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更新时间:2015-7-9 19:38:30 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Chinese stock market rout in recent weeks has prompted the country’s government to act aggressively to stop the slide. If stocks continue to fall, that could erode consumer confidence in China and slow further the country’s already weakening economy, which would have painful implications for the global economy.


What has happened?


Chinese stocks have surged almost unimpeded, more than doubling in the 12 months ending June 12. Millions of working-class and middle-class Chinese families bet heavily on stocks, often borrowing money to do so and further spurring the rise.


But the rally defied fundamentals, prompting concerns of a bubble. Stocks rose even as the Chinese economy was slowing. While foreigners and domestic institutions bought shares in large companies with fairly stable businesses, working-class and middle-class families mainly bought inexpensive shares in small and medium-size companies, and kept buying these shares simply because they were rising. Weak balance sheets and chronic problems with corporate governance at many of these companies were swept aside.


In recent months, the Chinese stocks have experienced brief periods of weakness, as investors started to grow concerned that the market was getting overheated. The government, though, has regularly reassured investors, helping to steady the markets.


Now, investors are losing faith. After a drop of more than 7 percent in the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets on June 26, the Chinese central bank responded the next day with an interest rate cut, saying it was acting to shore up the economy. A broad slide in stocks continued, prompting the government to take aggressive action.


What is China doing about the sell-off?


Since June 25, the Chinese government has tried a series of policy measures to halt the slide. It has cut interest rates, made more loans available to buyers of stocks and promised to investigate anyone involved in market manipulation.


The government made its boldest move on July 4, orchestrating a plan for 21 brokerages to put $19.4 billion in a fund to buy the shares of large companies. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges suspended 28 pending initial public offerings and said that all deposits paid for shares would be returned to the would-be buyers, freeing up cash that could be invested in existing stocks. Government agencies announced on July 5 that they would lend money to brokerages so that the brokerages could lend the money to investors who wanted to buy shares.


Following the move, large company shares held most of their value on July 6. But the shares of small and medium-size companies, widely held by retail investors, kept falling.


How exposed are foreign investors?


The Chinese markets have only recently started to open up to outside investors, so overseas players are not heavily exposed to the downturn. Such investors own an estimated 4 percent of Chinese shares. And they have been heavily concentrated in large companies, which have not been as volatile as their smaller brethren.


But stock market routs can quickly spread. The Hong Kong market withstood previous bouts of selling, but fell on July 6 after the Chinese government’s moves. And foreigners have invested heavily in the Hong Kong market, often as a proxy for mainland China.


Will China’s stock market troubles affect the global economy?




China has the world’s second-largest economy. It is the biggest importer of commodities, from countries like Australia and Brazil. China is also a huge buyer of factory equipment and other machinery in Germany and other places. If the Chinese stock market slump damages consumer confidence, it could lead to a slowdown in those purchases.


The stock market weakness, should it spread to the Chinese economy over the long term, could prompt Beijing to reassess its overseas loans and investments. Many countries, industries and companies have come to depend on Chinese money to fund their own growth. But Chinese outbound investment could still increase if companies and individuals seek safety overseas.