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[经济学人] [2011.09.24]Converging economies经济发展必由之路









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发表于 2011-10-10 15:33 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Converging economies
One-track bind
To become rich, the emerging markets must spring the middle-income trap

WITH A MAXIMUM speed of 430kph (267mph),the Shanghai magnetic-levitation (or maglev) train is as much fairground rideas vital cog in the city’s transport system. A stretch of the 30km track fromLongyang Road to Pudong International Airport runs alongside a motorway. The speedingcars left behind are a guide to how fast the train is moving. For passengerswho like to quantify their thrills, a digital speedometer in each carriagecounts up the train’s acceleration to its top speed before the numbers tumbleagain as the train slows towards the airport terminal.


The Shanghai maglev is a powerful symbolof China’s modernity—even if the technology was developed in the 1960s inslowcoach Britain and the kit was made by Siemens, a German engineering firm.But the venture is not a money-spinner. On a midsummer afternoon, the train ishalf-empty and many of its occupants are tourists travelling just for fun. Thatis because, for all its impressive speed, the maglev is not a great way to getto or from the airport. Tickets are too pricey for all but rich business folkand foreign tourists, and those customers find the line inconvenient. Once theyalight at Longyang Road they are still some way from the financial district andthe best hotels.


Sceptics about China’s economic miraclesee the Shanghai shuttle as an example of how badly state-directed banksallocate capital. China invests some 50% of its GDP, more than double theaverage in rich countries. The big capital projects of state-owned enterprises,such as railways, receive funding on easy terms, but interest rates paid on bank deposits are capped. A system that favours certain borrowers over ordinarysavers or bank shareholders is bound to back ill-judged projects and run up baddebts, argue the bears. A collision between two high-speed trains in China onJuly 23rd, which killed 40 and left 191 injured, seemed only to confirm thosesuspicions.


Let’s leapfrog

But there is a kinder interpretation of China’sappetite for prestige projects such as high-speed rail. Its leaders must knowthat as an economy develops it cannot rely indefinitely on copying themachinery and know-how of richer countries. The better-off a country becomes,the closer its technology is to best practice and the fewer of its workers areleft in low-productivity jobs such as farming. The easy catch-up gains areexhausted and the economy slows or gets stuck. One way out of this“middle-income trap” is by trying to leapfrog the technology leaders.


China’s recent growth has been soimpressive that it seems churlish to question whether it can continue. Yet thecountry will find it more difficult to grow quickly as it becomes richer, aswill India and Brazil. All three big emerging markets need to find ways toavoid the inflation that has bedevilled developing countries in the past, andto strike a good balance between consumption and investment, foreign anddomestic demand.


China’s reliance on exports and oninvestment that supports export industries has reached its limits. The countrynow needs to shift the balance towards domestic demand, which requires capitalto be redirected toward the smaller enterprises that serve consumers. Brazil isalmost the mirror image of China. It has a thriving consumer economy which itis finding hard to keep in check. Its high interest rates discourage theinvestment spending it needs to improve its poor productivity record. And itneeds to make sure that the strong currency that comes with a booming commoditysector does not leave it with too narrow an industrial base. India, likeBrazil, is prone to overheating and has a current-account deficit, thoughthanks to its high investment rate its productivity record is closer toChina’s.


The problems of middle-aged developmentwill soon afflict China and others, according to research by Barry Eichengreenof the University of California, Berkeley, Donghyun Park of the AsianDevelopment Bank and Kwanho Shin of Korea University. They examinedmiddle-income countries (with earnings per person of at least $10,000 in 2005prices) which in the past half-century had enjoyed average GDP growth of atleast 3.5% for several years but whose growth rate had subsequently fallen byat least two percentage points. The research confirmed their hunch that theloss of momentum is mostly due to economic maturity rather than a shortage ofworkers or a slackening in investment. The workforce grew at the same rateafter the slowdown as before it, and its quality kept improving: indeed theaverage worker acquired skills at a slightly faster rate after the economy hadslowed. The increase in physical capital (factories, offices, roads, machinesand so on) tailed off, but this accounted for only a small fraction of the dropin GDP growth.

