Thursday, June 7, 2012

China Cuts Interest Rate

New York Times, 6/7/2012, "China Cuts Lending Rate as Its Economic Growth Slows", By KEITH BRADSHER

中國的中央政府雖然有很多無謂的支出,譬如說維穩和網路控制這種沒有報酬的支出,以及高速鐵路過多過快的建設但是沒有相對應的現金流入,但是他們的財務表面上看來還算健全,比起西方國家或亞洲的鄰國要好的多。不過如果把地方政府的債務加進來,除非將來中央放手地方違約,否則若是要概括承受,財政問題其實並不樂觀。在全球景氣趨緩甚至陷入新一輪衰退的現在,他們的財政政策施展空間應該已經不大了。

現在看到他們調降利率,看起來情況是真的有些嚴重了。澳洲前一陣子也開始調降利率,他們跟中國一樣也是在 2008 年開始的金融風暴裡受影響較小的國家。光是調降利息這個動作並不是什麼特別了不起的事情,而且中國這次調降的幅度並不大。不過大家擔心的並不是目前發生的總體經濟政策,而是這個政策代表背後有多少東西是我們沒有辦法直接觀察到,而實際情況是否比官方揭露出來的更糟?

中國的總體經濟政策制定過程跟他們其他的國家重要政策相同,幾乎跟軍事機密沒什麼兩樣。當我們看到擺在檯面上的東西後,不免會猜測檯面下有多少東西我們看不見。從這個利率調降來看,他們的經濟成長前景大概真的不太樂觀。早先下修今年預期時,雖然令人擔心,但是仍然不算出乎意料。現在這個調降利率出來的時機比大多數人的預期要稍微早一點,可能代表出口和投資的衰退比預期要嚴重。以中國目前的利率水準來講,他們還有很大的彈性空間,不像美國已經接近零利率,降無可降了。不過如果我們從最近的總體經濟學到些什麼,那就是當大家對未來幾年的經濟前景都不看好時,調降一點利率是無法促進投資的。利率就算再低一點,國外需求消失,再低的資金成本也不太能夠增加外銷生產和相對應的支出。中國的政府已經執行太多無法自償或是獲利率太低的公共建設,如果接下來全球不景氣不是短時間可以結束,要靠政府增加支出來渡過難關恐怕也不是可行的選項。

對於台灣來講更嚴重的是中國近年來都是是台灣排名第一或第二的貿易夥伴,不管是出口零組件到中國組裝再出口或是直接以最終產品形式銷售到中國預計都會下降,ECFA 如果目前被批評是無用的東西,接下來只會更糟。

理論上調降利率對股市來講是正面訊息,不過實證上若無控制好其他的變因,統計上的效果並不顯著。原因在於調降利率時通常有其他負面因素出現導致央行出這種招數,所以如果力度不夠,不但股市不會上升,反而會被投資人看成是『壞事還在後頭』的負面訊息,導致股市不升反跌。

我的看法是壞事還在後面,不只是中國一國的問題,亞洲和歐洲還有更多的負面消息在後面等著。

10 comments:

提姆的新聞剪貼簿 said...

我投「壞事還在後面」一票。

漫步在雲間 said...

有趣的是
中國央行降息
五大商業銀行反而升存款利率
看來中國確實有些麻煩了
http://finance.qq.com/a/20120608/005540.htm

五大国有银行已宣布上浮1年期内存款利率

Ben said...

Just when I thought the Chinese had invented the Utopian capitalist system, and now you tell me that all is not well in the Central Kingdom. I'd better hold off renouncing my U.S. citizenship, aka pulling an Eduardo Saverin:)

All kidding aside, the key unknown in my book is how this move will impact inflation in China. This is textbook definition of financial repression, and if inflation gets worse from here, things could get ugly China.

China is between the rock and a hard place now. She wasted a lot of money in the 2008 stimulus programs, and a lot of those loans are now dead weights on major banks' books. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a silent run on the banks in China and a capital flight out of China.

And a little Friday humor, which I heard from a Chinese on my recent trip:

If the Ivies were to hold their Parents' weekend this fall during the same week of the 18th National Congress of the Communist party, a quorum would probably not be met since majority of the delegates will be in the U.S..

CCLu said...

To Ben,

My comments on China's stimulus plan a few years back were:

1. It's a huge waste of money and their resources got poorly allocated. Their over-investment cannot generate the cash flow in any way, any time to pay it back.

2. That being said, I didn't know if that plan will fail for sure. What they did was buying time for their economy. If they can ride out this storm and things get better before it gets really ugly, they can even call their stimulus plan a success.

3. However, if we see a prolonged global recession, there's no way China can invest its way out of this mess.

Since I cannot foresee this second wave of recession back in 2008 when we were still in the aftershock of the financial crisis, I didn't know what will actually happen now. I guess no one can.

