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China’s Slowdown Looms Just as the World Looks for Growth

来源:纽约时报    2019-01-21 05:44

        BEIJING — In the vast metropolis of Chongqing in western China, three huge Ford Motor assembly plants have slowed to a fraction of their earlier pace.        北京——在中国西部大都市重庆,三个福特汽车大型组装厂的运转大幅减缓,已经跟昔日有天壤之别。
        In the eastern province of Jiangsu, hundreds of chemical factories have closed.
        In Guangdong Province in the southeast, factories have idled workers in droves.        在东南部的广东省,一些工厂已陆续给工人放假。
        China’s huge economy, a major driver of global growth, is cooling just when the world needs its spark. Data released by Beijing in recent months shows softer investment, unprofitable factories and consumers who are no longer so quick to open their wallets.        中国的巨大经济体,全球增长的主要引擎,在世界需要它闪光的时候正在降温。近几月中国公布的数据显示投资疲软、工厂无法盈利,消费者纷纷捂紧了钱袋。
        It is happening at a difficult time. The broader world outlook is beginning to dim. The American economy, which has powered ahead in recent years with strong growth and low unemployment, is showing some signs of a slowdown and is facing higher short-term interest rates that could act as a brake. Europe’s resurgence is beginning to show its age, too, with even Germany’s industrial engine starting to sputter.        这些情况的发生正值困难时期。世界范围内的前景开始变得黯淡。近年来以强劲增长和低失业率增势迅猛的美国经济正显露出一些放缓的迹象,并面临可能产生制动效果的短期利率提升。欧洲的复苏显出“老态”,甚至德国的工业引擎也开始乏力。
        In the past, China has helped the world out of such weak spots, most notably during the global financial crisis. But this time, its economy is showing pronounced weakness.        过去,中国曾帮助世界走出了这类疲弱地带,最突出的是在全球金融危机期间。但这一次,它的经济正表露出明显的疲软。
        Car sales have plunged in China since last summer. Smartphone sales are falling. The real estate market has stagnated, with deeply indebted developers forced to pay steep interest rates to roll over their debts. And trade frictions with the West, coupled with tough policies from Beijing toward foreign investors, have made Chinese and foreign companies alike warier of further investment in China.        中国的汽车销量自去年秋季就已骤降。智能手机销量在降低。房产市场已停滞,深陷债务的开发商为展期被迫支付高额利息。与西方的贸易摩擦,加上中国对外国投资者的强硬政策,已使得中国和外国企业在对中国作进一步投资时分外谨慎。
        “European investment in China is going down,” Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s commissioner of trade, said during an interview in Washington. “That is more because it is becoming increasingly complicated to do business there, with the forced technology transfer, with the lack of transparency, discrimination as compared to Chinese companies, with the massive subsidies of state-owned companies.”        “欧洲在中国的投资正在下降,”欧盟贸易专员塞西莉亚·马姆斯特罗姆(Cecilia Malmstrom)在华盛顿接受采访时说。“这更多是因为在这里做生意正变得越来越复杂,包括强迫技术转让、缺乏透明度、较之于中国企业所受的歧视,以及对国有企业的巨额补贴。”
        For the heads of state and corporate leaders gathering this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, the Chinese economy could be the most pressing issue, even among the trade fights and political uncertainty plaguing the rest of the world.        对本周齐聚瑞士达沃斯出席世界经济论坛的各国首脑和企业领导人而言,中国经济可能是最紧迫的议题,尽管贸易对抗和政治上的不确定也困扰着世界其它地区。
        Previous slowdowns in China, like the one in 2015 and 2016, unnerved investors and global business leaders alike, setting off worries that multinational companies would lose profits from their Chinese subsidiaries, or that Chinese companies would dump their surplus production on world markets at very low prices.        中国先前的经济放缓,如2015年和2016年的放缓,并没有让投资人和全球企业领导人不安,进而担心跨国公司的中国子公司可能会有利润损失,或中国企业可能会以极低的价格向世界市场倾销其过剩的产能。
        Apple surprised markets this month when it warned of weaker-than-expected demand for its iPhones in China. Ford Motor cut output at its Chongqing joint venture by 70 percent in November, in what Ford says was a move to reduce inventories of unsold cars. Chemical industry experts said that mostly Chinese-owned chemical factories in Jiangsu had been shutting down because of weak demand and stricter environmental enforcement.The question now is to what extent nervous business leaders elsewhere will postpone investment as China slows, and how many investors will dump their shareholdings.        本月,当苹果公司警告称苹果手机在中国的需求低于预期时,市场为之一惊。11月,福特汽车重庆合资公司削减了70%的产量,对此福特表示旨在减少未售车辆的库存。化工专家称,由于需求疲软、环境执法力度加强,大多为中国人所有的大量江苏化工厂在关停。现在的问题是,其它地方不安的商界领袖会在多大程度上随中国减速而推迟投资,以及多少投资人会抛售他们手中的股权。
