事实上,受两位诺贝尔奖得主——1958年的保罗·萨缪尔森和1985年的让·梯若尔——研究成果的启发,长期以来,理论家们都在琢磨泡沫持续存在的可能性。例如,假设每一代劳动者都把自己收入的一部分投入到某项没什么实质用途的资产上,比如一套计划在退休时卖掉的空置公寓。
 

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The mop that never stops 永不停歇的清扫
2020.10

How China revived and recast its economy at the same time
中国是如何同时重振和重塑经济的   

经济学人杂志文章

The mop that never stops 永不停歇的清扫
How China revived and recast its economy at the same time
中国是如何同时重振和重塑经济的  
FORECASTS CAN haunt their authors, especially when they appear in headlines or book titles. Most pundits play it safe, giving “a number or a date, but not both”, as an old sage once advised. Thomas Orlik of Bloomberg is more courageous. His latest book, “China: The Bubble That Never Pops”, provides an unusually even-handed account of China’s economic resilience that is both closely observed and analytically interesting. But its title offers up quite a hostage to fortune. “Never”, after all, spans a lot of dates.
预测者日后可能会因为自己的预言而被打脸,尤其是当它们出现在标题或书名中的时候。大多数专家都言语谨慎,就像一位年长智者曾经建议的那样,“给出一个数字或一个日期,但不要两个都给”。彭博的托马斯·奥里克(Thomas Orlik)却胆量过人。他的新书《中国:永不破裂的泡沫》(China: The Bubble That Never Pops)对中国经济的韧性做了难得公允的描述,不仅观察细致,所做分析也引人入胜。不过书名很可能会授人以柄。毕竟,“永不”的跨度太长了。
Fortunately for Mr Orlik, his definition of China’s bubble leaves him some wiggle room. He is not referring to any particular market or mania (such as the frenzy for tech stocks this year, bike-sharing in 2017 or caterpillar fungus in 2012). The title refers instead to China’s crisis-proof economic momentum, which has survived countless predictions of collapse. Even now, this unpoppable force is bouncing back with impressive speed from the covid-19 pandemic (which arrived after this book was written). Will Mr Orlik ever wish he’d never said never?
幸好,奥里克对中国泡沫的定义给自己留了一些回旋余地。书名并不具体指某个市场或某次狂热(比如今年的科技股、2017年的共享单车,或者2012年的冬虫夏草热),而是中国总能克服危机的经济发展势头,已经让无数“经济崩溃论”落空。就算是现在,这一不会破灭的力量正以惊人的速度从新冠疫情(发生在本书完成之后)中重整旗鼓。奥里克会希望自己从没说过“永不”吗?
Although Mr Orlik does not draw heavily on economic theory to justify his confidence, he can take some comfort from it. A bubble that never pops sounds like the sort of thing that the laws of economics should rule out, like a free lunch or an unpocketed dollar bill. In fact, theorists have long entertained the possibility of sustainable bubbles, inspired by the work of two Nobel prizewinners, Paul Samuelson in 1958 and Jean Tirole in 1985.
虽然奥里克没有大量动用经济理论来证明自己这种确信的合理性,但他仍可以从理论中得到一些支持。永不破裂的泡沫听上去就像免费的午餐或从未落入口袋的一元美钞一样,属于那种该被经济规律排除的东西。事实上,受两位诺贝尔奖得主——1958年的保罗·萨缪尔森(Paul Samuelson)和1985年的让·梯若尔(Jean Tirole)——研究成果的启发,长期以来,理论家们都在琢磨泡沫持续存在的可能性。
They showed that bubbles can persist when an economy’s growth rate consistently exceeds its interest rate. In these circumstances, a bubble can remain both attractive and affordable, enticing the buyers it needs to sustain itself without dwarfing the economy. Suppose, for example, that workers in every generation plough a portion of their income into an intrinsically useless asset, such as an empty flat, which they plan to sell when they retire. Because every cohort has the same plan, each will find buyers among their descendants for the asset they bought from their forefathers. Since another generation is “always coming along”, as Samuelson put it, this chain need never break.
