喧囂的二樓

Posted in Uncategorized by simonkan1018 on 二月 1, 2010

即係話, 其實一切都係巧合. 一個實質唔係特別好的制度巧遇非常時期, 就突然好有效. 希望在位之人不要被沖昏頭腦, 以為這一套真係好得.

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The Roots of China’s Rapid Recovery

Fan Gang

BEIJING – China’s GDP is estimated to have grown 8.7% year on year in 2009 – once again the highest rate in the world – with the fourth-quarter increase reaching 10.7%, compared to 6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008. For much of the world, China’s ability to shrug off the global financial crisis and maintain a strong growth trajectory in 2010 and 2011 seems too easy.

But securing China’s growth has been anything but easy. The strong, decisive, and deftly timed stimulus policies at the start of the financial crisis did, of course, play a major role in China’s quick rebound. As early as October 2008, when the crisis first hit, China’s government adopted a comprehensive policy package designed to prevent the economy from sliding further. The fiscal deficit was equivalent to 3% of GDP in 2009, which generated 3% GDP growth, while the deficit in 2008 was literally zero.

The country’s so-called “moderate relax” monetary policy also played its part by allowing bank lending to expand by almost 34% in 2009, with M2 money supply growing by 27%. Monetary growth may increase inflationary pressures and the risk of an asset bubble down the road, but it helped ensure that China’s economy did not fall into a vicious downturn when the financial crisis hit. Other policy moves aimed at boosting demand in the housing and auto market also proved effective.

But China’s crisis management is only part of the story. It does not explain why other countries that took even stronger measures failed to generate a similarly rapid recovery, or why China’s government seems to have more room than others for policy maneuver.

China ’s budget was actually in surplus and its government debt-to-GDP ratio was only 21% before the crisis (now it is about 24%), much lower than any other major economy. That gave Chinese policymakers freedom to spend money to confront the crisis. Moreover, the level of non-performing loans in Chinese banks was quite low when Lehman Brothers collapsed, which allowed Chinese policymakers to let it increase in order to battle the crisis.

Moreover, the Chinese economy was in good shape when the global crisis hit. Cautious macroeconomic management during China’s boom, including early self-adjustment, put China in a favorable position. China’s economy had been booming since 2004, but officials did not step aside and “let the market decide.” Instead, they adopted counter-cyclical measures aimed at preventing the economy from overheating.

The government increasingly tightened its policies as the economy continued to surge ahead due to asset bubbles, high local-government investment spending, and buoyant demand in global markets for Chinese goods. Overheating in the housing market was brought to an end in late September 2007, nipping a nascent nationwide bubble, and a stock-market bubble was punctured the following month. Moreover, numerous local investment projects were stopped, while measures to slow the growth of net exports – including a 20% revaluation of the renminbi and a significant cut in tariff rebates for exports – brought down annual export growth from around 30% to a more reasonable 17% in late 2007.

As a result, by the fourth quarter of 2007 – one year before the global financial crisis hit – China’s economy started to cool. The quarterly growth rate decelerated from 13% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 9% in the third quarter of 2009.

In short, it is because China began its adjustment one year before the global crisis that its economy emerged earlier than other countries. The lesson is that booms have to be managed adeptly, and that financiers have to be supervised in their pursuit of ever-higher returns. That is true for developed economies no less than for a developing economy like China.

Of course, China’s economy has structural and institutional problems – what developing country does not? China’s macroeconomic policies are probably still too “administrative.” When many of the most important actors in an economy are insensitive to market price signals, as they are in China, economic policy will need to be administrative in order to deal effectively with those players. But one benefit of this administrative bias over the past 30 years is that, at least most of the time, China has been cautious about overheating – and determined to step in whenever necessary to cool the economy, despite the protests of “smart” market participants.

To be sure, the authorities have sometimes been overly cautious. But for an economy in its early stage of development, and for the first generation of companies with young “animal spirits,” excessive caution seems better than the alternative. In fact, when a country’s economic growth is continuously above 9%, policymakers probably cannot be too cautious.