        “The global economy and financial markets are incredibly sensitive to China’s growth and currency outlook,” said Robin Brooks, the chief economist at the Washington-based Institute of International Finance. “The immediate financial linkages are relatively modest, but they are swamped by sentiment channels.”        “全球经济和金融市场对中国的增长和货币前景是高度敏感的,”位于华盛顿的国际金融研究所(Institute of International Finance)首席经济学家罗宾·布鲁克斯(Robin Brooks)说。“它和金融的直接关联性相对没那么强,但深受情绪因素的影响。”
        To be sure, further slowing in China is not the only risk the global economy faces. A disorderly British exit from the European Union or a financial crisis in debt-ridden Italy could also be unsettling. In the United States, the national debt is rising and the stimulus from large tax cuts may start to wear off by next year. The Federal Reserve could keep raising interest rates to keep inflation at bay, making it more expensive to borrow money, though it isn’t clear exactly what the American central bank will do.        毫无疑问,中国进一步放缓并非全球经济所面临的唯一风险。英国退欧的乱局,或债务缠身的意大利的金融危机也可能令人不安。在美国,国债正在上升,大幅减税带来的刺激也可能会在明年耗尽。美联储可能会继续上调利率以抑制通胀,这会增加贷款的成本,尽管目前尚不清楚美国的央行将怎么做。
        Still, the big question now is, to paraphrase the line about Las Vegas: Will what happens in China stay in China, or will it become a global problem?        但眼下一大问题在于——借用一句关于拉斯维加斯的名言——在中国发生的事情,能否只留在中国,还是会成为全球性问题?
        The World Bank aptly titled its review of this year’s outlook “Darkening Prospects.” It warned that China’s slowdown could affect countries that export a great deal to it.        世界银行对今年的展望有一个恰当的标题:“黯淡的前景”(Darkening Prospects)。报告警告称,中国的放缓可能会给大量出口到该国的国家带来影响。
        China is the world’s second-largest importer, after the United States. But the composition of its imports is unusual.        中国是世界第二大进口国,仅次于美国。但其进口的构成非比寻常。
        It is the largest market for a long list of commodity exporters, from Australia to Uruguay, thanks to its voracious appetite for iron ore, food, energy and other raw materials it needs to keep its economy humming. China is also a large market for factory equipment made in countries like Germany and Japan.        由于对铁矿石、食品、能源及其它维持其经济增长势头所需原材料的巨大胃口,中国是从澳大利亚到乌拉圭的一长串商品出口国的最大市场。中国还是德国和日本等国制造的工厂设备的大市场。
        But its imports of manufactured goods overall are few for an economy of its size. That has limited the dependence of workers elsewhere, particularly in the United States, on the Chinese economy.        但就经济规模而言,其对制造商品的整体进口量很小。这给其它地方工人对中国经济的依赖性造成了限制,特别是美国。
        The global impact of the Chinese slowdown now underway could be limited if Beijing decides to borrow and spend its way into more growth. Already this month, China has issued a series of announcements approving six municipal subway construction projects and three new intercity rail lines, at a combined cost of $148 billion.        如果中国政府决定通过举债和支出来促进经济增长,那么目前中国经济放缓对全球的影响可能有限。本月,中国已发布一系列公告,批准六个城市的地铁建设项目和三条新的城际铁路线,总共耗资1480亿美元。
        “The weaker the data gets, the more confident we get that they’ll tip a lot of stimulus into keeping the economy moving,” said Michael Blythe, the chief economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.        “数据越走弱,我们就越有信心认为,他们会采取大量刺激措施来保持经济运行,”位于悉尼的澳大利亚联邦银行(Commonwealth Bank of Australia)首席经济学家迈克尔·布莱斯(Michael Blythe)说。
        Many of the biggest new construction projects are in China’s western regions, said Wang Min, the chairman of Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group, a state-owned giant. The projects have been good for his company, China’s largest producer of huge earth-moving equipment, and its orders have soared in recent months.        国有巨头徐州工程机械集团董事长王民说,许多最大的新建设项目都在中国西部地区。他的公司是中国最大的土方设备生产商,这些项目对该公司有益,最近几个月,它的订单激增。
        But linking together towns in sparsely populated areas of mountains and deserts is expensive. It adds large sums to China’s already very high levels of debt. And the investment may produce scant new economic activity to pay off that extra debt.        但是,在人口稀少的山区和沙漠地区,将城镇连接起来的花费是很大的。这造成中国已经非常高的债务水平进一步升高。而且这些投资可能无法产生太多新的经济活动,以偿还这些额外的债务。