根据加州伯克利分校的Barry Eichengreen,亚洲开发银行的Donghyun Park和韩国大学的Kwanho Shin的一项调查,中年发展问题将会很快影响中国和其他两国。他们花了几年时间观察了一些中等收入国家(按2005年价格计算人均收入至少1w美刀),他们的增长率在过去半个世纪中保持在3.5%以上但现在下降了至少2个百分点。这项研究证实了他们的预感即增势的丢失大多源于经济的逐渐成熟而非缺少劳工或投资减缓。劳动力的增长率和经济放缓前一样,而且水平不断提高:事实上在经济减速以后劳工平均的技能获取速度还有所提高。实体资产(工厂、办公楼、道路、机械等)增长越来越弱,但这只是GDP增速减缓的一小部分原因。

Instead, most of that drop was caused bya slump in “total factor productivity”—the efficiency with which workers andcapital are used. “Growth slowdowns, in a nutshell, are productivity-growthslowdowns,” write Mr Eichengreen and his colleagues. A decline in total factorproductivity is what you would expect when the “easy” phase of economicdevelopment comes to a close. Moving underemployed villagers into urban jobs infactories and offices with imported equipment raises productivity. But as ruralslack is used up there are no more such gains to be had.


According to the three economists, thissort of slowdown is most likely to happen when average income reaches around$16,000 in 2005 prices; when income per person rises to 58% of that in theworld’s leading economy; or when the share of employment in manufacturing getsto 23%. Those three thresholds—of which the absolute level of income is themost important—will not necessarily all be reached at the same time. China mayalready have hit the manufacturing target, and if its economy sustains a growthrate of around 9%, the average income threshold will soon be breached. But therelative income threshold remains far off. In 2010 China’s income per personwas 16% of America’s, according to the IMF.


The research shows that economies suchas China’s, with an undervalued currency and a low rate of consumer spending,are more likely to suffer such a growth slowdown. These milestones are based onaverages of many countries that lived through sudden slowdowns, and theirexperiences varied widely, cautions Mr Eichengreen. These are not iron laws.Even so, it seems certain that a slowdown will follow once the easier part ofthe catching up has been done. The question is whether China can mitigate thisby changing its growth model.


Last year’s model

That model has proved successful inother parts of Asia. It is export-led, so demand has been mainly from abroad.To meet it, China has mobilised its vast reserves of cheap labour, to which ithas added a fast-growing stock of physical capital, much of it imported butfinanced from the country’s own savings. Because of China’s capital-intensivegrowth model, consumer spending has an unusually small share of GDP: in 2010 itfell to only 34% (see chart 1). This only adds to the reliance on exports.


China’s financial set-up reinforces thismodel. The flow of capital across its borders is heavily policed. China hascurbed the rise in its currency, and kept its exports competitive, by buyinghuge quantities of dollars and other foreign currencies, amassing $3.2 trillionof foreign-exchange reserves, worth 54% of China’s 2010 GDP.


The banking system is closely managed bythe state. Foreign banks account for barely 2% of total bank assets. The cashcreated to keep the yuan down is mopped up by forcing China’s banks to buylow-yielding “sterilisation” bonds or to hold more cash in reserve. Interestrates are set in favour of state-owned companies (often monopoly suppliers toexporters) but offer little reward for householders. Credit for consumers isstill scarce.


China’s growing weight in the world economymeans it cannot rely indefinitely on other countries’ spending. The debtoverhang in parts of the rich world means that China’s foreign customers arehard-pressed. And the country is a drain on demand from the rest of the world:its current-account surplus (a measure of its excess saving) rose above 10% ofGDP in 2007, though it has since halved. This is a source of tension: theAmericans complain that China’s exchange-rate policy provides its exporterswith an unfair subsidy at the expense of their own workers. The export-ledstrategy is also beginning to lose its potency. Each rural migrant set to workon machinery to serve China’s foreign customers is harder to find than thelast.


