Tuesday, October 21, 2014
5

人民币现实主义

纽约—七年来,美国一直紧紧抓住人民币汇率不放,从而将人们的注意力从中美关系的其他重要得多的问题上移开。即将到来的中美战略和经济对话将是一次检验(和反思)美国策略重点的良机。

2005年以来,美国国会一再与立法者演双簧,试图将压力重重的美国工人从假定的廉价人民币的威胁中解救出来。对此手段的跨党派支持始于参议员舒默(Charles Schumer,纽约州自由派民主党)和格雷厄姆(Lindsey Graham,南加州共和党)所提出的首个人民币法案。

立法行为的理由惊人地简单:自2005年以来,美国平均商品贸易赤字达GDP的4.4%,创下了历史之最,中国贡献了其中35%,据信这是它操纵人民币汇率的结果。大批政客、商人和经济学家众口一词,坚持人民币必须升值,否则就应该对中国采取制裁。

美国公众对此颇有共鸣。2011年民意调查现实,61%美国人相信中国是严重的经济威胁。于是,货币争论便成了即将到来的总统大选的主要话题。“‘够了’已经够了。”总统奥巴马在他与胡锦涛主席会面后被问及人民币问题时回答说。十有八九将成为奥巴马对手的共和党候选人罗姆尼(Mitt Romney)承诺说,只要他入主白宫,马上就将中国对人民币的操纵宣布为非法。

但是,如此逻辑虽然非常吸引人,但却是错的。首先,美国贸易赤字是多边的:2010年,美国对88个国家存在赤字。多边失衡——特别是可以追溯到储蓄不足的多边失衡——是无法通过施压双边汇率解决的。事实上,美国的主要威胁在于国内。指责中国只会耽误解决国内重担的时间——即通过削减预算赤字提振储蓄以及鼓励家庭储蓄收入而不是依靠资产泡沫。

其次,自2005年年中以来,人民币已经对美元升值了31.4%,比当初的舒默-格雷厄姆法案所要求的27.5%幅度大多了。中国人吸取了日本的教训——特别是日本屈服于1985年广场协议让日元剧烈升值所带来的灾难性影响——选择了逐步升值之路。最近中国出台了人民币国际化、加大资本账户开放、增加货币交易上下限等措施,毫无疑问地表明了其最终目标是基于市场的、完全可兑换的人民币。

第三,中国外部失衡问题已经得到了很大的改善。IMF估计,中国经常项目盈余占GDP的比重将在2012年收缩至2.3%,该数字的高峰出现在2007年,为10.1%。长期以来,美国官员一直认为中国储蓄过剩是全球不稳定性的重要原因。但他们需要好好照照镜子:美国的经常项目赤字今年预计将达5100亿美元,比中国的盈余高出2.8倍。

最后,中国已经从世界工厂转变为流水线。研究表明,中国出口到美国的货物中,只有不超过20—30%体现了在中国获得的增加值。大约60%的中国出口仅仅是“外商投资企业”的出货,从本质上说是中国对全球跨国公司的补贴。苹果就是明证。全球化生产平台扭曲了中美双边贸易数据,这与汇率一点关系也没有。

中国不应该被戴上美国首要经济威胁的帽子,中美贸易关系应该被当做是一个机会。美国总需求的最大组成部分——消费者——目前很不给力。家庭正在忙于修复严重受损的资产负债表,过去四年来,经通胀调整的私人消费年平均增长率只有区区0.5%。消费者去杠杆化可能还会持续几年,这使得美国需要竭尽全力寻找新的增长源。

出口便是新增长源最有力的候选者之一。如今,中国是美国第三大也是增长最快的出口市场。毫无疑问,中国具有填补美国消费者留下的空白的潜力。

抓住这一机会的关键在于进入中国市场——特别是借中国即将支持消费以实现再平衡的东风。从历史上看,中国已经形成了开放发展模式,自2002年以来进口相当于GDP的28%,是日本高增长时期(1960—1989年)10%的近三倍。因此,在国内需求增量给定的情况下,中国偏向外部资源的倾向要强得多。

随着中国消费者的崛起,对各种美国制造商品——从新一代信息技术和生物技术到汽车零部件和飞机——将得到保障。服务亦然。中国服务部门贡献的GDP只占总量的43%,相对来说相当弱小。美国的全球服务公司在中国的扩张前景无限,特别是交易密集型物流部门——批发和零售贸易、国内运输、供应链物流等——以及金融、医疗和数据仓储方面的处理细分市场。

中国需要调整中美贸易日程的重点,将之放在扩大诸领域的市场进入上——反对中国政策和政府采购优先考虑国产商品和自主创新。这方面已经取得了一定的进步,但还不够——比如让中国加入世贸组织政府采购协定。与此同时,美国必须反思限制中国采购技术密集型商品的过时冷战思维。

对可望增长的美国来说,进入市场的机会远大于货币威胁。沉睡已久的中国消费者马上就要觉醒了。这正好契合美国最大的优势之一——摩拳擦掌竞相进入新市场。如果美国在即将举行的战略和经济对话中顽固不化从而浪费掉这一千载难逢的机会,那着实是一件丢人之事。

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  1. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    Paul Jefferson has actually given the answer, but at the very end. Renminbi appreciation does not help the American business partners who source cheap goods into U.S. which is equivalent of importing labor and exporting capital goods, which the Chinese buy. It would actually benefit the Chinese a little bit if the Renminbi appreciates.

    The CCER study showed that 44 percent of the Chinese trade surplus was contributed by U.S. companies operating in China, and 20 percent by other foreign companies there.

