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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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人民币:绝非一场零和博弈  

2009-05-25 17:22:36|  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

  我很高兴有中国读者能够通过网易博客阅读到我的文章。我本人的研究对象主要是美国的货币政策,不过今天,我很乐意就中国的人民币问题发表一些自己的看法。此外,由于不得不抽空修改自己即将出版的有关大萧条方面的文稿,因此在接下来的几周时间里我的博客更新速度有可能会有所放慢。对于部分刚开始阅读我博客的读者,这里有很多讨论我的观点,即“这场危机是如何被误解的”的博文可供阅读。针对这种情况,我会尽快将这些文章整合在“About the blog.”里。下半年我将造访中国,相信到时将还会提到与中国相关的一些话题。


  我将从以下几个方面入手,探讨人民币的相关问题:

  1. 实际汇率的长期走向;
  2. 汇率以及贸易差异;
  3. 汇率以及全球总需求。


  1. 在近期谈论到爱沙尼亚的几篇博客里,我专门提到,基于巴拉萨-萨缪尔森效应来进行分析,快速发展的经济体,其实际汇率也在持续增长。这样的情况既可能出现在一个(名义)市场汇率较高的国家,也可能出现在一个通胀率较高的国家。这点其实不难理解。对于低收入的国家来说,由于其生产力水平较低,其人民生活水平也就相对较低。不过,随着他们收入的增加,其生活水平也将自然而然愈加趋近发达国家的水平。


  早些年我曾到访中国,发现那时整个国家的生活水平只相当于美国1/3的水平。我个人对中国能最终发展成为一个发达国家抱有很大期望,而到那时,相信其生活水平也将与美国持平。因此,尽管当时人民币兑换美元为8.28元,不过我估计在30年后,这个数字将变为3元。当我跟我的一些中国朋友说到这些想法时,他们中的许多人都表示难以理解。但事实证明这完全是有可能的。仅短短数年时间,人民币兑美元就升到6.8元,而且还有可能继续保持这种上升趋势。我想,对于中国政府而言,他们也更愿意通过更高的名义汇率而不是高企的通胀率实现过渡。而在2005年,中国政府就已经作出这样的选择。


  近年来,美国以及欧洲各国政府不断向中国政府施压,要求重估人民币价值。不管人民币长远的发展动向如何,在我看来,这样的提议显然对双方都是不合时宜的。相反,若短期内人民币能够出现小幅度的贬值,恐怕会更有利一些。要理解这一点,我们还得先来了解一下另两个常被误解的话题;


  2. 当前,中美贸易仍然存在巨大贸易差额。这使得美国的许多政治家认为,正是因为人民币被低估才导致这种贸易的不平衡,而这种不平衡的贸易显然已经威胁到美国的经济。但我个人并不赞同这种说法。和许多经济学家一样,在我看来,贸易逆差,或更准确地来说,经常项目逆差只反映出美国与亚洲地区的储蓄率差异。像中国这样储蓄量大于投资量的国家,其经常项目会出现盈余,而像美国这样储蓄量小于投资量的国家,其经常项目则自然而然不如前者。由此可见,汇率并不会造成贸易不平衡,相反,实际汇率还能够促进资本的流通。


  3. 美国和欧洲很可能在去年末时因为人民币的贬值而获益。关于这一点,我将做进一步的阐释。这里,我们要首先了解的是,为何必须超越“零和博弈”这种贸易观点。该观点认为,一个国家的受益就意味着另一个国家遭受损失。当全球总需求,亦或是名义GDP增长出现直线下滑的现象时,所有的国家都无一幸免会遭到牵连。也就是说,中国政府指定的刺激国内总需求的政策同样也会对整个世界的总需求形势带来影响,同时意味着会对所有的国家都能有所帮助。针对这一点,我会从两种理论模式来加以探讨,然后会举一个实例加以说明。而在这个例子中,美国所做的一切正是他们曾经告诫中国不能做的事。倘若中国政府让人民币贬值,不仅能促进整个国家的经济增长率,同时还将促进向中国进行贸易输出的国家的经济增长,这其中就包括制造品输出的东亚发达国家,以及资本产品输出的美国以及德国,此外还包括商品输出国澳大利亚和加拿大。


  另一个更加微妙,且潜力更为巨大的渠道是制定并实施货币政策。当前,美国的货币政策因名义利率不能降至零而受到限制。尽管我已多次指出还有其他的货币政策渠道,不过若是我们能不拘泥于流动性的束缚,相信整个情况会得到极大的改善。随着世界经济的飞速发展,全球资本市场的维克赛尔均衡利率也将毫无疑问地不断攀升。一旦均衡利率上涨至零点以上,那么美国联邦基金目标利率也很可能会进一步扩大。只要联系5或10年期长期国债利率的上涨,并想想自3月份以来一路看涨的美国股市,就不难理解这一点。同样,越来越多的市场人士看好中国下半年的经济发展前景。


