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中国不良信贷或超5万亿美元

Toxic Loans Around the World Weigh on Global Growth
中国不良信贷或超5万亿美元

Beneath the surface of the global financial system lurks a multitrillion-dollar problem that could sap the strength of large economies for years to come.

全球金融系统背后潜藏着一个涉及数万亿美元资金的问题,它可能会在未来多年持续削弱多个大国的经济实力。

The problem is the giant, stagnant pool of loans that companies and people around the world are struggling to pay back. Bad debts have been a drag on economic activity ever since the financial crisis of 2008, but in recent months, the threat posed by an overhang of bad loans appears to be rising. China is the biggest source of worry. Some analysts estimate that China’s troubled credit could exceed $5 trillion, a staggering number that is equivalent to half the size of the country’s annual economic output.

这个问题就是巨大而且僵滞的债务池,它由全球各地的企业和个人难以偿还的贷款构成。自2008年金融危机以来,不良贷款一直在拖经济活动的后腿,但最近几个月,过多的不良贷款所构成的威胁似乎在不断加大。中国是这种担忧最大的源头。据一些分析人士估计,中国的不良信贷规模可能已经超过了5万亿美元,这是一个惊人的数字,相当于中国年经济产出的一半。

Official figures show that Chinese banks pulled back on their lending in December. If such trends persist, China’s economy, the second-largest in the world behind the United States’, may then slow even more than it has, further harming the many countries that have for years relied on China for their growth.

官方统计数字显示,中国的银行在去年12月放慢了发放贷款的速度。如果这种趋势持续下去,中国这个仅次于美国的世界第二大经济体,经济增长速度甚至可能会比现在还慢,进而给多年来一直依赖中国经济增长的很多国家造成进一步打击。

But it’s not just China. Wherever governments and central banks unleashed aggressive stimulus policies in recent years, a toxic debt hangover has followed. In the United States, it took many months for mortgage defaults to fall after the most recent housing bust – and energy companies are struggling to pay off the cheap money that they borrowed to pile into the shale boom.

但这个问题不只是中国的。凡是政府和中央银行在最近几年采取激进刺激政策的国家,都会随之出现不良贷款过多的问题。在美国,最近一次楼市泡沫破灭之后,按揭贷款违约量好几个月之后才有所下降,现在则有不少美国能源企业,难以偿付它们投入到页岩气热潮中的巨额廉价贷款。

In Europe, analysts say bad loans total more than $1 trillion. Many large European banks are still weighed down with defaulted loans, complicating policy makers’ efforts to revive the Continent’s economy. Italy, for instance, announced a plan last week to clean out bad loans from its plodding banking industry.

分析人士表示,欧洲的不良贷款总额超过了1万亿美元。很多大型欧洲银行还在承受巨大的违约贷款压力,这加大了政策制定者重振欧洲经济的难度。比如,意大利上周就宣布了一项计划,要清除该国举步维艰的银行体系中的坏账。

Elsewhere, bad loans are on the rise at Brazil’s biggest banks, as the country grapples with the effects of an enormous credit binge.

在其他地区,巴西最大的一些银行的坏账也在增加,该国正努力应对规模庞大的信贷狂潮带来的后果。

“If you have a boom and then a bust, you create economic losses,” said Alberto Gallo, head of global macro credit research at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. “You can hope the losses one day turn into profits, but if they don’t, they are a drag on the economy.”

“如果之前出现了繁荣,然后衰退,就会产生巨大的经济损失,”位于伦敦的苏格兰皇家银行(Royal Bank of Scotland)全球宏观信贷研究负责人阿尔贝托·加洛(Alberto Gallo)说。“你可以期待这些损失有朝一日能转变成利润,但如果这种希望落空,它们就会成为经济发展的负担。”

In good times, companies and people take on new loans, often at low interest rates, to buy goods and services. When economies slow, these debts become difficult to pay for many borrowers. And the bigger the boom, the more soured debt that is left behind for bankers and policy makers to deal with.

