Street of Hong Kong Starcevic/Getty Images

为什么人民币不会统治

东京—在反乌托邦科幻片《银翼杀手2049》(Blade Runner 2049)中,32年后的洛杉矶看上去就像是今天的中国大都市:灰蒙蒙污染严重,到处都是霓虹灯广告闪烁的高楼大厦。观众从来不甚了解外部世界,甚至不知道广告中的商品用哪种货币交易。美元仍然拥有主宰地位吗?中国人民币取而代之了吗?还是有其他货币崛起为全球主导?

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美国总统特朗普似乎一定要让美国(至少部分地)从其全球领导角色上退出。但是,就像英镑在两次世界大战之间那样,一种货币可以在发行国失去了经济、金融和地缘政治霸权之后继续保有全球主导地位很久。今天也是如此,在相当长的一段时间内,世界都应该认为美元可以继续保有关键储备货币地位,被用于结算国际贸易。

但从国际金融外交的角度,美元的地位可能不那么牢靠了。问题在于,经济学家巴里·艾肯格林(Barry Eichengreen)预测的 “美元外交”的结束是否必然意味着人民币外交的崛起。

自20世纪90年代以来,中国决策者一直希望发展人民币在国际金融中的作用,从而增强中国的地缘政治地位。在近几年中,中国领导层领导了一场共同行动以实现这一野心,特别是通过中国货币的国际化。

但人民币计价金融从未成为美元金融的竞争对手——更不用说敌人了。事实上,人民币在国际金融中的角色仍然远远不及其他储备货币(美元、欧元、日元和英镑),人民币在本世纪中叶领导国际货币体系是和《银翼杀手2049》一样的反乌托邦景象。

人民币在国际金融中始终处于弱势的一个原因是,尽管自2010年以来取得了可观的进展,但它仍然只是半熟(half-baked)的国际货币。除了指定的离岸市场,人民币不具有流动性,也不能自由兑换。因此,其在国际投资者投资组合中的比重可以微乎其微。

甚至中国本身也只在其四分之一的国际贸易中使用人民币,其国际金融业仍然是美元计价。中国蓝筹企业——阿里巴巴、百度和腾讯——在纽约或香港上市,用美元或港币计价。中国迅速膨胀的贷款和海外投资大部分也是美元计价。

但不必期待人民币在不久的将来主导国际金融体系的最令人信服的原因在于中国领导人从未表现出要让人民币成为美元的真正替代品的持久的决心。相反,他们对国际货币体系改革采取合作方针,指出国际货币体系不应该只依赖任何一种货币。

对中国人来说,国际货币体系的未来应该是在结算、支付和资产配置等方面有多种国家的货币提供选择,从而降低体系对国家政治的风险暴露。此外,有更多的央行创造流动性,国际金融中心提供流动性池,则这样一套体系发生现金动荡的风险更低。目前,中国已开始试点在关键金融中心发展离岸人民币市场,以此作为克服人民币流动性局限的方法。

但要构建这样一个多货币体系,世界需要采取深刻的国际机构改革。这正是中国人民银行行长周小川在2009年的一次讲话中提出的看法。这次讲话批驳了只有美国通过美元才能保证国际货币体系的运行的观点。

周小川说,美元的货币主导地位的基础是二战后创立的布雷顿森林机构。因此,改革国际货币体系就是要改革多边金融机构的治理——这也是中国在去年担任G20主席国时所强调的观点。

随着美国退出世界舞台以及多极全球秩序的出现,国际货币体系也可能发生转变——但也许不是转变为以人民币为首的体系。不管是因为中国国际金融的内在弱点,还是出于对真正的国际货币必须是市场驱动,因此是政府控制的人民币所无法充当的认识,就连中国也不认为人民外交的时代会很快到来。

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