  接下来我要针对中国现状谈论的这项政策,曾于1933年被美国政府采纳过。那时美国经济深陷低迷,因此美国政府决定将美元大幅贬值。很快这样的做法就收到了立杆见影的成效。在市场普遍预计通胀率还将继续上涨的情况下,美国国内总需求一下子提升上去,直接推动1933年3月份至7月份期间的工业产量暴涨57%。然而在这背后,却是贸易差异的不断扩大,归根结底就在于美元的贬值,而关于这一点,也许还有许多经济学家并没有意识到。那时的出口上涨了3%,但进口却飙升了20%。你不禁会问,怎么会出现这样的情况?事实上,由于美国以外的其他国家的经济衰退,直接拖累出口贸易的下滑,而在另一方面,美国国内工业产量的大幅增长又推动了进口贸易的上涨。由此可见,若是人民币贬值,也很可能会出现这种传导效应。在经济下行时期,收入效应的力量往往更大于贸易效应。


  事实上,在这整个事件中还发生了许多耐人寻味的事。1933年美国政府掀起的这场美元贬值风曾遭到欧洲国家的强烈反对,但后者却又偏偏是这场贬值政策下的真正受益方。此外,倘若当时的罗斯福总统没有在当年的7月份错误地引进高薪酬政策,也许那场大萧条很可能会更快地过去。今天,仍有许多西方国家领导人鼓励人民币升值。然而,对当前的世界经济而言,绝不希望看到这架巨大的经济增长引擎因为一个会引致通缩的汇率政策而出现熄火的局面。


  诚然,在作出汇率政策决议时,所需考虑的问题是方方面面的,既包括政治因素,也包括经济因素。在通盘考虑的情况下,我并不能很肯定地说,人民币贬值一定就是一件好事!但我确定的是,西方领导人一味要求人民币走强绝对是一个错误的决策,只要看看上世纪90年代日本的遭遇就知道了。在当前全球经济衰退的时期,这样的错误决策伤害到的将不仅仅是一个国家,而是其他许许多多的国家。


  但值得庆幸的是,中国的生产力仍一直保持着高速的增长,而其政府近期出台的一系列稳定人民币的政策也推动了国家经济的增长。因为目前中国名义汇率还是固定的,所以巴拉萨-萨缪尔森效应还会发挥作用,并逐渐使中国的更具竞争力。这些很可能会使中国成为第一个从全球衰退下复苏的国家。也许在未来的某个时期,人民币将会重新升值,但不是现在。谈论这一切的目的并不在于指出要对人民币具体做些什么,而是希望西方国家应该以怎样的视角来重新看待人民币的问题。


  PS. 尽管我认同中国政府在人民币问题上的政策,但并不代表我认同其所有的经济政策。对于黄亚生教授认为有必要加速农村经济改革的观点,我表示赞同。我希望有机会学习更多中国经济方面的问题,并期待今后能够再就其他方面进行深入探讨。(Pure)

(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=1371):

The Chinese yuan: It’s not a zero-sum game

I’d like to welcome any new readers from China, who may have discovered this blog through the Netease version.  I generally focus on U.S. monetary policy, but today I will discuss the Chinese yuan.  I should also mention that I will have to slow down for a few weeks, in order to revise a manuscript on the Great Depression that I am trying to get published.  If you are a new reader, there are plenty of older posts that discuss my view of how the current crisis has been misinterpreted.  Those views are quickly sketched out in the very first post, “About the blog.”  I will take a fairly long trip to China later this year—which might also lead to posts on topics related to China.

I’d like to consider the Chinese yuan from three perspectives:

1.  Long run trends in the real exchange rate

2.  The exchange rate and trade imbalances

3.  The exchange rate and world aggregate demand

1.  In my recent post on Estonia I discussed why very fast-growing economies tend to see their real exchange rate appreciate, due to what is called the “Balassa-Samuelson effect.”  This can occur either through a higher market (or nominal) exchange rate, or through a higher rate of inflation.  The intuition is simple.  Low income countries tend to have a lower cost of living, due to relatively low productivity in traded goods.  As they get richer their cost of living approaches developed country levels.

In my earlier trips to China I estimated the cost of living at barely a third of U.S. levels.  I expect China to eventually become a developed economy, at which time its cost of living should be similar to that of the US.  As a result, when the yuan was 8.28 to the dollar, I predicted the yuan would rise to about 3 to the dollar in the long run (perhaps 30 years.)  This surprised some of my Chinese friends, but it has already risen to about 6.8 in just a few years, and still has a long way to go.  I assumed the Chinese government preferred to make this transition through a higher nominal exchange rate, rather than high inflation.  In 2005 they seem to have made that choice.

In recent years, the US and European governments have pressured China to revalue the yuan upward.  Despite my views on the long run trend in the yuan, I think this is very bad advice, for both sides.  Indeed it might be better if the yuan was slightly devalued in the short run.  To see why, we have to consider two other issues that are widely misunderstood.

