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TheMoneyIllusion货币幻觉

美国本特利大学经济学教授斯科特·萨姆纳(Scott Sumner)

 
 
 

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美国本特利大学经济学教授

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萨伊定律在中国  

2009-12-15 21:33:24|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客]  [Scott Sumner中文博客]

 

这个视频显示了中国的一个还没有居民的全新的城市,它吸引了广泛的关注。

在这个视频中,Gary Shiling对中国的未来采取了悲观的看法。

通过这个视频,Mark Dow却看到了更加乐观的东西。

中国是不是在所有领域都生产过剩呢?萨伊定律认为这是不可能的。那么住房是否过多呢?也许吧,然而这里有一些相关的评估(或者我应该称之为“瞎猜”,因为我很难找到数据的支持):

1、2006年,在我访问的时候,中国的媒体表示,城市平均住宅面积已经由20世纪80年代的85平方英尺(1平方英尺=0.09290304平方米)上升到大约250平方英尺。现在,我想会超过300平方英尺吧。

2、大量城市住房是不合规格的,应该适时的予以拆除。

3、在现代经济中,住房单元差不多接近1000个平方英尺。

4、大约60%的中国居民(7亿5千万人)生活在农村地区。

5、在未来几十年,绝大多数中国人将成为城市居民和中产阶级。

6、中国的人口增长至少有一亿。

现在,让我们把这些数字放到一块。无论怎样,我看着这幅画面,心里不禁想象着,中国在未来几十年中将要建造数不胜数的住房量。这使我很难想象中国有着过多数量的住房。相反,(住房)质量和美观才是问题所在。有时候,房屋是在错误的地方兴建的。然而,绝大多数新的住房单位是建在现有城市的。以西方的标准来看,这些城市是极度拥挤的,它们吸引着上百万、上千万的人口,最终又有数亿新的定居者。我想这个令人震惊的视频(关于内蒙古的城市的)往往掩盖了这一现实。

Gary Shilling表示过:为了供应他们的出口工业,他们正在建造者大量的钢筋水泥设施。我的感觉是,这些钢筋水泥的大部分将用于建造住房、道路、地铁、高速公路、污水处理厂、机场、发电厂、办公楼等等。而不是为了出口。我认为Mark Dow完全正确:中国可能并不像许多预测所说的,在坐等彻底失败。

半杯水/半杯空,中国正是这个隐喻的绝佳例证。它的体系仍然是半共产主义的。没有产权使得其环境状况十分糟糕(这和苏联国家是一样的)。有着各种各样的办法使得小人物们饱受体制的肆虐。许多新房屋很蹩脚地被隔离开,这进一步恶化了环境。省政府在一些工业上给与激励以开发过剩的产能。我可以(像这样)继续描述下去。

然而,别忽视了萨伊定律。即使他们的经济体中所有的扭曲一起发挥着影响,投资的高速增长仍然可能会继续推动GDP的增长。这些扭曲也许意味着,当GDP增长12%时,他们需要把它换算成生活水平增长了9%。但不管数字是多少,所有的指标都显示着生活水平在飞速上升。

那些对中国抱有极端乐观或者极度悲观看法的人,他们只看到了发生实情的一部分。个中情况太复杂了,以至于不能通过简单的陈述--像“他们建造太过量了”--理解清楚。中国并不真正符合那些纯粹的共产主义模式或者资本主义模式。我不知道,那些在证券交易所上市的所有国企在力图争取什么目标。他们越来越不像毛泽东时代的国有企业,但是他们也不像西方的企业。那么,它们算是什么呢?我怀疑我们是否有(针对中国国企的)管用的模型。只能读像黄亚生和迈克尔·佩蒂斯等人的文章,他们远比我更了解这个体制。

更甚者,这个关于鄂尔多斯市的视频都是模糊不清的。视频显示出,鄂尔多斯大多数新建公寓都被投机商抢购一空。他们是谁?为什么他们要投资?房价是上升了还是下降了?这些问题都无法得到回答。

在中国,大多数最有名的房产投机商人来自温州,浙江省沿海的一个资本主义飞地城市。即使是那些老于世故的老北京、老上海人,也对他们敏锐的商业嗅觉望而生畏。现在,我不知道有多少鄂尔多斯公寓被温州商收购了,但是我知道的是,像你我这种高坐在西方城市里的人,是不可能知道中国在将来会否证明这些投资是明智的。

请别指责我盲目地把有效市场假设应用到中国的住房上面。可能在某些市场上会有泡沫。事实上,我认为(泡沫)相当有可能。我所说的全部意思就是,我们无法仅仅凭这4分钟的视频,就可预言到现下中国一个不重要省份的城市的住房市场价格。

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)

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英文原文(地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=2924):

Say’s Law in China

This video shows a brand new city in China with no residents, and has attracted a lot of attention.

