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全球竞争力之争:货币战不是出路

Dinesh Paliwal 2011年09月29日

无论是国家还是公司,要赢得真正的竞争优势,都必须在教育、创新和生产力上下功夫,进而提供差异化的产品或服务。尽管欧美国家一直批评中国操纵汇率以提高国际贸易中的竞争力,但中国在三方面都取得了长足的进步,这些努力正在帮助中国赢得真正的国际竞争力。

    全球经济可能重新陷入衰退,各国市场持续剧烈波动,各国央行在货币政策制定方面必须艰难地找准平衡。多国央行都对本国经济注入了庞大的刺激资金,使主权债务余额大幅增加,可能需要几十年时间才能消化;有些央行则暗示会削减刺激计划并提高利率,使人们更加担忧突如其来的通胀可能影响经济复苏。

    尽管这些央行的行为不尽完美,总的来说它们确实有助于缓解经济周期的严重性。不过,最近有一些央行采取的政策不是为了缓解本国货币汇率的波动,而是为了操纵汇率,在国际市场上赢得优势。尽管这种“货币战”与真正的战争还差得很远,它们对自由市场全球贸易同样有着明显的负面作用。

    许多经济学家都将中国称为造成货币不平衡的关键影响因子,中国严重依赖出口来保持经济的迅速增长。这些经济学家认为,中国长期以来的政策是:向本国经济注入大量资金,同时买入其他国家的国债。这样做的效果是使人民币相对于其他货币的汇率低估,从而降低出口到海外的中国货物的相对价格;而其他希望向中国销售本国产品的国家则会面临相对较高的出口价格。

    颇具讽刺意味的是,中国的货币政策在控制国内通胀方面并不成功,该国的工资水平和消费物价都在稳步攀升。根据国际货币基金组织(IMF)最近公布的数据,2010年中国消费物价上涨了5%;相比之下,美国和欧元区只上涨了1.6%。随着中国逐步出现刘易斯拐点(Lewisian Turning Point)式的现象,平均工资和熟练工人平均工资预期的增长将更为迅猛。这种理论由阿瑟•刘易斯提出,指劳动力需求增长速度超过供给增长的速度。

    至于西方国家是否应该使本国货币贬值,以反制中国的货币政策,经济学家之间存在许多争议。尽管这一举措可能会暂时降低西方国家出口货物的相对价格,但它导致的债务将会使这些国家的资产负债表更加脆弱,只从短期着眼的思维方式将给今后的几代人留下严重后果。

    As global markets continue to see-saw on the verge of another recession, central banks across the world face a difficult balancing act of monetary policy. Massive injections of stimulus funds have been deployed in many cases, creating outstanding balances of sovereign debt that may take decades to resolve. Other banks are hinting at reduced stimulus funding and higher interest rates, fueling fears that sudden inflation could damage the economic recovery.

    Although imperfect, these central bank actions have been helpful in moderating the severity of economic cycles over time. However, more recently, some bankers have adopted policies intended not to moderate but rather to manipulate domestic currency exchange rates and gain advantage on the global playing field. This "currency war," although far different from its military namesake, has equally significant implications for free-market global trade.

    Many economists cite China, which relies heavily on exports to fuel its fast-growing economy, as a key influencer in the currency imbalance. According to these economists, the nation has long followed a policy of injecting large sums of money into its economy and buying debt from other nations. This has the effect of undervaluing the Chinese yuan compared to other currencies, and lowering the relative cost of Chinese goods shipped abroad. Other nations, which seek to sell their own goods to China, face higher relative export prices as a result.

    Ironically, China's monetary policies have not been successful in controlling domestic inflation, as both wages and consumer prices are rising steadily. According to recent IMF data, consumer prices in China increased 5% in 2010 compared to about 1.6% in the U.S. and euro zone. Chinese wages and skilled worker wage expectations are growing even more rapidly, as the country approaches a Lewisian Turning Point-type phenomenon – the economic theory named after Arthur Lewis where demand for labor begins to outpace the available supply.

    There is much debate among economists as to whether Western nations should counter China's monetary policy by deflating their own currencies. Although this might temporarily reduce the cost of goods exported from the West, the resulting debt would further weaken their balance sheets and pass the consequences of short-term thinking to future generations.

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