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资本外流,人民币再遇考验

更新时间:2016/2/15 9:44:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Chinese Start to Lose Confidence in Their Currency
资本外流,人民币再遇考验

HONG KONG — As the Chinese economy stumbles, wealthy families are increasingly trying to move large sums of money out of the country, worried that the value of the currency will fall and their savings will be worth less.

香港——随着中国经济走势低迷,富裕家庭担心人民币贬值,自己的存款价值缩水,正越来越多地试图将巨款转移出境。

To get around the country’s cash controls, individuals are asking friends or family members to carry or transfer out $50,000 apiece, the annual legal limit in China. A group of 100 people can move $5 million overseas.


为了不违反中国的现金管制规定,一些人让朋友或家庭成员携带或汇款5万美元出境,这是中国规定的年度上限。100人一年可以转移500万美元到海外。

The practice is called smurfing, named after the blue, mushroom-dwelling cartoon protagonists, and it is part of an exodus of capital that is casting doubt on China’s economic prospects and shaking global markets. Over the last year, companies and individuals have moved nearly $1 trillion from China.

这种做法被称为“smurfing”(蓝精灵式转移,国内常称“蚂蚁搬家”。——译注),得名于住在蘑菇里的卡通角色蓝精灵。它是资本外流的其中一种形式,这种外流正给中国经济前景投下阴影,也在全球市场引发震动。过去一年中,公司和个人已经从中国转移了近一万亿美元出境。

Some methods are perfectly legal, like investing in real estate elsewhere, buying businesses overseas, or paying off debts owed in dollars. Others, such as Smurfing, are more dubious, and in certain cases, outright illegal. Chinese customs officials caught a woman last year trying to leave the mainland with $250,000 strapped to her chest and thighs and hidden inside her shoes.

有些方式是完全合法的,比如在其他地方进行房地产投资,购买海外企业,或偿付美元债务等。但类似蚂蚁搬家的方法则比较可疑,在某些情况下完全是非法的。中国海关官员去年抓获了一名试图离开大陆的女子,她把25万美元的钞票捆绑在胸部和大腿上,部分藏在鞋子里。

If the government cannot keep them from rushing to the financial exits, China’s outlook could darken. The swell of outflows is a destabilizing force in China’s slowing economy, threatening to undermine confidence and hurt a banking system that is struggling to deal with a decade-long lending binge.

如果政府不能阻止资金从金融系统中流出,中国的前景可能会愈发黯淡。资本外流增加是中国经济放缓的一个不稳定因素,有可能会打击人们的信心,对中国的银行系统造成危害。眼下,银行系统正在步履维艰地应对持续了十年的贷款狂潮。

The capital flight is already putting significant pressure on the country’s currency, the renminbi. The government is trying to prevent a free fall in the currency by stepping into the markets and tapping its huge cash hoard to shore up the renminbi. But a deep erosion of those reserves can set off further outflows and create turbulence in the markets.

资本外逃给中国的人民币带来了显著压力。为了防止人民币跳水,政府在市场上采取行动,动用其巨大的现金储备来支撑人民币。但是如果现金储备减少太多,反而会加剧资本外流,引发市场动荡。

China is also trying to put the brakes on outflows, by tightening its grip on the country’s links to the global financial system. The government, for example, just started to clamp down on people’s use of bank cards to buy life insurance policies.

中国还试图加强对该国和全球金融体系之间联系的控制,来遏制资本外流。比如,政府开始打击用银行卡购买寿险保单的做法。

Such moves have trade-offs. The limits create concerns that the government is pulling back on reform efforts that China needs to keep growth humming in the decades to come. But the near-term pressure also requires serious attention, given the global shock waves.

这些举措是有利有弊的。限制出台后,人们担心政府会逆转中国未来几十年发展所需的改革进程。但考虑到对全球的震荡效应,短期压力也需要给予密切关注。

“The currency has become a very near-term threat to financial stability,” said Charlene Chu, an economist at Autonomous Research.

“人民币已经成为金融稳定的一个近在眼前的威胁,”研究机构Autonomous Research的经济学家朱夏莲(Charlene Chu)说。

Navigating such problems is fairly new for China.