Now we kind of know the rest of this story.

As to your joke, I have something to add. Some Taiwanese parents send their children to China for college education and one of their reasons is to cultivate their kids' social network there. To know the kids of some important people in China, they say. The mistake in this reasoning is that most of the important people's kids are in the U.S. or other western countries for advanced study. They probably can meet more of those kids in Harvard or Yale.

CCLu said...

To 漫步在雲間,

我目前的看法也是情勢不妙。

Ryan Wang said...

分成降息的時間跟降息的方式兩個面向:

中國降息的可能其實從上個月公佈了相當糟糕四月的宏觀數據後就一直有被提出來, 只不過較多的看法還是先調整存准率然後六月左右待CPI低於一年期存款利率後開始調將利率, 上週公佈的PMI意外大幅下滑後, 降息預期其實是更強烈的, 不過上週末沒有調降後, 對於降息預期延後到了這週末, 待五月數據公佈後進行調整, 基本上除了挑在週四這個時間比較意外之外, 這次地降息基本在預期內!

這次的降息最特別的是可能開始了利率自由化的濫觴, 其中允許銀行存款利率可以最高上浮10%是過往沒有過的, 未來銀行將可以透過這個方式直接競爭資金成本! 實際上, 中國近期的問題在於官方指標利率雖然維持固定, 但市場利率在去年大部分時間事實上高於指標利率, 可以從銀行間拆借, RP利率跟民間利率看得很清楚, 這也導致了一方面企業融資成本仍然偏高(多數中小企業無法拿到銀行貸款, 無所謂適用指標貸款利率), 另外一方面市場利率較高令存戶無意將存款保留於普通銀行存款中, 造成了存款流失跟高利理財產品及民間借貸的盛行, 整個來看就是整體金融資源配置失靈的問題!

Ryan Wang said...

五大銀直接讓短期存款利率較指標上浮的做法是可以理解的, 因為今年中國存款增速相當緩慢, 各行其實都在競爭存款, 特別是存貸比緊張的中小型銀行, 國有大行只是先下手為強, 避免中小型銀行用高利搶存款罷了!

Ben said...

CCLu,

As you predicted, China did buy some time with its stimulus money, and as usual, wasted it. Beijing could have used the time to reform its economic and financial system, but, from where I am sitting, no meaningful progresses were made.

Another exciting weekend on the European front - Spain got "bailed out." I guess we can all go home now because the Euro show is over. In the mean time, Ireland, Portugal, and Greece are all on the phone with Merkel demanding the same terms that Spain got....

CCLu said...

To Ryan Wang,

中國的金融體系遇到的問題跟台灣三十年前很像,利率管制使得銀行不願意借款給規模較小的企業,因為他們不能夠要求高到足以補償風險的利率。下場是中小企業必須從地下金融業者借款。其實在最高利率的法令限制下,台灣到目前都還沒有完全擺脫這個問題,只是近年來的企業形態使得需要高利貸的企業較少,反倒是消金這邊需求較大。幾年前的現金卡風暴就是銀行也搶入這個市場,結果放款速度膨脹過快,徵信不足,大家最後一起炸掉。

去年我們已經看到許多中國高利貸發生問題的警訊,顯示中小企業還款能力急速惡化。現在銀行調高存款利率,在這樣的時空背景下就很有意思了。他們手上的錢哪裡去了?現在要借錢給誰?

其實民間游資如果流向高利貸業者,對整體經濟來講是好事,這樣子的資源錯置其實較輕微。把錢存在銀行,領個微薄的利息,是用投資於其他民間金融活動可能獲取的利差換取較低的風險。不過中國的銀行業受到中央及地方政府的壓力,放出不少貸款給無自償能力的建設,這些將來都是問題,是要用納稅人的錢來補洞的。假如銀行存戶的存款能夠全額得到存款保險的補償,那也不過是拿自己的稅金去補貼自己存款,就整體社會來說是相當無謂的風險。

現在銀行調升存款利率,往好處看是制度較以前有彈性,往壞處看是他們的金融體系之前有太多資源因為制度關係地下化,有太多扭曲的配置已經造成。存款利率大幅調升,放款利率是沒有辦法下降的。現在這樣銀行跟央行政策看起來背離反應的是過去問題太大了,背後隱含的是央行的貨幣政策可能不易落實到經濟體裡面,這個問題是很恐怖的。如果接下來中國的銀行體系無法提供地方政府廉價的資金,骨牌就可能要開始倒了。

CCLu said...

To Ben,

General MacArthur once said "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

It looks like those zombie countries will never default, they just get new bailouts.

In fact, veterans do die, and so will those countries. Just give them time. I'll never predict the day because that is not the power in an economist, any economist. However, we know that will happen, just like we know everybody dies.