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细节的力量:翻墙软件及时更新大全

2011年9月9日星期五

全球债务危机大解析

2010年发展中国家里哪国债务最高?除了美日,哪个发达国家债务最多?欧元区主权债务占GDP百分比多少?“笨猪五国”的公共债务、预算赤字和失业现在到了什么程度?哪位美国总统在任期间累积的债务最多?以下多图展现全球主权债务详情。
先请看世界各国政府债务,单位:10亿欧元,数据来源:欧盟委员会、国际货币基金组织(IMF)
需要提醒注意的是,下图所示国家债务合计315200亿欧元,而同期全球GDP总值470810亿欧元,债务与GDP之比为66.95%。

以下是希腊、葡萄牙、爱尔兰、西班牙、意大利这“笨猪五国”与德法两国十年期国债利率11年来走势对比:

以下为欧元救助基金EFSF的规模与债务危机国家所需资金的对比,需提醒注意的是,到2013年底,“笨猪五国”到期国债总额7950亿欧元,除了申请援助的葡萄牙、爱尔兰和希腊,如果加上西班牙在内,EFSF还有能力支援,但要是增加了意大利,EFSF就无法负担了。

下图为欧洲债务危机国家的救助方案,单位:10亿欧元 需要指出,从2013年开始,欧洲稳定机制(ESM)将担负起救助基金的职责。2013年以前,EFSF虽然按计划应承担4400亿欧元,但实际上只有2500亿欧元可用。


下表为2011年欧元区国家国债占GDP百分比一览。请注意:马斯特里赫条约规定的百分比为60%,而欧元区平均百分比已达到了87.7%

欧元区三大问题:公共债务、预算赤字、失业,以下可见“笨猪五国”的公共债务占GDP百分比、预算赤字占GDP百分比、失业率:

分别看下“笨猪”国家,2011年8月3日预计数据显示的今后十年西班牙到期国债额,单位:10亿欧元:

接着是今后十年意大利到期国债额,单位:10亿欧元:

今后十年希腊到期国债额,单位:10亿欧元:

今后十年爱尔兰到期国债额,单位:10亿欧元:

今后十年葡萄牙到期国债额,单位:10亿欧元:

下面来了解美国债务:
半个世纪里美国国债(联邦政府预算)走势,单位:10亿美元

社保、医保、国防与退伍军人基金这三类联邦政府预算开支对比,单位:10亿美元

2011年美国联邦政府预算中的收入与开支构成

按债权方划分的美国债务百分比


美国国外债权方划分的美国债务百分比

美国总统在任期间累积债务百分比:

中国基本面:外汇储备、通胀、利率



墙外楼:谁是下一个雷曼

2008年9月,雷曼的倒闭将次贷危机彻底引爆.现在三年过去了.雷曼的阴影并 未真正散去.如今的欧债危机与雷曼相比.将是规模超过10倍的超级炸弹.

雷曼的倒闭,直接遭受损失的是大量欧洲资本.美联储用扩张资产负债表的手段暂时屏蔽了房屋抵押债券市场大量的流动性黑洞.成功保护 了美国的金融机构和银行,并最大限度降低危机带来的冲击.美联储的QE1和QE2,压低短期债券利率.制造了大量美元套利资本.给市 场提供了充足的流动性,加上全球央行配合美联储采取的财政和货币刺激政策.这也是前两年大宗商品和股市上涨的基本面.

但最近两年经济的表面繁荣并没有消除次贷危机前留下的隐患.欧洲的债务问题逐渐放大.中国的经济结构配置更加恶化.日本的国债问题 也在膨胀中.次贷危机的发源地,美国,同样也面临着沉重的债务负担和最近大量到期的次级债券的冲击.对于金融市场的庄家美国来说,如 果不选择印钱来添补资金的窟窿,那剩下一条路就是大量回收市场的流动性.这对于目前风雨飘摇的欧债市场和疲软的全球经济来说,将是最 后一根稻草.

从美国的金融战略来说,维护美元霸权也就是维护这个帝国的全球霸权地位,不管是印钱还是收钱,其目的都是为了打击对手,强大自身. 从具体战术手段来说,欧洲将是最好的金融围猎场和突破点.其关键在于,欧元体系是美元体系的主要竞争对手.欧元不仅寄托了全世界非美 势力的期望.也是世界上唯一能和美国抗衡的主要经济体,这也是中国,伊朗,日本等国在欧债问题尚未明朗的情况下.愿意出手相助的主要 原因.另外欧洲金融市场的开放程度和流动性是最高的.其财政政策不一致和经济不平衡等内在矛盾突出.相对于直接攻击中国,日本等方 式.通过攻击欧元区弱小国家.从而打压德国法国,顺带收割中国,日本等经济体.这是四两拨千斤的手段.

从今年6月底美联储的QE2结束到9月底的美国国债转换版本出台(这个和前面的QE的作用是逆向的),美国主要是在利用这段时间做 自身调整和前期铺垫.从7月份铺天盖地的关于美债违约的事情,到8月初以暂时达成减赤协议并提高债务上限结束,美国应该算是完成了自 身的关键调整步骤.紧接着,标普下调美债评级,动摇了金融市场的根基.将股市直接打入熊市.最终的结果却是,美债并没有受多少影响. 但股市的下跌和标普等评级机构在市场的影响力逐渐凸现,直接导致欧债问题愈演愈烈. 在美国经济数据和财政货币等手段预期的左右下,市场短期流动性资本在债券市场,黄金,股市和大宗商品之间来回折腾.但总体的经济趋势是在迅速往下走.我们 看到伯南克的QE3预期也仅仅让股市回暖几天.奥巴马的财政刺激的影响力更是昙花一现.从各项数据来看,全球经济可以说被推到了悬崖 边上.缺少的就是类似于雷曼的黑天鹅事件,来正式引爆经济二次探底.

欧洲国家的主权债券问题就是属于设置好的陷阱,希腊这两天的1年期国债收益率已经上升到了97%这个不可思议的位置.欧债国家之所 以能喘息到现在.主要是因为市场上并没有出现一个强力的资金吸收池.美国的短期国债和长期国债收益率均处于历史低位.黄金处于历史高 位.大宗和股市处于下跌的中途.美国人的非农数据已经给本月的市场定好了基调.那就是继续向下.而奥巴马的基建刺激计划也是远水解不 了近渴.剩下就是万众瞩目的QE3预期.大家预期的是带来真正给力的刺激.很不幸的是,美联储的计划是用抛出短期国债.来置换长期国 债.短期国债收益率的升高,将对欧洲市场的美元短期套利资本起到釜底抽薪的作用.那么这些大量借贷给欧债国家的银行和金融机构必将面 临前所未有的流动性压力.从这个逻辑上来看,这个版本的并不是QE3,反而是造成非美的流动性紧缩,意义在于直接引爆欧债危机.而欧 债的崩盘必然会导致另外一个雷曼的倒下.金融市场的崩盘链式反应也将快速传导到实体经济.这一次的"雷曼"事件.将远超过美国版本 的.

跟上次雷曼崩盘所类似.这次受伤最重的并不是漩涡中心的欧洲.毕竟他们还有大量的黄金储备(最终迫不得已的抛售可能导致黄金的崩 盘)和实际经济基础.相反.介入欧债相当深的中国,在面临美元套利资本的回流和世界性的经济萧条.会遭遇前所未有的巨大损失.而中国 目前作为本次全球经济刺激的火车头.一旦陷入困境.那这个二次探底不同于上次.这次大家都会以自保为主,不会再像上次那样共同挽救. 所以这个底暂时不看到终点.但有一定是可以肯定的.受大量回流资本的滋润,美国市场的复苏将是下一轮经济繁荣的起点

秋风:中国自由主义二十年的颓势

秋风:中国自由主义二十年的颓势

  在1990年代以来中国大陆 (以下简称 "中国") 活跃的诸家思想流派中,自由主义当属支持者最多、传播范围最广、影响也最大的一支。但就在这大约二十年间,中国自由主义经� 了某些相当重大的变化;并且,至少在思想层面上,目前似已呈现出明显的颓势。


  这一变化究竟是如何发生的?本文就此提出一个私人观察性质的解释。"私人观察"的意思是,这不是一篇学术论文,不准备引 述文献。本文将主要根据个人过去十几年来的亲身经�与直接观察,对自由主义在中国演变的趋势进行一些粗疏的评述。


  还需要说明三点。其一,笔者不准备对 "自由主义" 下一个严格的定义,划定明确的范围。这是一件高度复杂的理论工作,本文无力也不准备承担。笔者只是把当事人自以为、旁观者也以为的自由主义者,当成自由主 义者对待。其二,为论述需要,本文提及了多位师友。笔者尽可能保持客观、审慎,但仍难免有冒犯之处,敬请谅解。其三,笔者本 人已从作为一种现代意识形态的 自由主义立场,后退到仅关注于宪制变革的较为古典的宪政主义立场,因而在论述过程中,于不经意间,对自由主义也许会有某种偏 见。这一点,亦请读者鉴别、谅 解。


  一 中国当代自由主义的谱系


  本文关注的历史时期始于1990年代初期。尽管至今只有短短二十年,但中国的政经格局已然发生了巨大变化。这一时期大体 可以2003年或者江泽民、胡锦涛权力更迭作为分界点,划分为前、后两个时期。在这两个时期,中国自由主义呈现出两种不同的 形态。


  1980年代是否存在自觉的中国自由主义思想与观念,无法遽下结论。大体上,受到意识形态惯性的影响和知识资源匮乏的约 束,彼时知识界缺乏自由主义的 理论自觉,思想讨论所使用的话语,似乎更多是文化的和哲学的。因此,1980年代的思想主题是反思与启蒙,萨特(Jean- Paul Sartre)、弗洛伊德 (Sigmund Freud)、韦伯 (Max Weber)就是最为重要的思想资源。思想界最为醒目的主张是激进反传统主义,电视纪录片《河殇》 的出现是这场思想运动的巅峰。


  1989年的天安门事件,让这一波带有自由主义色彩的启蒙运动戛然而止。此后是一段思想的寒冬期。由于经济政策与意识形 态高度相关,因而,此后两年, 经济政策也受到波及,全面收紧。全面收紧的结果是经济陷入困境。为摆脱困境,挽救统治权,邓小平决定南巡。邓从1980年代 的经验中清楚地知道,要摆脱经 济困境,就得开放:既要对外开放,引进境外投资、技术、管理;也要对内开放,允许私人企业成长。为此,邓必须部分地打破本来 已经松动、但在1989年后再 度强化的意识形态牢笼。邓提出了 "不争论" 的原则,其含义就是不争论新政策 "姓社姓资",实际上就是默许那些"资"的成长。


  邓小平的这一策略性政治行动,不经意间,为自由主义改变自己在中国的命运创造了条件。因为,对私人企业开放就意味着承认 私人产权、经营自由、企业间竞 争,总之,这意味着承认市场制度。邓南巡之后, "市场化" 迅速地成为媒体与学术界的主流话语,当局也开始大规模地向市场制度转型。


  藉由这样的机会,经济学异军突起;而且,进入学术与观念场域的经济学,主要是当时在西方也正走红的自由市场经济学派,比 如弗里德曼 (Milton Friedman) 为代表的货币主义,科斯 (Ronald H. Coase)、诺斯 (Douglass C.North)、张五常所代表的新制度经济学,以及思想更为开阔的哈耶克 (Friedrich A. von Hayek)。尤其是后者和他的导师米塞斯 (Ludwig von Mises)对计划经济"不可能性"的论断,清除了市场化的知识障碍。