If China is to avoid the middle-incometrap, it needs to develop its domestic market. It must switch fromindiscriminately amassing factories, ports and other fixed assets to a morefinely graded allocation of capital and workers that allows small service firmsto flourish. That transition will be helped along by two factors. As theworking population starts to shrink around 2015, the household saving rateshould fall because countries with fewer earners and a larger proportion ofdependents tend to spend more. And China already devotes a bigger share of itsGDP to research and development than do other countries with similar incomelevels. That gives it a better chance of sustaining productivity growth whenthe gains from adopting existing technologies run out. But other facets ofChina’s economy militate against change. For example, the World Bank ranksChina 65th out of 183 countries for giving companies access to credit, behindIndia (in 32nd place).


The obstacles are formidable. Shiftingto an economy that concentrates on consumers will mean dislocating entireindustries. Higher wages in China, which are needed for this sort ofrebalancing, are already driving some textile jobs to Vietnam and Cambodia.Removing implicit subsidies to rents and interest rates would cut many firms’profits and stir opposition. Banks used to dishing out capital at thegovernment’s say-so would need to make finer judgments, withholding money fromindustries with low returns and moving it to promising new ventures. But willthey be able to tell the difference between the two?


Brazil is the textbook example of afast-growing country that hit a wall (though it is not covered in the study byMr Eichengreen and his colleagues). Its economy grew by an average of almost 7%a year between 1945 and 1980. GDP per person rose from just 12% of America’s to 28%, according to the Maddison statistics. But then convergence went intoreverse. The debts accumulated to pay for imported machinery became cripplingas interest rates shot up. Industries that had served a protected home marketwere revealed as inefficient. A weak currency and wage indexation fed firstinflation and then hyperinflation.

巴西是一个快速增长遇到瓶颈的国家的典型代表(不过这在Eichengreen和他同事的研究中并未涉及)。根据Maddison statistics的统计,其在19451980年间的经济平均增速为7%,人均GDP从美国的12%涨到28%然后事情就开始反转了。由于利息率猛增,购买进口机械的债务逐渐积累以致积重难返。受保护的国内产业终究是扶不起的阿斗。弱势货币和工资指数化先是引发通胀,之后演化为恶性通胀。

A series of monetary and fiscal reformsin the 1990s tamed inflation and arrested the decline in relative income.Brazil’s income per person is now above 20% of America’s level. But the economysuffers from frailties that are the mirror-image of China’s. Investment is 19%of GDP, well below China’s and quite low even by rich-world standards. That isone reason why productivity is feeble, though Brazil’s woeful education systemand decrepit infrastructure are also to blame. The economy tends to grow ataround 4% a year, faster than most rich countries but more slowly than Brazil’semerging-market peers.


Weak investment reflects low domesticsaving. Brazil still habitually runs a current-account deficit. This relianceon foreign capital has left it vulnerable to periodic balance-of-paymentscrises, though it has piled up $344 billion of foreign-currency reserves tofend them off in future. Brazil’s net foreign liabilities (private and public)amount to $700 billion, compared with China’s net assets of £1.8 trillion.


The flip side of Brazil’s low saving isstrong consumer spending, at 61% of GDP last year. The business of providingloans to householders is booming. This is in part because BNDES, thestate-owned development bank, provides subsidised loans to Brazil’s bigstate-directed companies and to some other firms. That limits opportunities forbusiness lending, so private banks must look elsewhere.


Brazil’s economy has two greatstrengths. Its population of working age is growing quickly, and it is rich innatural resources at a time when emerging markets are industrialising at anunprecedented rate. Brazil vies with Australia as the world’s largest exporterof iron ore, much of it to China. Its plentiful arable land is astonishinglyfecund (in some places three harvests a year are possible), thanks to an amplesupply of sun and fresh water. The “sub-salt” reservoirs off Brazil’ssouth-eastern shore contain at least 13 billion barrels of oil.


The commodities boom and the oil findshave freed Brazil from its traditional balance-of-payments constraints. Foreignmoney is flooding in, lured by Brazil’s high interest rates and the expectedearnings once the oil starts to flow. But that creates a new problem: a strongcurrency that hurts the country’s exporters outside the resource industries.


