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不能依赖政策制定者救市

With markets experiencing a rout that seems out of all proportion to the economic data — do we really expect a global recession on the back of a 3 per cent devaluation of the Chinese currency? — investors are hoping that policymakers will step in and restore some calm.

全球市场正在经历一场似乎与经济数据不相匹配的溃败——我们真的认为在人民币贬值3%之后会发生一场全球经济衰退吗?投资者希望政策制定者介入,让市场恢复些许平静。

Unfortunately, it is hard to see how, exactly. In most developed economies, fiscal policy remains relatively tight (the eurozone and even the US) or indeed needs to get tighter (Japan), while interest rates are still at rock bottom levels. That leaves little scope for providing much global stimulus.

遗憾的是,目前很难看出政策制定者该怎么做。在多数发达经济体,财政政策仍然相对较紧(欧元区、甚至美国)或者确实需要收紧(日本),同时利率仍然处于最低水平。这几乎没有留下什么余地来让他们推出全球刺激措施。

Worse, expectations of rising US rates are preventing many emerging markets from adopting desperately needed counter-cyclical monetary policy.

更糟糕的是,对美国加息的预期正阻碍着很多新兴市场采取亟需的反周期货币政策。

Many commodity exporters, for example in Latin America, would ideally like to reduce interest rates to offset the impact of lower exports on growth, but are instead facing the prospect of rises as they are forced to “follow the Fed”.

本来在理想情况下,很多大宗商品出口国(例如拉丁美洲国家)应该会乐于降息来抵消出口下滑对经济增长的影响,但是相反,它们正面临加息的前景,因为它们不得不“追随美联储(Fed)”。

Granted, most of these countries are letting their currencies depreciate — either happily or with some attempts to smooth the drop — and this should help growth. But there is also a pass-through to inflation, which imposes a further constraint on lowering rates.

诚然,无论是乐意地还是怀揣着一些缓和经济下滑的意图,多数大宗商品出口国正在进行货币贬值,并且这应该会有助于经济增长。但是这也会导致通胀,对降息形成进一步限制。

And in cases where there are political risks, or inflation is already high for domestic reasons, central banks are being forced to raise rates however dismal the domestic economy — Brazil, Russia and, to a lesser extent, South Africa are all caught in this trap.

而在存在政治风险、或者通胀水平已经因国内原因而处于高位的国家,无论国内经济如何低迷,其央行都在被迫加息——巴西、俄罗斯、还有程度较轻的南非,均陷于此种困境之中。

That is not to say policymakers are completely powerless.

这并不是说政策制定者完全无能为力。

In China, the trigger for this market meltdown, investors are looking for loud and clear signals from officials in the form of liquidity injections into the domestic economy. To be fair, the People’s Bank of China has been doing a fair bit of this in the past few days through reverse repos and its open market operations; but what markets are really looking for is a cut in required reserve ratios to help the commercial banks.

在触发此轮全球市场下跌的中国,投资者正在等待官方以向国内经济注入流动性的方式释放响亮而明确的信号。平心而论,过去几天,通过逆向回购和公开市场操作,中国央行已经采取了相当多这方面的行动;但是市场真正想要的是央行下调存款准备金率来帮助商业银行。(注:中国央行于周一宣布再次降息降准。)

Such RRR cuts are indeed likely to come — and soon — but the reason the central bank has been hesitating is that it fears a lot of the capital that will be released this way will simply escape abroad, putting more pressure on the renminbi, which the authorities have been trying to stabilise again after guiding it weaker two weeks ago.

此类降准确实很可能到来——而且会很快到来——但是令央行一直迟疑的原因是,担心通过这种方式释放的资金中会有大量直接逃往海外,对人民币施加更大压力。在两周前引导人民币走低后,当局正试图再次稳定人民币汇率。

Capital outflows would also tighten domestic liquidity, offsetting the whole point of the RRR cuts in the first place.

资本外流也会造成国内流动性紧张,抵消起初降准的全部意义。

Still, at this point, any kind of decisive action by Beijing would be greeted with applause by investors who are adjusting not only to lower growth expectations out of the mainland but also to the fact that the leadership’s aura of bureaucratic competence has been shattered following its cack-handed interventions in the stock market and the currency.

不过,此时,北京方面的任何果断举动都会受到投资者的欢迎。投资者不仅正在适应内地增长下滑的预期,而且也在适应另一种情况——在笨拙地干预股市和汇率之后,领导层官僚能力的光环已经被打破。

From the US central bank, by contrast, markets are looking for a lack of action: pricing for “lift-off” in September is now down to only about 30 per cent, in the belief that lower global growth and accelerating disinflation (just look at the oil price) will stay the Fed’s hand...瀠攀爀栀愀瀀猀 well into 2016.

相比之下,对于美联储,市场想要的是不作为:市场对9月加息几率的估计如今已经降至仅仅30%左右,他们相信全球增长下滑以及反通货膨胀(disinflation)加速(只需看看油价便知)将令美联储按兵不动……也许会推迟到2016年。

They may be disappointed on this front as well. The Fed makes policy with the domestic economy in mind and the US is doing pretty well just now, particularly its labour market.

在这一方面,他们可能也会失望。美联储制定政策时考虑的是国内经济,而美国眼下的情况相当好,特别是其劳动力市场。

Of course, the bank will take financial dislocations into account, but it will not be ruled by them. And precisely because it is trying to rebuild interest rates so that it can respond again in a future recession or crisis, there is an inbuilt desire at the Fed to lift off, at least cautiously.

当然,美联储也会考虑金融动荡,但是不会受这些情况的左右。正是因为美联储正试图重建利率,好在未来发生衰退或危机时有能力再次应对,美联储有内在的加息愿望,至少是谨慎加息。

Nor do Janet Yellen & co want to signal any concerns over US growth by holding off.

珍妮特耶伦(Janet Yellen)等人也不想因为按兵不动而释放出对美国经济增长有所担忧的信号。

With luck, we will look back at the current sell-off as just another bout of nerves in August. But perhaps the real lesson should be that policymakers are not all powerful and also rather human in their capacity to make mistakes. And that markets cannot rely on them to come to the rescue.

幸运的话,当我们未来回头再看时,会把当前的抛售看作是8月的一波神经紧张。但是,也许真正的教训应该是,政策制定者并非无所不能,他们也是人也会犯错误。市场不能依靠政策制定者来出手相救。


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