  这构成了当代自由主义的一个重要分支:市场自由主义或者经济自由主义。借助于市场化的 "政治正确性",这种自由主义观念在公共媒体上迅速扩张地盘。经济学家基于自由市场理念,对于当时最为重要的公共议题发表看法,这些看起来非常新鲜的意 见,总是能够引起广泛关注。受到这种观念影响,直到今天,仍然有很多人惯于从财产权的角度理解权利,从经济自由和自由竞争的 角度理解自由。


  1990年代另外一股自由主义潮流则穿着怀旧的外衣登场,此即对民国知识人的怀旧。在那个原创性思想遭受压制的时代,重 新发现�史,尤其是现代�史, 成为人们摆脱意识形态控制的常见策略。这些被重新发现的知识人包括钱钟书、林语堂、周作人等,他们让人们重新界定了现代中国 文学史。接下来,出版界、思想 界重新发现了陈寅恪。陈寅恪在学术专制的环境中坚守学术尊严的精神,感动了无数读者,其名言 "独立之精神,自由之思想" ,成为在严酷言论环境中具有良知和自由精神的知识人用于自我激励和互相激励的座右铭。


  经过这样的热场,大约于1990年代中期,民国自由主义传统正面进入了人们的视野,其主角首先是活跃于1920至30年 代的胡适,接下来是他的朋友们。


  上海学者章清在一本专着中将他们合称为 "胡适派学人群" 。由他们往下,人们又发现了1940年代活跃在西南联大的具有自由色彩的教授们、创办 《观察》 杂志的储安平,以及 《观察》 杂志的若干作者。这两类知识份子都被冠以 "自由主义者"之名。北京大学的自由主义传统,也被隆重地发掘出来。


  怀旧的力量是巨大的。自由主义进入�史考察的视野,反过来也改变了人们对�史的认知,催生了一种 "自由主义�史观"。不少中青年学者从自由主义的视角看待现代中国�史演变的过程,现代中国的文学史、思想史、社会史乃至政治史,都程度不等地被系统重写 了。这样的�史?事迅速被人们接受,而似乎成为一种常识。相反,官方的革命史观黯然褪色,在公共舆论空间中消声匿迹了。


  这一传统似乎给1980年代的启蒙主义以更多的�史和学理论证,藉由这一自由主义传统在公共舆论空间的广泛传播, "反传统" 常识也日益扩展。启蒙的自由主义也就构成当代中国自由主义的一个重要分支,这方面的代表人物是袁伟时、雷颐等人。


  同样是借助这样的怀旧,也借助于经济自由主义的东风,1990年代中期,自由主义的另外一个分支――政治自由主义,也得 以登堂入室。这个分支的代表人 物有刘军宁、朱学勤、秦晖、徐友渔等。虽然笔者称他们为 "政治自由主义者" ,但他们的议题与经济自由主义密切相关。他们特别强调财产权的重要性,个人自由的首要保障是财产权。由此也不难理解,为甚么这种自由主义以与 "新左派"辩论的方式进入了公共场域。对于当时的市场化过程, "八九" 之后出国留学、接受西方学院派学术训练的"新左派" ,持质疑和反对态度。对此,经济自由主义者通常不予理睬,他们专注于经济政策设计,根本不关注学院中的思想论争。政治自由主义者则出面与之论战。因而,政 治自由主义虽然藉着启蒙自由主义塑造的公众情感而获得登场的机会,但从一诞生起,它就与经济自由主义互为表1。可能正是这一 点让政治自由主义在1990年 代中期后七八年间,不仅被官方容忍,甚至享有相当强势的地位。


  上述三种自由主义不只是呈现为学理,也是具有广泛影响力的公共观念。


  另外一种自由主义――西方当代自由主义――则基本上局限于学院学术圈内。1990年代中期,西方当代自由主义思想也借助 中西学术交流渠道,进入中国学 界。不少学者、学生到美国接受学术训练,他们对当代西方的学术、思想活动较为了解,并接受了罗尔斯 (John Rawls)、德沃金 (Ronald Dworkin)、哈贝马斯(Jürgen Habermas) 等人的思想。由此,他们所讨论的诸多议题基本上是美国人和欧洲人所设定的议题,比如少数族群权利、同性恋婚姻权利等。在这一点上,他们与学院新左派相接 近。这样的讨论与中国人所关心的公共问题基本不相干,也因此,他们似乎主要局限于学院中,在大众中缺乏影响,很难说具有多大 观念的力量。


  这样,2000年前后,中国的自由主义具有了丰富的面相,即同时存在着三种具有较大影响力的自由主义派别:启蒙的自由主 义、政治自由主义、经济自由主 义。这其中,第一种继承自新文化运动,后两种则超出了胡适自由主义传统的范畴。也正是这一点,让这一轮自由主义与新文化运 动、也与1940年代 《观察》 的自由主义之间,形成重大区别。


  具体地说,这轮自由主义带有古典自由主义的明显特徵。很多自由主义者也正是基于这一观念,在经济思想领域反对凯恩斯主义 (Keynesianism) ,在政治思想领域反对新左派,在中国特定的语境中,则反对极权主义。


  更为重要的是,在现代中国思想史与观念史的脉络中,有些学者基于中国的文革经验,深入反思法国―俄国的激进革命传统,清 理其在中国思想和政治领域的遗 产。这方面最为引人注目的人物是王元化和朱学勤。他们明确地提出,中国应当告别法国传统,转向英美传统。也正是在古典自由主 义的背景下,刘军宁的思想带有 强烈的美国式保守主义特徵;具体地说,带有自由至上主义(libertarianism)的倾向。


  上述两种倾向都对启蒙的自由主义构成了质疑。也就是说,从1990年代中期开始,自由主义内部就已经出现了分歧与张力。 只是,在自由高度匮乏的时候,每个分支似乎都有充分的拓展空间,因而,这种分歧并没有公开化。自由主义还呈现为一个相当连贯 的整体。


  二 自由主义与体制


  在过去二十年中,自由主义对于中国的体制,总体上是持一种批评态度的。这也就为自由主义与体制之间的关系确定了基调。但 是,两者的关系倒也并非一成不变;在江泽民主政时代,自由主义与体制的关系还是比较暧昧的。


  形成这种关系的根本原因在于,当局自身就表现出明显的自由化倾向。邓小平南巡之后,市场化成为官方的执政纲领。由此,当 局逐渐接受了市场经济的基本原 理,策动了一系列改革,尽管毛主义的基本制度和政策框架并无根本变化。这样,经济自由主义也就大模大样地进入官方的意识形态 话语体系。


  与此同时,各级官员,尤其是中间层级的官员,在1980年代接受过高等教育,为了适应经济增长导向的政绩考核体系,随后 也接受了一定的经济学训练。由 此,他们接受了经济自由主义的价值和思考范式。因此,体制内存在着一股强烈的经济自由主义倾向,在某种程度上已经发展成为 "增长主义"意识形态――对此意识形态的形成,自由主义经济学作出了一定贡献。


  市场化必然伴随着法治化,几乎所有经济自由主义者都主张:市场经济是法治经济;吴敬琏对此谈论最多。这一点,与共产党内 部分老干部对文革深恶痛绝的情 感相结合,推动了法治观念在中国的制度化。从1990年代中期开始,"法治" ――不再是"法制" ――也进入官方主流话语体系。1999年,当局提出 "依法治国" 理念;2004年,当局更进一步,提出建设 "法治政府" 的政治目标。当年也完成 《中华人民共和国宪法》 修订,国家保障公民权利的原则正式写入《宪法》 。


  由此, "自由" 、"公民权利" 等概念,成为官员们的公共语言。或许可以说,在江时代,体制呈现出明显的自由化演进趋势,诸多重要法律修订与政策制订的基本倾向是自由主义的。从某种程度 上说,体制向自由主义屈服。由此,市场与法治的诸多制度因素进入原来的毛式体制。到江、胡权力交接的时候,呈现出显着的"混 合体制" 特徵。


  这样的混合体制与欧洲的混合制度当然大不相同。事实上正好相反:体制的基本框架依然是毛式的,但它已经退隐到阴暗的较深 层次。台面上的诸多具体制度和 政策,则在一定程度上合乎市场和法治原则 (起码是根据这样的原则制订的) 。正是这些新的制度,让中国人的创造性精神得以释放出来,形成了人们后来惊�不已的 "中国奇迹"。


  在这样的大背景下,统治体制与外部的自由主义的关系,虽然算不上亲密,但也不算敌对关系。掌权者可能未必十分情愿,但在 经济改革之大 "势" 推动下,不得不学习、接受经济自由主义的基本话语。有些经济自由主义者还可以深度介入体制内的某些重大决策过程。


  也正是在这样的大背景下,在体制内外边缘地带,形成了以李慎之、谢韬等人为代表的一个相当特殊的自由主义流派。其骨干多 为中共资深党员,曾在中高级岗 位任职,在1980年代相当活跃,退休后转而关注思想问题。他们的基本主张是民主,希望回到欧洲社会主义。这一点与自由主义 有所不同,但他们明确地支持市 场化和法治化改革,并且通过对中共�史真相的发掘,致力于摧毁极权主义的偶像。因而,他们属于广义的自由主义者范畴。


  在体制内外关系暧昧的环境下,自由主义观念大举进入公共传播界,从而对社会变革发挥了重要作用。自由主义于1990年代 兴起之后,影响力迅速地及于公 众,除了一般图书出版之外,最为重要的通道当属大众媒体。欧洲意义上的自由主义,也即具有强烈经济学知识背景的古典自由主义 观念,在很大程度上支配着中国 新兴媒体,这一点是1990年代后期以来传媒界最值得注意的现象,也是讨论作为一种观念的 "自由主义" 时,不能不注意的重要现象。


  应予注意的是两类新兴媒体,第一类是"新锐传统媒体" ,其代表是"南方报系" ,以及模仿它的若干地方都市报; 《财经》 杂志等财经和新闻时政类周刊也属于这一范畴。原来的报刊是意识形态化的,新锐传统媒体至少取得了两项突破:首先,其报导秉持"新闻专业主义" ,尤其是调查性报导总是触及公众最关注的问题,能够激发读者的阅读兴趣而被广泛传播;其次,新锐传统媒体发展了有别于杂文和 官方评论的 "时评" 文体,在问题丛生、各个领域都在变革的年代,这类由接受过社会科学训练的人所执笔的时评,对于所有这些问题,都进行严肃而不乏激情的讨论。


  第二类新兴媒体是网络媒体。在中国,最为活跃的网络是门户网站,而门户网站最重要的内容是时事新闻和评论。这是由中国对 传统新闻的严厉控制所造成的特殊网络现象。到今天,很多人已经习惯于依靠网络获得新闻、发表意见。


  这两类媒体相互支持。网络媒体主要依�新锐传统媒体提供的内容;新锐传统媒体也借助网络平台,它们虽是地方性的媒体,却 具有广泛的全国性影响。到本世 纪初,这两类媒体已经共同成长为塑造中国舆论的主流媒体。官办媒体则在这两者冲击下,陷入永劫不�的衰败境地,连生存都无法 维持。


  至关重要的是,从业于这两类媒体的编辑、记者,大多数信奉自由主义理念,只不过程度有所不同、自觉意识有高有低而已。由 此可以看出,在一段时间内,自 由主义在学院中具有广泛的影响力,尤其是那些关心公共事务的学生,几乎都会接受自由主义。而具有这种偏好的大学生,毕业之后 大多进入媒体工作,包括残存的 官方媒体。一个非常有趣的事实是,即便是 《人民日报》 、新华社的编辑和记者,大多数也相信市场、法治、民主原则。


