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为什么政府不应该救市

更新时间:2015-7-9 19:44:09 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Problem With China’s Efforts to Prop Up Its Stock Market
为什么政府不应该救市

Repeat after me: The stock market is not the economy. And the economy is not the stock market.

跟着我念:股市不等于整体经济。整体经济不等于股市。

That’s the central, crucial idea to sound economic policy that seems to be missing from China’s increasingly frantic efforts to prop up its plummeting stock market. It dropped another 6 percent in Wednesday’s trading session and is now down 32 percent in the last month.

这是健全的经济政策中一个关键的核心观念,而在中国日益疯狂的托市努力中,似乎就缺少了这个观念。在周三的交易日中,中国股市再次下挫6%,在过去一个月里的总跌幅达到了32%。

No doubt these are scary times in China. It is understandable that government and industry leaders fear what the collapse will do to the savings of the country’s growing middle class, who have taken to stock investing in mass numbers in recent years.

毫无疑问,这是中国的一个恐慌时刻。政府和企业界的领导者担心,崩盘会让中国中产阶级的储蓄严重缩水,这是可以理解的。不断壮大的中国中产阶级在最近几年里大举投资股票。

It is easy to understand why the headlines out of China would make the rest of the world fret. China is an important global economic player. Continuing uncertainty about what will happen to Greece and the eurozone, another major driver of the world economy, has further fueled the sense of global markets in peril.

为什么中国的这些新闻会让世界其他国家烦恼,也是很容易理解的。中国是全球经济的一个重要参与者,而希腊和世界经济的另一股主要驱动力欧元区的前景依然存在不确定性,又进一步助长了全球市场的危机感。

To the degree that the loss of stock market wealth will ripple through to the broader credit system and economy, it makes sense for Chinese officials to be alarmed. Perhaps losses on margin loans will cause credit to freeze up more broadly, slowing growth. Or the loss of paper wealth will lead Chinese citizens to hunker down and spend less money, leading to a recession.

股市财富蒸发的程度,达到了波及更广泛的信贷体系和整体经济的地步,中国官员感到警惕也是合情合理的。或许保证金贷款的损失将导致信贷风险,进而扼杀已然放缓的更广泛的经济增长。又或许由于账面财富蒙受损失,中国公众可能会节俭度日,减少开销,进而导致经济衰退。

Those are valid fears, and help explain why the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates and loosened bank lending restrictions, hoping to keep Chinese economic growth on an even keel despite the market drop.

这些担心并非杞人忧天,而且也有助于解释为什么中国人民银行会降息和放宽银行贷款限制,希望能保持中国经济增长的平稳步伐,避免它被股市下跌拖累。

But others in the long list of actions China has taken to try to shore up the market seem focused less on containing the consequences of the market sell-off, and more on directly propping up the market itself. There was the June 29 decision for local government pensions to invest in stocks for the first time, a July 1 relaxation of securities trading fees, a July 2 relaxation of rules on margin trading to make it easier for people to make risky bets on stocks, and a July 5 decision by a state-owned investment fund to buy more stocks.

然而,中国采取的一长串托市措施,似乎较少地关注于遏制市场抛压的消极影响,而是更侧重于直接推高股市本身。6月29日首次允许地方政府将养老金投资在股票上,7月1日降低了证券交易费用,7月2日放宽保证金交易规定,让高风险炒股变得更容易,7月5日一家国有投资基金决定买入更多股票。

The Chinese government is going to these lengths to prop up the market despite evidence that Chinese stocks really were overvalued at their mid-June levels, having experienced a 150 percent run-up in the preceding year without much fundamental improvement in earnings or growth in the Chinese economy to justify it.

为了托市,中国政府正在大费周章,但是证据表明,在6月中旬时,中国股市真正的价值其实被高估了。当时股市已经在过去一年里大涨了150%,但是公司盈利或中国经济增长形势却没有太多的根本性好转,来为这种涨幅的合理性提供支撑。

Would the United States government take action to prevent a market sell-off here? There exists, in some of the more conspiracy-minded corners of the financial media, a deep-seated conviction that the federal government can deploy a secretive group from the Federal Reserve and other agencies to intervene whenever the stock market shows tremors.

美国政府会采取行动来阻止市场抛售吗?金融媒体中的一些阴谋论者有一个根深蒂固的观念,就是联邦政府可以在美联储和其他机构部署一个秘密团队,只要股市出现震荡,就会进行干预。

It’s a misleading way of viewing something that is real. There really is a President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which coordinates government action in a market crash. A 1997 Washington Post article callled it the “plunge protection team.” And there is no doubt that when the United States stock market crashes, high government officials take notice. Sometimes they even do something about it.