他们论证道,当一个经济体的增长率始终超过其利率,泡沫是可以持续的。在这种情况下,泡沫可以维持既有吸引力又承受得起的状况,从而吸引到它所需要的买家,在不阻碍经济发展的情况下让自己持续下去。例如,假设每一代劳动者都把自己收入的一部分投入到某项没什么实质用途的资产上,比如一套计划在退休时卖掉的空置公寓。因为每一代人都有同样的计划,所以每个人都能从下一代中找到买主,来接手自己从上一辈人那里购得的资产。正如萨缪尔森所言,由于新的一代“总会到来”,这个链条永不会断裂。
If the economy is growing, each generation will have more income to spend on the asset than the one preceding it. That will allow the seller to earn a positive return. And if the economy’s growth rate exceeds the interest rate, this return will be higher than what other saving vehicles, such as bank deposits, can offer. This condition, known as “dynamic inefficiency”, was once thought to be rare. But in an era of near-zero interest rates, it has come to seem almost familiar. China’s dynamic inefficiency was documented in 2006 by economists at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and has been confirmed by subsequent studies.
如果经济不断增长,每代人就会比上一代人有更多的收入可花在这项资产上。这会给卖方带来正回报。而且,如果经济增长率超过了利率,这一回报会高于银行存款等其他储蓄工具所能提供的回报。这种被称作“动态无效率”的情况曾经被认为非常罕见。但在一个利率接近于零的时代,它已变得近乎常见了。2006年,香港金融管理局的经济学家记录了中国的动态无效率,随后的研究也证实了它的存在。
It may be that China’s interest rate understates the true return on capital in the country, thanks to lingering financial repression. But even so, a long-lasting bubble could arise, according to a 2014 paper by Kaiji Chen of Emory University and Yi Wen of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. In their model, private capital earns impressive returns for as long as it can profit from cheap labour migrating from fields to factories and from state-owned enterprises to private firms. That gives entrepreneurs the financial means to venture large sums in the property market. At the same time, they know that the profitability of their businesses will eventually decline as labour becomes scarce. That gives them the motive to diversify their wealth into other stores of value, such as property.
由于持续的金融管制,中国的利率可能没有充分反映这个国家真实的资本回报率。但即便如此,仍可能出现一个长期的泡沫,埃默里大学(Emory University)的陈凯迹和圣路易斯联储(Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis)的文一在2014年的一篇论文中这样指出。在他们的模型中,只要私人资本能从廉价劳动力的转移(从农田到工厂,从国有企业到私营企业)中获利,它就一直能获得可观的回报。这为企业家提供了财力,可以在房地产市场冒险投入巨资。与此同时,他们知道,随着劳动力变得稀缺,企业的盈利能力最终会下降。这促使他们把自己的财富多元化,投资房地产等其他价值存储手段。
In this scenario, property prices will keep pace with the rate of return to entrepreneurial capital, which is even higher than the growth rate of the economy as a whole. Then, as workers become harder to find, the returns to capital and to property steadily diminish in tandem. The later chapters of Mr Orlik’s book explain how China managed this slowdown. It entered 2016 in a shaky state. Real-estate developers held daunting inventories of unsold flats and owed similarly daunting sums to shadow lenders. China also suffered from overcapacity in allied industries, such as steel, which threatened to plunge the economy into deflation.
在这种情况下,房地产价格会和企业资本的回报率保持同步,而后者比经济总体的增长率还要高。此后,随着招工变难,资本和房地产的回报率同时稳步下降。奥里克在他书的后几章里解释了中国如何成功应对了这种放缓。迈入2016年时,中国经济前景岌岌可危。房地产开发商卖不掉的库存房屋数量惊人,欠影子贷款机构的钱同样多得惊人。中国还在钢铁等相关行业面对产能过剩,可能会把中国经济拽入通货紧缩。
How did China cope? The answer is what you might call the five r’s: reflating and remixing the economy, as well as refinancing, rotating and writing off assets and liabilities. China remixed the composition of activity without reducing its pace, spending less on new mines and steel plants, and more on infrastructure. Projects financed with short-term high-interest bank loans were refinanced with low-yielding bonds issued by provincial governments. Some debt rotated from overstretched developers onto the cleaner balance-sheets of households who were given easier access to mortgages.
