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人民币汇率逼近7.0关口,或成北京重要贸易武器
The Number 7 Could Make China’s Currency a Trade-War Weapon

来源:纽约时报    2018-10-31 05:14



        BEIJING — As the United States and China swap threats and mete out increasingly punishing tariffs, the world is watching to see whether Beijing turns to one of its most potent economic weapons. It involves the number 7.        北京——随着美中两国相互威胁,实施越来越严厉的关税,全世界也在关注北京是否会转而利用其最有效的经济武器。这个武器涉及数字“7”。
        China’s currency, the renminbi, has been gradually losing value since mid-April, and on Tuesday it was at its weakest point in a decade. If the currency weakens any further, it could fall below the psychologically important level of 7 renminbi to the dollar. The last time it took more than 7 renminbi to buy a dollar was in May 2008, as the world was slipping into a financial crisis.        自四月中旬以来,中国的货币人民币一直在逐渐贬值,周二,人民币跌至十年来最低点。如果进一步贬值,人民币可能会跌至兑美元汇率7的重要心理关口以下。上一次,买进一美元需要7元人民币还是2008年5月,当时全世界正陷入金融危机。
        The Trump administration doesn’t like the idea of a weaker Chinese currency. That could give what it considers an unfair advantage to China’s exporters. In the arsenal of trade disputes, currencies can be potent weapons.        特朗普政府不喜欢中国货币走弱的情况。在他们看来,这会让中国出口商获得不公平的优势。在贸易争端中,货币可以是一个有力武器。
        But China has good reason to keep its currency from weakening, and it appears to have acted in recent weeks to prop it up. Currencies may be potent weapons, but they are blunt ones — and they can boomerang against those who use them.        但中国有着不让本国货币贬值的充分理由,而它似乎也已经在近几周内采取行动让人民币升值。货币可能会是有力武器,但同时它们又是一种钝器——此外,用货币作为武器可能也会搬起石头砸自己的脚。
        What happens if the renminbi falls past 7 to the dollar?
        如果人民币兑美元跌破7,会怎么样?
        There is nothing particularly threatening about the number 7 itself. The renminbi at 7.002 to the dollar is pretty similar to the currency at 6.998 to the dollar.        7这个数字本身不具有什么特别威胁。人民币兑美元汇率为7.002与兑美元为6.998的时候没什么大的差别。
        But passing that number would be significant symbolically. It would suggest China is prepared to let its currency weaken further still. That would give China’s factory owners an advantage when they sell their goods in the United States. It would also undermine the tariffs the Trump administration has levied on more than $250 billion in Chinese-made products.        但突破7这个大关具有重大意义。这意味着中国准备好要让本国汇率进一步贬值。这将让中国的工厂老板在美国销售商品时获得优势。这还将破坏特朗普政府对超过2500亿美元中国制造商品征收的关税。
        How would that help China?
        这将对中国有何好处?
        Say you own a Chinese factory making lawn ornaments, and you sell a lot of pink flamingos to an American retailer. You price each at $1 — they may sell for far more in the United States, but shipping and storage account for most of that. When the renminbi is 6 to the dollar, that translates to 6 renminbi in sales.        假设你拥有一家制造草坪装饰品的中国工厂,向一家美国零售商销售大量粉色火烈鸟。每款产品的定价为一美元——他们可能会以高得多的价格在美国出售,但其中运输及仓储占了大部分。当人民币兑美元汇率为6时,这就等于销售额为6元人民币。
        But when the currency depreciates to 7 to the dollar, that $1 flamingo is worth 7 renminbi in sales to you. Or you can cut the price — say, from $1 to 85.7 cents — and still make your original 6 renminbi in sales. Your American competitor, who has to buy and sell in dollars, has to grudgingly cut prices to compete.        但当人民币汇率跌至兑美元为7的时候,一美元的火烈鸟在销售额上就等于7元人民币。或者你也可以降价——比如从一美元降到85.7美分——销售额就仍然是原本的6元人民币。但你那些必须以美元交易的美国竞争对手为了能与之竞争,就得不情愿地降价。
        (It’s a lot more complicated in the real world. The plastic and metal for the plastic flamingo may have been imported to China and are priced in dollars. But bear with us.)        (现实世界中,情况要复杂得多。制造塑料火烈鸟所需的塑料和金属可能是以美元进口到中国的。但请耐心听我们解释。)
        A weaker currency can also help Chinese exporters beat President Trump’s tariffs. Right now, the United States imposes tariffs of about 10 percent on a wide variety of Chinese goods that arrive at an American port. If the renminbi has fallen 10 percent, the tariff is basically nullified.        人民币走弱还能有助于中国出口商击败特朗普总统的关税。目前,美国对多种抵达某个美国港口的中国商品征收约10%的关税。如果人民币下跌10%,关税基本上就失去了效力。
        What’s driving the decline?
        是什么造成了人民币贬值?
        Some politicians in the United States and elsewhere have long said that China manipulates its currency, even though Washington officials — including in the Trump administration — have stopped short of official accusations. But in this case, many of the forces weakening the currency are beyond Beijing’s immediate control.        长期以来,一些美国及其他地方的政治人士一直在说中国操纵汇率,尽管华盛顿官员——包括特朗普政府内的官员——并没有做出正式的指责。但具体在这里,许多导致人民币疲软的因素都不在北京直接可控的范围内。
