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全球经济忙忙碌碌

2013-04-03 14:06

在过去的四个星期里,我去过索非亚、吉隆坡、迪拜、伦敦、米兰、法兰克福、柏林、巴黎、北京、东京、伊斯坦布尔和美国。因此,全球经济面临的种种挑战从未远离。

在欧洲,欧元区解体的尾部风险以及西班牙和意大利市场准入的损失因去年夏天欧洲央行决定支持主权债务而有所降低。但货币联盟的根本问题——低潜在增长、持续衰退、竞争力丧失,一家大量私人和公共债务——一直没有解决。

此外,欧元区核心国家、欧洲央行和外围国家之间的讨价还价——通过痛苦的紧缩和改革换取大规模金融支持——正在被打破,因为欧元区外围国家的紧缩疲劳遇上了核心国家,如德国和荷兰的救助疲劳。

外围国家的紧缩疲劳明显反映在意大利最近的选举中出现的反政府力量;西班牙、葡萄牙及其他国家的大型街头示威活动;塞浦路斯银行业拙劣的救助措施推升公众的愤怒。整个外围国家,左翼和右翼民粹主义政党正在获得支持。

与此同时,德国在将损失强加给塞浦路斯银行债权人方面的坚持是核心国家救助疲劳的最新症状。其他核心欧元区成员国,急于限制纳税人风险,也暗示“债权人纾困”是未来的发展方向。

欧元区之外,甚至英国也在努力的恢复经济增长,这是由于财政紧缩造成的前载损害。在保加利亚、罗马尼亚和匈牙利,反对紧缩措施的情绪也在不断增大。

中国领导层过渡大体平稳。但该国的经济模式依然存在,正如前国务院总理温家宝所说,“不稳定、不平衡、不协调和不可持续的”。

中国的问题很多:沿海地区和内地、城市和农村之间的区域失衡;储蓄和固定投资太多,私人消费太少;收入日益扩大,财富分配不均加剧;大规模环境恶化,空气、水和土壤污染危害公共卫生和食品安全。

中国的新领导人诚挚的表示要深化改革和重新平衡经济,但他们仍然谨慎、渐进和保守。此外,既得利益者反对改革。因此,再平衡经济所需的改革发生的速度不足以防止硬着陆,明年,投资泡沫将实质化。

在中国和俄罗斯(巴西和印度部分地区)——国家资本主义已变得更加牢固,这对增长来说不是个好兆头。总的来说,这四个国家(金砖四国)被大肆炒作,而其他新兴经济体在未来十年可能会做得更好:亚洲的马来西亚、菲律宾和印度尼西亚;拉丁美洲的智利、哥伦比亚和秘鲁;东欧和中亚的哈萨克斯坦、阿塞拜疆和波兰。

在远东,日本在尝试一种新的经济实验以停止通缩,促进经济增长,恢复商业和消费者信心。“安倍经济”有几个组件:日本央行进行激进的货币刺激;今年起刺激需求的财政计划,紧接着在2014年实行财政紧缩政策,控制赤字和债务;大力提高名义工资来刺激国内需求;对经济进行结构改革;新自由贸易协定——以“跨太平洋伙伴关系”为开端——来提高贸易和生产力。

但挑战是艰巨的。目前还不清楚通货紧缩是否能被货币政策击败;过度的财政刺激和递延的紧缩可能使债务不可持续;安倍经济的结构性改革较为含糊。此外,因在东海主张领土主权而与中国产生的紧张局势可能影响贸易和外国直接投资。

中东,从北非到巴基斯坦,仍不稳定。土耳其——年轻的人口、高增长潜力和充满活力的私营部门——寻求成为主要的地区性大国。但土耳其自身面临着许多挑战。其加入欧盟的步伐目前处于停滞状态,而欧元区经济的衰退抑制了它的增长。其经常帐赤字依然很大,货币政策一直令人困惑,因为提高竞争力和经济增长的目标与控制通货膨胀和避免过度信贷扩张相冲突。

此外,虽然土耳其有可能与以色列和解,但它与叙利亚和伊朗的关系极度紧张,其伊斯兰执政党必须证明它可以与该国的世俗政治的传统共存。

在全球环境脆弱的情况下,美国是否成为了希望的灯塔?美国显现了一些积极的经济趋势:住房部门正在复苏;页岩气和石油将降低能源成本,提升竞争力;就业在改善;亚洲劳动力成本的上升以及机器人与自动化的出现支撑了制造业复苏;积极的量化宽松有助于实体经济和金融市场。

但风险依然存在。失业率和家庭债务仍然居高不下。税负增加和开支削减带来的财政阻力将会打击经济增长。政治体系功能失调,党派极化阻碍在财政赤字、移民、能源政策和其他关键问题方面的共识,影响潜在增长。

总之,在发达经济体中,美国的表现相对最好,其次是日本,安倍经济正在增加信心。欧元区和英国仍深陷衰退,货币和财政政策紧缩使情况雪上加霜。在新兴经济体中,2014年底中国可能面临硬着陆,如果关键结构改革被推迟。其他金砖国家需要远离国家资本主义。而亚洲和拉丁美洲的其他新兴市场将比金砖四国更有活力,但他们的实力还不足以引领全球潮流。

注:本文作者为国际宏观经济学领域世界知名的专家鲁比尼(Nouriel Roubini),是纽约大学斯特恩商学院经济学教授兼鲁比尼全球经济研究院主席,有“末日博士”之称。他由于在次贷危机爆发前准确地预测到了此次危机的爆发而名噪一时,又因为次贷危机完全按照他所写下的《金融灾难的十二个步骤》演变而成为红遍全球的预言大师。

The Global Economy on the Fly

2013-04-03 14:06

In the last four weeks, I have traveled to Sofia, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, London, Milan, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Istanbul, and throughout the United States. As a result, the myriad challenges facing the global economy were never far away.