中国是如何应对的?答案可以总结为以下几点:通货再膨胀、经济重组、再融资、轮转,以及注销资产和负债。中国在不放慢发展速度的前提下对经济活动展开重组,减少了对新矿山和钢铁厂的投资,增加了对基础设施的投资。省级政府发行低收益债券,对由银行提供短期高息贷款的项目进行再融资。通过让家庭更容易获得抵押贷款,一些债务从不堪重负的开发商头上转移给了资产负债表更干净的家庭。
Clean-up operation 清理行动 China also wrote off bad loans (including shadow loans) and many physical assets. Old mines were closed. Slums were cleared. Displaced households were given money to help buy newer flats. These efforts were often financed by targeted loans from the central bank. The clearances, closures and write-offs reduced the economy’s stock of wealth, but did not interrupt the flow of fresh activity. Indeed, the combination of new money injected into the economy and old capacity removed from it lifted prices and quickened the growth of nominal GDP. That restored the gap between growth and interest rates, making debt levels easier to sustain.
中国还注销了不良贷款(包括影子贷款)和许多实物资产。老矿山被关闭。棚户区被拆除。拆迁户获得了购买改善型住房的补偿金。这些举措的资金通常来自央行的定向贷款。清算、关闭和注销减少了中国的财富存量,却没有中断新的经济活动的流动。事实上,向经济注入新资金并从中淘汰旧产能的组合拳提高了价格,加快了名义GDP的增长。此举恢复了经济增长率和利率之间的差距,使得债务水平更容易维持。
This clean-up took advantage of some of China’s unusual strengths, including the reach of its regulators and the flexibility of its labour force. When the mix of activity changed, workers followed suit. But it also conformed to some economic principles that could apply anywhere. The deflationary pressure China faced in this dangerous period showed that there was room to stimulate the economy. And because interest rates were lower than growth rates, it could afford to roll over any liabilities it dared not write off.
这种整顿利用了中国一些独特的优势,包括监管机构的影响面和劳动力的灵活性。当经济活动重组时,劳动者也跟着转向。但它也符合一些放之四海而皆准的经济原则。中国在这一危险期面临的通缩压力表明它还有刺激经济的空间。而且由于利率低于增长率,中国承担得起展延所有它不敢注销的债务。
Will China never pop? Safer to say there is little it cannot mop.
中国的泡沫永不破裂吗?更保险的说法是,它几乎没什么清理不了的。

三、经济学人杂志双语文章中文译文

永不停歇的清扫
中国是如何同时重振和重塑经济的 
预测者日后可能会因为自己的预言而被打脸,尤其是当它们出现在标题或书名中的时候。大多数专家都言语谨慎,就像一位年长智者曾经建议的那样,“给出一个数字或一个日期,但不要两个都给”。彭博的托马斯•奥里克却胆量过人。他的新书《中国:永不破裂的泡沫》对中国经济的韧性做了难得公允的描述,不仅观察细致,所做分析也引人入胜。不过书名很可能会授人以柄。毕竟,“永不”的跨度太长了。
幸好,奥里克对中国泡沫的定义给自己留了一些回旋余地。书名并不具体指某个市场或某次狂热(比如今年的科技股、2017年的共享单车,或者2012年的冬虫夏草热),而是中国总能克服危机的经济发展势头,已经让无数“经济崩溃论”落空。就算是现在,这一不会破灭的力量正以惊人的速度从新冠疫情(发生在本书完成之后)中重整旗鼓。奥里克会希望自己从没说过“永不”吗?