In this video Gary Shilling takes a pessimistic view of China’s future.

In this video Mark Dow is much more optimistic.

Is China producing too much of everything?  Say’s Law says that’s impossible.  Then how about too much housing?  Perhaps, but here are some relevant estimates (or I should say guesstimates, as I had trouble finding data):

1.  When I visited in 2006 the Chinese media indicated that the average urban apartment had increased from about 85 sq feet in 1980 to somewhere around 250 sq feet.  By now I imagine it is well over 300 sq feet.

2.  Much of the urban housing is very substandard, and should be torn down at some point.

3.  In a modern economy housing units are up closer to 1000 square feet.

4.  Somewhere around 60% of Chinese residents (750 million people) live in rural areas.

5.  In the next few decades China will become overwhelmingly urban and middle class.

6.  China’s population will grow by at least another 100 million.

Now let’s put these numbers together.  No matter how I look as this picture, I can’t help thinking that China is going to build a mind-boggling amount of housing over the next few decades.  It is hard for me to imagine that China has too much housing.  Rather, the problems are quality and aesthetics.  Sometimes the housing is being built in the wrong places.  But the overwhelming majority of new housing units are built in existing cities.  Cities that are extremely overcrowded by western standards, and also that are attracting millions, tens of millions, and eventually many hundreds of millions of new residents.  I think the shock video on the Inner Mongolian city tends to obscure that reality.

Gary Shilling suggested they are building massive capacity in steel and cement facilities in order to supply their export industries.  My hunch is that most of this steel and cement will be used for housing, roads, subways, high-speed rail, sewage treatment plants, airports, power plants, office buildings etc.  Not exports.  I think Mark Dow has it exactly right; China probably isn’t the disaster in waiting that many expect.

China is the perfect illustration of the glass half full/half empty metaphor.  The system is still half communist.  Without property rights the environmental situation is deplorable (as it was in the Soviet bloc countries.)  There are all sorts of ways that the little guy gets abused by the system.  Much of the new housing is poorly insulated, which further worsens the environment.  Provincial governments have an incentive to build excess capacity in some industries.  And I could go on and on. 

But don’t lose sight of Say’s Law.  Even with all the distortions in their economy, this rapid growth in investment will probably continue to drive fast GDP growth.  The distortions might mean that they need 12% measured GDP growth to get 9% growth in livings standards.  But whatever the numbers are, living standards are rising fast by almost any indicator.

Anyone who has an extremely optimistic or an extremely pessimistic view of China sees only a portion of what is happening there.  It is too complicated to be understood by simple statements like “they’re building too much capacity.”  China doesn’t really fit neatly into any models of communism or capitalism.  I have no idea what all these SOEs listed on the stock exchange are trying to maximize.  Every day they look less and less like the old Maoist-era SOEs, but they still don’t look anything like Western firms.  So what are they?  I doubt we have any good models.  Read people like Yasheng Huang and Michael Pettis, who know far more about the system than I do.

Even the Ordos video is more ambiguous than it might appear.   The video said most of the new Ordos apartments had been snapped up by speculators.  Who are they?  Why did they invest?  Is the price rising or falling?  These questions aren’t answered. 

The most famous housing speculators in China are the people from Wenzhou, a capitalist enclave on the coast of Zhejiang province.  Even the sophisticated residents of Shanghai and Beijing are somewhat in awe of their business acumen. Now I have no idea how many Ordos apartments have been purchased by Wenzhou people, but I do know that it is almost impossible for you and I, sitting here in a Western country, knowing next to nothing about China, to try to decide whether these Ordos investments are wise.

Please don’t accuse me of blindly applying the EMH to Chinese housing.  There may well be bubbles in certain markets.  In fact I think it is quite likely.  All I am saying is that we don’t have any reason to second-guess the current market price of housing in an obscure provincial city in China, merely on the basis of a 4 minute video.

PS.  I will go to Houston in a few days, then to San Antonio.  Any suggestions?  I hope to see a few museums in Houston, and perhaps a Bucks game in San Antonio.

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