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PBOC降准应对“贸易冷战”风险上升

降准有助于缓解短期流动性担忧,但应对“贸易冷战”风险需要在结构性改革方面取得重大突破。十月黄金周最后一天,央行在其网站上公布,自2018年10月15日起,下调存款类金融机构人民币存款准备金率1个百分点。降准所释放的部分资金用于冲销15日到期的约4500亿元中期借贷便利(MLF),此外降准还可再释放增量资金约7500亿元,是次降准总共释放12000亿人民币的流动性。这次1个百分点的降准幅度大于市场预期,部分对冲国庆长假期间发生的负面因素,如中美摩擦加剧、中国制造业PMI低于市场预期,以及各地流传的房价下跌等;在美联储年内第三次加息之后10天内,央行降准凸显政策放松的意图,周期性政策底部已现。然而,在周期性政策方面与美联储相向而行,在中美贸易摩擦的背景之下,采用周期性政策应对或仅是权宜之计,惟有尽快出台重大结构性改革措施(如大规模减税和国企改革等)才能改变市场预期、提振市场信心。
 
中美贸易摩擦升级,从经济领域向非经济领域扩散的风险上升。从过去贸易战的经验来看,中美贸易摩擦可能沿着两个方向升级:一个方向是与美日贸易战类似,从贸易领域向技术和金融领域延伸;二是与美苏冲突类似,从经济向非经济领域延伸。10月4日美国副总统彭斯在哈德逊研究所的演讲,将中美矛盾引向了非经济领域,使中美贸易摩擦向“贸易冷战”升级。概括而言,美国对中国有两大诉求:一是减少全球主要产业链对中国的依赖,这是在经济领域的较量;二是使中国的发展回到美国认可的全球秩序范围内,这是意识形态的“冷战”。我们重申以下看法,当贸易战发生在世界最大两个经济体之间的时候,一定会分输赢,这可能需要5-10年甚至更长的时间。
 
中国如何应对“贸易冷战”,事关两国摩擦的路径,更关乎结果。中美贸易摩擦如何收场,有很大的不确定性,这个不确定性不在于美国下一步会如何走,主要在于中国将如何应对。对全球以及中国而言,中国的崛起以及今年以来的中美贸易摩擦,是一个结构性问题而非单纯的周期性冲突。因此,中国应该重结构性应对措施、轻周期性措施,或者周期性政策放松(如降准)应该为结构性改革措施的出台赢得时间。现实是,中美关系可能很难脱钩,但未来关联度一定会降低,呈现区域化(regionalization)或碎片化(fragmentation)的格局。应对中美贸易摩擦,需要坚持开放的大方向(如降低关税),更重要的是要把自己的事情办好,特别是采取措施鼓励消费和创新,使之成为高质量发展的新动力。
 
没有结构性改革措施配套的政策放松,或推高滞胀风险,加大人民币贬值的压力。周期性政策放松,有助于缓解由于流动性紧张引起企业融资难和房价下跌压力,也可以部分对冲中美贸易摩擦带来的外需不足。然而,彭斯演讲所传递出来的冷战思维、美加墨贸易协定中的毒丸条款、油价的上升和新兴市场货币贬值压力的上升,都在加大中国经济“胀”的压力。与此同时,美国十年期国债收益率目前已突破3.2%,为2011年以来新高。以降准等周期性政策放松保增长,难以扶持旧的增长动力,又不能培育新的增长动力,经济滞胀风险升高。可以说,没有改革配套的政策放松,将积累更多人民币贬值的压力。
 
PBOC cuts RRR to avoid “trade cold war” risk
 
RRR cut to help ease tight liquidity in the near term, but tackling trade cold war risk requires structural reforms On the last day of October Golden Week, China’s central bank announced that, effective Oct 15, 2018, it will cut the RRR for depository financial institutions by 1pp. The cut is partly to offset the Rmb450bn medium-term lending facility (MLF) maturing that day, and partly to release additional liquidity of Rmb750bn, totaling about Rmb1.2trn. The cut was bigger than expected, which will help to counteract the negative impact of news released during the Golden Week, including the deteriorating trade dispute, lower-than-expected China manufacturing PMI, as well as concerns about falling property prices in a number of cities. Coming ten days after the Fed’s third rate hike this year, the RRR cut sends a strong message of policy easing. Cyclical policy has already bottomed out. However, moving in the opposite direction to the Fed and reacting to trade disputes with cyclical policies now appear a matter of urgency. Only structural reforms such as tax cuts and SOE reform can improve market expectations and confidence.
 
The disputes between China and the US have escalated to non-trade matters in the past week Looking at past trade wars, the China-US trade disputes could deteriorate in two different directions: from trade to technology and the financial markets, as with the US-Japan trade war, and from economic confrontation to non-economic areas, as during the US-former Soviet Union cold war. The speech delivered by Vice President Pence on Oct 4 has opened the door to a trade cold war, which would be a combination of a trade war and cold war. The US wants to reduce reliance of key global production chains in China as a way of tackling the threat from China as the world’s second largest economy. It also wants to make sure that China’s development occurs within the global order dominated by the US (ideological cold war). We reiterate our view that the trade war between the world’s two largest economies will end with a winner and a loser, and that this may take 5-10 years or more to play out.
 
China’s reaction to a trade cold war would be key to the direction and outcome of the dispute How the trade disputes will end remains uncertain. China’s responses to US requests will be more important than US responses to China. From a global and China perspective, China’s rise and its trade dispute with the US is a structural issue, not a cyclical conflict. Thus China should react with more structural measures and less cyclical remedies; or cyclical measures (such as RRR cuts) should only be introduced to buy more time to roll out structural reforms. It would be difficult for China and the US to decouple completely, but the two are likely to be less connected, and more regionalized and fragmented going forward. We believe China should open up its economy to the rest of the world further with tariff cuts, and more importantly, work internally to make consumption and innovation new growth drivers of a high-quality development era.
 
Policy easing without structural reforms could be a source of stagflation and renminbi devaluation Cyclical policy support can help to relax liquidity conditions needed to improve corporate financing and ease the pressure on property prices, while also partly offsetting falling external demand due to the trade disputes. However, the cold war logic illustrated by Vice President Pence’s speech, the poison pill provision of the US-Mexico-Canada deal, rising oil prices and currency depreciation in emerging markets will all put pressure on China’s inflation going forward. Headwinds such as a rising US 10-year treasury yield, RRR cuts and other cyclical measures can neither revive traditional growth drivers nor foster new drivers, which will inevitably lead to stagflation. Policy easing alone can thus add further pressure on renminbi depreciation.
 
文章原载于“广发香港”(gfhk4008601600)微信公众号(2018年10月8日)
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