Eggheads  蛋中有机

2020.9


What the world can learn from Chinese futures trading
世界能从中国的期货交易中学到什么 

 

经济学人



“SO LONG AS you think about what others are thinking about, and stick to your trading strategy, you can always be successful.” This encouraging, if dubious, sliver of market wisdom was proffered on September 3rd by Zhou Chengji, a Chinese investment adviser, during a two-hour online tutorial. China is hardly alone in having a raucous community of would-be market gurus and day traders. But Mr Zhou’s focus was on an asset that makes China look rather unusual: egg futures, the only ones of their kind in the world nowadays.
“只要你能考虑得到别人考虑到的,只要你能够严格按照交易系统去做,我始终相信没有成功不了的。”这句鼓舞人心(尽管值得怀疑)的话出自中国投资顾问周承基,这是他在9月3日一场两小时的在线辅导课上分享的一点市场智慧。一群未来的市场大师和日内交易员聚在一起高谈阔论的情景并非中国独有。但周承基关注的是一种让中国显得相当不同寻常的资产——鸡蛋期货,它是目前中国独有的期货品种。
For punters with strong views about whether hens will be productive this autumn and whether people will crave egg-fried noodles and the like, China is the place to be. All they need do is contact local brokerages and put down a 4,000 yuan ($585) deposit. Going long eggs (ie, betting prices will rise) was, briefly, one of the trades of the summer, with futures soaring 65% from late May to late July. Since then the market has cracked, prices tumbling more than 20%. Turnover is extraordinarily high. Investors buy and sell roughly 3m tonnes in egg futures every day, about a tenth of the total that China actually consumes in a full year. The rights to a single egg may, in effect, pass through a few dozen hands before it lands in boiling water.
如果投机者对于今年秋季母鸡是否会多产蛋、人们是否很想吃鸡蛋炒面之类的问题很有想法,那么中国是最好的去处。他们需要做的只是联系当地的经纪商,支付一笔4000元(585美元)的保证金。做多鸡蛋(即押注价格会上涨)一度是今夏最热门的交易之一,从5月底到7月底鸡蛋的期货价格飙升了65%。此后市场就崩盘了,价格暴跌超过20%。成交量异常高。投资者每天买卖约300万吨的鸡蛋期货,约为中国全年实际消费总量的十分之一。事实上,一个鸡蛋在下锅之前,它的所有权可能要转手几十次。
All this makes it tempting to dismiss Chinese futures as a hotbed of speculative excess. Retail traders do play a much bigger role on the country’s commodity exchanges—in Shanghai, Dalian and Zhengzhou—than in Chicago or London, which have long been the world leaders in, respectively, agriculture and metals. Officials estimated that in 2016 about 85% of open positions on Chinese exchanges were held by individuals, compared with less than 15% in America, where institutions dominate trading. Nevertheless, the very immaturity of the Chinese market also reveals some enduring truths about futures that are obscured by the smoother functioning of century-old exchanges.
这一切都很容易让人觉得中国的期货市场不过就是过度投机的温床。散户交易者在上海、大连和郑州的大宗商品交易所中所起的作用的确远远超过芝加哥和伦敦的交易所,后两地长期以来分别在农业和金属交易中引领全球。官员们估计,2016年,中国交易所大约85%的敞口头寸由个人持有,而在交易由机构主导的美国,这一比例还不到15%。但是,中国市场的不成熟恰恰也显露出有关期货的一些恒久事实,它们因为那些百年老交易所相对平稳的运营而表现得不太明显。
Start with the most basic, the need to hedge. Futures are a tool for producers to guard against prices plunging and for consumers to guard against them soaring. In the West this can look quite straightforward because market power is so concentrated. The top four steel companies accounted for about 80% of production in America in 2017 versus just 20% or so in China. Fragmented spot markets make it harder for futures to serve as a benchmark. Yet it is dangerous to operate without a pricing backstop. So China has been rushing to expand its universe of futures. In the past two years alone it has launched more than ten new contracts, from crude oil and stainless steel to apples and red dates. It will take time to establish their credibility.
先从最基本的对冲需求说起。期货是生产者防范价格暴跌和消费者防范价格飙升的工具。在西方国家,这可能看上去一目了然,因为市场势力非常集中。2017年,美国四大钢铁公司的产量约占全国总产量的80%,而中国的这一比例只有20%左右。分散的现货市场使得期货价格很难被用作衡量基准。但是,没有一个定价上的最后担保的操盘是危险之举。因此中国一直在加紧拓展自己的期货市场。仅过去两年中国就推出了十几个新的期货合约,从原油、不锈钢,到苹果和红枣。让它们建立起信誉则需要时间。
If China still has much to learn about futures, there is something to be said for its trading intensity. Of the 20 most active contracts in the world last year, 14 were on Chinese exchanges, according to the Futures Industry Association, a global trade body. Some of that is because of double counting. It can also reflect the swirling pool of money trapped in China by capital controls. Nevertheless, there are limits to the potential irrationality in futures trading because ultimately the underlying commodities are due for physical delivery. Futures contracts thus converge with spot prices as they near expiry. Two other factors help explain China’s trading volume. Lot sizes are generally small (for example, five tonnes for copper futures in Shanghai, compared with 25 tonnes in London). And ordinary investors have easy access through their brokerage accounts. Institutional traders in China love the liquidity that results from this. It eliminates the risk of being unable to enter or exit a position because of a lack of trading.
如果说中国在期货方面还有很多要学的,它在交易强度上的优势值得一说。全球行业组织期货业协会(Futures Industry Association)称,去年全球最活跃的20个期货合约中,有14个来自中国的交易所。这有一部分是因为存在重复计算。这同时也能反映出,由于资本管制,大笔资金被困在国内打转。不过,期货交易中潜在的不合理是有限度的,因为标的商品最终要实物交割。因此,期货合约在即将到期时趋同于现货价格。还有两个因素有助于解释中国的交易量。中国期货的交易单位通常较小(比如上海的铜期货为5吨,而伦敦为25吨)。并且普通投资者也可以通过自己的经纪账户轻松进入期货市场。中国的机构交易员喜欢由此产生的资产流动性,它消除了因缺少交易而无法进入或退出头寸的风险。
There is another reason why institutional traders like China. They can profit with relative ease. Commodity futures illustrate how cloistering a financial system from the rest of the world leads to distortions. Darin Friedrichs of StoneX, a commodities brokerage, says that easily disprovable rumours can cause price swings; unfounded reports of a Brazilian port closure recently drove up soyabean futures. Traders relish their “import-arb” windows, when prices of Chinese futures exceed those of their global counterparts, making it worthwhile to arbitrage by buying abroad and selling onshore.
机构交易员青睐中国还有另一个原因。他们可以相对轻松地获利。大宗商品期货显示了与世界其他地方隔绝的金融体系会产生怎样的扭曲。大宗商品经纪公司StoneX的达林·弗里德里克斯(Darin Friedrichs)表示,即使一些很容易被证伪的传闻也可能导致价格波动——近期关于巴西一个港口关闭的不实报道推高了大豆期货价格。交易员们享受“进口套利”的窗口:当中国的期货价格超过其他国家时,在海外买入、在岸卖出就足以让他们套利。
Slowly, regulators are dismantling the walls, allowing more international firms to trade in China. Futures with international counterparts such as oil and corn are starting to align more with global prices. For the adventurous, though, there are always eggs.
监管机构正在慢慢拆除壁垒,允许更多的国际公司在中国交易。至于石油和玉米这些国际通行的期货品种,它们在中国的价格开始与全球价格更趋一致。不过,对于喜欢冒险的人来说,总还有鸡蛋。