        China’s financial system is firmly controlled by the government, giving the country’s leaders a great degree of control over how much the renminbi is worth. Officials set a daily benchmark rate for the renminbi and allow its value to move a smidgen above or below that level in currency markets. Chinese officials say each day’s trading activity helps determine the value they set for the renminbi the next day, but they disclose few details about how that works.        中国金融体系由政府牢牢把控,这让该国领导人就人民币价值几何拥有大量控制权。官员们每日为人民币设下基准汇率,并且允许其价值在货币市场中在该水平上小幅上下波动。中国官员表示,每天的交易活动能有助于为第二天人民币汇率定价,但他们很少披露运作过程的细节。
        On Tuesday, Beijing set that guidepost at 6.9574, just a hair’s breadth stronger than 7. In the world of foreign exchange, a higher number means a weaker currency.        周二,北京将基准设为6.9574,仅比7强一点。在外汇市场上,数字越大,货币就越走弱。
        Right now, traders are sending Beijing a single message: The renminbi should be worth less. The people and companies that hold the currency have become increasingly nervous about China’s slowing economic growth, slumping stock market, fragile real estate market and seemingly intractable trade war with the United States. Inflation has begun to tick upward, and rising prices tend to make holding the relevant currency less attractive.        目前,交易员们正在给北京发出一条信息:人民币不应再贬值了。面对中国放缓的经济、暴跌的股市、脆弱的房地产市场及与美国似乎很棘手的贸易战,持有人民币的个人和公司愈发感到紧张不安。通货膨胀开始上升,上涨的物价也将让持有相关货币变得不那么具有吸引力。
        There are other reasons. Since late July, Beijing has tried to prop up the economy by having the state-controlled banking sector increase lending, making money more available. That means even more renminbi sloshing around, weakening the currency’s value.        还有其他原因。自7月底以来,北京一直在试图通过让国家控制的银行业增加借贷、让人们能借到钱,来提振经济。这意味着市场上将流通更多人民币,会进一步削弱人民币币值。
        While China hasn’t raised interest rates, the Federal Reserve in Washington has. That makes it attractive for many people to sell their renminbi and buy dollars. Would you rather have a one-year renminbi certificate of deposit that pays 1.5 percent interest now, or a one-year dollar C.D. that pays out 2.6 percent or more?        尽管中国还没有加息,华盛顿的美联储已经这么做了。这会引得更多人卖掉手中的人民币,买入美元。你会更愿意有一张利率为1.5%的人民币一年存单,还是利率为2.6%甚至更高的美元一年存单?
        Is the drop deliberate on Beijing’s part?
        人民币贬值是北京蓄意为之的吗?
        Not quite. If anything, Beijing is trying to keep the renminbi from falling too fast.        不见得。真要说有什么举措的话,北京反倒在试图阻止人民币贬值太快。
        China has a number of ways to bolster the currency’s value. One option is to follow the Fed’s example and raise interest rates. That would give Chinese families and companies more incentive to keep their money in China. But that would raise the cost of borrowing in China, just as the economy is slowing.        要想抬高币值,中国有各种手段。一个选择就是按照美联储的做法,提高利率。这将让中国的家庭与公司有更多将资金留在中国的动力。但这个做法会提高在中国借贷的成本,尤其是在经济放缓的时候。
        Beijing could buy up its own currency instead. Like anything else, the renminbi’s value rises when it is scarcer.        北京可以通过购买提升人民币币值。就像其他东西一样,当变得更稀有的时候,人民币币值会升高。
        Thanks to the way it has managed its currency over the years, China has amassed the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves — a $3 trillion stash of money it keeps in dollars, euros, pounds, yen and other currencies. It has begun to tap that stash. When China’s central bank released its monthly balance sheet a week ago, it showed a drop of almost $20 billion in foreign currency just during September.        多亏了中国多年来管理货币的方式,中国已经积聚起了世界上最大的外汇储备——价值3万亿美元的资金,分别为美元、欧元、英镑、日元及其他货币。中国已经开始动用这笔资金。当中国央行上周公布其月份资产负债表时,表上显示出9月期间,外汇储备下降约200亿美元。
        “Selling almost $20 billion in a month won’t break the bank,” said Brad W. Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “But it does indicate the direction of current market pressure.”        “在一个月里卖出近200亿美元不会耗尽储备,”纽约的美国外交关系委员会(Council on Foreign Relations)经济学家布拉德·W·塞策(Brad W. Setser)表示。“但它确实表明了目前市场压力的方向。”
        What are the broader risks?
        更广泛的层面有什么风险?
        Three years ago, as its economy slowed, China devalued the renminbi in part to give its factories a helping hand. The financial world was shocked. Markets plunged.        3年前,随着经济放缓,中国让人民币贬值,部分是为了帮中国工厂一把。当时金融世界受到震动,股市暴跌。
        As Chinese officials hurried to explain themselves, people and companies began shifting their money — money that China’s economy needed — outside the country. A year later, China had spent more than $500 billion from its reserves in an effort to shore up the renminbi. It later tightened controls on the financial system to shut off many ways people used to get money out of the country.        就在中国官员匆忙为自己的行为作出解释的时候,个人和公司开始将自己的资金转出国外,而这些资金正是中国经济所需要的。一年后,为了支撑人民币,中国已经将外汇储备花掉了超过5000亿美元。中国后来收紧了对金融体系的控制,关掉了许多人们曾经用来将资金转出国外的渠道。
        Should the trade war intensify, China may look to make more aggressive moves with its currency. But as history shows, there can be a price to pay.        如果贸易战恶化,中国可能会在货币方面考虑更加激进的措施。但历史表明,这么做是有代价的。
                
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