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中国大宗商品需求锐减刺痛全球

更新时间:2016/1/11 9:20:18 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

China’s Hunger for Commodities Wanes, and Pain Spreads Among Producers
中国大宗商品需求锐减刺痛全球

Chile is expanding its largest open-pit copper mine below the northern desert to dig up 1.7 billion additional tons of minerals, even as metal prices plummet around the globe.

智利正在扩建该国北部沙漠下面的最大露天铜矿,以把矿石挖掘量增加17亿吨,虽然全球范围内的金属价格正在大幅下降。

India is building railroad lines that crisscross the country to connect underused coal mines with growing urban populations, threatening to dump more resources into an already glutted market.

印度正在修建穿越国家的纵横交错的铁路网,以把未得到充分利用的煤矿与不断增长的城市人口连接起来,同时威胁着让更多的资源抛售到一个已经供过于求的市场。

Australia is increasing natural gas production by roughly 150 percent over the next four years, as energy companies build half a dozen export terminals to serve dwindling demand.

澳大利亚正在扩大天然气的生产,产量在未来的四年中将大约增长50%,同时能源公司正在建造六个出口终端港,尽管需求在日益减少。

Across the commodities landscape, this worrisome mismatch mainly traces back to the same source: China.

跨越整个大宗商品风景线的这种令人担忧的不匹配景象大都可追溯到同一根源:中国。

For years, China voraciously gobbled up all manner of metals, crops and fuels as its economy rapidly expanded. Countries and companies, fueled by cheap debt, aggressively broadened their operations, betting that China’s appetite would grow unabated.

多年来,随着其经济规模的迅速扩大,中国以极大的胃口消耗着各种各样的金属、农作物和燃料。其他国家和企业靠廉价贷款积极扩大自己的业务,他们押赌中国的胃口会只增不减。

Now everything has changed.

现在,一切都改变了。

China’s economy is slumping. American companies, struggling to pay their debts as interest rates rise, must keep producing. All the excess is crushing prices, hurting commodity-dependent economies across emerging markets like Brazil and Venezuela and developed countries like Australia and Canada.

中国的经济正在走下坡路。随着利率的上升,美国公司偿还债务的压力增大,必须不停地生产。这一切所导致的过剩进一步压低了价格,伤害了依赖大宗商品的国家,不论是像巴西和委内瑞拉这样的新兴市场经济体,还是诸如澳大利亚和加拿大等发达国家。

The geopolitical and financial consequences of this shift have shaken investor confidence. Concerns over global growth intensified in recent days, when weakness in China prompted a stock sell-off around the world.

这种转变的地缘政治和经济后果已经动摇了投资者的信心。对全球经济增长的担忧最近几天有所加剧,中国经济的疲软触发了一轮全球股票抛售。

The commodities hangover, the dark side of a decade-long boom, could last for a while.

大宗商品过剩是这十年繁荣的一个阴暗面,这个问题可能会持续一段时间。

Multibillion-dollar investment decisions made years ago on big projects, like the oil sands fields in Canada and iron ore mines in West Africa, are just getting up and running. Facing huge costs, companies cannot simply shut off projects. So the excess could take years to work through.

多年前做出的数十亿美元的大项目投资决定,比如加拿大的油砂田和西非铁矿石等项目,才刚刚开始运行。面对巨大的成本投入,企业不可能简单地把项目停掉。因此过剩的产能也许需要好几年才能消化掉。

The flood of raw materials is pressuring prices, prompting a painful shakeout. Oil companies have laid off an estimated 250,000 workers worldwide. Alpha Natural Resources and other American coal mining companies have filed for bankruptcy protection.

商品价格正受到原材料大潮的冲击,这将导致一次痛苦的洗牌。石油公司在世界各地已裁掉了大约25万名工人。阿尔法自然资源(Alpha Natural Resources)及其他美国煤矿公司也已申请了破产保护。

Saudi Arabia, a giant energy economy, has had to tap the credit markets as its financial reserves dwindle. Venezuela, an oil-rich nation that went on a spending spree, is struggling to meet $10 billion in debt obligations this year, since 95 percent of export earnings depend on crude.

