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投资理财

经济衰退投资法则:买空印度,卖空中国

Vishesh Kumar 2011年09月09日

如果全球经济再次进入衰退,新兴市场所面临的风险也会因人而异,各国受到的冲击会因经济发展模式不同而存在差异。中国这种依赖出口和投资的外向型经济体将首当其冲,而印度的增长主要依赖本国消费,抵御风险的能力更强,反弹前景也更好。有鉴于此,印度是比中国更好的投资对象。

    美国经济指标的恶化和欧洲债务危机的抬头使得人们越来越担心全球经济即将陷入新一轮的衰退。随着经济衰退的阴云开始聚集,投资者们不得不在资产购买中遵循两害相权取其轻的原则,选择中毒程度相对较轻的资产。证券巨人太平洋投资管理公司(Pimco)的比尔•格罗斯将这种资产戏称为“干净点的脏衬衣”。

    随着发达国家经济脚步的停滞,不少评论人士认为中国、印度、巴西和韩国这些快速增长的新兴市场组合将成为经济继续增长的生力军。

    然而,在草率地寻找国外避风港之前,投资者们应斟酌再三。因为一旦海外金融市场丧失对风险的免疫力,遭受重创可能在所难免,从而重蹈雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)破产后的覆辙。除此之外,很多经济实体对于全球经济增长的依存度非常之高。

    中国和巴西这样的国家是世界公认的制造车间和原材料供应商,然而他们届时所受到的打击也会最为严重。像印度这种实力较弱、经济封闭的国家反而对经济衰退有更强的抵抗力。而且一旦阻碍经济发展的主要障碍例如通胀得以削减,这些国家甚至还有可能看到经济复苏的希望。

    尽管中国几近10%的经济增长率赢得了一致喝彩,然而,一旦遭遇全球经济衰退,这种依赖于投资和出口的经济体将不堪一击。

    事实也是如此,中国2008年第四季度GDP增长率下降至6.8%,与07年的13%相比,跌幅近半。为了确保经济增长和就业,满足快速城市化进程的需要,中国抛出了5,860亿美元的经济刺激方案。

    在当前情况下,这种权宜之计实施起来非常困难,而且中国还需要应付上一轮的强心剂所带来的后遗症。这种依靠行政手段刺激经济增长的方式遭到了业界的广泛质疑,由此引发的债务问题也逐渐引起了人们的担忧。

    中国的出口业务严重依赖于美国和欧洲市场。除此之外,由于拥有巨大的外汇储备,中国在金融方面的风险也不容小觑。

    中国在美国债务辩论期间所表现出来的忐忑不安的情绪是可以理解的,中国不得不继续增持美国国债。与此同时,出于寻找美元替代品的需要,中国在阻止欧元区债务危机蔓延方面同样做了不少工作。目前,中国国内资本重组的呼声渐高,而且其自身的债务也面临降级风险,因此,即便中国拥有大量的外国资产储备也是于事无补,何况外国资产本身也靠不住。

    其他一些出口型经济体也很有可能在新一轮的衰退中遭受重创。周一,在经济已然疲软的韩国,出于对美国市场的失望,其股市下跌了4.4%。与此同时,尽管国内通胀居高不下,商品大国巴西也不得不降低基准利率来应付经济增长的急速放缓。

    然而,印度这种内向型并由消费支撑的经济使得印度在抵御全球经济衰退时更有优势。衰退甚至可能有助于印度缓解目前的头号社会问题:严重的通胀。

    印度的通胀率已经达到了9.22%,居亚洲之首。这也迫使印度储备银行(Reserve Bank of India)在过去的18个月中连续11次上调基准利率。

    投资公司Matthews India Fund的联合经理桑尼尔•阿斯纳尼说,引起通胀的原因有一些是结构性的,解决起来需要一定的时间,例如农业生产力低下,基础设施不完善而导致的歉收以及顽固的政府赤字等。

