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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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印度与中国:半杯水满(或者至少满了10%)  

2009-12-30 15:08:50|  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]

因为有很多读者对我写的关于印度和中国的博文感兴趣,所以我想,我应该汇报一下我在飞往德克萨斯的途中所读到的《经济学家》中的四篇文章。记得去年5月1日,我曾论述道,印度的大选对新自由主义者来说是个好消息,因为共产党实在是太差了。我并不需要对印度的政治了解足够多,才能去评估其大选的政治意义。然而,印度的股票市场第二天,狂飙着上涨了17%,这一事实就是我所需要的全部明证。另一方面,一些评论家认为,现在国大党对改革持反对态度,那样的选举结果可不是我所想要的。但是,《经济学家》中最近的一篇文章表明:新自由主义的死亡报告或许被过早地宣读了:

    “印度的Latex,今年起改名为HLL Lifecare,是印度中央政府所有的246家企业之一。从核能源到假肢,这些企业经营着几乎所有事业,2008年雇佣了160万员工,为印度贡献了8.3%的GDP。11月5日,印度政府表达了一个新的意愿,要减少政府在这些企业中所拥有的股份。它的要求是,那些盈利的企业必须提供至少10%的股份给与公众。”

我不清楚,关于这个政策的消息具体是在什么时候泄露出来的,但是请注意,11月3日,印度的股票价格在这个图表中呈现低谷状态。

我想,大多数这篇文章的读者会比我采取更乐观的看法。实际上,《经济学家》给这篇文章的副标题是:“印度政府正以错误的理由对公司进行私有化。”但是,我倾向于忽略掉那些严肃的知识分子中十分流行的悲观主义,而试图找出究竟是怎么一回事儿。在我看来,即使是国营企业的一小部分股份上市,那也是个好兆头,因为,在那时,最激烈的政治对抗正如火如荼地进行着。一旦你私有化了头一个10%,那么下一个10%就可以更平稳地抛售了;购买资产的优先权已经设置好了。而《经济学家》的文章指出了小部分股份上市的另一个利益:

    “即使是很小份额的上市,也有助于使得经理们保持动力,因为他们受着股市的监督。越大份额私有化当然会更好。根据该国央行—印度储备银行—的Saibal Ghosh的一项研究,表明,政府所拥有的每一股权份额从100%下降到50%,资产的回报就会增加24%。”

第二部分:中国的水杯正半空

《经济学家》中一篇以《再次启动国有化》命名的文章,则似乎描绘了一副凄风冷雨的惨淡图景:

    “中国五矿集团成为了目标,因为它普遍被人们视为过分强大的复兴的国营企业之一。国家控制下的滥用事迹被媒体报道出来,而大部分国有企业通常被冠名为一个流行,但是难听的名字:“国进民退”;它的意思指,国营事业进步,而私人企业退步。在中国的4万亿刺激方案之下,国有银行激起一片信贷狂潮,国有企业不成比例地从其中取得了很大块的贷款;这种情形使得自由市场派经济学家满载怨恨,而他们的观点在新闻媒体上得到普遍地同情。

饱受批评之下,中国的国资委主任李荣融在八月,出面公开否认存在“国进民退”现象。李先生说道,国营企业或许确实前进了,但是私营企业同样进步了。质疑的人回应称,(国营对民营企业的)侵犯的证据比比皆是。一位中国经济学家发表于《上海日报》的文章最近被《中国商业新闻》所引述,他说道,中国正处于第三波国有化浪潮之中:第一波发生在20世纪30年代、40年代,第二波是在共产党统治下的50年代。然而后者(译注:指第二波国有化)摧毁了所有的私人经济。在过去30年间,私人经济迅速地复兴了,而曾经一度占据支配势力的国营部门却式微了。根据官方的数据,去年,国营企业在大型工业总产出中的贡献占28.4%。”

但是,近距离观察一下。中国经济中的一大领域是“大型工业企业”,而国营企业在此领域内仍然很重要。然而,如果这个数据是准确的,那么甚至在这个领域,他们所占的份额也会下降到28.4%。我认为,更重要的是媒体对此的态度(媒体是国家所有的)。我在中国的时候,读到了这方面的一些文章。《经济学家》称,中国的媒体对国营企业是抱持怀疑态度的,它们有利于中国经济的进一步自由化,我可以证明此一断言的正确性。对长期而言,这些舆论态度日益促成了政府的政策,尤其是老一代人正死去,抱有进步思想的年轻一代的官僚正脱颖而出。

另一篇《经济学人》上的文章则探讨了公众对大国经济中自由市场的态度。哪个地方的公众最亲近于自由市场呢?印度还是中国。这两个国家中,社会主义远比其他地区带来更多的穷困人民。批评我的一些人谈到,印度的知识分子有着一种流行的社会主义偏向。幸运的是,“群众的智慧”远比这些知识分子大得多,正如我们所看到的,在5月份的选举中,共产主义遭遇了严重的挫折。