        Previously accumulated debt lies at the heart of a one-two punch that has laid China’s overall economy low in recent months.        在近几个月来令中国整体经济陷入低迷的连串打击之中,此前积累的债务居于核心地位。
        Vice Premier Liu He promised at Davos a year ago that China would rein in the growth of credit within three years. Chinese officials were confident at the time that they could head off a trade war with the United States.They set about putting stringent limits on the country’s extensive shadow banking networks. Those networks had been providing a gusher of loans to the country’s small and midsize enterprises, which China’s big, state-owned banks have long neglected in favor of lending to state-owned enterprises.        一年前,刘鹤副总理在达沃斯论坛上承诺,中国将在三年内控制信贷增长。当时,中国官员对他们能够阻止与美国的贸易战充满信心。他们着手对中国庞大的影子银行网络进行严格限制。这些网络一直在向中国的中小企业提供大量贷款,中国的大型国有银行长期以来主要向国有企业放贷,忽略了这些中小企业。
        But by the end of April, as the economy started slowing, Chinese officials started to say that three years was not enough time. As credit dried up and many private sector businesses started running low on cash, top regulators expressed worry at a Shanghai financial conference in June that they might have already gone too far.        但到4月底,随着经济开始放缓,中国官员开始表示,三年时间不够。随着信贷枯竭,以及许多私营部门企业开始出现现金短缺,中国最高监管机构在6月份的上海金融会议上表示忧虑,认为他们可能做得太过了。
        At the same time, momentum was building in Beijing to extend the influence of the Communist Party and state-owned enterprises, mainly at the expense of the private sector. The private sector is responsible for most job creation in China, and the rhetoric from Beijing further scared investors.        与此同时,中国政府扩大共产党和国有企业影响力的势头正在增强,主要是以私营部门的利益为代价。私营部门为中国创造了最多的就业机会,北京的言论进一步吓坏了投资者。
        Less than a month after the Shanghai conference, the trade war began in earnest. President Trump imposed the first of three tranches of tariffs on imports from China. Corporate executives say that by the time the third tranche hit in late September, consumer confidence was crumbling. Purchases of big-ticket goods, especially cars, fell fast.        上海会议后不到一个月,贸易战就开始了。特朗普总统对从中国进口的商品征收了三批关税中的第一批。企业高管们表示,在9月底第三批关税开始时,消费者信心正在崩溃。大宗商品(尤其是汽车)的购买量迅速下降。
        Business confidence slumped as well. A survey of 270 importers in the United States conducted in late December and early January by Panjiva, a trade data service, found that 71 percent planned to change how and where they bought their goods if tariffs stayed unchanged. And 87 percent said they would do so if the Trump administration raised tariffs further.        商业信心也大幅下滑。贸易数据服务公司Panjiva在12月底和1月初对美国270个进口商进行的调查发现,如果目前的关税不变,71%的人将会改变购买商品的方式和地点。如果特朗普政府进一步提高关税,87%的人会改变。
        As companies start moving their supply chains, the main beneficiaries seem to be Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam and Indonesia. But to the extent that those countries buy more factory equipment from places like Germany, some of the negative effects overseas from weaker sales in China could be offset.        随着企业开始转移供应链,主要受益者似乎是越南和印尼等东南亚国家。但是如果这些国家从德国等地购买更多工厂设备,那么在中国销售疲软对海外造成的一些负面影响可能会被抵消。
        Most economists are predicting that the first quarter of this year will be weak in China. Many are predicting that the second will be, too.        多数经济学家预计,今年第一季度中国经济将较为疲弱。许多人预测第二季度也将如此。
        But quite a few say they still have confidence in China’s consistent, four-decade track record of pulling itself out of slumps quickly. Chinese officials have put new emphasis in recent weeks on rebuilding confidence. And they are at least trying to reassure private companies that the government will not favor state-owned enterprises over them.        但也有不少人表示,他们对中国持续40年快速摆脱疲软的记录仍有信心。最近几周,中国官员再次强调重建信心。他们至少是在试图让民营企业放心,政府不会偏袒国有企业。
        “As long as we can create a level playing field,” said Ma Jiantang, a senior economic adviser to China’s cabinet, “private companies will surely succeed.”        “只要能够营造公平的竞争环境,”中国国务院高级经济顾问马建堂表示,“民营企业肯定会成功。”

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