The textbook remedy for this sort of“Dutch disease” is to raise productivity or lower costs in tradable industriesthat do not benefit from the resource boom. In August the government said itwould abolish payroll taxes in four labour-intensive industries: footwear,clothing, furniture and software. There is ample scope to further lower the“Brazil cost”—local shorthand for a range of handicaps including ramshackleroads, high interest rates, jobs levies, taxes and bureaucracy.


Brazil is one of the most onerouscountries to do business in, coming 127th out of 183 in the World Bank’sranking. Hiring and firing is costly and closing a business can take years. Thetax system is complex and bedevilled by rules that often conflict. “If you’rehonest and want to comply with the tax code, you need an accountant and a taxlawyer for life,” laments one São Paulo-based economist.


Real interest rates in Brazil are amongthe highest in the world. The central bank’s benchmark rate is 12% and may needto rise again to tame inflation, which is well above the target of 4.5%. Highrates are in part a legacy of past inflation that punished saving and rewardedborrowing. A culture of saving has yet to take firm root, so demand for creditoutstrips supply. Fiscal laxity has also played a part. The economy is runningat or beyond full capacity. The jobless rate is 6%; it has rarely been lower.Brazil’s budget ought to be in surplus. Government debt is rolled over everythree years and crowds out other borrowing. But a market for longer-term debtwould require a commitment to keeping public-sector payrolls and state pensionsin check.


Brazil hopes that the oil discoverieswill be exploited in a way that helps other industries rather than harmingthem. The government has insisted that Petrobras, the state-controlled oilgiant with sole operating rights in the sub-salt field, must buy most of itssupplies in Brazil.


Eike Batista, a colourful magnate withinterests in mining, oil exploration and logistics, is building a port completewith shipyard (in tandem with Hyundai, a South Korean firm) to comply with thelocal-content rules. “The demand from Petrobras could fill two shipyards,” hesays. A modern port will encourage foreign manufacturers to build factoriesalong Brazil’s coast and serve the domestic market. “Brazil will not be trappedin commodities,” he insists. But others worry that Brazil is flirting with astate-influenced and inward-facing model of industrialisation that has failedbefore.

涉足矿石、石油开采和物流的多元化巨富Eike Batista和韩国现代一起建造了一个配有造船厂的港口以满足本地化要求。他说“Petrobras的需求可以满足两个造船厂”。一个现代化的港口会鼓励外企在巴西沿海建造工厂,参与其国内市场。他坚持说“巴西不会陷入消费类商品的泥潭”。但有人担心巴西只是轻率的尝试国家主导的,内生型的工业化,而这以前以失败告终。

Brazil and China need to make differentsorts of transitions if they are to sustain their development. Brazil has tosave and invest more; China needs to consume more. Brazil is rich in resources;China is hungry for them. Brazil is short of good roads and railways; some ofChina’s will attract too little traffic. Brazil is young; China is ageing.“Perhaps they should merge,” is the wry suggestion of Arminio Fraga, a formercentral-bank governor of Brazil who now runs Gávea Investments in Rio deJaneiro.

巴西和中国如果想要保持这种发展势头,需要不同的转型。巴西要提高储蓄和加大投资;中国要扩大消费。巴西资源丰富,而中国对此需求迫切。巴西缺少良好的公路和铁路,而中国的一些路则少有通行。巴西是个年轻国家,而中国历史悠久。曾经的巴西央行高官,现在在里约经营者一家叫Gavea Investments的公司的Arminio Fraga打趣的说,:“也许他们该合为一体”
India’s bumpy road

India’s main challenges are a mix ofthose facing Brazil and China. Like China, India has enjoyed a recent growthrate above the emerging-market norm, at around 8% a year. It ought to be doingbetter still: after all, it is poorer than China, so the scope for catching upis greater. Investment is a healthy 38% of GDP. Much of India’s investment isfinanced out of companies’ own pockets, a symptom of an immature financialsystem. Most firms cannot rely on external funding, though giant Indianconglomerates, such as Tata, are able to tap into international capitalmarkets.


