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一箭双雕:中国为什么让人民币贬值

更新时间:2015-8-12 21:05:54 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why Did China Devalue Its Currency? Two Big Reasons
一箭双雕:中国为什么让人民币贬值

Here are two things that China’s government wants very badly: first, for its economy to remain on an even keel, keeping growth and employment high. Second, for its currency, the renminbi, to become a pre-eminent global currency that helps promote the country’s diplomatic goals and solidify the country’s centrality to the global economy.

中国政府非常希望办到两件事:第一,保持中国经济的平稳运行,将增长率和就业率维持在较高水平。其次,让人民币成为优质的全球性货币,以帮助该国达成外交目标,并巩固中国在全球经济中的中心地位。

Frequently those goals are in conflict. But Tuesday, China did something it thinks will advance both at once.

这两个目标之间经常存在冲突。但本周二,中国做了一件它觉得可以同时推进这两个目标的事情。

That’s how to make sense of some blockbuster news out of Beijing that the country will adjust how it manages the renminbi to make the currency’s value respond a bit more closely to market forces.

这就是为什么北京传出了重磅新闻:中国将调整人民币管理方式,让人民币币值更紧密地反映市场的力量。

The immediate result was a de facto devaluation, with the Chinese currency falling 1.8 percent versus the dollar and 2.2 percent versus the euro Tuesday. Those are big moves for the renminbi, considering that the government had a policy of maintaining a strict trading band — enforced with both legal restrictions on the transfer of capital and the government’s trillions in reserves. Usually, the renminbi will move only a few hundredths of a percent against the dollar in a given day; the largest move this year was 0.16 percent.

立竿见影的后果就是人民币实质上发生了贬值。周二,人民币兑美元汇率下跌1.8%,兑欧元汇率下跌2.2%。对于人民币来说,这个变动的幅度相当大,因为中国政府有一个严守交易区间的政策——执行的手段既包括对资本转移做出法律限制,也包括运用政府拥有的万亿级别的外汇储备。通常情况下,人民币兑美元的单日汇率波动只有几个基点;今年最大的单日波动仅0.16%。

But a roughly 2 percent shift in the value of a currency, even a major one, is not that big a deal, and certainly not the kind of thing that would earn blaring headlines about a devaluation. The dollar has risen 22 percent against the euro in the last year; the Japanese yen plummeted 24 percent against the dollar in late 2012 and early 2013. What makes the Chinese move fascinating is what it says about China’s approach to its currency and economy, and about the country’s role in the global financial system in the future.

但是,即便是主要货币,币值变动2%也不是什么大不了的事情,通常不值得让新闻标题高呼贬值。美元兑欧元汇率去年上涨了22%;而在2012年底和2013年初,日元兑美元汇率暴跌了24%。但人民币的这次变动之所以引人瞩目,是因为它显示了中国对本国货币和经济的管理方式,以及它未来在全球金融体系中扮演的角色。

The Chinese economy is unquestionably in a rough patch, and maybe something worse. Growth is downshifting from the double-digit rate of a few years ago, and the country’s investment-and-exports-driven growth model is looking exhausted after driving a generation of prosperity. A stock market crash in the last few months hasn’t helped.

中国经济无疑遇到了困难,或许更糟。和几年前两位数的速度相比,增长正在放缓。在推动了二三十年的经济繁荣后,以投资和出口为驱动的增长模式,看上去已精疲力尽。过去几个月的股市暴跌也产生了负面的影响。

But a hidden cost of the Chinese government’s strategy of keeping the renminbi within a narrow trading band versus the dollar has been that China has been unable to use one of the crucial tools most countries use when they’re in an economic slowdown.

中国政府的策略是让人民币兑美元汇率保持在一个狭窄的区间内。它的隐性代价是,中国无法使用一种大部分国家在经济放缓时都会使用的关键工具。

The renminbi on Monday was at about the same exchange rate versus the dollar that it was in mid-December. But in that span, the dollar index was up 8.7 percent, meaning the dollar — and by extension the renminbi — were up that much against the currencies of other advanced nations like the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.