  因此,从1990年代中期以来,大众媒体在公众舆论领域中塑造了强势的自由主义气氛。尽管官方的态度在不断摇摆,但舆论 在过去十五年间大体上坚持自由 主义,包括保障个人自由和权利、限制政府权力、推动市场化和法治,这些都是媒体的新闻与评论最为关心的话题。通过这种舆论, 自由主义在一定程度上影响了法 律与政策的决策过程。应该说,这是自由主义兴盛的重要标志之一,也是自由主义在中国最为成功的地方。我们下面将会讨论,自由 主义在其他方向上的努力普遍遭 遇挫折。


  但自由主义在大众媒体中的影响力,迄今为止,还没有衰落的明显迹象。不过,自由主义在思想界的兴盛并没有维持多长时间, 危机很快就到来了。令人深思的 是,自由主义的挫折是从经济自由主义的边缘化开始的,而1990年代以来自由主义的兴起,在很大程度上就是搭经济自由主义的 便车,所谓 "成也萧何、败也萧何" 是也。


  应当承认,经济自由主义者所关注的问题,绝不只是经济自由;相反,他们追求完整的自由,他们�往法治、民主。但他们相 信,在中国现行的体制内直接追求 政治自由,不大可能取得成功,所要冒的风险也太大;而经济自由则具有足够的合法性,由此入手,实现完整的自由的可能性也比较 大。哈耶克、弗里德曼等人对统 制经济与专制之间关系的分析让经济自由主义者相信,透过增进经济自由,就可以推进政治自由。因为,那些西方理论家证明,现代 专制政权与统制经济之间存在着 直接关系,那么,瓦解了统制经济,也就拆除了专制统治的基础。弗里德曼在 《资本主义与自由》 (Capitalism and Freedom)一书前言中的论述则为他们提供了一个正面的理据:随着经济自由扩展,到了某个临界点上,政治自由就必然到来,不管以何种方式。简而言之, 经济自由主义者相信,可以通过市场化"哄"出一个包括法治与民主在内的宪政制度。


  但是,经济自由主义者的期望在相当程度上落空了。不错,在1990年代中后期,国有部门确实在缩小,私人经济部门也确实 有所发展。但是,最为悖谬的是,国有部门缩小的过程,引发了一个严重的社会政治问题,导致了经济自由主义的边缘化。


  国有企业产权改革过程中,存在大量内部人私有化、权贵私有化现象。而对此,经济自由主义要承担一定责任,至少是理论上的 责任。基于上面简单勾勒的信 念,他们急于消解国有部门,就像着名的"冰棍理论" 所暗示的,尽快私有化,不管�取何种方式;而最快捷的私有化当然是权贵私有化。经济自由主义从经济系统整体效率改进的角度,对此予以默许,甚至给予一定的 支持,因为这起码实现了私有化。


  很快,经济自由主义就要为自己理论上的短视与政治上的幼稚,付出沉重代价。权贵私有化本身就是腐败,它激起了舆论和民众 的不满。这一过程也扩大了贫富差距。尤其严重的是,这一过程总是伴随着普通工人在没有得到充分补偿的情况下大规模下岗,从而 制造了新的城市贫民群体。


  凡此种种现象引发了2003至2004年的国有企业产权改革大讨论。当然,这只是一个导火索。事实上,1990年代初期 以来形成的混合体制,固然释放 了企业家的创造性,同时也给权力变现为资本提供了最佳机会。因此,这个时代中国经济固然快速增长,市场制度也在缓慢生长,但 权钱交易同样也在四处蔓延,甚 至速度更快。在这样的制度背景下,群体间的贫富差距迅速扩大。民众深感失落、失望。他们无力辨析问题出在混合体制的哪个部 分,于是�取了最简单的办法:你 们叫得最响的东西,一定只对你们有利,而对我们不利。那我们就反对它。最后带来的结果是,民众反对"市场" 。


  这就是2003年以后民众的普遍情绪:民众要求 "市场" 对他们的下岗、地位的相对下降和无所不在的官员腐败等现象,承担全部责任。当局立刻发现,这是推卸责任的良好机会。因此,当局迅速地实现了执政纲领的转 型,于是有了胡温执政以后 "和谐社会" 纲领的提出。


  相反,经济自由主义者相当迟钝,仍然按照自由市场经济学的逻辑进行自我辩解。但是,这种复杂的学理性辩解不可能说服公 众。在大众眼中,经济自由主义声誉扫地。从此,他们失去了十年间在公众心目中的荣耀:在公共政策讨论中,他们也日趋边缘化。


  最为有趣的是,中国的经济奇迹本来源于经济自由主义者所主张的私人产权和竞争制度,用1980年代的主流话语说是 "放权让利" 。对于这样的政策,新左派一直持反对态度。但到了2008年以后,藉着中国的经济奇迹, "中国模式"横空出世。新左派却俨然作为中国模式的政策设计者和理论阐释者,活跃于海内外思想与政治界,彷�过去十几年的中国奇迹,就是他们所设计的。与 此形成强烈反差的是,这个时候,经济自由主义者却在悲愤地抗议 "国进民退" 的现象――张维迎教授卸任北京大学光华管理学院院长职位,也许就是这一诡异事态的象徵。

  经济自由主义的边缘化,给整个中国自由主义思潮造成了严重的负面影响。在此之前,因为体制自身在经�自由化转型,经济自 由主义也活跃于决策中心,因 而,当局对整个自由主义还有一定包容性,这似乎可以收到增加执政正当性的效果。2003年以后,既然经济自由主义已经声名狼 藉,它对当局来说也就是一种负 面资产。当局自觉地拉远与经济自由主义的距离,这当然会导致体制内外的关系趋向紧张。


  双方关系吃紧的更重要原因也许是,自由主义所主张的新的制度因素,在混合体制内,已经触及毛式体制的天花板。回溯自由主 义兴起的�史就可以发现,当局 所冀望于自由主义的东西,主要就是经济自由主义,就是希望自由主义提供能够实现经济快速增长的秘方。整个自由主义思想体系 中,只有这个部分与体制的目标是 大体吻合的――并且,也只是发生在为了走出困境的最初短暂时期。至于经济之外的自由主义的其他主张,对于体制而言,总体上是 威胁;包括经济自由主义者提得 最多的法治――在中国语境下,法治意味着党权受到控制、政府权力受到控制,这是体制内的人所不愿意看到的。


  因而,当局在获得了自由主义提供的经济增长秘方之后,立刻背对自由主义,这是合乎其自身的统治逻辑的。大众抛弃经济自由 主义,给当局提供了一个反思和 决策的契机。当局对自由主义学界和公共舆论界积极参与2004年 《宪法修订案》起草、讨论的压制,就清楚地揭示了当局态度转变的轨迹。


  因此,2003年确实是当代中国自由主义�史上的一个转折点――当然,也是当代中国�史的一个重要转折点。此后,体制内 外的关系发生了大逆转,自由主 义与当局从默契的同路人,变成了心照不宣的敌人。经济自由主义被抛弃,政治自由主义遭到压制。凡此种种变局推动中国自由主义 思潮内部也发生了巨大变化。


  三 自由主义的自主实践


  经济自由主义的消退,对整个自由主义思潮产生了较大的冲击。自由主义者被迫从不同方向上,重新寻找可能影响中国变革的渠 道,由此,中国自由主义内部出现了若干新的观念与政治现象。


  首先是"维权运动"的兴起。维权运动大约兴起于2003年,其概念的提出与阐发约在2004年初中期。维权运动兴起的社 会根源,与经济自由主义被边缘 化的根源是相同的。那就是,在混合体制下,权力广泛介入经济过程,民众的权利和利益遭到严重侵害,起而抗争。这类民众包括下 岗工人、农民工、上访民众,以 及城镇房屋被拆迁的居民和乡村土地被徵用的农民等,概括而言,他们属于弱势群体。


  权力与权利在这些方面的冲突,伴随着增长主义成为一种意识形态,经济增长的战线日益扩展,在本世纪初日趋广泛而严重。


  面对这种情势,在法治化过程中成长起来的一些律师,在接受了自由主义理念后,在正义感的驱动下,起而协助这些弱势民众。 他们通常是利用专业知识,介入 司法程序,协助民众维护、主张自己的权益。他们构成了一个维权律师群体。也有一些草根知识份子,尽管不是律师,也成为维权活 动人士,他们活跃在各地的维权 活动中。


  走司法维权之路,当然也与自由主义者关于法治治理的想像有密切关系。中国当代自由主义一个非常重要的共识是反对暴力革 命,希望和平变革。现在,他们看 到了民众的怨恨,期望通过司法途径,通过普通民众维护个人权利的抗争个案,推动法律与制度的渐进变革。当然,走司法之路,并 不一定意味着不使用政治策略。 事实上,维权活动人士通常与同样具有自由主义倾向的媒体保持密切联�,尤其是网络媒体,为他们突破官方新闻封锁、寻找同道, 以及将个案政治化,提供了相当 大的便利。而没有这样的政治化策略,个案抗争不可能取得成功。


  最初,维权运动取得过一定成就,其中的标志性事件是2003年"孙志刚事件" 推动收容遣送制度被废止。这是维权运动的经典案例,被人们津津乐道。不过,公民维权运动中真正取得成功的个案其实很少。


  在现有体制下,这并不奇怪。与经济自由主义不同,从一开始,维权运动就遭遇极大压力。原因在于,在相关个案中,侵害弱势 民众的主体,通常都是基层政 府、地方政府。因而,个案维权总是直接与政府发生对抗。正因为如此,维权代表人物郭飞雄、高智晟先后被捕入狱。积极参与公民 维权的北京公盟谘询有限责任公 司 ("公盟") 遭到冲击,被迫解散。2010年刘晓波获得诺贝尔和平奖后,当局更加强对维权人士的监控。随后爆发的北非 "*****" 让当局异常紧张,控制、拘捕了相当数量的维权人士。或许可以说,这一轮维权运动已被推入谷底。


  对于中国的自由主义来说,这是一次严重的挫折。自由主义向来被视为一种外来价值和观念,而很多自由主义者认为,自由主义 在二十世纪上半叶之所以遭遇挫 折,就是因为自由主义缺乏民众基础。维权运动的倡导者认为,维权运动是自由理念植根于普通民众的一种有效渠道。但现在看来, 草根知识份子转向民间参与民众 维权活动的努力,并没有取得可观的效果。


  与维权运动紧密关联,自由主义也经�了一次宗教化转向,尤其是转向基督教。二十世纪初的自由主义进入中国,是与启蒙主 义、唯科学主义结盟而行的。因 此,新文化运动期间,最为响亮的口号是"科学",启蒙者号召人们走出迷信。胡适等人公开反对宗教,提出用科学替代宗教的设 想。受此风气影响,在1920年 代,不少自由主义知识份子曾经深入参与、推动带有强烈民族主义色彩的"非基督教运动" 。这场运动把启蒙主义反宗教的倾向与反帝的政治意识�绑在一起,从而为未来中国在国家精神上走向彻底的无神论,打开了通路。


  但是,与激烈地反儒家的坚定态度不同,自由主义者对基督教的态度,始终不是那么绝对。最有意思的是,从2003年开始, 大量具有自由主义自我期待的人 士皈依基督教――当然是非官方的家庭教会。这种皈依固然基于个体对生命意义之追寻,但也有很多人是理性的皈依者。他们看到, 现代自由宪政制度形成于欧美, 而欧美的主流宗教信仰是基督教,尤其是新教。基于这样的�史考察,他们从知识上相信,现代自由宪政制度与基督教之间一定存在 着直接关系。据此,他们得出一 个关于转型的政策结论:中国要成为一个宪政国家,必须经�一个基督教化过程。已故经济学家杨小凯曾经公开提出过这样的理论, 他是知识份子皈依基督教的典 范。