这是对真实情况的一种误导性看法。总统确实有一个“金融市场工作小组”(Working Group on Financial Markets),在市场崩盘的时候负责协调政府行动。1997年《华盛顿邮报》的一篇文章称它为“暴跌保护团队”。而且毫无疑问,如果美国股市崩盘,政府高官会密切关注。有时,他们甚至会做一些事情。

The Chinese government, it seems, actually does have a group that functions more similarly to what the conspiracy theorists in the United States imagine.

看上去中国政府的确有一个这样的团队,其运行方式和美国阴谋论者的想象更为接近。

It’s not that American officials never talk up the market (Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill did that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks), or try to ban short-selling (as the Securities and Exchange Commission did for certain bank stocks during the 2008 crisis). And in January 2008, an erratic global stock market sell-off on Martin Luther King’s Birthday prompted the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, though that most likely just sped up a rate cut that would have happened soon enough as the American economy had fallen into recession.

这并不是说美国官员从不通过表态来托市(9·11恐怖袭击后,财政部长保罗·奥尼尔[Paul O’Neill]就这么做过)、从不尝试禁止卖空(美国证券交易委员会[Securities and Exchange Commission]在2008年危机期间,针对某些银行股票就这样做过)。2008年1月,马丁·路德·金诞辰当天,全球股市的震荡抛售促使美联储(Federal Reserve)调低利率,但此举极可能仅仅是加快了降息。因为即便当时不降,由于美国经济陷入衰退,降息措施也很快就要出台了。

But those episodes are rare, and many view them as well-intentioned mistakes. I know of no evidence that any arm of the American government even considered outright purchases of stocks during either the dot-com bubble crash or the 2008 financial crisis. (Perhaps capital injections into troubled banks in 2008 are an exception, though those interventions were targeted at propping up the banking system, not the stock market as a whole).

但这些情况都属罕见,而且很多人认为它们是善意的错误。据我所知,没有证据表明,美国任何政府机构在互联网泡沫破灭或是2008年金融危机期间,曾考虑过直接购买股票。(或许2008年向身处困境的银行注资是一个例外,但那些干预的目标是巩固银行系统,而非整个股市。)

I’ve read thousands of pages of transcripts from closed-door Federal Reserve policy meetings over the past couple of decades, and while the stock market is mentioned plenty, it is invariably mentioned in the context of understanding what it means for the real economy — the spending of consumers, the ability of companies to raise capital and so on.

我看过数千页材料,它们记录了美联储在过去几十年里召开的闭门政策会议。尽管其中大量提到股市,但语境都是该如何理解它对实体经济,如消费者支出和公司的融资能力等意味着什么。

There’s no doubt that the Fed’s monetary easing has driven up the stock market in the last five years, and that is one of the ways its policies have helped the overall economy. But that’s not the same as propping up the stock market as a goal in and of itself. It also helps explain why the Fed didn’t react to sharp stock market sell-offs in June 2013 or October 2014; there was minimal evidence they were affecting the actual ability of Americans to get a job and earn a living.

毋庸置疑,过去五年里,美联储的货币宽松政策推高了股市,这是其政策帮助整体经济的方式之一。但这和把托市本身作为目标是不同的。这也有助于解释,在2013年6月和2014年10月股市大举卖空时,美联储为何没有反应。因为很少证据表明,那两次卖空影响了美国人找工作和谋生的实际能力。

The stock market, when it works well, is a valuable tool for enabling ordinary citizens to invest in companies and companies to obtain capital on favorable terms. When it goes poorly, it becomes an unusually large casino. That happened with dot-com stocks in the United States in the late 1990s, and that has happened by many accounts with Chinese stocks in the past year.

运行良好时,股市是一种重要工具,能让普通民众投资于企业,同时让企业以优惠条款募集资本。运行不良时,它就会成为一个巨大的赌场。90年代末美国的互联网股票就出现了这种情况,按照很多人的说法,过去一年里中国股票同样也出现了这种情况。

When a government intervenes to try to prevent markets from adjusting to sensible levels, it can mean pouring money down a sinkhole and merely delaying an inevitable correction.

政府采取干预,试图阻止市场调节到合理水平,这可能意味着白白浪费大量资金,却不过是延误了一场不可避免的修正。

That fact is all the more reason governments, on both sides of the Pacific, could think of their “plunge protection team” as something different. Maybe “economy protection team?”

因此,太平洋两岸的两国政府才更有理由重新思考“暴跌保护团队”的目的。或许它应该是“经济保护团队”?

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