In Europe, the tail risk of a eurozone break-up and a loss of market access by Spain and Italy were reduced by last summer’s decision by the European Central Bank to backstop sovereign debt. But the monetary union’s fundamental problems – low potential growth, ongoing recession, loss of competitiveness, and large stocks of private and public debt – have not been resolved.

Moreover, the grand bargain between the eurozone core, the ECB, and the periphery – painful austerity and reforms in exchange for large-scale financial support – is now breaking down, as austerity fatigue in the eurozone periphery runs up against bailout fatigue in core countries like Germany and the Netherlands.

Austerity fatigue in the periphery is clearly evident from the success of anti-establishment forces in Italy’s recent election; large street demonstrations in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere; and now the botched bailout of Cypriot banks, which has fueled massive public anger. Throughout the periphery, populist parties of the left and right are gaining ground.

Meanwhile, Germany’s insistence on imposing losses on bank creditors in Cyprus is the latest symptom of bailout fatigue in the core. Other core eurozone members, eager to limit the risks to their taxpayers, have similarly signaled that creditor “bail-ins” are the way of the future.

Outside the eurozone, even the United Kingdom is struggling to restore growth, owing to the damage caused by front-loaded fiscal-consolidation efforts, while anti-austerity sentiment is also mounting in Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary.

In China, the leadership transition has occurred smoothly. But the country’s economic model remains, as former Premier Wen Jiabao famously put it, “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.”

China’s problems are many: regional imbalances between its coastal regions and the interior, and between urban and rural areas; too much savings and fixed investment, and too little private consumption; growing income and wealth inequality; and massive environmental degradation, with air, water, and soil pollution jeopardizing public health and food safety.

The country’s new leaders speak earnestly of deepening reforms and rebalancing the economy, but they remain cautious, gradualist, and conservative by inclination. Moreover, the power of vested interests that oppose reform. As a result, the reforms needed to rebalance the economy may not occur fast enough to prevent a hard landing when, by next year, an investment bust materializes.

In China – and in Russia (and partly in Brazil and India) – state capitalism has become more entrenched, which does not bode well for growth. Overall, these four countries (the BRICs) have been over-hyped, and other emerging economies may do better in the next decade: Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia in Asia; Chile, Colombia, and Peru in Latin America; and Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Poland in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Farther East, Japan is trying a new economic experiment to stop deflation, boost economic growth, and restore business and consumer confidence. “Abenomics” has several components: aggressive monetary stimulus by the Bank of Japan; a fiscal stimulus this year to jump start demand, followed by fiscal austerity in 2014 to rein in deficits and debt; a push to increase nominal wages to boost domestic demand; structural reforms to deregulate the economy; and new free-trade agreements – starting with the Trans-Pacific Partnership – to boost trade and productivity.

But the challenges are daunting. It is not clear if deflation can be beaten with monetary policy; excessive fiscal stimulus and deferred austerity may make the debt unsustainable; and the structural-reform components of Abenomics are vague. Moreover, tensions with China over territorial claims in the East China Sea may adversely affect trade and foreign direct investment.

Then there is the Middle East, which remains an arc of instability from the Maghreb to Pakistan. Turkey – with a young population, high potential growth, and a dynamic private sector – seeks to become a major regional power. But Turkey faces many challenges of its own. Its bid to join the European Union is currently stalled, while the eurozone recession dampens its growth. Its current-account deficit remains large, and monetary policy has been confusing, as the objective of boosting competitiveness and growth clashes with the need to control inflation and avoid excessive credit expansion.

Moreover, while rapprochement with Israel has become more likely, Turkey faces severe tensions with Syria and Iran, and its Islamist ruling party must still prove that it can coexist with the country’s secular political tradition.

In this fragile global environment, has America become a beacon of hope? The US is experiencing several positive economic trends: housing is recovering; shale gas and oil will reduce energy costs and boost competitiveness; job creation is improving; rising labor costs in Asia and the advent of robotics and automation are underpinning a manufacturing resurgence; and aggressive quantitative easing is helping both the real economy and financial markets.

But risks remain. Unemployment and household debt remain stubbornly high. The fiscal drag from rising taxes and spending cuts will hit growth, and the political system is dysfunctional, with partisan polarization impeding compromise on the fiscal deficit, immigration, energy policy, and other key issues that influence potential growth.

In sum, among advanced economies, the US is in the best relative shape, followed by Japan, where Abenomics is boosting confidence. The eurozone and the UK remain mired in recessions made worse by tight monetary and fiscal policies. Among emerging economies, China could face a hard landing by late 2014 if critical structural reforms are postponed, and the other BRICs need to turn away from state capitalism. While other emerging markets in Asia and Latin America are showing more dynamism than the BRICs, their strength will not be enough to turn the global tide.

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