这些都是中国以前没有遇到过的问题。

For years, China soaked up much of the world’s investment money, as the economy grew at annual rates in the double digits. A largely closed financial system kept China’s own money corralled inside the country.

多年来,中国吸纳了全球投资的很大一部分,其经济保持着两位数的年增长率。中国的金融体系在很大程度上是封闭的,把它自己的钱圈在国内。

Now, with growth slowing, money is gushing out of the country. And the government has a looser grip on the spigot, because China dismantled some currency restrictions to open up its economy in recent years.

现在,随着经济增长放缓,资金正在大量流出该国。政府对资本流出的管制却比较宽松,因为近年来为了开放经济,中国取消了一些对货币的限制。

“Companies don’t want renminbi and individuals don’t want renminbi,” said Shaun Rein, the founder of the China Market Research Group. “The renminbi was a sure bet for a long time, but now that it’s not, a lot of people want to get out.”

“公司不想要人民币,个人也不想要人民币,”市场研究机构CMR集团的创始人雷小山(Shaun Rein)说。“在很长一段时间里,人民币都是包赚不赔,但现在不是这样了,很多人想要撤出。”

Managing the situation has proved complicated for the government.

事实证明,政府要管控这种形势并不容易。

China abruptly devalued the renminbi by 4 percent last August, as part of a shift to a more market-oriented approach and to help exporters. But that surprise move set off sharp stock falls.

去年8月,中国突然将人民币贬值4%,这是为了进一步向市场导向转型,同时也为出口商提供助力。但是这种突如其来的举动引发了股市暴跌。

The government then tried to guide the currency down in quieter fashion, with the renminbi falling 2.8 percent over a five-week period ending in early January. Even so, the stealthy move led to a sell-off, as global investors fretted about the Chinese economy.

然后政府又试图采取不那么引人注目的方式,引导人民币汇率下滑,在截止1月初的五周时间里,人民币跌去了2.8%。即便如此,这种不显眼的举动还是引发了抛售,因为全球投资者对中国经济感到焦虑不安。

The Chinese central bank is fighting the downward pressure by purchasing large sums of renminbi, selling dollars from its currency reserves to do so. China’s reserves sank by $108 billion in December and another $99 billion in January, to $3.23 trillion. A year and a half ago, they stood at $4 trillion.

为了缓解下行压力,中国央行大举购入人民币,为此要出售其货币储备中的美元。去年12月,中国外汇储备减少了1080亿美元,今年1月又减少了990亿美元,剩下3.23万亿美元。一年半之前,他们有4万亿美元的外汇储备。

And the renminbi still faces plenty of headwinds.

而人民币仍然面临很多阻力。

The government has been cutting interest rates to stimulate the economy, making it less attractive for savers to keep their money in the country. Corporate profits are shrinking because China has too many spare steel mills, car factories and empty houses, leading investors to seek better returns elsewhere.

政府一直通过降低利率刺激经济,削弱了对储蓄者的吸引力,使其不愿将钱存在中国。由于中国的过剩炼钢厂、汽车厂以及空置房屋过多,公司利润不断减少,导致投资者到其他地方寻求更好的收益。

Ronald Wan, a Hong Kong money manager who is on the boards of numerous state-owned enterprises in mainland China, said that pessimism was becoming the consensus. “Among the companies I have been in contact with,” he said, “all of them have the intention of moving money out of the country.”

香港资金经理温天纳(Ronald Wan)在中国大陆的多家国有企业任董事,他表示,这种悲观情绪已经成为共识。“我所接触的公司,”他说。“都有意将资金转移出中国。”

In this environment, many banks and economists expect another sharp devaluation this spring. But the Chinese government has denounced predictions of any further erosion of the renminbi. The People’s Daily, the state-owned newspaper, in late January criticized George Soros, the billionaire trader known for big currency bets, after he questioned Chinese policies.

在这种环境下,很多银行和经济学家认为今年春季人民币会大幅贬值。但中国政府对于人民币会进一步贬值的预测进行了谴责。在以货币豪赌著称的亿万富翁、交易商乔治·索罗斯(George Soros)质疑中国政策之后,官方报纸《人民日报》在1月晚些时候发表文章对他加以批评。

“When they came out to attack Soros, to me that was the strongest signal that they will do whatever they can not to make Soros and other hedge fund managers too rich,” said Weijian Shan, chief executive of PAG, a private equity firm based in Hong Kong that manages $15 billion.