请注意一下,早在2002年时,美国人远比中国人或印度人更青睐自由市场。但好景不长,全拜另一位布什(小布什)所赐。

另外,有意思的一点是,各国的全要素生产率的增长。《经济学家》是这样论及中国的:

    “Andrew Cates,一位瑞银中国的经济学家,在他最近的一份报告中试图评估一下过去20年间新兴经济体的全要素生产率的增长(见图表)。他计算出,中国有着快得多的TFP(全要素生产力)年增长率,大约4%。大概其他的国家历史上从没有过如此之快的效率增加。印度和亚洲其他的新兴经济体也保有着比其他发展中(或发达)国家快得多的生产力增长。相反的,在巴西和俄罗斯,生产力的增长比其他富裕经济体增长的慢。

 印度与中国:半杯水满(或者至少满了10) - Sumner - TheMoneyIllusion货币幻觉

这些数据完全摧毁了流行的说法:中国的高速增长完全是建立在过度投资上面的。怀疑这一点的人喜欢用中国和苏联作比较,在苏联经济崩溃之前,过量的投资在许多年内也产生了高速的增长率。但是,最大的不同之处在于,1988年之前的30多年中,苏联的TFP(全要素生产力)实际上是以平均每年1%的幅度下降的。相比之下,中国的生产力由于民营企业的大规模扩张而提高,劳动力从农业工作转向有着更大生产力的工业中。根据高盛集团的研究,中国现在的物质资本平均回报率已经远远高于全球水平。而十年前,它(物质资本回报率)还不到全球水平的一半。

为什么亚洲经济会这么领先呢?长期中,生产力增长的最关键的决定因素是:现有的和新技术的采用率,国内科技创新的速率和生产组织的变革速度。这些又依次取决于一些因素,比如:经济体对外直接投资,对外贸易的开放程度,教育和劳动力市场的灵活度。

通过使用一个关于技术渗透、技术创新(例如,包括人均拥有的电脑、手机台数)的综合指标,Cates先生在一个经济体技术进步增长率与它的生产力增长之间找到了密切的联系。中国的技术水平仍然远远落于美国之后,但是,在过去几十年间,它的进步速度则快得多。这不仅仅是因为中国起步的基础低,还因为它在对外国投资的开放程度远超过很多其他的新兴经济体;包括日本和南韩—它们俩处于类似的发展阶段。在日本和南韩经济增长的巅峰时期,中国的TFP(全要素生产力)增长也比它们快上差不多两倍左右。”

然而,它们(指《经济学家》中的四篇文章)以必要的注释草草结束,任何一篇严肃的论文都不会以这样的形式告终的。

    “也即是说,即使中国的生产力增长快于发达国家,但如果政府不推进大刀阔斧的改革的话,很可能它会慢下来。中国的增长仍然是侧重于资本密集型产业的。对民营企业开放服务部门,使农村劳动力更容易转移到城市领域将会导致更优的资本—劳动配置。这将有助于保持高速的增长,但是也会产生劳动密集型产业。劳动生产力增大的速度变慢,这种结果会引起分析人士的警戒,但是仍无损全要素生产力(TFP)保持强劲势态。”

 

(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@)

-----------------------------------------------

英文原文(地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=2987):

India and China: The glass is half full (or at least 10% full)

Because there was a lot of interest in my India and China posts, I thought I would report on 4 articles that I read in The Economist, while flying to Texas.  Recall that last May I argued that the Indian election was good news for neoliberals, as the Communist Party did very poorly.  I don’t claim to understand Indian politics well enough to evaluate the policy implications of elections, but the fact that the stock market soared about 17% the next day was all the confirmation I needed.  On the other hand some commenters suggested that the Congress Party was now hostile to reform, and that the election results were not what I claimed.  But a recent article in The Economist suggests that reports of the death of neoliberalism may have been premature:

HLL Lifecare, which until this year was called Hindustan Latex, is one of 246 enterprises owned by India’s central government. Spanning everything from nuclear energy to artificial limbs, these companies employed almost 1.6m people in 2008 and accounted for 8.3% of the country’s GDP. On November 5th the government expressed a new willingness to reduce its stake in these enterprises. It wants the profitable ones to offer at least 10% of their shares to the public.

I don’t know exactly when the news of this policy leaked out, but note that the Indian stock price trough in this graph occurred on November 3rd.

I think most readers of this article would take away a much more pessimistic view than I did.  Indeed The Economist subtitled the article: “India’s government is privatising companies for the wrong reason.”  But I tend to filter out the fashionable pessimism of serious intellectuals, and try to figure out what is really going on.  In my view the listing of even a small stake of a SOE is a good sign, as that is when the most intense political opposition occurs.  Once you get the first 10% privatized, the next 10% can be sold off much more quietly; the precedence has already been set.  And The Economist points to another benefit of even small listings:

Listing even a small stake helps keep managers on their toes, by subjecting them to the scrutiny of the stockmarket. But the bigger the float, the better. A drop in the government’s shareholding from 100% to 50% raises the return on assets by about 24%, according to a recent study by Saibal Ghosh of the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank.