2.  The US currently runs a large trade deficit with China.  Many politicians in America seem to believe that deficit is caused by an undervalued yuan, and that the deficit hurts the US economy.  I think both views are wrong.  Like many other economists, I believe the trade deficit, or more precisely the current account deficit, simply reflects differential savings rates between the US and East Asia.  Countries that save more than they invest (China) will run current account surpluses with countries that save less than they invest (i.e. the US.)  The exchange rate does not cause imbalances, rather the real exchange rate moves to the level required to facilitate the necessary capital flows.

3.  I would go even further than many other western economists and argue that the US and Europe might have actually benefited from a yuan devaluation late last year.  To see why it will be necessary to move beyond the “zero-sum game” view of trade, the view that one country’s gains are another country’s loss.  When there is a steep worldwide drop in aggregate demand (AD), or nominal GDP growth, all countries suffer.  Any policy that is capable of boosting AD within China will also impact world AD, and thus has the potential of helping all countries.  First I’ll consider two theoretical ways of thinking about this issue, and then I will provide an example of where the US did exactly what they are telling China not to do.

If China devalued the yuan, and that boosted China’s growth rate, it would also boost growth in countries that supply inputs to China.  These include the more developed East Asian economies that supply manufactured inputs, capital goods exporters like the US and Germany, as well as commodity producers like Australia and Canada.

A more subtle, but potentially more important channel is through monetary policy.  Right now US monetary policy is limited by the fact that nominal rates cannot be cut below zero.  Although I have argued that there are other monetary policy channels, it would still help immensely if we could escape from the liquidity trap.  Faster worldwide economic growth, even if outside the US, will tend to raise the Wicksellian equilibrium interest rate in world capital markets.  If the equilibrium rate rose above zero percent, the current US fed funds target would become much more expansionary.  If it seems strange that higher rates could be expansionary, recall that the upswing in the US stock market since March has coincided with rising interest rates (real and nominal) in the 5 and 10 year T-bond market.  And this upswing also occurred about at the same time that many forecasters were becoming more optimistic about China’s growth rate for the rest of this year.

In 1933 the US tried the same sort of policy that I am now discussing in regards to China.  We were deep in depression at that time, and decided to sharply devalue the dollar against gold (and implicitly against most other currencies.)  The effect was immediate, and very positive.  Aggregate demand rose sharply on higher inflation expectations, pushing up industrial production by an amazing 57% between March and July 1933.  What many economists do not know, however, is that the dollar devaluation actually worsened our trade balance.  Exports rose about 3%, but imports soared 20%.  How did this happen?  Exports were held down by the weak economies outside the US, whereas the rapid growth in American industrial production raised US imports of key inputs, exactly the transmission mechanism that I hypothesized for a devaluation of the yuan.  In a deep slump, the income effect is often more powerful than the terms of trade effect.

There are many ironies in this story.  Although Europeans tended to oppose the sharp US devaluation in 1933, their economies actually benefited from the robust recovery that followed the devaluation.  Indeed if President Roosevelt had not made the mistake of introducing a high wage policy in July 1933, the Depression might have ended fairly quickly.  Today many Western leaders seem to favor a higher yuan.  But the last thing the world economy needs right now if for its most important growth engine to sputter because of a deflationary exchange rate policy.

Of course there are many political and economic factors that go into any exchange rate decision.  I don’t know whether depreciating the yuan would be a good idea right now, all things considered.  But I do think that western leaders make a mistake in pushing for a strong yuan, indeed I believe this is the same mistake they made with Japan in the 1990s.  But today with the entire world in a deep recession, the policy could hurt more than just one country.

Fortunately, because China continues to experience rapid productivity growth, even the recent policy of stabilizing the yuan is increasingly stimulative over time.  The Balassa-Samuelson effect is still in play and is gradually making China more competitive as its nominal exchange rate is currently fixed.  This may well cause China to be the first major economy to recover from the worldwide recession.  At some point in the future the yuan should and will resume its upward climb.  But not yet.  My purpose here is not to suggest exactly what should be done with the yuan, but to suggest a perspective that I think many in the West overlook.

PS.  Although I tend to agree with the Chinese government on its yuan policy, this does not mean I always agree with their economic policies.  I find Professor Yasheng Huang’s views on the need for faster economic reform in the countryside to be very persuasive.  I hope to discuss other aspects of the Chinese economy when I have had a chance to study the issues more fully.

PPS.  For those interested, here is a Netease page that includes both my blog and Greg Mankiw’s blog.  (Also here.) I am told that I am described as a “famous professor.”  That’s too polite (bie ke qi?)  Perhaps I will end up being better known in China than the US.


This entry was posted on May 23rd, 2009 and is filed under Monetary Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response or Trackback from your own site.

原文地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=1371

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