Like Brazil, India is in desperate needof better roads to link its far-flung internal markets. It is a young country,with its working-age population set to grow at 1.7% a year until 2015, a fasterrate even than Brazil’s. But too many of its people are educated badly, if atall. As in Brazil, companies often have to provide remedial education to bringrecruits up to scratch. Arcane laws stand in the way of a well-functioning jobsmarket. Corruption is a blight on infrastructure projects. The economy is proneto overheating and has a current-account deficit.


This speaks of a deeper weakness inemerging markets. In the past they have not been good at managing internaldemand. Relying on exports allowed them to grow and save at the same time. Nowthat the rich world’s economies are struggling, that has become harder, raisingthe prospect of the sort of ills that led to emerging-market crises in thepast: excess government spending, rapid credit growth and inflation. Thetransition from middle-income to rich economy relies on sound monetary, fiscaland regulatory policies, says Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist nowat Chicago’s Booth School of Business.


The fear of renewed trouble in thedebt-laden rich-world economies has meant that Brazil and India have been slowto stop local inflationary pressures from building. China passed its first bigtest filling in for rich-world demand when it increased bank credit by anastonishing one-third during 2009. It was a welcome stimulus to the local andglobal economy, but there are growing doubts about the wisdom of many of thoseloans. The debts run up by local authorities to finance infrastructure are ofparticular concern.


China bulls argue that the expenditurewas essential to the country’s rebalancing. Better transport links between therich coastal cities and poorer western regions were needed to develop China’sinternal market. Sceptics see roads with no cars, trains with few passengersand empty buildings. Some reports say 2 trillion yuan of local-authority loanshave gone sour. Worryingly, some of the foreign investors who had rushed totake stakes in Chinese banks are slinking away. Bank of America, which hasproblems in its home market, has sold half its stake in China ConstructionBank.


Even so, stabilising aggregate demandmay prove easier than settling the social conflicts or tackling the industrialstasis that entrap middle-income countries. This depends not only on awell-tuned economic engine; it also relies on how fairly the pain of adjustmentis shared, says Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik. Societies torn by class orother rivalries are often set back by economic change. Democracies with rulesand procedures for settling disputes and compensating losers tend to do better.

即便如此,保持总需求的稳定要比解决社会冲突或疏通停滞的工业这些使中等收入国家发展停滞的问题要容易。哈佛大学的Dani Rodrik说:这不仅取决于协调良好的经济引擎,还要看调整的痛苦是如何分摊的。因阶级或其他竞争因素造成的社会分化在经济转型中会受到拖延。有规章有方法来解决争端、抚恤损失者的民主制度作用会大一些。

Mr Rodrik contrasts South Korea’sbounce-back from the East Asian crisis in 1998 (as well as from earliertroubles) with the slump endured by Brazil and other Latin American countriesin the 1980s. South Korean industry had been tested in export markets so itcould build a recovery on its industrial strength. Brazil had lacked thatstrength. But South Korea was also able to recover more quickly because eachinterest group agreed to absorb some of the pain from the downturn. Thegovernment said it would do its best to help the country get over the crisisbut firms should do their bit by avoiding lay-offs and unions should moderatetheir wage demands. In Brazil, by contrast, everyone tried to shift the pain oflower living standards onto others. Inflation took off and Brazil’s GDP perperson stagnated for 15 years.


China may have the stronger economy,says Mr Rodrik, but Brazil and India are likely to be better at handling thesocial mobility that comes with being a middle-income country. All three ofthese emerging-market giants will have to work hard to avoid the middle-incometrap. Their recent economic performance is good but experience suggests thatthere will be setbacks. Yet as the rich world stumbles from crisis to crisis,the prosperity gap is closing fast. America’s claim to economic leadershiplooks increasingly threadbare, and one of its long-held privileges—having theworld’s main reserve currency—is under threat.

Time can both ruin everything and build everything-It depends on you

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