虽然奥里克没有大量动用经济理论来证明自己这种确信的合理性,但他仍可以从理论中得到一些支持。永不破裂的泡沫听上去就像免费的午餐或从未落入口袋的一元美钞一样,属于那种该被经济规律排除的东西。事实上,受两位诺贝尔奖得主——1958年的保罗•萨缪尔森和1985年的让•梯若尔——研究成果的启发,长期以来,理论家们都在琢磨泡沫持续存在的可能性。
他们论证道,当一个经济体的增长率始终超过其利率,泡沫是可以持续的。在这种情况下,泡沫可以维持既有吸引力又承受得起的状况,从而吸引到它所需要的买家,在不阻碍经济发展的情况下让自己持续下去。例如,假设每一代劳动者都把自己收入的一部分投入到某项没什么实质用途的资产上,比如一套计划在退休时卖掉的空置公寓。因为每一代人都有同样的计划,所以每个人都能从下一代中找到买主,来接手自己从上一辈人那里购得的资产。正如萨缪尔森所言,由于新的一代“总会到来”,这个链条永不会断裂。
如果经济不断增长,每代人就会比上一代人有更多的收入可花在这项资产上。这会给卖方带来正回报。而且,如果经济增长率超过了利率,这一回报会高于银行存款等其他储蓄工具所能提供的回报。这种被称作“动态无效率”的情况曾经被认为非常罕见。但在一个利率接近于零的时代,它已变得近乎常见了。2006年,香港金融管理局的经济学家记录了中国的动态无效率,随后的研究也证实了它的存在。
由于持续的金融管制,中国的利率可能没有充分反映这个国家真实的资本回报率。但即便如此,仍可能出现一个长期的泡沫,埃默里大学( )的陈凯迹和圣路易斯联储(     )的文一在2014年的一篇论文中这样指出。在他们的模型中,只要私人资本能从廉价劳动力的转移(从农田到工厂,从国有企业到私营企业)中获利,它就一直能获得可观的回报。这为企业家提供了财力,可以在房地产市场冒险投入巨资。与此同时,他们知道,随着劳动力变得稀缺,企业的盈利能力最终会下降。这促使他们把自己的财富多元化,投资房地产等其他价值存储手段。
在这种情况下,房地产价格会和企业资本的回报率保持同步,而后者比经济总体的增长率还要高。此后,随着招工变难,资本和房地产的回报率同时稳步下降。奥里克在他书的后几章里解释了中国如何成功应对了这种放缓。迈入2016年时,中国经济前景岌岌可危。房地产开发商卖不掉的库存房屋数量惊人,欠影子贷款机构的钱同样多得惊人。中国还在钢铁等相关行业面对产能过剩,可能会把中国经济拽入通货紧缩。
中国是如何应对的?答案可以总结为以下几点:通货再膨胀、经济重组、再融资、轮转,以及注销资产和负债。中国在不放慢发展速度的前提下对经济活动展开重组,减少了对新矿山和钢铁厂的投资,增加了对基础设施的投资。省级政府发行低收益债券,对由银行提供短期高息贷款的项目进行再融资。通过让家庭更容易获得抵押贷款,一些债务从不堪重负的开发商头上转移给了资产负债表更干净的家庭。
中国还注销了不良贷款(包括影子贷款)和许多实物资产。老矿山被关闭。棚户区被拆除。拆迁户获得了购买改善型住房的补偿金。这些举措的资金通常来自央行的定向贷款。清算、关闭和注销减少了中国的财富存量,却没有中断新的经济活动的流动。事实上,向经济注入新资金并从中淘汰旧产能的组合拳提高了价格,加快了名义的增长。此举恢复了经济增长率和利率之间的差距,使得债务水平更容易维持。
这种整顿利用了中国一些独特的优势,包括监管机构的影响面和劳动力的灵活性。当经济活动重组时,劳动者也跟着转向。但它也符合一些放之四海而皆准的经济原则。中国在这一危险期面临的通缩压力表明它还有刺激经济的空间。而且由于利率低于增长率,中国承担得起展延所有它不敢注销的债务。
中国的泡沫永不破裂吗?更保险的说法是,它几乎没什么清理不了的。