Part 2.  China’s glass is half empty

The article by The Economist is entitled “Nationalisation Rides Again,” and certainly seems to paint a very bleak picture:

Minmetals has become a target because it is part of what is widely seen as an over-mighty, resurgent state sector. Media reports about abuses by state-controlled and mostly state-owned enterprises are common and often larded with a newly popular, negative-sounding term guojin mintui, meaning the state advances and the private (sector) retreats. The disproportionate largesse received by state firms as a result of China’s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package and a torrent of lending this year by state-owned banks has fuelled the resentment of liberal economists, whose views are widely and sympathetically quoted in the press.

Stung by the criticism, the head of the government ministry which supervises China’s centrally-owned state firms, Li Rongrong, publicly denied in August that there was a guojin mintui phenomenon. Mr Li said the state sector may have been growing, but so too had the private one. Sceptics reply that evidence of encroachment abounds. One Chinese economist was recently quoted by China Business News, a Shanghai daily, as saying China was undergoing a third wave of nationalisation: the first having occurred in the 1930s and 1940s, and the second in the 1950s under the Communists. The latter all but destroyed private business. It has recovered rapidly in the past 30 years, while the once-dominant state sector has shrivelled. Last year, on official figures, state-controlled firms accounted for 28.4% of output by larger industrial enterprises.

But take a closer look.  One area of the Chinese economy where SOEs are still important is the “larger industrial enterprises.”  And yet if this data is accurate, even in this sector their share is down to 28.4%.   Much more important in my view is the attitude of the (state-owned) media.  I read some of these articles when I was in China, and I can verify The Economist’s assertion that the press is skeptical of SOEs, and tends to favor further liberalization of the economy.  In the long run those attitudes will increasingly shape government policy, especially as the older generati0n dies off and younger officials with more progressive attitudes rise to the top.

Another article in The Economist discussed the public’s attitude toward free markets in many of the major economies.  Where is the public most favorably inclined toward free markets?  India and China.  The two countries where socialism impoverished more people than anywhere else.  Some of my commenters referred to the fashionable socialist attitudes among Indian intellectuals.  Fortunately the “wisdom of crowds” is much greater than the wisdom of intellectuals, as we saw when the Communists suffered a severe setback in the May elections.

Note that as recently as 2002, Americans were more in favor of free markets than either Chinese or Indians.  But no longer.  Another Bush legacy.

There is another interesting piece on total factor productivity growth in various countries.  The Economist has this to say about China:

A recent report by Andrew Cates, an economist at UBS, attempts to estimate TFP growth in emerging economies over the past two decades (see chart). He calculates that China has had by far the fastest annual rate of TFP growth, at around 4%. Probably no other country in history has enjoyed such rapid efficiency gains. India and other Asian emerging economies have also enjoyed faster productivity growth than other developing or developed regions. In contrast, productivity in Brazil and Russia has risen more slowly than in rich economies.

These figures undermine a common claim—that China’s rapid growth has been based solely on overinvestment. Sceptics like to compare China with the Soviet Union, where heavy investment also produced rapid rates of growth for many years before it collapsed. But the big difference is that TFP in the Soviet Union actually fell by an annual average of 1% over 30 years to 1988. In contrast China’s productivity has been lifted by a massive expansion of private enterprise, and a shift of labour out of agricultural work and into more productive jobs in industry. China’s average return on physical capital is now well above the global average, according to Goldman Sachs. A decade ago it was less than half the world average.

Why have the Asian economies led the pack? The most important determinants of longer-term productivity growth are the rate of adoption of existing and new technologies, the pace of domestic scientific innovation and changes in the organisation of production. These, in turn, depend on factors such as the openness of an economy to foreign direct investment and trade, education and the flexibility of labour markets.

Using a composite index of technology penetration and innovation (including, for instance, computers and mobile phones per head), Mr Cates finds a strong link between the rate of increase in an economy’s technological progress and its productivity growth. China’s level of technology is still well behind that in America, but it has seen by far the fastest rate of improvement over the past decade. This is not just because China started from such a low base but also because it is more open to foreign investment than many other emerging economies, including Japan and South Korea when they were at similar stages of development. China’s TFP growth is almost twice as fast as that of Japan and South Korea during their periods of peak economic growth.

 But they end with the obligatory note of caution, without which no serious article would be complete:

That said, even if China’s productivity growth remains faster than that of the developed world, it is likely to slow unless the government pushes ahead with bolder reforms. China’s growth is still too capital-intensive. Opening up the service sector to private firms and making it easier for workers to shift from rural to urban areas would result in a better allocation of labour and capital. That would help sustain rapid growth but would also make it more job-intensive. The resulting fall in labour-productivity growth might cause alarm among some analysts, but TFP would remain strong.

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