    CCR study showed that if we take iPhone, a personal electronic device designed by the U.S. Apple Inc. as an example. The product, assembled in China, alone accounted for 1.9 billion dollars of China's trade surplus with the United States in 2009.

    CCER study showed that most of China's trade with the U.S. is compensation trade, which may account for 60 percent of the total (bilateral) trade. The yuan's appreciation may somewhat increase China's trade surplus, contrary to the common sense.

    It means China can import raw materials and equipment at relatively low prices.

    Even if China is forced to give up exporting some of its products once the yuan appreciates, the United States will still have to buy those products, which it usually does not manufacture, from other countries -- which neither helps bring down its trade deficit nor create jobs.

    According to a CCER model co-developed with a U.S. institution, if the yuan appreciates by 5 percent against the dollar, the U.S. employment rate will rise by only 0.03 percent; even if the yuan appreciates by 20 percent, it only helps to raise U.S. employment by 0.16 percent.

    The effects of the yuan's appreciation on stimulating consumption are even smaller. According to the model, U.S. consumption will be up a mere 0.02 percent, given a 5-percent appreciation of the Chinese currency against the dollar.

    Meanwhile, the model showed that the increase in the yuan's value is unlikely to affect the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) much -- if the yuan rises by 5 percent, the U.S. GDP would go up 0.02 percent, while China's GDP would contract 0.56 percent.

    We could do some sensitivities with the modeling, but the truth will not be any far. If renminbi appreciates significantly, the Chinese foreign exchange reserves at $3 Trillion poses a significant challenge to both the nations, it could be either way a situation to make new adjustments.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  2. CommentedPaul Jefferson

    The Chinese yuan has actually appreciated by about 3.6% per year for the past two years, according to this chart:

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=cnyusd

    But if the yuan had instead been allowed to float freely, how much more would it have appreciated? Would the appreciation have been greater by a factor of 10, or 20?

    Why is the Chinese dictatorship afraid to find out? Are they afraid because they themselves know that the yuan is significantly undervalued? Probably.

  3. CommentedPaul Jefferson

    There must be some advantage for China in keeping its currency low. Otherwise, China's leaders would not be so stubbornly persistent in depressing the value of the yuan.

    Obviously, China's artificially low currency gives them a price advantage in international trade. This allows them to penetrate and dominate foreign markets.

    Conversely, the low yuan is an obstacle for any USA-based manufacturer who wants to sell to China. USA-made goods are typically too expensive, partly because China's currency is held at an artificially low level.

    Similarly, the low yuan has made China's labor costs so cheap that American workers cannot compete. Consequently, many are unemployed or underemployed. Yet the author believes these financially stressed individuals can be persuaded to save more. How?

    The advantage of a low currency is clear: China enjoys an 8% growth rate, versus a quarter of that in the USA. And China's dictators want a low yuan to help them retain their grip on power, by keeping Chinese workers employed, thereby avoiding economic discontent.

    Clearly, China has strong motivation to depress the yuan's value, which is why they still do it. The 31% appreciation the author referred to is not recent. In fact, the yuan has been held in a tight range for the past several years.

    Anyway, why would the author consider 31% to be sufficient? Is this number based on purchasing power parity? Or on an interim target set by a USA politician long ago? Why not just allow the currency to float freely, and let the market decide?

    Other excuses offered by the author for China are equally suspect. He states that "the endgame is a market-based, fully convertible renminbi". However, what we are actually witnessing indicates that China's real endgame is to dominate the world economy. They intend to become the new imperial, dictatorial master of the world.

    The author also states that "China has had an open development model, with imports running at 28% of GDP". But what did those imports consist of? Oil? Raw natural resources? From where? If this is such a significant statistic, then the author should break out the components to reveal the true story.

    Finally, the author advises that "the US should reconsider antiquated Cold War restrictions on Chinese purchases of technology-intensive items." In other words, the USA should concede defeat, and surrender their last major technology advantage. After all, the US cannot defeat North Korea, because China will not allow any meddling with their puppet. And the US cannot prevent China from stealing US technology and selling it to Iran. Resistance is futile, the author seems to say, so let's just surrender now.

    This is not to imply that the USA should base its economy on weapons technology. But sadly, that is one of the few remaining areas of competitive advantage left. This is after years of assault on the USA economy by nations such as China, who have manipulated their currencies for their advantage, at America's expense.

    But the real threat to the USA is not China! Instead, it is wealthy Americans whose loyalty is not to their own country, but to themselves and to trans national corporations. China's unfair cost advantage only makes these individuals and corporations richer. And if America collapses, they can afford to move to Singapore or Shanghai.

    Who can we trust to save America and the world from centuries of domination by the fascist dictatorship that is China? Not the 1% protesters, whose goals are vague, and whose strategies are ineffectual. Not Obama, who has squandered every opportunity to resist currency manipulators such as China. And not Romney, who is beholden to the ultra rich.

    Sadly, without competent leaders, lacking sufficient political will, and mostly blind to the danger, America – and it's industrialized peers – seem destined to succumb.

      CommentedLawrence Fassio

      In response to Paul Jefferson's claim about the increase in the value of the Chinese yuan, my computation of its increase over the past two years, from the chart whose link he supplied, is a 0.3% increase, or slightly more than 0.1% per year

      CommentedPaul Jefferson

      The Chinese yuan has actually appreciated by about 3.6% per year for the past two years, according to this chart:

      http://www.google.com/finance?q=cnyusd

      But if the yuan had instead been allowed to float freely, how much more would it have appreciated? Would the appreciation have been greater by a factor of 10, or 20?

      Why is the Chinese dictatorship afraid to find out? Are they afraid because they themselves know that the yuan is significantly undervalued? Probably.

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