  还有一些自称自由主义者的人士,尽管没有信仰基督教,但是基于对西方制度的羡慕,相比于儒家,他们对基督教有更多肯定。 在一般的知识性论辩过程中,他 们自觉不自觉地把基督教当成宗教的最高形态。他们也相信,如果一定要选择宗教,那基督教就是最好的。如果宪政一定需要宗教基 础,那就只能是基督教。从某种 意义上,他们都是基督教的候补皈依者。


  应该说,自由主义与基督教之间发生关联,极大地增强了自由主义的力量,尤其是在公民维权运动中。事实上,家庭教会的维权 活动是维权运动中最为重要的领域之一,因为政府经常打压家庭教会。借助于宗教信念的激励和教会的有效组织,这方面的维权活动 的成功率似乎也比较高。


  不过,基督教进入自由主义场域,也在自由主义内部引发了紧张。这其中最具有标志性的事件是,2006年5月,李柏光、王 怡、余杰等三位基督徒不允许非 基督徒郭飞雄到白宫会见布什 (George W. Bush) 。此事在自由主义圈子内外引起巨大震动。宗教在给自由主义带来力量的同时,似乎也让自由主义陷入某种程度的分裂。


  应当说,维权运动与自由主义宗教化是自由主义从理论走向自主的实践的两个至关重要的尝试。这1说到 "自主的实践",旨在区别于经济自由主义者作为学者的实践。经济自由主义也参与了实践,推动了经济领域若干制度的变革。不过,大体上他们仍然是作为学者活 动的,他们为民众突破计划体制的制度创新提供了学理论证,为政府制订政策提供了备选方案。他们的身份主要是幕僚。维权人士则 直接作为司法或者政治活动的当 事人,参与到民众维权过程中。


  除了这两种实践外,自由主义还有另外一种实践,那就是通过公众舆论,影响法律与公共政策决策,以及影响个案。后者相当重 要,因为,维权运动虽然走司法 程序,但在司法缺乏独立性的制度背景下,真正能够影响司法的力量还是政治,而自由主义可以影响政治的唯一途径是舆论。因此, 所有取得成功的维权活动都离不 开媒体的深度参与。恐怕也正因为两者之间关系如此密切,自2003年以来,当政府在打压维权活动的时候,总是会打压媒体。


  四 走出困境的可能性


  经济自由主义没有"哄"出宪政,政治自由主义遭到压制,相对草根的自由主义维权运动受到镇压。应该说,从2003年起, 中国的自由主义经�了一个又一个挫折。


  在这种情形下,自由主义学术似乎也在解体。自由主义在学院中曾经具有较大影响力,尤其是在经济学、法学、政治学等与市场 及其支持性制度相关的学科内。 但同样是从2003年起,这种影响力似乎在急剧衰减。相反,人们普遍相信,市场要对中国目前存在的问题承担责任,学院新左派 的影响力随之迅速扩大。当然, 另外一个因素也有利于新左派的扩张:愈来愈多的海归学者进入大学,这些学者的新左派倾向一般比较强烈,有一些人甚至成为 "毛左派" 。


  当代思想界还有另外一个引人注目的现象:一些曾经的自由主义者经过一次根本性转折,转向了国家主义者,与新老左派相互唱 和。这其中最为重要者是刘小 枫,而甘阳也在一定程度上完成了这样的转向。在他们的影响下,学院中不少青年才俊 (尤其是在政治哲学学科内),争相以晦涩的语言,为中国现行国家体制重构正当性,并唿唤中国支配世界。


  与上述种种思潮的强势相比较,自由主义明显地处于劣势。而这样的教育格局,对于自由主义的前景,将产生致命影响。过去十 几年中,自由主义观念之所以能 够主导公众舆论,就是因为在1990年代中后期,自由主义在学院内拥有较大影响力,从而影响了一批具有公共关怀的青年。那 么,根据学院目前的气氛,或许可 以推测,未来相当数量具有公共关怀的青年将会离开自由主义。自由主义在大众媒体领域的影响,注定将会萎缩。


  总结一下,从2003年以来,自由主义在理论、实践两方面,均陷入困境。这一点在思想史和中国制度演进上究竟具有何种意 义,还有待观察。这样的困境当 然与不利于自由主义的政治环境有关。但是,自由主义的宗旨本来就是改造旧秩序,塑造新制度,因而,将自己的挫折、失败归咎于 不利的制度环境,乃是毫无意义 的。自由主义介入现实而遭遇挫折,本就是再正常不过的事情。观念与新制度之间,横亘着旧制度及附着于这个制度的巨大利益,穿 越这两者的过程,不可能轻而易 举。而如何有效地完成这一穿越,恰恰是自由主义者目前应当思考的根本问题。


  关于这个问题的思考,也许可以从这个事实开始:每一次,当自由主义遭遇挫折、失败,似乎没有甚么反响。这一事实令自由主 义者尴尬。但一百年来,这种情形已经司空见惯。这一事实也许显示了自由主义的一大困境:与中国的疏离。


  现代自由的成熟观念是外来的,是藉着自由主义思想于二十世纪初进入中国的。这已被人们公认为一个事实――但我们下面的讨 论将提示,这一所谓的事实究竟是否成立,显然是需要深入推敲的。即便它就是一个事实,我们依然可以说:事实不等于价值。


  不幸的是,很多自由主义者却刻意地把这个事实当成了价值。这也许是人类观念史最为奇怪的事情:中国的自由主义者似乎一直 在凸显自由观念的外来性质。这 种离奇的倾向,在新文化运动启蒙自由主义及其当代的传承者那1,表现得格外显着。他们的推理过程是这样的:中国传统是专制 的,没有一点自由的影子。自由是 纯粹外来的。中国人要享有自由,就必须放弃自己的全部传统。 《河殇》 最为集中地表达了这样的主题:走出黄色文明,走向蓝色文明。


  这是一种非常奇怪的"特殊主义" 论说方式,它意味着,中国和自由,相互具有特殊性。自由是西方特有的,中国的特徵就是无自由。哪怕从自由的传播学角度来看,这样的论说方式也是令人难以理 解的,这等于把自由置于中国文明之外。于是,对中国人来说,自由纯粹是一种外来之物,而自由主义者彷�就是 "偷火者" ――很多自由主义者就有这样的自我定位。如此一来,自由主义当然也就成为少数人观念中的稀缺物品。按照这样的论说,自由主义者尽管一直在想像一个普遍自由 的世界,但除了孤独、愤懑的自由主义者之外,这个理想世界与现实之间,似乎没有任何宽阔得足以让国民通行的通道。也就是说, 自由主义 (尤其是启蒙自由主义)的思考方式,让自由注定了不能进入中国人的生活。


  就这一点而言,1990年代兴起的经济自由主义,以及其延伸到法学领域中的论说方式,要聪明很多。它断言,追求财产权和 经营自由、追求个人权利,乃是 人的普遍天性,不分中西。也就是说,自由的学说固然是西来的,自由却是内生的,中国人的自由观念也完全可以、并且应当是内生 的。


  这样的论述拉近了自由与民众之间的关系,也因此,经济学、法学自由主义中的 "产权"、"竞争"、"权利" 等诸多词汇,顺利地进入公共话语体系中,甚至变成最底层的拆迁户、访民用以主张自己利益的话语。正是这一点,让维权运动得以展开。而一旦民众使用这些话 语,它们就能在潜移默化中改变使用者的观念和行动模式。


  由此可以看出,在中国语境中关于自由的普遍主义论证方式,更有助于自由的观念融入中国人的生活之中,也有利于自由的话语 进入公共话语体系中,从而在较 为广大的社会中催生一种以观念生成新制度的意向和行动――最起码,自由主义在遭遇挫折的时候可以获得同情,而不被民众当作无 关的事情对待。


  这个普遍主义的自由论说,至少可以有两个维度:首先是哲学的维度,也即,从哲学和伦理学的角度论证,人,包括中国人,天 然地倾向于自由。其次是�史的 维度,也即论证,中国人在漫长的�史中,并没有甘于接受非自由的生存状态。因而,对于中国人来说,自由不仅是一种伦理的自 然,而且就是一个现实,尽管是一 种没有完全实现的现实。由此,自由就在中国人的生命中,中国人不可能拒绝它,也一定可以圆满地实现它。


  这些命题都需要深邃而广泛的理论论说,不幸的是,中国的自由主义在这两个方面都没有甚么作为,而只有一堆常识。这也就是 中国自由主义的另外一个严重缺 陷:理论的匮乏。这一点,实际上是过去一百年来中国自由主义的致命缺陷。也许,康有为、严�、梁启超等先贤还是有理论思考的 意向的,但到胡适那一代的自由 知识份子,完全放弃了在这方面的努力。这与他们对启蒙的迷信有关。他们相信,既然西方已有成熟的自由主义理论,中国人就不必 深思了。中国人现在要做的工 作,只是把西方的常识教导给中国人,尤其是青年人,然后就万事大吉。在他们看来,中国人再去进行理论思考,简直是一种智力的 浪费。因此,他们一直满足于宣 传自由主义的常识。顶奇怪的是,胡适等人是学者,而且是大学者,但他们的学术与自由理论毫无关系,他们是红学家、史学家、逻 辑学家,而没有一个是专门研究 自由社会秩序之性质与实现进路的伦理学家、政治哲学家或政治科学家。


  1990年代初兴起的另外两个谱系的自由主义――经济自由主义和政治自由主义,在这方面略有改观,但也极其有限,大体上 这两种自由主义者也只是常识的 传播者。经济自由主义在重复美国自由市场经济学的常识。政治自由主义是在与新左派的争论中登场。按理说,学院新左派具有很强 烈的理论抱负,这种抱负理应推 动自由主义者进行理论思考。但是,自由主义者似乎并没有这样做,而依然以常识来回应对方。当然,在与新左派争论的过程中,有 人也曾试图从理论上予以回应。 但这种回应却与中国的现实严重脱节。因为,新左派大体上主张一种后现代理论,与之论辩的政治自由主义的思考,也就显得十分怪 异。比如,有些自由主义者按照 新左派设定的议题,竭力论辩社会福利和社会保障制度不好。在当代中国语境中,这是一种奇怪的政策结论。因为,很显然,中国有 大量最为弱势的人口不能享有最 为基本的生活条件。自由主义者的这一论说,只会让他们被大众抛弃。


  这一事实显示,中国自由主义者缺乏理论的自觉,缺乏设定理论议题的能力。在西方,自由主义拥有丰厚的传统,因而,中国自 由主义背负了太多常识,容易错 误地幻想:凭藉这些常识,就可以解决自己在中国所遇到的全部问题。其实,不光中国大陆自由主义者这样对待理论,台湾自由主义 者同样如此。这样,自由主义从 理论上所讨论的大多数议题,是被自己的对手设定的,要么是政治上的对手,要么是观念上的对手。也因此,中国自由主义始终无法 深入到理论的世界中,无法在中 国经验中发展出完整的自由主义理论体系。


  而没有这样的理论体系,自由的常识就是脆弱的。至关重要的是,没有这样的理论体系,自由主义就没有源源不断地生成观念的 能力。这样,在中国社会中,自由的观念也就是时断时续的,缺乏连贯性,终究不能融入文明之肌理中,更无法变成这个文明的灵 魂。


  中国自由主义要摆脱目前的困境,当然要做很多工作,包括重新寻找介入现实的途径。此外,还有另外一项至关重要的工作,那 就是深思熟虑。也即,中国自由主义需要进入哲学、进入理论的世界。


  专制制度也许不需要制度设计,但要获得优良的治理秩序,就必须进行制度设计。市场、法治,更不要说宪政制度,都是多种规 则、程序、制度的异常复杂的组 合,它们的构想、构造,以及运转,需要集中人类一切治理智慧。一个国家,即便它的精英殚精竭虑,也未必能够设计出良好而可运 转的制度。试图依靠常识就完成 这一工作,实在是过于轻浮的想法。