No doubt, government macroeconomic management that is too strong may delay necessary market-oriented reforms. But the financial crisis has shown that a twenty-first-century market economy requires government participation to function. For a developing economy like China, it is better to have a government that plays an active role in avoiding the ups and downs that the Western economies experienced in their early days – and are still experiencing today.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2010.
http://www.project-syndicate.org

廣告

悔意

Posted in news, review by simonkan1018 on 五月 10, 2008

林行止在四月廿八日的專欄, 可謂帶來不少震撼

“寫了三十多年政經評論,筆者對過去理直氣壯地維護資本主義制度頗生悔意,因為看到了太多不公平手段和欺詐性活動,而一些本以為放諸四海而皆准的理論則經不起現實考驗(比如價高必然使產量增加促致價格回順)……。筆者真的希望中國不要徹底走資,社會主義的確能夠維繫社會公平,中國若能定出一套在「向錢看」與社會公平間平衡發展的政策,中國的崛起才對提高人類福祉有積極意義!"

由資本主義轉成社會主義, 並對以往信奉資本主義而生悔意, 像一個老翁, 為生前積下的孽, 現在苦苦懺悔自白. 另一角度, 亦如很多人指出, 這番話的意思其實模擬不清. 中國現在的社會主義, 是哪門子的社會主義? 又是哪門子的社會公平? 而且這一段不過輕輕帶幾句, 是對當下大量社會問題的一時感觸, 還是真心放棄一部分資本主義, 其實都是沒有答案的.

社會主義有多壞處, 就算沒有讀過經濟的人都清楚的心神領會. 林行止沒可能不知道, 就算資本主義有多缺陷, 又不可能走回頭路吧. 就算現今世界有多少左翼回朝的跡象, 亦不會是上世紀那麼極端. 在全球化浪潮底下, 一些保護主義, 左翼組織借勢反撲, 不是不能理解的, 貧富懸殊, 產生很多不公平現象, 或許很多政府, 政黨會在此反反覆覆, 但中國那樣的社會主義卻絕對不是答案.

糧食危機涉及人命, 問題十分嚴重, 中國屢次改朝換代, 其中都和天災有關, 如果今次糧食危機變得嚴峻, 又會否產生多國動亂, 尤其是第三世界國家. 大家固然於心不忍, 但這可不是一個理由覺得計劃經濟能解決問題.

Reference:
Spontaneous Order — Debunking 林行止 Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

8 Ways to Fix the Global Food Crisis

林行止 – 糧食危機中對富人和中國的期待

2008年04月28日(星期一)

一、

  國際糧食價格全面上揚,據去周《經濟學人》的統計,去年小麥美元價格漲百分之七十七、大米百分之十六,今年迄四月二十四日,小麥和大米分別再升百分之二十五和百分之一百四十一;淩厲且看不到盡頭的升勢,被聯合國發言人稱為「無聲大海嘯」。顯而易見,低人均GDP國家人民因為糧食佔去大部分家庭開支,因此已陷入飢餓狀態之中,非洲和拉美諸國以至埃及、印尼和巴基斯坦等三十余國已發生搶糧「暴動」,海地人民甚至以黃土(yellow clay)加鹽和菜油搓成泥粉焗成泥餅,一百塊普通餅乾大小的泥餅售價由一年前的三元五角(美元.下同)上升至四月上旬的五元,漲價的原因是從山區運泥的費用因能源價格急升而上漲;非洲象牙海岸每公斤泰國碎米叫價約一元,飢民買不起,只好加入搶糧的行列……。

  糧食價格漲升的理由,最近整理舊稿,原來在去年初筆者已多次有系統提及,當然,當時是從投機角度看問題,現在是「人命攸關」,筆者以為投機者理宜退出,如果繼續炒賣,世界饑饉情況將更嚴重,因此而盤滿缽滿者亦不會開心吧!

