爱思英语编者按:对中国经济的担忧可能被夸大了。但投资者心有不安是对的。

The Great Fall of China
中国大减速

Fear about China's economy can be overdone. But investors are right to be nervous
对中国经济的担忧可能被夸大了。但投资者心有不安是对的。

ONCE the soundtrack to a financial meltdown was the yelling of traders on the floor of a financial exchange. Now it is more likely to be the wordless hum of servers in data centres, as algorithms try to match buyers with sellers. But every big sell-off is gripped by the same rampant, visceral fear. The urge to sell overwhelms the advice to stand firm.

以前,金融崩溃的配乐是金融交易所大厅中交易员的惊声尖叫;如今,随着算法努力去撮合买卖双方,这种配乐更可能是数据中心服务器的无言呻吟。但是,每一次大抛售都被同样的担忧担忧所控制,它们蔓延滋生,撕心裂肺。卖出的催促压倒了坚持下去的建议。

Stomachs are churning again after China's stockmarket endured its biggest one-day fall since 2007; even Chinese state media called August 24th “Black Monday”. From the rand to the ringgit, emerging-market currencies slumped. Commodity prices fell into territory not seen since 1999. The contagion infected Western markets, too. Germany's DAX index fell to more than 20% below its peak. American stocks whipsawed: General Electric was at one point down by more than 20%.

在中国股市经受了2007年以来的最大单日下跌后,人们的胃里正再一次撕来扯去;就连中国的国家级媒体也把8月24日称为“黑色星期一”。从兰特到林吉特,新兴市场货币纷纷大跌。大宗商品价格跌到了1999年以来未曾见过的区域。传染还波及到了西方市场。德国DAX指数已经跌至高点之下20%以上。美国股市遭到反腐蹂躏:通用电器曾一度跌超20%。

Rich-world markets have regained some of their poise. But three fears remain: that China's economy is in deep trouble; that emerging markets are vulnerable to a full-blown crisis; and that the long rally in rich-world markets is over. Some aspects of these worries are overplayed and others are misplaced. Even so, this week's panic contains the unnerving message that the malaise in the world economy is real.

富裕世界市场已经缓过一些神儿来了。但是,三大担忧依然存在:中国经济深陷困境,新兴市场面对一场全面危机的弱不禁风,富裕世界的长期牛市已经终结。这些担忧,有些方面言重了,有些方面搞错了地方。即便如此,本周的恐慌仍然包含了这样一条令人不安的信息:世界经济之低迷是真的。

Scoot first, ask questions later
先跑了,再问为什么

China, where share prices continued to plunge, is the source of the contagion. Around $5 trillion has been wiped off global equity markets since the yuan devalued earlier this month. That shift, allied to a string of bad economic numbers and a botched official attempt to halt the slide in Chinese bourses, has fuelled fears that the world's second-largest economy is heading for a hard landing. Exports have been falling. The stockmarket has lost more than 40% since peaking in June, a bigger drop than the dotcom bust.

股价仍在下跌的中国是这次的传染源。自人民币在本月早些时候贬值后,已有大约5万亿美元被从全球证券市场中抹除。人民币汇率的转变、一连串糟糕的经济数据以及官方试图阻止股市下跌的笨拙尝试,三者相加,引发了世界第二大经济体正走向硬着陆的种种担忧。出口持续下降;自6月登顶以来,股市已经失守了40%以上,其跌幅之大超过了科技股泡沫的破裂。

Yet the doomsters go too far. The property market is far more important to China's economy than the equity market is. Property fuels up to a quarter of GDP and its value underpins the banking system; in the past few months prices and transactions have both been healthier. China's future lies with its shoppers, not its exporters, and services, incomes and consumption are resilient. If the worst happens, the central bank has plenty of room to loosen policy. After a cut in interest rates this week, the one-year rate still stands at 4.6%. The economy is slowing, but even 5% growth this year, the low end of reasonable estimates, would add more to world output than the 14% expansion China posted in 2007.

然而,末日论者扯得太远了。对中国经济来说,房地产市场要远比证券市场重要。房地产支撑起该国四分之一的GDP,其价值是银行体系的支柱;在过去的几个月中,价格和交易已经双双更加健康。中国的未来在于采购者,而不是出口商;而且服务、收入和消费都弹性十足。如果出现了最坏的情况,央行有足够的空间去放松政策。本周降息后,一年期利率仍为4.6%。经济正在减速,但是,即便是今年5%的增长——各种合理估算的低端——对于全球产出的增加,也会比中国2007年公布的14%的扩张要多。

China is not in crisis. However, its ability to evolve smoothly from a command to a market economy is in question as never before. China's policymakers used to bask in a reputation for competence that put clay-footed Western bureaucrats to shame. This has suffered in the wake of their botched—and sporadic—efforts to stop shares from sagging. Worse, plans for reform may fall victim to the government's fear of giving markets free rein. The party wants to make state-owned firms more efficient, but not to expose them to the full blast of competition. It would like to give the yuan more freedom, but frets that a weakening currency will spur capital flight. It thinks local governments should be more disciplined but, motivated by the need for growth, funnels credit their way.