  当然,中国自由主义的理论构建,必须立足于中国现实。事实上,过去三十年间,或者六十年间,或者一百年间,中国发生了巨 大的变化。这个人类最大的文明 体的现代转型经�了诸多挫折、反覆,中国目前仍然在经�转型的痛苦。这一�史与现实乃是理论思考最好的对象。透过这样的思 考,中国学人完全可以在一切人文 与社会科学研究范畴取得重大突破,丰富人类关于人与秩序的认知。


  理论决不是无足轻重的。当代中国新左派、国家主义作为一种观念的兴起及其在精英群体中所发挥的强大影响力,已经证明了这 一点。而中国自由主义理论上的 贫弱,面对迅速变化的现实时设定理论议题能力的匮乏,乃是其在学院、学术界,乃至在观念世界和政治世界中逐渐丧失魅力、甚至 被边缘化的根本原因。


  作为后发国家,在中国,自由首先呈现为知识。中国自由主义在中国语境中进行的理论思考,乃是实现关于自由的外来知识 "本土化" 的唯一途径。普遍的知识唯有本土化,才有可能具有构造制度的能力。理论可以生成观念,观念可以催生行动。在中国语境中对自由进行理论性思考,可以极大地推 动现实的制度朝着有利于自由的方向演进。


  最为重要的是,透过自由主义的理论构造,自由将被置于中国的文明脉络之中,或者更确切地说,通过这样的理论思考,自由将 呈现为从中国文明内生的中国样 态。中国与自由不再互为特殊,而是共生一体的:自由不再是知识,而是事实,伦理的事实或者�史的事实,总而言之,自由就是中 国之 "道" 。这样的知识或许可以在中国知识界或透过大众媒体在大众中,塑造强有力的观念,尤其是塑造一种对于自由的普遍的信念。对于制度变迁来说,再也没有比信念更 重要的因素了。


来源: 《二十一世�》第126期(2011年 8月�) | 来源日期:2011年09月03日 | 责任编辑:左小刀

2011年9月8日星期四

译言网:日本黑社会:“我们必须改进商业模式”

译者 zen禅

"We have to evolve our business model," said Masatoshi Kumagai, one of the bosses of the Inagawa-kai syndicate of the Japanese yakuza, in an interview with reporters of the French magazine L'Expansion.

"我们必须要改变商业模式",在接受法国《拓展》杂志采访时,稻川会熊谷组 组长熊谷正敏说道。

In the media, yakuza are portrayed as getting stronger and richer, but the opposite is actually true, he said.

在媒体报道中,黑帮正发展壮大,事实却恰好相反,他说。

They're on decline, and if they don't change their business model, they might cease to exist.

暴力团正日益衰微,如果他们不改变商业模式,他们可能将不复存在。

Yakuza are an economic force in Japan with over 100,000 members in 22 syndicates, grouped into three families. An ambiguous relationship between them and the government contributed to their prosperity.

日本有三大黑帮组织(山口组,住吉会,稻川会),22个组织团体,成员超过10万。他们以经济组织的面目存在。黑帮的发展得益于他 们与政府的暧昧关系。

After World War II, the government used the yakuza to fight Chinese and Korean gangs rampaging in the country.

第二次世界大战后,中国和韩国黑帮在日本横行霸道,政府借助暴力团打压他们。

In the 60s, with the encouragement of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that ran Japan essentially from 1955 to 2009, yakuza broke up massive strikes.

60年代,在执政党自民党的扶持下,暴力团迅速发展。

As the relationship solidified, their influence spread: Rackets, pachinko, drug trafficking, consumer loans, prostitution—and they got rich.

与政府搞好关系后,他们敲诈勒索,开设赌场,运贩毒品,组织卖淫——然后大发横财。

They showed up at parties of the jet-set and threw around money and had so much power that even the anti-gang law, passed in 1992 to control their influence and visibility, wasn't put into effect until six years later.
他们出席上流聚会,一掷千金,甚至获得了很大的政治影响力,1992年 就颁布的暴力团对策法,直到六年之后才得以生效执行。
The slow and lacking response by the government to the horrible earthquake in Kobe in 1995 didn't help. Yakuza swooped in, even using a helicopter, and provided disaster relief while the authorities were dillydallying around. This was played up in the media and added to their aura of semi-legitimacy.

1995年神户地震,政府救灾行动反应迟缓。暴力团迅速开展救援行动,向灾区提供救灾物资,甚至动用了直升飞机。通过媒体的渲染报 道,作为半合法性的存在,暴力团形象得到了提升。

But when a yakuza assassinated the Mayor of Nagasaki, Iccho Ito, in 2007 outside his campaign office, everything changed. Considered an attack against democracy, the assassination caused the government to declare war on the yakuza. And crackdowns began. Then the financial crisis hit, and the LDP was losing its grip on power. In a desperate effort to prop up its popularity, it cracked down even harder.

可是在2007年,一切都变了。长崎市长伊藤一长在选举办公室外被黑帮分子枪击杀害。这被看做是对民主的攻击,政府正式对暴力团宣 战。肃清活动开始。经济危机随之来袭,自民党惨淡下台。虽然竭力争取,仍旧难挽颓势。

As a consequence, said Masatoshi Kumagai, yakuza are weakened by repression and can no longer run their businesses as they see fit. The protection racket, for example. If caught by police, a shopkeeper can get in trouble for cooperation with a criminal enterprise. Same thing in construction, which used to be dominated by yakuza. Their influence is diminishing, and they have to make themselves more and more invisible. While there remain some big business opportunities, like drug trafficking, they don't make as much money as before. And what you read in the media about their profits, he said, is exaggerated.

随之而来,熊谷正敏说,黑社会在打压下日渐式微,难操旧业。拿收保护费来说,如果被警察抓到,交保护费的店主会因为"与犯罪组织合 作"陷入麻烦。在过去由黑社会说了算的建筑行业也是一样。他们的影响力越来越小,不得不更加低调行事。尽管还有一些大买卖,比如运毒 贩毒,但他们也赚不到以前那么多钱了。你在媒体上看到的利润被夸大了,熊谷正敏说。

Even in finance, they're weakened. For a long time, they flourished with insider trading because they got the information before anyone else. That's no longer the case. As the recent scandals have shown, everybody engages in insider trading, and yakuza have lost their edge. In fact, he says, there is no longer any dividing line between the legal financial world and yakuza.

在商业方面,黑社会也节节败退。因为他们比别人消息灵通,一直以来,他们靠内幕交易大发横财。这样的情况已经不存在了。最近丑闻事 件曝光,看来每个人都想从内幕交易中获利,黑社会优势不再。事实上,他说,黑社会和合法的商业世界之间已经没有分界线了。

According to police estimates, already half of the revenues are derived from legal activities that were acquired or built up with illegal gains, such as construction, finance, and real estate. Many of these legal activities are performed by "associates" who are experts in finance, law, etc., but don't have the signs of true yakuza, such as tattoos.
非法收入被用于建筑,贸易,房地产等合法经营,据警方估计,税收的一半 都来自这些披着合法外衣的经济活动。许多合法经营都交由"合伙人"去完成,他们是经济、法律等行业的专家,没有帮派成员的做派,比如 纹身。
It's time to look for a new business model, he said. Yakuza operate locally, but they need to expand overseas, which is hard because they've never tried to build relationships with other mafia organizations. Focused on Asia, he's making deals in China and South Korea and recently invested in a casino in Macao. It's difficult to do for a Japanese, he said, and he is the only Japanese so far who has been able to do it, thanks to his contacts in these countries.

现在需要寻找新的商业模式,熊谷正敏说道。暴力团一直本地经营,现在他们需要向海外扩张,这非常困难,因为他们从未与国外的黑帮建 立过联系。着眼于亚洲,他正在中国和韩国建立关系,还刚刚投资澳门一家赌场,作为一个日本人,能做到这一点很难,他说,到目前为止, 他是唯一一个成功的,这要多亏他在这些国家的关系。

"And we have to improve our image," he said. The Japanese people and the government are no longer afraid of yakuza and might reject them entirely. It's already difficult to recruit young talent. To join is less attractive for them than it was before, when they were showered with money, girls, and cars. Young people are different today. They no longer observe the rules. When they screw up, they run away (instead of cutting off part of a finger, wrapping it in cloth, and offering it to their boss as sign of contrition). "When we catch them and beat them up to put them back on the right track, they denounce us at the police," he added. "We used to say 'thank you' at the end."

"我们还需要提升自己的形象,"他说。日本民众和政府不再害怕黑社会,可能还非常排斥。组织很难招募到青年成员。加入黑帮对青年人 没什么吸引力,毕竟,挥金如土、美女香车的光景早已不再了。现在的年轻人和过去不同。他们不愿遵守规矩。事情办砸了,他们就脚底抹油 溜之大吉(而不是切指谢罪)。"如果抓住他们痛打一顿,把他们拉回正轨,他们会向警察告发我们,"熊谷正敏又说道。"以前我们被教训 一顿还要说'谢谢'。"

And prison sentences have become longer, he lamented. Instead of 15 years, someone might get 30 years or life. Back in the day, yakuza were promised a higher position in the organization once they came out of prison. Today with the crisis, it's no longer possible to promise that "when we don't even know if we'll still exist."

监狱刑期也变长了,他叹道。过去只要做15年牢,现在可能要判三十年或终生监禁。在以前,组织向服刑的帮派成员许诺他们出狱后会得 到晋升。现在组织已经自身难保了,也就谈不上什么承诺。"谁知道那时候还没有黑社会了。"熊谷正敏说道。


2011年9月7日星期三

Roubini:Chronicles of a Crash Foretold: Visualizing the Sequence of a Chinese Hard Landing

Chronicles of a Crash Foretold: Visualizing the Sequence of a Chinese Hard Landing

RGE Share
  • China's surge in investment from 2008 coincided with a decline in its marginal product of capital and a massive increase in its debt-to-GDP ratio. Its marginal product of capital fell from an average of 1.0 in the first seven years of the decade to 0.75 from 2008 through 2010. After accounting for off-balance sheet and shadow bank lending, we estimate that China's outstanding domestic debt increased from 164% of GDP in 2008 to 207% in 2010.
  • We estimate about RMB9 trillion (US$1.4 trillion) of the RMB43 trillion increase in China's capital stock from 2008 through 2010 was wasted on unproductive investments that will result in bad debts. These bad debts will choke off investment in the coming years, and there is no alternative source of growth that can provide an offset. The situation is coming to a head sooner rather than later, as local governments are on the hook for RMB900 billion (US$140 billion) in interest payments this year alone, and their off-balance sheet revenue streams are under pressure.
  • We sketch three scenarios of how this is likely to play out: A "muddle through" scenario in which the government offers a debt exchange and pushes through financial sector reforms; a "slow grind" scenario in which the government offers a partial bailout for existing debts, but all stakeholders share the burden of adjustment; and a "crash and burn" scenario in which high inflation limits the government's policy response and it cannot prevent or delay a financial crisis.
  • In an appendix, we put the coming bailout in historical context. Nearly all of the problems China is going to face in the coming years are ones that it has dealt with in the past.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

China's growth model has already crossed the event horizon; the only question is how it will be crushed. Over the past decade, 60% of China's growth has come from investment and net exports, as a rapidly expanding physical capital stock has helped to improve its export competitiveness. This was never going to be sustainable in the long run―shifting demographics would have started to reverse the repression of household incomes, which would have bid up the artificially cheap cost of capital making investment more expensive and ensuring that the RMB would drift upward toward fair value―but it was the mania of the 2008-11 investment boom that pushed the Chinese growth model into the abyss.

As Nouriel Roubini recently argued, this investment boom is leading to massive overcapacities that will generate colossal nonperforming loans (NPLs), risking a hard landing sometime after 2013. Here, we quantify the problem, sum up the likely costs and provide three distinct scenarios for the endgame.