沙特阿拉伯是一个以出口能源为主的巨大经济体,随着其财政储备的减少,不得不求助于信贷市场。石油资源丰富的委内瑞拉曾大手大脚地花钱,而今年却面临着偿还一笔10亿美元债务的困难,因为委内瑞拉95%的出口收入依赖于原油。

Michael Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, likened the reversal to a rainfall that first relieved a drought but then created a flood. “Producers ended up being their own worst enemies,” he said. “No one ever worried they would produce too much, but that is exactly what has happened and gotten them into this mess.”

美国外交关系委员会能源专家迈克尔·莱维(Michael Levi)把大宗商品供求关系的逆转比作久旱后的降雨,虽然雨水一开始缓解了干旱,但持续的降雨却引发了洪水。“生产商反而成了自己最大的敌人,”他说。“没人担心他们会过多地产生,但这正是所发生的事情,这让他们陷入了目前的状况。”

Lower energy and material prices are often welcomed by consumers. An energy glut has allowed American households to save hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline and heating oil.

较低的能源和材料价格往往受到消费者的欢迎。能源过剩已经让美国家庭在一年中省下了数百美元的汽油和取暖油钱。

But economists worry that the commodity mess reflects a weakening global economy, lowering the value of trade worldwide and perhaps even pushing some countries into the same kind of deflationary spiral that has hampered the Japanese economy for decades. Global turmoil last summer, stemming from China, prompted the United States to delay raising interest rates until the end of last year.

但经济学家担心,大宗商品问题是全球经济疲软的反映,这将导致世界各地贸易值的减少,甚至会把一些国家推入日本经历过的那种通货紧缩漩涡,通货紧缩给日本经济带来了数十年的停滞不前。去年夏天从中国开始的全球经济动荡,迫使美国推迟其加息计划,直到去年年底才开始实施。

“Lower oil prices have not proven to be as stimulative as economic theory once had it,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian and vice chairman of the IHS consultancy. “The question is what are weak commodity prices telling us: Is it overinvestment in the past, or signaling a weaker global economy forward? My own feeling is the answer is both.”

“油价下跌并未被证明具有以前的经济理论所认为的那种刺激作用,”咨询公司IHS的副董事长、能源历史学家丹尼尔·耶尔金(Daniel Yergin)说。“问题是,大宗商品价格疲软对我们有什么启示:这是过去的投资过度呢?还是意味着全球经济的未来发展放缓?我本人的感觉是,答案是两者兼而有之。”

Commodities have always been subject to booms and busts, rising and falling with the global economy. But China and the cheap debt have changed the equation in some ways.

大宗商品从来都受繁荣和萧条的影响,与全球经济同起同落。但是,中国、以及廉价贷款已在某种程度改变了供求关系的方程。

China’s rapid growth led to an increase in crude oil consumption to 7.5 million barrels a day in 2007, from 5.5 million barrels a day in 2003. It is now the world’s biggest importer of crude, having surpassed the United States. Other commodities have followed a similar pattern.

中国经济的快速增长带动了原油消费的直线上升,从2003年的每天550万桶,到2007年的每天750万桶。中国目前已经超过美国,成为世界上最大的原油进口国。其他大宗商品的情况也基本上类似。

The increased demand fueled a surge in prices; copper tripled and zinc doubled over the five-year period ending in 2007. Americans and Europeans found themselves in what amounted to a bidding war for products as diversified as gasoline and coffee.

需求的增加推动了价格的飙升。在截至2007年的五年期间,铜的价格涨了200%,锌的价格翻了一番。美国人和欧洲人发现,在从汽油到咖啡的各种各样的产品上,他们实际上是在打竞购战。

Then the financial crisis hit in 2008. While the global economy faltered, China continued to grow, buying ever more commodities from developing countries. Those economies, in turn, flourished from the infusion of money.

后来,金融危机在2008年发生了。虽然全球经济受到重创,但中国经济却仍在持续增长,中国从发展中国家购买的商品越来越多。这些国家的经济由于中国注入的现金也得到了相应的蓬勃发展。

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