周一,人民币兑美元的汇率与去年12月中旬时的水平大致相同。但在这期间,美元指数升高了8.7%,也就是说美元相对其他发达经济体的货币,如欧元、日元和英镑,升值了这么多。这种升值也延伸到了人民币。

Linking the value of its currency to the dollar has had benefits, but in the last year has come at a big cost: It has resulted in the renminbi’s rise against competitors and trading partners at a time the economic fundamentals of China would argue for it to fall.

将本国货币与美元绑定在一起带来了好处,但去年,这一做法也带来了高昂的代价:在中国经济基本面需要人民币贬值时,相对于竞争对手和贸易伙伴的货币,它却升值了。

Meanwhile, China is looking to assert more of a leadership role in the global economy, and an important piece of that is establishing the renminbi as a reserve currency. The dollar and the euro have a reach and usefulness far beyond the borders of the countries that issue them, and China would like the yuan to have a similar sway in global trade and finance, especially within Asia.

与此同时,中国正打算在全球经济中发挥更多领导作用,而其中一个重要组成部分就是让人民币成为储备货币。美元和欧元均可在远离其发行地的地方使用,中国也想让人民币在全球贸易和金融中具有类似的影响力,特别是在亚洲。

But you can’t really be a global reserve currency when you maintain all the restrictions that China insists upon in the interest of keeping control of its domestic economy. The dollar wouldn’t play its central role in global finance if the American government made it illegal to exchange it for other currencies in many circumstances or used legal prohibitions and aggressive interventions to keep its value from fluctuating in response to market forces.

为了控制国内经济,中国坚持实行限制。但如果采取这么多限制,人民币就不可能成为真正的全球储备货币。如果美国政府规定,美元兑换其他货币在很多情况下属于非法,或是利用法律禁令和强势干预,来防止美元汇率在市场力量的影响下浮动,美元也不可能在全球金融中发挥核心作用。

In other words, China has wanted some of the diplomatic benefits of the renminbi’s becoming a more important currency abroad, without paying the price at home.

换句话说,中国想通过人民币在国外的影响力,在外交上得到好处,却又不想在国内付出代价。

Just last week, the International Monetary Fund said that the renminbi was not quite ready for prime time for inclusion in the basket of currencies it uses for “special drawing rights,” a reserve asset that currently is a mix of dollars, euros, yen and pounds. Christine Lagarde, the I.M.F.’s managing director, said China needed to make its currency more “freely usable.” And the policy change on Tuesday, by moving closer to a world in which markets determine its price, is a step in that direction.

就在上周,国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)表示,人民币尚无法纳入该组织用作“特别提款权”的货币篮子。目前,这一储备资产由美元、欧元、日元和英镑组成。IMF总裁克里斯蒂娜·拉加德(Christine Lagarde)称,中国需要让其货币能“更加自由地使用”。周二的政策调整,是朝市场决定价格的世界迈进的一步。

That doesn’t mean it was without cost. The cheaper renminbi will mean higher inflation and will create an even greater burden for Chinese companies that owe money in dollars, potentially setting off a new round of failures. Perhaps more important in the long run, as China liberalizes its currency, it gives up a crucial tool that the government has used to manage the economy for years and protect itself from being buffeted by global economic forces. China’s leadership has been reluctant to give up that power, and that’s why Tuesday’s announcement came as such a shock across global markets.

但这并不是说没有代价。人民币贬值意味着通货膨胀加剧,欠美元债务的中国企业负担也会大大加重,有可能引发新一轮破产潮。从长远来看,或许更重要的是,随着汇率波动自由化,中国放弃了一种至关重要的工具。多年来,中国一直用这个工具来管理经济,从而保护自己免受全球经济力量的冲击。中国领导人一直不愿放弃这种权力,因此周二的通告才令全球市场如此震惊。

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