GETTING A HANDLE ON THE SITUATION

The Stock Problem

China is now the second-largest economy in the world and, based on our calculations, it is the third-richest country in terms of physical capital, or the accumulated value of fixed assets. We base our estimates on an update of Nehru and Dhareshwar (1993), which calculated the stocks of 92 emerging and developed markets from 1950 through 1990. Using their estimates of each country's initial capital stock in the early 1950s, we employ the perpetual inventory method to estimate capital stocks in 2010. In this calculation, the flow of new investment each year is added to the existing capital stock, which depreciates over time. We hold their assumption that existing capital stocks depreciate at a uniform 4% rate each year across every country, even though this is certainly a small error that compounds over time.

While China ranks near the top of our league table for total capital stock, it comes close to bottom on a per-capita basis. This suggests that it has years of capital accumulation ahead of it, and that China's infrastructure is not over-built in the aggregate. In the long run, this is certainly true. However, in the near term, the infrastructure that China has built is not adding to output fast enough to pay for itself, and, with an investment rate of nearly 50% of GDP, this is no small problem.

Figure 1: China Is a Rich Country, Full of Poor People
China Is a Rich Country, Full of Poor People
Source: Nehru and Dhareshwar (1993), IMF, World Bank, National Statistics, RGE

The Flow Problem

While there are some problems with China's stock of fixed assets, the real problem has to do with its flow of investment. Any country that builds a new highway is going to see a jump in GDP (gross capital formation) and an increase in productivity (more efficient movement of goods and labor). Simultaneously, building a railway of equal value parallel to that highway would double the boost to GDP, but the productivity gain from each project would necessarily be less, which would weigh on growth in the longer run. This is the situation in which China finds itself today―a rising flow of investment, with a lower return on its capital.

Figure 2: The Flow Investment Overwhelms Consumption (% of GDP)
The Flow Investment Overwhelms Consumption (% of           GDP)
Source: National Bureau of Statistics

When demand for China's exports collapsed in 2008, policy makers in Beijing needed an alternative source of growth and so they opened the flood gates for local leaders to build nearly anything they wanted, so long as it created jobs and GDP. This led to a massive investment in high-speed railways, highways, airports, luxury apartments, wind power and heavy industrial capacity. While in the aggregate China still has a deficit of infrastructure, the speed in which these new projects are coming on line negates the usefulness of each of them. There was no time for a real assessment of which new highways were needed, let alone how those roads would be affected by the new high-speed rail line planned along the same route. Instead, anything that was on a local leader's wish list was given instant approval. The reason every leader had such a long wish list was because the National Development and Reform Commission had previously judged most proposals as lacking in any economic justification. However, even if these plans had been sound, production simply cannot be shifted around fast enough to keep up with the pace of China's current investment rate. The end product of poor planning and rapid investment is clear: There are massive traffic jams going into Beijing while the city is ringed with empty luxury apartments and villas. Wind-powered generators sit unconnected to the state grid, while new coal-fired plants are built down the road. High-speed railways run nearly empty, while coal shipments overwhelm the existing freight network. The result has been a collapse in the marginal product of China's capital, or the amount of GDP each dollar of investment generates, a problem that will compound as long as policy makers cannot find alternative sources of demand.

Figure 3: Investing for GDP, Not Profit (RMB, trillions)
Investing for GDP, Not Profit (RMB, trillions)
Source: Nehru and Dhareshwar (1993), IMF, World Bank, National Bureau of Statistics, RGE

A decline in the productivity of capital is a warning sign of problems to come, as it implies investment growth is not sustainable at its current rate. China's marginal product of capital fell from an average of 1.0 in the first seven years of the decade to 0.75 from 2008 through 2010. Given our growth forecasts for 2011-12, we expect China's marginal product of capital to remain close to 0.7 this year and next. South Korea and Malaysia saw similar declines in their capital productivity in the five years prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Brazil's ratio fell sharply in 1996, two years before its currency crisis. The marginal productivity of capital in Spain declined sharply in 2002 and stayed low until the bottom fell out in 2008. In the U.S., the ratio declined steadily from 2004 through the crash in 2008. Although China does not run a current account deficit or have an overvalued currency, it too will run into a wall as long as it continues to pour funds into unproductive investments.

The Debt Problem

The weakness in China's growth model, as with all of those above, is that the vast majority of these unproductive investments were financed with debt. We estimate that China's domestic debt-to-GDP ratio increased from 164% in 2008 to 207% in 2010, as total debt outstanding increased by 60% to RMB82 trillion (US$12.4 trillion). A sharp increase in debt-to-GDP is another warning sign of coming problems. In Hyman Minsky's financial instability theory, an increase in debt without a similar rise in output indicates that debt is drifting from "hedge" borrowing, in which cash flow can cover debt obligations, to "speculative" borrowing, in which cash flow can only cover interest payments or "Ponzi" financing, which requires ever rising asset prices to cover even interest payments. That much of the increase in 2010 came from off-balance sheet lending, similar to the special purpose vehicles we saw during the U.S. subprime bubble, compounds the risk. It seems that loans that could not be repaid have been rolled over into debts that regulators cannot easily find. If banks find themselves unable to keep rolling over these obligations, NPLs would quickly eat through the state-owned banking sector's provisions.

Figure 4: China's Growing Debt Burden (RMB, trillions)
China's Growing Debt Burden (RMB, trillions)
Source: People's Bank of China, Ministry of Finance, Asian Development Bank, RGE estimates

A decline in China's marginal product of capital was inevitable in 2008, given the output loss from exports, but by maintaining its reliance on investment for growth China has been throwing good money after bad. We estimate China "wasted" about RMB9 trillion in investments from 2008 through 2010, based on the decline in its marginal productivity of capital, which equals roughly 22% of the increase in credit over the same time frame. In an optimistic scenario, not all of this will end in default, but, given that the government has already admitted that only 27% of local government investments can generate sufficient cash flow to cover their debt obligations, it is probably not too far from the mark. In a less benign scenario, even good investments could go bust if the banking sector chokes on bad debt and demand falls sharply. There is no reason to believe that RMB9 trillion in defaults and NPLs is as bad as it can get. China has continued to fund wasteful investment projects this year in order to maintain relatively strong headline growth, and it will continue to do so next year given the lack of external demand. It is unlikely to be able to keep playing this game much beyond that point.

It's All the Government's Problem

We previously estimated in the July China Monthly that the contingent liabilities of China's national government stood at 77% of GDP (RMB30 trillion) at the end of 2010, compared with the 17% that it recognizes on its balance sheet. This means that, although the Ministry of Finance's balance sheet can absorb the bad debts that we expect to start piling up next year, it does not have enough room to do this and force out more government-led investments at the same time. The government's fiscal position is much more constrained than it was before the global financial crisis, when we estimate that its contingent liabilities amounted to roughly 54% of GDP. Additionally, in every scenario we present below, growth slows significantly. Without high nominal GDP growth, China's government at all levels will have to constrain its borrowing to stabilize its debt-to-GDP ratio.

Figure 5: Not Much Room for the Government's Balance Sheet to Grow (RMB, billions)
Not Much Room for the Government's           Balance Sheet to Grow (RMB, billions)
Source: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Railways, People's Bank of China, National Audit Office, Asian Development Bank, RGE estimates

Beijing almost certainly will bailout the state-owned banking sector and before the end of 2013, but it is not clear how much it is willing to offer. About 53% of the bank loans issued to fund the investment boom will come due between 2011 and 2013, assuming the maturity profile on local government debts roughly matches those of developers and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which have also borrowed heavily to build physical capital. Banks have so far been evergreening the losses on these debts, largely through off-balance sheet conduits, but higher interest rates and regulatory changes will narrow the scope for banks to keep rolling over these bad debts. China's banks are currently sitting on about RMB560 billion in provisions above their existing NPLs. This will prove helpful for delaying the crisis, but will not be enough for the banking sector to absorb the coming hit beyond next year without government support.

We think that Beijing is more likely to offer only a partial bailout because, so far, it has been reluctant to recognize all of its contingent liabilities. The National Audit Office reported that China's local governments had debts of RMB10.7 trillion at the end of 2010, about RMB4.3 trillion less than we estimate and RMB3.5 trillion less than Moody's estimates that local governments borrowed from the banks. It seems unlikely that Beijing will assume debts that it does not officially recognize as government obligations, making those loans extremely risky, whether on- or off-balance sheet. Likewise, the Ministry of Railways is very nearly bankrupt and will never be able to meet its debt obligations with its own cash flow, yet it continues to issue corporate bonds that lack an explicit guarantee from the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, developers with close ties to local governments have shifted a large portion of their debt financing offshore and underground, and Beijing may not be willing to bailout foreign investors or underground financers.

And It Ends With a Growth Problem

Whether Beijing offers a full or partial bailout of the financial sector, Chinese growth is set to slow sharply in the coming years. Deleveraging will be inevitable for local governments and state-linked borrowers that have funded unproductive investment projects with substantial amounts of debt. The strength of the central government's balance sheet will allow it to assume some of this burden, and the high savings ratio of China's households will ensure there is enough liquidity to prevent a run on the state-owned banks. However, the central government will not be able to lever up fast enough to offer a sufficient bailout and maintain high investment rates at the same time, and households will not be able to offset the slowdown in investment with higher levels of consumption.

Mechanically, with private consumption having fallen to 34% of GDP, it would take a massive surge in consumption to offset the slowdown in investment growth. Consumption growth would have to increase 1.5 percentage points for every percentage point slowdown in investment if China is to maintain the same growth rate, holding everything else equal. Chinese households save a bit more than 30% of their income, roughly on par with their Confucian neighbors, but private consumption has fallen to 34% of GDP because household incomes have failed to keep up with the growth of national income. Instead, income has flowed to state-owned enterprises in the form of retained earnings, which they have plowed back into fixed investments. The new Five-Year Plan calls for SOEs to pay higher dividends, which could be used to fund fiscal transfers or social services for households, but the increase is too small to make much a difference. Given the need for SOEs to pay down some of their debts, they will need to maintain a rather high savings rate in the coming years, and forcing them to pay out more than this may prove counterproductive. Wages are beginning to outstrip productivity, which will start to rebalance China's growth model, but this is also moving too slow to make much of a difference in the short term. This year's wage gains look to be roughly on par with last year's, when private consumption grew a paltry 6.6%, according to our estimates. Wages may increase 12-15% this year, but even at that pace they will fail to keep pace with per-capita nominal GDP once again, further pushing down labor's share of national income. Additionally, the government will not be able to force through the financial sector reforms that would be necessary to boost the return to savers (households) and raise the costs of borrowers (SOEs), while the banking sector is in crisis. For these reasons, and those RGE Chairman Nouriel Roubini recently outlined, Chinese private consumption is unlikely to suddenly surge while the country's growth model collapses.

Looking beyond China's unique domestic factors, it is clear that economic history is not on Beijing's side. In a sample of 24 countries that have seen a structural peak to their investment share of GDP, growth slowed from an average 5.5% in the three years preceding the peak to 0.9% in the three years following. There were no exceptions―growth slowed in all 24 countries, though some countries performed much better than average.

Figure 6: Nobody Escapes a Growth Slowdown When Investment Peaks
Nobody Escapes a Growth Slowdown When Investment           Peaks
Source: IMF, RGE calculations

While a growth slowdown is inevitable, a hard landing is not. Other Asian economies (South Korea in 1991, Vietnam in 2007) have managed the transition with only a modest slowdown in growth, at least in the short term, and there are reasons why China, too, might escape the worst of the coming crunch. First, liquidity is unlikely to be a problem. With the required reserve ratio (RRR) at a record-high 21.5% for the largest commercial banks, there is about RMB16 trillion worth of liquidity sitting on the balance sheet of the People's Bank of China (PBoC) that could be used in a crisis (likely requiring the sale of China's foreign assets). Additionally, financial repression and a closed capital account should prevent a run on the banking sector. Second, the central government's clean balance sheet will allow it to easily assume its contingent liabilities without too much strain, while the strong asset position of local governments could potentially allow them to repay their bad debts with good assets. Perhaps most importantly, it is not too late for Beijing to get ahead of the problem.