管理着150亿美元的香港私人股本公司太盟投资集团(PAG)首席执行官单伟建说,“当他们抨击索罗斯时,我觉得他们发出了最强信号,说明他们会竭尽所能,不让索罗斯及其他对冲基金经理变得更富有。”

The government’s next move, in part, will depend on whether it can stem the outflows, or at least slow them significantly. And in China, it is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.

在某种程度上,政府的下一步举措将取决于它能否阻止或者至少大幅减缓资金外流。在中国,这有点像猫捉老鼠的游戏。

Individuals can move $50,000 a year across China’s borders. Companies and sophisticated investors have more freedom to send out money legally for big-ticket purchases and investments. Overseas and domestic companies, which maintain bank accounts in various currencies, can also shift their cash , as well as borrow based on which currency they think will fall in value.

个人每年可以向境外转移五万美元的资金。公司和经验丰富的投资商拥有更多自由,可以通过大额购买和投资合法地转移资金。保留了各种货币的银行账户的海内外公司也可以转移资金,还可以依据自身对何种货币会贬值的判断进行借贷。

Unofficial methods abound.

台面下的方法还有很多。

Companies have inflated trade invoices to keep more profits outside the country, although Chinese authorities have cracked down on the practice.

公司通过抬高贸易发票金额将更多利润留在国外,但中国当局已经在打击这种行为。

Mr. Rein described doing market research with a wealthy woman in Shanghai who changed $7 million this winter from renminbi into dollars, by using 140 relatives, friends and even friends’ relatives who each carried $50,000 a piece.

雷小山讲了一桩与上海一名富有女子做市场调查的事情,此人在今冬通过140名亲属、朋友,甚至朋友的亲属兑换了700万美元,每人携带五万美元。

The government, though, is trying to cut off some routes.

但政府正在努力切断一些途径。

Two years ago, the government gave permission for insurers to invest 15 percent of their assets overseas, up from 1.5 percent. But China abruptly told insurers this winter to suspend many of their overseas plans, according to Hong Kong financiers.

两年前,中国政府允许保险公司将15%的资产投向海外,之前的比率为1.5%。但据香港金融业者透露,中国在今冬突然要求保险公司暂停一些海外项目。

Beijing has restricted the withdrawal of renminbi from overseas branches of Chinese banks. In Shenzhen, banks have begun requiring that residents make reservations up to a week in advance if they want to change the daily maximum of $10,000 worth of Chinese currency into dollars.

北京已经收紧了在境外中国银行分支机构提取人民币的限制。在深圳,各银行开始要求每天要兑换一万美元——每日最高额——的居民提前一周预约。

In January, Zou Tai, a hospital worker from east-central China, caught an early morning flight to buy a $50,000 life insurance policy in Hong Kong. Scores of Chinese customers having been doing the same to get money out of the country, since the policy is bought in renminbi and can be cashed out in American dollars.

今年1月,来自中国中东部的医院工作人员邹泰(音)搭乘早班航班,前往香港购买价值五万美元的人寿保险单。数十名中国客户通过同样途径将资金转移出中国,因为保单是用人民币购买,可以变现为美元。

“The buying power of the renminbi keeps dropping,” Mrs. Zou said. “I feel that China’s leaders will have no choice but to devalue the renminbi.”

“人民币的购买力不断下降,”邹泰说。“我觉得中国的领导人别无选择,只能让人民币贬值。”

Mrs. Zou acted in the nick of time, since the government is now pushing back. UnionPay International, a government-controlled bank card company, recently announced that it would start strictly enforcing a pre-existing but widely ignored limit on overseas insurance purchases of $5,000 a year per card.

邹泰购买的时机刚刚好,因为政府目前正在阻止购买。由政府控制的银行信用卡公司银联国际最近宣布,该公司将开始严格限制购买海外保险的金额——每张卡每年只能购买5000美元,这一举措之前就已存在,但被广泛忽视。

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