经济形势好的时候,企业和个人都会申请新的贷款,来购买商品和服务,而且利率往往比较低。经济放缓之后,很多债务人就会难以偿还其贷款。之前的泡沫越大,之后银行和决策者需要收拾的坏账摊子也就越大。

In theory, it makes sense for banks to swiftly recognize the losses embedded in bad loans – and then make up for those losses by raising fresh capital. The cleaned-up banks are more likely to start lending again — and thus play their part in fueling the recovery. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

从理论上讲,银行可以快速列支不良贷款的坏账损失,然后通过吸收新资金,来填补这些漏洞。而这些清理完坏账的银行,就更可能重新开始发放贷款,由此发挥它们在助推经济复苏方面的作用。

But in reality, this approach can be difficult to carry out. Recognizing losses on bad loans can mean pushing corporate borrowers into bankruptcy and households into foreclosure. Such disruption can send a chill through the economy, require unpopular taxpayer bailouts and have painful social consequences. And in some cases, the banks might find it extremely difficult to raise fresh capital in the markets.

但事实上,这一理论很难付诸实践。要列支坏账损失,银行需要推动企业债务人走破产程序,迫使家庭债务人放弃抵押品赎回权。这种举措会让整个经济感到阵阵寒意,需要政府用纳税人的钱实施不得人心的紧急财政援助,也会带来社会阵痛。而且在有些情况下,银行可能很难在市场中再吸收新的资金。

Even so, the drawback of delaying the cleanup is that the banks remain wounded and reluctant to lend, damping any recovery that takes place. Japan, economists say, waited far too long after its credit boom of the 1980s to force its banks to recognize huge losses – and the economy suffered for years after as a result.

尽管如此,推迟清理坏账也会有后果。因为银行会因此持续处在受创状态,不愿提供贷款,经济恢复也就遥遥无期。多名经济学家表示,在20世纪80年代出现信贷热潮之后,日本拖了太久才迫使其银行列支巨额损失,结果日本经济在之后多年一直一蹶不振。

Now, many banking experts are beginning to worry about China’s bad loans.

现在,很多银行业专家开始担忧中国的不良贷款。

Fears that the country’s economy is slowing have weighed heavily on global markets in recent months because a weak China can drag down growth globally.

对于中国经济放缓的种种担忧已经让全球市场在最近几个月承受了巨大压力,因为中国经济走弱将使全球经济随之放缓。

Many of these concerns focus on China’s banking industry. In recent years, banks and other financial companies in China issued a tidal wave of new loans and other credit products, many of which will not get paid back in full.

这种担忧有很多都集中在中国的银行业。最近几年,中国的银行和其他金融机构又发放了一大波新的贷款和其他信贷产品,其中很多都将无法全额收回。

China’s financial sector will have loans and other financial assets of $30 trillion at the end of this year, up from $9 trillion seven years ago, said Charlene Chu, an analyst in Hong Kong for Autonomous Research.

研究机构Autonomous Research驻香港分析师朱夏莲(Charlene Chu)表示,到今年年底,中国金融领域的贷款及其他金融资产将达到30万亿,而七年前这个金额只有9万亿。

“The world has never seen credit growth of this magnitude over a such short time,” she said in an email. “We believe it has directly or indirectly impacted nearly every asset price in the world, which is why the market is so jittery about the idea that credit problems in China could unravel.”

“以前从未有过这么短时间内出现这么大程度的信贷增长的情况,”她在电子邮件中写道。“我们认为,这已经直接或间接地影响到了世界上几乎每一项资产的价格,因此市场对于中国信贷问题可能暴露的预期,感到紧张不安。”

Headline figures for bad loans in China most likely do not capture the size of the problem, analysts say. In her analysis, Ms. Chu estimates that at the end of 2016, as much as 22 percent of the Chinese financial system’s loans and assets will be “nonperforming,” a banking industry term used to describe when a borrower has fallen behind on payments or is stressed in ways that make full repayment unlikely. In dollar terms, that works out to $6.6 trillion of troubled loans and assets.

分析人士表示,中国不良贷款的账面金额,很可能无法体现问题的真实规模。朱夏莲在分析中估计,到2016年年底,中国金融体系将有多达22%的“不良”贷款和资产。这一银行业术语指的是债务人拖延还款,或因为财务状况吃紧,无法全数还款的情况。按美元计算,中国的不良贷款和资产达到了6.6万亿美元。

“This estimate really isn’t that unreasonable,” Ms. Chu said in the email. “We’ve seen similar ratios in other countries. What’s different is the scale, which reflects the massive size of China’s credit boom.” She estimates that the bad loans could eventually lead to $4.4 trillion of actual losses.