THE ENDGAME: THREE WAYS TO KILL A GROWTH MODEL

In all of our scenarios, Chinese growth slows sharply and the government is forced to deal with its contingent liabilities. The situation is coming to a head sooner rather than later, as local governments are on the hook for RMB900 billion (US$140 billion) in interest payments this year alone, assuming a 6% rate on RMB15 billion in debts. Since on-budget revenues have been allocated elsewhere, the shortfall on debts for non-income generating investments will have to come primarily from land-lease sales. We estimate that land sales are likely to generate RMB1 trillion in revenue this year―barely enough to cover their existing off-balance sheet obligations and much of this revenue has already been pledged to cover other commitments, like the government's social housing construction efforts. Next year, land sale revenues are likely to decline, while local governments' debt service costs will rise, assuming a large portion of their debts due this year have already been rolled over. Some revenue and expenditure juggling, combined with pressure on local banks, might get local governments through 2012 without major defaults. Much beyond this, however, and the situation will become untenable.

Our starting assumption is our baseline global scenario, which sees growth in developed markets (DMs) tipping into a stall speed while emerging market (EM) growth is only slightly below potential in H2 2011. Our global scenario analysis assigns a 40% probability to DMs falling into a recession in 2012, though the baseline scenario (60%) is that growth remains volatile but DMs narrowly avoid a recession and EMs continue to grow slightly below potential. For our China scenario analysis, we assume the baseline global forecast for 2012. If DMs were to tip into a recession in 2012, it would likely lengthen our timeline, but increase the risk of our crash scenario. A DM recession could push back the reckoning of China's investment imbalance if it allowed the PBoC to loosen monetary conditions in 2012, which would lower the costs for floating rate borrowers and allow for easier roll-overs. However, this would increase the size of China's debts and ensure that its marginal product of capital fell further as output growth would slip even with another fiscal stimulus (which would necessarily have to be smaller than in 2008, given the deterioration of local government and bank balance sheets). The eventual cost would be higher, even if it took slightly longer to get there.

The two major turning points in our scenarios are the near-term inflation outlook and the size and shape of the expected government bailout that will come in 2012 or 2013. We assign a high probability to Chinese inflation easing to about 4.2% in 2012 as commodity inflation eases and monetary policy stays on hold. Lower inflation will take some pressure off banks and borrowers, as well as providing more fiscal space for the government to bail them out. However, as the Fed prepares to launch another round of quantitative easing, and with few signs of a significant deceleration in Chinese growth, there is a meaningful risk that inflation will overshoot our forecast. This would pull forward the coming crisis, possibly to as early as mid-2012, during which China's political transition will be at its peak and policy paralysis will be severe. Higher inflation is a necessary but insufficient condition for our "crash and burn" scenario.

Likewise, the size and shape of a government bailout will have a significant impact on Chinese growth in the medium term. As argued above, we expect the government to offer only a partial bailout of local governments, banks, SOEs and developers in 2012 or early 2013, though it will be nearly impossible to avoid taking over the Ministry of Railways' debts in full. A partial bailout would be somewhere in the realm of RMB4 trillion-6 trillion, and would include a debt exchange for local governments, an injection of capital into the state-owned banks and the complete absorption of the railways balance sheet. A full bailout would be something closer to RMB10 trillion. Its component parts would remain the same, but a larger share of local government obligations would qualify for the debt exchange. Both options would see local governments enter the bond market directly by the end of 2013, where they would have to pay something closer to a market rate to borrow and fund new investments. A partial bailout would force serious deleveraging on local governments in order to tap the new municipal bond market, exacerbating the slowdown in investment after 2012.

We assume the following delinquency rates on debts: 30% for local governments (RMB15 trillion outstanding at end-2010), 30% for property developers (about RMB4.2 trillion domestically), 50% for the Ministry of Railways (RMB1.9 trillion) and 7.5% for SOEs (roughly RMB30 trillion). The problems of the commercial and policy banks are largely tied to these debts, and so we leave them out to avoid double counting. We do not expect severe losses on mortgages or consumer loans, as falling property prices are likely to be absorbed by the owners' equity due to relatively high down-payment requirements. This may prove overly optimistic, however, if debts from outside of the banking sector were used to fund down-payments, which anecdotally appears to be quite common. As such, China's national balance sheet is set to take about a RMB9 trillion hit sometime between 2012 and 2015. If inflation cannot be tamed in the near term, default rates would rise, along with the ultimate cost. This would probably result in another RMB2.1 trillion or so of problem loans, mostly from developers and local governments, which are more interest rate sensitive. Below, we present the three most likely scenarios for 2012-16, leaving aside the combination of high near-term inflation and a full bailout, since the contingent probability of that scenario is rather low and the end result would be similar to our "slow grind" scenario.

Figure 7: A Road Map for the End of Roads
A Road Map for           the End of Roads
Source: RGE

Scenario 1: Muddle Through (15% probability)

In this scenario, Beijing forces through a debt exchange for local government debt, and the Ministry of Finance absorbs the Ministry of Railways' balance sheet at face value. A government agency (the policy banks or a newly created entity) issues bonds to fund the purchase of local government bank debts with a minor haircut. The government entity would have an explicit guarantee from the central government, allowing it to raise funds at about 4% for 10 years in the interbank market or possibly less in the CNH market. This would likely require raising about RMB10 trillion over two to three years. We still assume a 30% default rate on local government debts, which means that the Ministry of Finance would have to set aside some funds over the next 10 years to absorb this hit. Net of the treasury bonds issued to fund the China Investment Corporation and other liabilities, the Ministry of Finance had about RMB900 billion stored with the central bank at the end of 2010. Asset sales and taxes would have to fill in the remaining RMB2.1 trillion hole, excluding the expected losses on interest payments. This is about 25% of China's fiscal revenues in 2010, but there is room for Beijing to raise taxes further given its 20% of GDP revenue stream.

In addition to the costs of taking over the obligations of China's local governments, the Ministry of Railways is nearly broke, and its balance sheet will have to be completely absorbed by the Ministry of Finance in the coming years. With RMB2 trillion in debt and no chance its revenues can cover its debt obligations in the medium term, this would further constrain Beijing's balance sheet, though it would not trigger financial/sovereign debt crises.

With the threat of a financial crisis removed, Beijing can gradually wind down its current investment boom over the next five years, seeing projects through to completion and avoiding additional defaults. Investment growth would slow from an average 14% over the past decade to something closer to half pace, as local governments deleverage to tap the new municipal bond market, but GDP growth would not collapse as the hit to household and corporate balance sheets would be contained. However, even maintaining investment growth of around 7% in real terms would keep demand elevated as the workforce begins to shrink. Trend inflation, which we think has already risen to 4%, would likely drift higher to about 6% as a result. This would help the government to raise revenues to pay off its debts, but would weigh on private consumption.

Higher inflation would likely trigger faster RMB appreciation. With advanced economies stuck in a zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) world, and a Chinese hard landing seemingly avoided, capital flows to China would continue to surge. Banks' required reserve ratios cannot go much higher than 22%. Interest rates could only be hiked so much before the PBoC was overwhelmed with foreign capital, and the RMB-USD crawling peg would have to be broken. In the interim, this would be good for Chinese asset prices, and higher land values would further support the government's efforts to wind down its legacy debts. However, this would weigh on the export sector and labor market, which would contain Chinese inflation and push the RMB toward equilibrium as the current account surplus closed. A stronger RMB would also boost imports, further boosting government revenues as 25% of the government's income came from import duties in 2010, helping to ensure it can cover the costs of the bailout. In net, Chinese growth would slow to 6-8% over the next five years, which we think is the best Beijing can hope for. If structural reforms are not pushed through during this period, China's economy could still end up crashing by the end of the decade.

Scenario 2: Slow Grind (63% probability)

In this scenario, Beijing refuses to acknowledge the full extent of its contingent liabilities and only offers a partial bailout of local governments, exerting significant pressure on the state-owned banking system. If the Ministry of Finance only recognizes RMB10.7 trillion of local government debts, which is our base-case assumption, it would likely only offer a debt exchange of RMB4 trillion or so, allowing loans for projects with sufficient cash flow to stay on the state-owned banks' balance sheets. Ignoring the remaining RMB4.3 trillion in debts, which is likely the ugliest tranche of the problem, would force local governments and SOEs to rapidly deleverage in order to cover their debt obligations, which could result in a higher than 30% default rate and would certainly cause investment growth to slow to less than 7%. Additionally, there is a risk that the Ministry of Finance could try to impose a haircut on the Ministry of Railways bond holders when it takes over its balance sheet. If this were to occur, it would raise the borrowing costs of all government-linked entities as investors recalculated what a "sovereign" rating means in China. As most of the railway bonds are held domestically by government-linked banks, we judge this to be a low probability event, however.

Capital inflows into China would slow or reverse, pulling down asset prices and land values. NPLs would overwhelm the banking sector, and another bailout would likely be needed to put it back together again. At this stage, the Ministry of Finance's balance sheet would be even more constrained than if it had offered a full bailout at the beginning. However, the disinflationary pressures from falling asset prices and output would allow monetary policy to cushion the blow.

Looser credit conditions, lower inflation (with little or no RMB appreciation pressure, at least initially) and cheaper labor costs (as unskilled labor migrates from infrastructure to manufacturing) would boost Chinese exports and widen its current account surplus, as resource-intensive infrastructure building slows and crimps imports. However, the external sector's ability to absorb a surge in Chinese exports would be limited, as advanced economies would still be deleveraging under ZIRP conditions. Chinese exporters would have to cut prices, especially for heavy industrial goods that had previously been directed toward its infrastructure build-out, and China would become a major deflationary force in the global economy once again, further extending the current malaise. This would limit wage growth and consumption, leaving little hope for China to grow more than 4-6% on a sustainable basis.

Scenario 3: Crash and Burn (22% probability)

The two scenarios above hinge on inflation falling back to about 4% next year, but since we also expect the PBoC to pause monetary tightening and offer selective credit easing in H2 2011 while DMs pursue reflationary policies, there is a significant chance that Chinese inflation could get out of control in 2012. In this scenario, the PBoC will have to tighten monetary policy sharply next year, which would have a significant impact on housing and land prices. Higher interest rates and lower land sale revenues would lead to higher local government defaults, and even if the central government opts for the larger RMB10 billion bailout package the best it could hope for would be a "slow grind" as a result.

Nevertheless, since we assign a higher probability to Beijing offering a partial bailout, at least initially, the debt exchange would fall far short of what is needed. This would push the banking sector into technical insolvency, and credit growth would be severely constrained. The PBoC would then have to reverse its tightening and lower required reserves to keep the banking sector liquid until the Ministry of Finance puts up the cash for another bailout. Meanwhile, the tradable sector would benefit from deflationary pressures as labor drifts from construction to manufacturing, which would provide some growth for the economy. However, this would be constrained from deleveraging and weak demand in advanced economies.

In all of this, consumption growth would suffer as falling land and property valuations destroy the wealth of high-income households who have been the driving force behind China's urban consumer boom. The empty apartments in which they have stored their savings would eventually be carved up into more affordable housing units, which would provide some construction jobs, but would not create any value added for the economy. In the initial phase of this scenario, around 2013, growth would easily fall below 3% as investment collapses and deflation begins to set in. After labor migrates to the tradable sector and the refitting of empty luxury housing into usable apartments begins in 2014 or so, growth would bounce back slightly to something closer to 5%. However, if a Chinese crash pushes DMs and commodity exporters into a recession, 5% growth may be overly optimistic.

