The nuclear option 核选项

2020.9


How America might wield its ultimate weapon of mass disruption
美国可能会如何使用其终极大规模破坏性武器

 

The nuclear option 核选项


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S sabre-rattling against corporate China has had a real but, so far, limited impact on relations between the world’s two biggest economies. That could change if he decided to go all out and cut China off from the global payments system, which America controls thanks to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency and lubricant of commerce.
美国总统特朗普对中国商界耀武扬威,对世界上两个最大经济体之间的关系产生了切实的影响,但就目前来看影响也有限。如果他决定火力全开,把中国排除在全球支付体系之外——美国通过美元作为世界储备货币和商贸润滑剂的地位控制着这个体系——情况可能就不同了。
Mr Trump has three main ways to constrain another country financially. He can refuse its banks access to CHIPS, a New York-based clearing house through which 95% of all dollar transactions are routed. He can try to force SWIFT, a Belgium-based messaging system which 11,000 banks worldwide use to make cross-border payments, to expel members from the offending state. And he can slap an embargo on its financial system, threatening to punish any foreign or domestic financial institution that uses dollars—as virtually all do—but continues to transact with the embargoed firms.
特朗普主要有三种方式从金融上限制另一个国家。他可以拒绝该国银行访问纽约清算所银行同业支付系统(CHIPS),95%的全球美元交易都通过这一系统清算。他可以尝试迫使总部位于比利时的报文传输系统SWIFT驱除这个冒犯了美国的国家的成员银行,全球1.1万家银行使用SWIFT做跨境支付。他还可以对该国的金融体系实施交易禁令,威胁惩罚国内外任何使用美元但继续与被禁企业做交易的金融机构,而几乎所有金融机构都使用美元。
These tactics have been tested on Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Myanmar—small economies with which America had few dealings. Mr Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, stopped short of deploying them against Russia after its invasion of Crimea in 2014. Doing so against China, with which America trades $560bn-worth of goods annually and whose four mega-banks are the world’s largest by assets, with large dollar loan books and liabilities, looks incomparably more fraught.
这些策略已经在伊朗、朝鲜、委内瑞拉和缅甸这些与美国鲜有经贸往来的小型经济体上试验过。特朗普的前任奥巴马在2014年俄罗斯入侵克里米亚之后险些对俄罗斯动用这些招数。而如果拿它们来对付中国,看起来就令人担忧得多了,因为美国每年与中国的贸易额高达5600亿美元,而且中国的四大行以资产计位居全球前四,有大量美元计价的贷款和负债。
What would happen if Mr Trump nevertheless tried it? A huge shock wave would hit financial markets, already knocked about by the pandemic. The Chinese currency, along with those which track it, such as the Taiwanese dollar or the South Korean won, would suffer, says Claire Huang of Amundi, an asset manager. Hong Kong would run down its dollar reserves to try to support its peg with the greenback. Money would pour into gold.
如果特朗普仍要放手一试,会怎样?本就已受到疫情打击的金融市场将迎来一轮巨大的冲击波。人民币以及与人民币联动的新台币和韩元之类的货币都会受损,资产管理公司东方汇理(Amundi)的资产经理克莱尔•黄(Claire Huang,音译)表示。为保持与美元挂钩,香港将耗尽美元储备。大量资金会涌向黄金。
In response, China would increasingly resort to its home-grown alternative to SWIFT, called CIPS. It would also try to persuade America’s allies in Europe and elsewhere that Washington was behaving irresponsibly. Many would not take much convincing. CIPS and the yuan, currently of marginal importance in international finance and commerce, would gain in stature at America’s expense.
对此,中国会日益多地使用自己建立的SWIFT替代系统:人民币跨境支付系统(CIPS)。它还将竭力说服美国在欧洲和其他地方的盟友相信华盛顿的做法不负责任。许多国家不需要费力说服。目前在国际金融和商业中还不成气候的CIPS和人民币的地位将提升,而美国的地位会相应下降。
China would also retaliate. It could shut its markets to Western banks and firms, block them from its infrastructure projects and limit America’s access to natural resources and basic goods it controls. And it, too, has a last-ditch deterrent: selling its $1.1trn stock of American treasury bills, equivalent to 4% of the total outstanding. America’s highly liquid bond markets may prove capable of absorbing the shock. Then again, they might not. Most observers do not consider dumping its T-bills a serious option for China, which has little interest in destabilising its system of currency reserves. But America is not the only country capable of self-harm apparently in the service of national security.
中国还会展开报复。它可能会对西方银行和公司关闭中国市场,禁止它们参与基建项目,并限制美国获得那些由中国把控的自然资源和基本商品。而且,它同样可以祭出最后大招:出售其持有的1.1万亿美元的美国国债——相当于美国国债总量的4%。美国高流动性的债券市场也许可以吸收这一冲击。但也可能吸收不了。大多数观察人士认为,抛售美国国债对中国而言不算一个真正的选项,因为中国也不会想要破坏自己货币储备体系的稳定性。但美国不是唯一一个能为了看似是国家安全的诉求而自残的国家。