    但是全球经济的低迷将有利于印度控制通胀,因为包括石油和商品在内的重要进口物资的价格都将下降。

    排除通胀这些主要不利因素之外,印度还有不少特点,在经济增长弥足珍贵的当今世界显得格外有吸引力。

    印度的人均GDP约为1,100美元,不到中国的一半,约为巴西的1/7。尽管印度中产阶级不断壮大的说法不绝于耳,但该国仍有38%的人口依然挣扎在贫困线上。

    金融危机似乎也证明印度有能力熬过全球性的经济衰退。印度的经济增长由9%降至6%,只有中国跌幅的一半,而且重启经济增长所需的花费也少得多。

    阿斯纳尼也指出了近期印度所面临的诸多风险。风险资产的外流将有可能重创印度市场,而资金的流失将使其实体经济雪上加霜。

    但是,如果投资者选择逃避风险并低估印度经济熬过衰退的能力,从而导致恐慌式抛售的发生,那将会提供一个极佳的切入点。

    尽管面临的问题很多,而且即使世界经济出现新一轮的急剧下滑,印度仍将是脏衬衫中那件比较干净的衬衫。因为与印度相比,其他新兴市场自身所存在的问题同样多如牛毛,而且他们更有可能在未来受到发达国家的拖累。

    Anxiety about another global recession is on the rise amid downbeat economic data from the U.S. and a resurgent European debt crisis. And that has investors scrambling to find what Bill Gross of bond giant Pimco calls the 'cleaner dirty shirt' -- assets that might be less tainted than others -- as the storm clouds gather.

    With much of the developed world stalling, many commentators see the usual basket of fast-growing emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and South Korea as avenues for continued growth.

    But investors should dig deeper before simply seeking shelter abroad. Not only are financial markets overseas likely to get hit if risk tolerance evaporates as it did in the wake of Lehman Brothers, but some economies are far more dependent on global growth than others.

    Countries like China and Brazil that have done so well by supplying the global economy with manufacturing and raw materials may be hit hardest. A much poorer and insulated economy like India's, though, could weather the storm far better and even see a silver lining if major obstacles like nosebleed inflation rates decline.

    While China's red-hot growth rate of nearly 10% gets plenty of applause, for example, its economy is dependent on investments and exports, leaving it highly vulnerable to a global slowdown.

    Indeed, China's GDP expansion fell by nearly half to 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008 from 13% in 2007. The country responded with a massive $586 billion stimulus package to keep growth rates and employment at levels that its rapid urbanization requires.

    This type of quick fix will be far more difficult this time around and the country is still facing the consequences of the last dose. The frequently questionable and politically motivated spending to prop up growth has led to growing concerns about China's own debt situation.

    Along with being heavily dependent on the U.S. and Europe for export markets, China also has deep financial exposure to the troubled regions through its massive foreign exchange reserves.

    Beijing's nervousness amid the U.S. debt debate was understandable -- it has to keep buying Treasury bonds -- as were its efforts to stem the eurozone crisis, since it desperately needs an alternative to the dollar. But vast stockpiles of suspect foreign assets can hardly be reassuring to a country facing the prospects of seeing its own debt downgraded as the chances of a need for a recapitalization at home rise.

    Other export-oriented economies are also likely to get hit hard by another recession. An already slowing South Korea saw its stock market tumble 4.4% on Monday in the wake of disappointing U.S. data. Commodity heavy Brazil, meanwhile, had to cut interest rates despite steep inflation in a bid to counter sharply slowing growth.

    The domestically-oriented and consumption-driven Indian economy, on the other hand, has many more defensive characteristics. And a recession may even help alleviate what may be at the top of its long list of problems: rampant inflation.

    Inflation rates of 9.22%, among the highest levels in Asia, have prompted the Reserve Bank of India to raise rates 11 times in the last 18 months.

    Some drivers of inflation like low agricultural productivity, crop loss due to poor infrastructure, and persistent government deficits are structural and will take time to work out, says Sunil Asnani, co-manager of the Matthews India Fund.

    But a global slowdown could help tamp inflation by bringing down the prices of key inputs like oil and commodities.

    Beyond major issues like inflation, the country has features that look increasingly attractive in a world were growth is getting harder to find.

    GDP per capita of about $1,100 is less than half of China's and about one-seventh of Brazil's. For all the talk of a growing middle class in India, nearly 38% of its population lives in poverty.

    The financial crisis tends to corroborate its ability to muddle through a global recession. Growth slowed from 9% to 6% -- about half the crunch in terms of percentage points that China saw and with a fraction of the stimulus spending required to reaccelerate growth.

    Asnani points to plenty of risks in the near term. A flight from risky assets would likely batter the Indian market and the loss of capital could deliver a further blow to the real economy.

    Still, a panicked sell-off could provide an attractive entry point if investors flee risk and ignore the underlying economy's ability to plod through a downturn.

    For all its problems, India could offer one of the cleaner dirty shirts if the world economy faces another sharp downturn. Not only do other emerging markets have plenty of their own stains, they are far more exposed to future spills from the rich world as well.

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