中国没有身处危机之中。然而,他们从指令经济平稳地推进到市场经济的能力,却从来没有像现在这样成问题。中国的决策者已经习惯于沉浸在让手脚被束缚的西方官僚感到羞耻的胜任光环之中。这让他们在阻止股市下跌的笨拙——而且是经常发生的——尝试后吃到了苦头。更糟糕的是,改革计划可能会沦为政府对于给予市场完全自由的担忧的牺牲品。中共想提高国企效率,但又不想让这些企业暴露给竞争的全面冲击;它想给予人民币更多的自由,但又担心不断走弱弱的货币会引发资本外逃;它认为地方政府应当更守纪律,但是,在增长需求的驱使下,又用信贷为它们铺路。

Fears over China are feeding the second worry—that emerging markets could be about to suffer a rerun of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Similarities exist: notably an exodus of capital out of emerging markets because of the prospect of tighter monetary policy in America. But the lessons of the Asian crisis were well learned. Many currencies are no longer tethered but float freely. Most countries in Asia sit on large foreign-exchange reserves and current-account surpluses. Their banking systems rely less on foreign creditors than they did.

对中国的种种担心正在孕育第二个担忧——新兴市场可能要遭受1997-98年亚洲金融危机重演之苦。相似性是存在的:尤其是因为美国收紧货币政策的前景而离开新兴市场的一场大规模的资本外逃。但是,亚洲危机的教训已经被很好地吸取了。许多货币已经不再是被动挂钩,而是自由浮动。亚洲大多数国家拥用大量的外汇储备和经常账户盈余。他们的银行体系对于国外债权人的依赖比以前少了。

If that concern is exaggerated, others are not. A slowing China has dragged down emerging markets, like Brazil, Indonesia and Zambia, that came to depend on shovelling iron ore, coal and copper its way (agricultural exporters are in better shape). From now on, more of the demand that China creates will come from services—and be satisfied at home. The supply glut will weigh on commodity prices for other reasons, too. Oil's descent, for instance, also reflects the extra output of Saudi Arabia and the resilience of American shale producers. Sliding currencies are adding to the burden on emerging-market firms with local-currency revenues and dollar-denominated debt. More fundamentally, emerging-market growth has been slowing since 2010. Countries from Brazil and Russia have squandered the chance to enact productivity-enhancing reforms and are suffering. So has India, which could yet pay a high price.

如果说这种担忧被夸大了,其他的则不是如此。正在减速的中国拖累了像巴西、印尼和赞比亚这些依赖于挖掘铁矿石、煤炭和铜碍支撑自己的新兴市场(农业出口国的情况要好一些)。从现在起,中国创造出来的需求,更多地将来自服务——而且在其国内就能得到满足。供应过剩还会因为其他的原因施压于大宗商品价格。例如,石油的下跌还是对沙特的额外产出和美国页岩油生产商的弹性的反映。跌跌不休的货币正在给收入以本币计算、债务以美元计算的新兴市场企业企业增加负担。更为根本的是,新兴市场的增长,自2010年以来就一直在减速。巴西和俄罗斯浪费了强化生产力改革的机会,并且正在为此而遭罪。还有就是可能为此而付出代价的印度。

The rich world has the least to fear from a Chinese slowdown. American exports to China accounted for less than 1% of GDP last year. But it is hardly immune. Germany, the European Union's economic engine, exports more to China than any other member state does. Share prices are vulnerable because the biggest firms are global: of the S&P 500's sales in 2014, 48% were abroad, and the dollar is rising against trading-partner currencies. In addition, the bull market has lasted since 2009 and price-earnings ratios exceed long-run averages. A savage fall in shares would spill into the real economy.

富裕世界最不用替中国减速而担忧。去年,美国对中国的出口不到GDP的1%。但是,富裕世界几乎是没有免疫力的。作为欧盟的经济引擎,德国对中国的出口多于其他成员国。股价脆弱是因为巨无霸企业的全球性:在标普500指数企业2014年的销售中,48%来自国外;加之,美元正在对贸易伙伴的货币升值。除此之外,牛市自2009年以来就一直在延续,市盈率超过了长期平均值。股市的惨烈下跌会传导给实体经济。

Ageing bull
牛老了

Were that to happen, this week has underlined how little room Western policymakers have to stimulate their economies. The Federal Reserve would be wrong to raise rates in September, as it has unwisely led markets to expect. Other central banks have responsibilities, too. Money sloshing out of emerging markets may try to find its way to American consumers, leading to rising household borrowing and dangerous—and familiar—distortions in the economy. So Europe and Japan should loosen further to stimulate demand.

如果这种事真的发生了,本周凸显了西方决策者被迫刺激经济的空间是多么的狭小。美联储在9月加息会是错误的,因为它一直在不明智地引导市场做出这种预期。其他央行也有责任。正在流出新兴市场的钱可能会尝试在美国消费者那里找到出路,从而带来家庭借贷行为的增加以及各种危险而又熟悉的经济扭曲。因此,欧洲和日本应该继续宽松,刺激需求。

Monetary policy is just the start. The harder task, in the West and beyond, is to raise productivity. Plentiful credit and relentless Chinese expansion kept the world ticking over for years. Now growth depends on governments taking hard decisions on everything from financial reforms to infrastructure spending. That is the harsh lesson from China's panic.

货币政策只是开始。对于西方以及西方之外的国家来说,更加艰巨的任务是提高生产力。充足的信贷和中国的不断扩张已经维持世界运转很多年了。如今,增长取决于各国政府对从金融改革到基础设施开支的方方面面做出艰难的决定。这就是来自中国恐慌的惨痛教训。