Politically, this scenario would be the most difficult for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to navigate. In our August China Monthly, we highlighted the risk that high inflation poses to Li Keqiang's prospects to become China's next premier. If factional fighting breaks out in the run up to October 2012, when the CCP's next generation of leaders will take over, it would severely limit the government's ability to offer a workable bailout package. In this tail scenario, Chinese growth would contract for the first time since 1978 (leaving aside questions about the 1998 data, of course). 

Figure 8: The Global Impact of China's Hard Landing (2013-16)
The Global Impact of China's Hard Landing (2013-16)
Source: RGE

APPENDIX: THE GHOST OF CHINA BROKEN IN THE PAST

Bailing out the state-owned banking sector will be nothing new for China. After all, the purpose of a state-owned, controlled or directed bank is to make bad loans―otherwise the private sector would be able to do the job more cheaply and efficiently. Beyond the massive bank bailout in the late 1990s, Beijing has previously cleaned up after a housing bubble on Hainan Island and the bust of a local government financing vehicle in Guangdong, as well as rural credit cooperatives and rural credit foundations in the 1990s. In all of its previous bailouts and recapitalizations, China has proven adept at curing the stock problem of existing bad debts, but it has never had much luck in fixing the flow problem of continued noncommercial lending. Without politically difficult financial sector and fiscal reforms, future bailouts beyond those we describe above are a near certainty.

Restructuring the State-Owned Banks

China bailed out its banking sector in the late 1990s to clean up the bad debts from the "reform without losers" period of 1978-93. Although data for this period is limited, it is estimated that banks' capital adequacy ratios had fallen below 5% and their NPLs had jumped to at least RMB3.5 trillion (38% of GDP) by 1999. In 1998, the government issued RMB270 billion in bonds that were used to recapitalize the banks, and in 1999 it created four asset management companies (AMCs) to buy bad loans from the "Big Four" commercial banks. The AMCs bought RMB1.4 trillion in NPLs at face value from the banks by issuing RMB820 billion in bonds backed by the Ministry of Finance and by assuming RMB580 billion of Big Four obligations to the central bank. Measures were taken to minimize moral hazard, such as only allowing AMCs to buy loans issued before 1996 and making further capital injections contingent on banks writing off recently generated NPLs with their own earnings. In practice, the banks sold their bad loans to the AMCs once again in 2004-05, though at least this time they accepted a haircut on most of these sales. With their balance sheets scrubbed, the government injected new capital into the banks by creating a holding company, Central Huijin, using funds from China's FX reserves, and restructured them into joint-stock companies. This paved the way for the public listing of China's state-owned banks in 2005, with strategic investors from DM banks expected to play an active role in putting China's banks on a more commercial footing.

Adding up the relending to the AMCs, Central Huijin and initial capital injections, restructuring the banks cost Beijing about RMB2.5 trillion, about 30% of GDP in 1997 but only 13% of GDP in 2005. The shrinking relative cost of the bailout is probably the most important lesson that China took from the restructuring of its state-owned banks. The upfront cost was mitigated by issuing new debts, and strong economic growth in the interim reduced the eventual hit to the government's balance sheet. However, even this softer blow was too much for Beijing to bear. Rather than winding down the AMCs and having the Ministry of Finance make good on their recovery shortfalls as planned, in 2009, the AMC's 10-year bonds were rolled over for another decade. These bonds still sit on the balance sheets of China's state-owned commercial banks, where they account for a sizable share of capital.

China's Shadow Banking System

China's shadow banking system has always been an extremely pro-cyclical, destabilizing force on the economy. The first trust and investment companies (TICs) emerged in 1979 and by 1982 there were already more than 600 registered trust companies, mostly owned by banks. As inflationary pressures mounted, the PBoC clamped down on TIC lending in 1982, consolidated the industry and banned nonbank institutions from setting up trusts. The TICs resumed their operations in 1983, and lending quickly got out of hand once again. This time, the PBoC temporarily suspended trust lending in 1985. When lending resumed in 1986, after the PBoC published new regulations, lending again exploded. There were 745 PBoC-registered TICs by 1988, and more than 1,000 including those that operated without a license. TICs contributed to economic overheating in 1989, and the PBoC again had to clean up the mess. It consolidated the industry to 390 registered TICs by 1993, when lending once again exploded after Deng Xiaoping's "Southern Tour" kick-started the economy. Another restructuring of China's TICs began at the end of 1994, and TICs were formally separated from the banks in 1995. China was already years into its biggest reform of the shadow banking system when the Asian financial crisis sparked the failure of the Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corporation (GITIC), China's second-largest international TIC.

The failure of GITIC in 1998 was a decisive moment for China and global imbalances, as it led to the banking sector reforms in 1998-2005 and convinced China's leaders that a large pool of FX reserves could protect its economy from global woes. GITIC operated much like today's local government financing vehicles (LGFVs)―it was set up by the provincial government to fund infrastructure and investment projects with little or no cash flow. Just like in the current cycle, these projects were expected to boost the province's GDP, which would generate sufficient revenues for the local government so that it could cover the financing vehicle's losses. Like today's shadow banking system, GITIC also took deposits at above market-rates with no legal authority or regulatory supervision. The critical difference between then and now is that GITIC did most of its borrowing abroad, and, eight months before it collapsed, GITIC was doing so at 250 bps above U.S. Treasurys as investors widely assumed Beijing ultimately would stand behind its debts.

Premier Zhu Rongji, China's fiercest reformer, ordered GITIC to be wound down in October 1998, after it was unable to repay US$120 million in foreign debts. An audit of its balance sheet found US$2.9 billion in assets against US$4.4 billion in liabilities. On January 10, 1999, Zhu refused to honor GITIC's debts as sovereign obligations and forced the company into bankruptcy. It was soon discovered that 90% of GITICs loans were overdue and 80% of its equity investments had been liquidated or were under severe strain. The stress on the rest of the 1,000+ ITICs and TICs was overwhelming, as external financing quickly dried up after China treated domestic lenders more favorably than foreign. Several more faced bankruptcy, and the government was forced to restructure the rest into commercial entities with government capital injections. For example, as it was shutting down GITIC, the Guangdong government injected US$2 billion into Guangdong Enterprises, which was matched by the haircut it imposed on foreign investors. Guangdong also had to borrow RMB38 billion for the Ministry of Finance and RMB7 billion from the PBoC to cover payments due to state-owned banks from ITICs and TICs while it restructured or closed more than 800 small and medium-sized non-bank financial companies.

We only know so much about Guangdong's finances because of GITIC's high-profile bankruptcy, but other provinces arguably faced more severe restructuring costs. GITIC's liabilities were about 30% of Guangdong's revenues, whereas ITICs in Shanghai and Tianjin had liabilities of more than 70% of the local government's revenues. With Zhu and President Jiang Zemin's power base in Shanghai, these debts were restructured behind closed doors, and we cannot accurately estimate the full bailout costs of the ITICs (though foreign creditors typically took a 30% haircut). The effect of the bankruptcies and restructurings had on growth is a bit clearer. Although the National Bureau of Statics reported that China's economy weathered the Asian financial crisis largely undisturbed, growing 7.8% in 1998, Harry Wu and Angus Maddison convincingly argue that energy consumption, air travel and industrial outputs of key goods suggest growth actually slipped to -0.1%.

The lessons of the TIC and ITICs crisis were well learned, at least for a while, and Beijing made it extremely difficult for local governments to set up financing platforms to fund infrastructure projects. This helped to provide a decade of relative stability for China's debt position. This lesson was completely disregarded in 2008 as China's leaders saw growth about to be wiped out from a stall in the property market and a collapse in exports, and thousands of LGFVs were set up by the end of 2009. Additionally, after China watched other EM Asian economies collapse under their foreign debts in the late 1990s, China decided that it would do everything it could to prevent a similar crisis at home. At the time of GITIC's failure, China held US$145 billion in FX reserves against US$139 billion in foreign debts. By 2010, China had US$2.8 trillion in FX reserves against US$500 billion in foreign debts. Another lesson learned was that Wang Qishan is a very good clean up man. Previously the president of the China Construction Bank, he was sent to Guangdong at the end of 1997 and became executive vice governor in January 1998. Wang is now a vice premier, and a dark horse candidate to become premier in 2012 based on his experience in Guangdong.

The Hainan Property Bubble

Hainan was carved out of Guangdong and declared a special economic zone in April 1988. With the sale of land-use rights legalized, a massive investment boom on the tropical island kicked off. More than 20 trust companies quickly materialized to finance about 20,000 real estate investment companies that were betting on booming demand for luxury residential properties. Japanese developer Kumagai Gumi proposed to buy 30 square kilometers of land in Yangpu in 1988, but politics delayed the sale until 1992. By the end of 1993, Kumagai Gumi had sold over 900 mu (about 60 hectares) at RMB3 million per mu for residential use, when industrial land was going for RMB150,000 per mu. Domestic investors quickly followed suit, buying up nearly the entire island for residential development. While Hainan was the hottest market in China, a similar process was playing out across the rest of the country, and inflation spiked over 25% in 1994, requiring Zhu to hike interest rates to 13.5% by July 1995 from 9% in 1993. Two years later, the Asian financial crisis sparked a run on the HKD, requiring Hong Kong to hike interest rates sharply, which sucked funds out of Hainan as red chip companies repatriated funds. Higher borrowing costs and capital flight popped the bubble, leaving behind 600 unfinished buildings and RMB30 billion in bad debts. In December 1997, the Hainan Development Bank took over 28 urban credit cooperatives that were suffering from a liquidity crisis, which then required RMB3 billion in liquidity assistance from the PBoC. However, this wasn't enough and the PBoC had to close HDB the following month. With no bankruptcy law to cover financial institutions, HDB remains in liquidation more than 13 years later.

The Hainan bubble led to the creation of the China Development Bank to make noncommercial, long-term loans and sparked a migration of deposits from nonbank financial institutions into the Big Four commercial banks. China's leaders also learned that unbridled property markets can have political consequences. Since the early 2000s, China's state council has tried to control local property markets through changes in legislation with little effect. As the national property market reached a dangerous tipping point in 2008, policy makers threw their full support behind reviving demand and valuations. Down-payment requirements were cut and interest rates slashed, and in 2008 the State Council approved Hainan's plan to "explore and experiment in the reform and opening up in tourism" as it pursued its development into an "international tourism island." With the punters unleashed, property prices in Hainan jumped more than 50% in 2010.

History Repeats Itself

Nearly all of the lessons learned from China's previous crises seem to have been forgotten in the past three years. Local governments were given free rein to set up quasi-sovereign financing platforms that borrowed heavily to fund low or no cash flow projects. State-owned commercial banks reversed a decade's worth of restructuring, turning away from their commercial aspirations and reverting to their state-owned roots. Shadow banks (sometimes within the commercial ones) were set up to offer depositors high returns in order to fund extremely speculative investments. After initial investors recovered their funds, others jumped in, creating a Ponzi scheme of unknown magnitude. With support from the government, developers piled into luxury residential projects across the country of little economic value. The only lesson that seems to have stuck is the one about the insurance value of FX reserves, which of course is probably the only lesson that China would have done well to neglect. With nearly all of the new debts denominated in RMB, and nearly all of the FX reserves backed by domestic liabilities, China simply spent a lot of money on the wrong kind of insurance. While the coming crisis will not be exactly like the previous, the fundamentals are not that different. As such, we build our scenarios on the assumption that the policy reaction will not be that different either.

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