  導致糧價升完可以再升的原因,可以概括地歸納為下述四大項──  一、發達國家人口出生率雖然全面下降,但世界總人口仍以驚人速度增長(外電提及非洲和拉美飢民家庭的成員動輒七、八人),而可耕地面積則不斷萎縮,這主要是城市化的必然結果。

  二、經濟長期增長令數以億計人民改善飲食,他們吃得飽之餘,還消耗了較前多的肉類,更多的土地由於被用為飼養家禽,而更多的家禽需要更多的飼料,進而扯高了糧價。

  三、以美國為首的部分石油進口國家致力發展生化能源,農場主人在可獲政府補貼的誘因下,大規模改種所謂「能源作物」(energy crops)如玉米,其價格固然因為大量賣給提煉乙醇的工廠令供食用玉米無法滿足市場需求而自然漲升;更重要的是,耕地改種玉米,等於其他作物產量下降,農作物價格遂全面揚升。

  四、世界糧食大部分由大約四億五千萬戶小農供應,無法從規模經濟效益中得益,而肥田料受油價上升影響大幅提升,令小本經營且較大農場更難獲得銀行融資的小農無法負擔,小農場的生產力因此節節倒退。約略而言,規模較大的農場(歐洲及北美)每公頃產糧八至十噸,非洲和部分亞洲小農的同面積耕地只產二噸糧;和流感疫苗一樣,新培植的種子因蟲害不斷變種而令產量下降─一九六六年試驗成功的IR8種子每公頃年產十噸大米,現在有七噸已算豐收。IR8是所謂「神奇種子」,當年引起「綠色革命」,專家均預測從此不再有糧荒,但發起「綠色革命」的菲律賓現在要從泰國進口大米,本地米商囤積居奇可能被判死刑─這是前所未聞的重罰,反映了該國糧荒情況的嚴峻。

  上述四項理由,加上石油有價運輸成本相應增加,令糧價全面報升。至於傳媒最常用導致糧荒的理由天災人禍(如非洲若干國家連年內戰令田園荒蕪)則站不住腳,因為近年豐收的國家似乎不少,中國、印度、南非和泰國是現成例子,其中印度值得特別一提,她以世界百分之三耕地及百分之五水源,不僅養活了世界百分之十七人口,還有餘糧出口;中國亦貯存了足夠的糧食(在「專門利人毫不利己」年代肯定會對非洲國家送糧),泰國近期則每月出口大米一百萬噸……。

二、

  經濟學家振振有詞,認為高價不足畏,因為這會促致更多投資繼而提高產量,價格自然回順。油價開始攀升時他們這樣說,如今糧價飛漲他們亦相信會誘使更多耕地轉種糧食……。這種理論言之成理,可是,以作物生產而言,卻無法救燃眉之急,《經人》引述一項統計,顯示糧價升百分之十,來年產量增百分之一,意味高價令供應大增的可能性,在農業上不一定行得通。換句話說,現在是大家正視低糧價時代已一去不復返(除非經濟結構有變),如何面對高糧價才是「當務之急」,對此筆者有二點看法。

  甲、世界二百首富一共擁有的財富比四成世界人口還多,貧富不均情況嚴重,值此近十億人吃不飽的年代,富裕者是否應該考慮多做「善事」。做「善事」不是富人的義務,然而,他們有濟貧的「權利」。

  乙、四月十七日倫敦《新政治家週刊》的短文〈瘋狂炒賣令糧價飛升〉,指出糧食雖然有上升壓力,但形成「危機」主要是次按危機令衍生工具投機市場式微,投機者把以千億計資金轉投農作物期貨市場促成。不少投機者因此發大財,但因此有億計人民因負擔不起糧價而成餓鬼!四月二十三日德國《明鏡週刊》在報導該國一個農作物投資俱樂部的資產從一萬五千歐羅變成一千五百萬歐羅時以「致命的貪婪」(Deadly Greed)為欄目,是對投機農作物「缺德」的指控。

  寫了三十多年政經評論,筆者對過去理直氣壯地維護資本主義制度頗生悔意,因為看到了太多不公平手段和欺詐性活動,而一些本以為放諸四海而皆准的理論則經不起現實考驗(比如價高必然使產量增加促致價格回順)……。筆者真的希望中國不要徹底走資,社會主義的確能夠維繫社會公平,中國若能定出一套在「向錢看」與社會公平間平衡發展的政策,中國的崛起才對提高人類福祉有積極意義!

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