“这种估计实际上不无道理,”朱夏莲在邮件中写道。“我们在其他国家也见到过类似的比率。不同的是规模,这反映了中国信贷热潮的巨大规模。”据她估计,不良贷款最终会带来4.4万亿美元的实际损失。

Although there is not enough official data to come up with a precise figure for bad loans, other analysts have come up with estimates of around $5 trillion.

虽然没有足够多的官方数据提供有关不良贷款的精确数字,但其他分析人士估计金额在5万亿美元左右。

Given the murkiness of the Chinese financial industry, other analysts arrive at estimates for a “baseline” figure for bad loans. Christopher Balding, an associate professor at the HSBC School of Business at Peking University, said that an analysis of corporations’ interest payments to Chinese banks suggested that 8 percent of loans to companies might be troubled. But Mr. Balding said it was possible that the bad loan number for China’s overall financial system could be higher.

鉴于中国金融行业的不透明性,其他分析人士只是估算了不良贷款的“基线”数据。北京大学汇丰商学院副教授克里斯托弗·鲍尔丁(Christopher Balding)说,对企业向中国各银行支付的利息进行分析后,结论是8%的企业贷款可能存在问题。但鲍尔丁表示,中国整个金融体系的不良贷款金额可能更高。

The looming question for the global economy, however, is how China might deal with a vast pool of bad debts.

但全球经济面临的迫切问题在于,中国会如何应对巨额的不良贷款。

After a previous credit boom in the 1990s, the Chinese government provided financial support to help clean up the country’s banks. But the cost of similar interventions today could be dauntingly high given the size of the latest credit boom. And more immediately, rising bad debts could crimp lending to strong companies, undermining economic growth in the process.

在20世纪90年代的信贷大潮过后,中国政府提供了财政支持,帮助银行清理不良资产。但考虑到最近信贷热潮的规模,如今采取类似干预举措的成本可能会极高。更直接的影响是,不断增加的不良贷款会阻碍健康的公司获得贷款,并在这个过程中削弱经济增长。

In Europe, for instance, some countries have taken years to come to grips with their banks’ bad loans.

例如,一些欧洲国家等了很多年,才开始着手解决银行不良贷款问题。

In some cases, the delay arose from a reluctance, at least in part, to force people out of their homes. Even though Ireland’s biggest banks suffered huge losses after the financial crisis, they held back from forcing many borrowers who had defaulted out of their homes. In recent years, the Irish government has pursued a widespread plan that aims to reduce the debt load of financially stressed homeowners. Such forbearance appears not to have weakened the Irish economy, which has recovered at a faster rate than those of other European countries.

有时候,拖延清理不良资产的原因在于不愿把别人赶出家门。尽管爱尔兰最大的银行在金融危机后遭受巨大损失,但它们并没有把不履行还贷义务的债务人从家里赶出去。近些年来,爱尔兰政府开展一个广泛计划,以减少资金困难的房主的债务负担。这种宽容举措似乎没有削弱爱尔兰经济,该国经济的复苏速度比其他欧洲国家都快。

Still, the perils of waiting too long are evident in Italy, which in January announced a proposal to help banks sell their bad loans. Some critics of the plan say it resembles a government bailout of the banks, while other skeptics say the banks might not use it because it appears to be too expensive.

但在意大利,等待太长时间所带来的风险是显而易见的。意大利在今年1月宣布了一项帮助银行出售不良资产的计划。该计划的一些批评人士表示,这与政府救援银行的举措相似,而其他持怀疑态度的人士则表示,银行可能不会采取该计划,因为其成本似乎非常高昂。

“The big problem in the Italian system is that they acted very late,” said Silvia Merler, an affiliate fellow at Bruegel, a European research firm that focuses on economic issues. “They could have done something smarter – and they could have done it earlier.”

“意大利银行体系的严重问题在于它们行动太晚,”欧洲经济问题研究机构布勒哲尔研究所(Bruegel)的研究员西尔维娅·梅勒(Silvia Merler)说。“他们本来可以处理得更聪明一些,更早一些。”

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