订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 金融

低度金融混乱于中国无碍

John Foley 2013年04月12日

中国金融体系的混乱程度仍在加深,但尚未触及警戒线。如果说金融混乱的最高程度为100分,那么中国1978年以前的这个数字接近0分,目前大概在30到40分,但仍然远远低于金融危机时期美国的得分。当时,美国的金融系统混乱程度大概在70分左右。

    中国会出现金融危机吗?如果出现的话,中国人的处境会变差吗?这和中国快速上升的负债水平无关,而要看出现问题时中国会不会陷入混乱。中国金融体系的混乱程度仍在加深,但尚未触及警戒线。

    金融混乱可以描述为一个问题有可能引发其他无法预见的问题。可能出现这种情况的原因是存在一些人们想不到的关联,或者是因为出现问题后人们做出的反应无法预期或不合情理。这很接近著名投资人乔治•索罗斯所说的反身性。在索罗斯看来,爱思考的人容易犯错,导致他们倾向于采取不恰当、而且有破坏性的行动。

    金融系统稍稍有些不可预测是件好事。自由促进创新,而且有助于资金流动到需要它们的地方,而不是按照中央管理机构的思路进行配置。中国领导人非常担心混乱,但也容忍了一些金融层面的混乱,比如引进外国投资者,建立股市以及偶尔出现的国企裁员。

    假设存在金融混乱指数。它从零开始,这个点代表政府获得充分信任,而整个国家都在政府的控制之下。这样的政府可以通过发行货币来解决问题,而且不会有外国债权人或贸易伙伴对此表示不满。假设这项指数的最高点为100。这个点代表政府得不到丝毫信任,居民都笼罩在恐慌和无知之下,具有金融价值的只有黄金。2007年迎来金融危机高峰时,美国的金融混乱程度可能在70左右。

    以前中国的金融混乱程度接近于零。1978年之前,中国只有一家真正的银行,也就是中国人民银行(the People's Bank of China),它按照政府指令分配投资资金。后来出现了其他银行,但在信贷领域,政府实际上仍然处于垄断地位。在当时的情况下,借款人是否偿还贷款并不是真正的问题。中国政府是整个银行体系的所有人,它可以修改账目,抹除亏损。

    20年后,中国的金融混乱程度有所上升。私营放贷机构和外国投资者的数量猛增,更多的中国人成了“负翁”,但中国的金融体系仍然相当简单,混乱程度可能只有10。就算有金融机构倒闭,还出现了大量的坏账,人们仍然绝对相信政府不会让他们蒙受损失——至少对中国的债权人和储户来说是这样。

    接下来局面有了翻天覆地的变化。2010年,中国多家银行开始把信贷重新打包为信托和理财产品,它不会出现在银行资产负债表中。这是一步妙棋。此后,这种所谓的影子银行大行其道。银行依然是整个金融体系的核心,但中国企业的债权人范围得到了延伸,实实在在地把数百万存款人纳入其中。

    这就是说,中国的金融混乱程度有了上升空间。比如,银行把一家小型企业的债务重新打包为理财产品,这家企业倒闭后,追踪它的数千名债权人就好比一场噩梦。此外,个人行为难以预测。如果不能收回投资,他们就有可能愤怒地进行抗议,也有可能不再购买这样的产品,进而造成信贷紧张,还有可能把存款从销售相关理财产品的银行中取走,从而引发令人恐惧的银行挤兑。

 

    Will China have a financial crisis? And if so, would Chinese people be any worse off? The answers are not found in the country's rapidly rising levels of debt, but in the potential for chaos when things go wrong. China is sliding further along the scale of chaotic financial systems, but is not yet in the danger zone.

    Financial chaos might be described as the potential for one event to cause other unforeseeable ones. That might happen because of unexpected linkages. Or it might be because people respond to developments in unpredictable or irrational ways. It's close to what investor George Soros has called 'reflexivity.' In Soros' eyes, thinking actors are fallible, and that makes them prone to inappropriate and destructive actions.

    A bit of unpredictability in the financial system is a good thing. Freewheeling promotes innovation, and helps capital to go to where it's needed, rather than where a centralized authority thinks it belongs. Chinese leaders are deeply troubled by the idea of chaos, or 'luan', but have tolerated the financial kind occasionally, say by letting in foreign investors, setting up stock markets and occasionally laying off state-sector employees.

    Imagine a Financial Chaos index. It starts at zero -- total state control in a country where the government is entirely trusted. The authorities can print money to make problems go away, and there are no foreign creditors or trade partners to complain. Now picture a system with a score of 100. It has no trust at all, and its denizens are driven by fear and ignorance. Only gold has financial value. At the height of its own financial crisis in 2007, the United States was probably around 70.

    China used to be close to zero. Until 1978, there was really only one bank, the People's Bank of China, which dispensed investment funds following government orders. Later, new banks were created, but the state retained its virtual monopoly on credit. In that world, it didn't really matter whether borrowers paid back loans or not. The mandarins, as owners of the whole banking system, could rewrite accounts and make losses disappear.

    Twenty years later, things had got more chaotic. Private lenders and foreign investors proliferated. Claims on China's borrowers were spread more widely, but the system remained pretty simple -- probably a 10 on the Financial Chaos index. Even when a financial institution failed and bad debts spiked, trust in the government to make things whole -- at least for Chinese lenders and depositors -- was absolute.

    Then came the big bang. In 2010, banks stepped up a clever trick of repackaging credit into trusts and wealth management products that don't appear on their balance sheets. This so-called shadow banking has thrived since. Banks are still at the center of the spider's web, but the number of people with claims on Chinese companies has widened to include literally millions of depositors.

    That means more room for chaos. Say a small business, whose debts were repackaged as a wealth management product, defaults. Tracking down its thousands of creditors would be a nightmare. Moreover, individuals are unpredictable. They might protest angrily if they don't get their money back. Or stop buying such products, creating a credit crunch. Or pull their savings from banks that sold failed investments, leading to dreaded bank runs.

1 2 下一页

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