拜需要的。在公司内进行优胜劣汰,总好过交叉补贴来挽回颜面。

But Dubai had led investors to expect that publicly traded instruments, such as sukuk, or Islamic bonds, would be honoured. And the government offered no satisfactory explanation for its sudden change of stance. Thus even as markets slumped, political speculation mounted. A week earlier, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, had sidelined three of the men who ran “Dubai Inc” in the boom years. Perhaps, then, the standstill was the result either of a power struggle within the ruling circles of Dubai, or between Dubai and its neighbour, Abu Dhabi.
但是迪拜曾让投资者相信,如伊斯兰债券的上市文书理应得到推崇。为何会突然改变立场,政府也没有给出让人满意的解释。因此就算股市仍在暴跌,政治猜测也在迅速膨胀。一周前,迪拜酋长穆罕默德.本.拉希德.阿勒马克图姆将三位繁华年代迪拜公司的运作者排挤出局。造成债务停顿的原因,可能是迪拜统治圈里的权利之争,也可能是迪拜和邻国阿布扎比的明争暗斗。

Abu Dhabi’s conservative rulers have mixed feelings about their brash, go-getting neighbour. They may have asked why they should rescue Dubai from the consequences of its own prodigality. Or why they should resuscitate bankrupt Dubai firms that will compete with Abu Dhabi’s own national champions? At the weekend, a senior Abu Dhabi official told Reuters that it would “pick and choose” which of Dubai’s entities to help.
阿布扎比的保守派执政人士对于这个轻率无礼的邻居亦爱亦恨。他们可能问,凭什么迪拜自己挥金如土,却让我们来拯救?凭什么迪拜公司破产,我们去要把它们拉出泥潭,跟自己国家的领先企业竞争?周末,一位阿布扎比高级官员在接受路透社采访时说,他们会对迪拜企业“选择性”帮助。更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

But many investors in Abu Dhabi bought into the Dubai boom. They will lose money if the bust turns into a protracted slump. And of the banks most exposed to Dubai, several have headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Thus the central bank of the United Arab Emirates has made it clear that it will provide liquidity to any bank, foreign or domestic, operating in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is not yet a gateway to the financial world. But it can open the door to all sorts of trouble in its neighbourhood.
但迪拜之所以繁荣,许多阿布扎比投资商都是注入了银子。如果迪拜破产造成长期低迷,他们就亏了本。在迪拜负债累累的银行中,不少总部都是设在阿布扎比。阿联酋央行就已经挑明,他们会为任何在联合酋长国运作的银行提供流动性,本土外商一视同仁。迪拜现在还不能说是金融世界的通道,但是它却可以充当周围国家各种各样的麻烦的入口。