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大宗商品

Asset class popular for fund protection
分析:大宗商品防御性能受基金青睐

大宗商品正处在一个“超周期”中。供求因素、大宗商品与股票的负相关性以及分散风险的保障性能,使得越来越多的短期投机者与长期机构投资者纷纷涌入这一市场。

In 2008 it seemed impossible to ignore the upward trajectory of commodities prices. Even the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers failed to stop the rise in the price of oil and other commodities – at least until it became clear the financial crisis would tip the world into recession.

2008年,我们似乎无法漠视大宗商品价格的上升轨迹。就连贝尔斯登(Bear Stearns)与雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)的垮台,也未能阻止石油及其它大宗商品价格的上涨——至少是在金融危机将把世界拖入衰退泥潭的迹象变得明显之前。

Oil in particular had a rollercoaster year, rising from $100 a barrel to $147 in July before plummeting to $32 in December. It has since recovered, but failed so far to get back over $100, trading between $70 and $80.

石油价格尤其经历了过山车似的一年,从每桶100美元涨至7月份的147美元,之后又急转直下,在12月份跌至32美元。油价此后出现了反弹,但迄今尚未再次突破100美元,一直在70到80美元之间徘徊。

However, the financial crisis has, if anything, reinforced the view that commodities are in a “super- cycle”, albeit with occasional interruptions. The correction from the peak of 2008 has been large, but prices have “landed” on a higher plateau. The expectation is they will stay high, driven by demand, especially from emerging economies, as global growth accelerates.

不过可以说,金融危机巩固了人们的一个观点,即大宗商品正处在“超周期”中,虽然偶尔会被打断。大宗商品价格从2008年峰值水平的回调幅度是巨大的,但“着陆”在了一块较高的平原上。人们预期,随着全球经济增长加速,在需求——尤其是来自新兴经济体的需求——的推动下,大宗商品价格将保持在高位。

“Over the medium term, emerging markets growth and the recovery in western economies will spur demand, while a number of key commodities remain supply-constrained,” says David Donora, head of commodities at Threadneedle.

Threadneedle大宗商品主管戴维•多诺拉(David Donora)表示:“中期来看,新兴市场增长与西方经济体的复苏将 刺激需求,而许多关键大宗商品仍将供不应求。”

Investor demand may also be a factor as commodity markets attract increasing flows from both short-term speculators and long-term institutional investors. Regulators and politicians have tried hard to pin the blame for high prices and volatility on such participants, and regulatory initiatives in the US may result in the imposition of position limits and other restrictions.

随着大宗商品市场吸引越来越多的短期投机者和长期机构投资者涌入,投资者需求可能也是一个因素。监管者与政府官员竭力将价格高企与市场波动归咎于这类参与者,而美国监管提案的结果可能是对头寸实施限制,以及施行及其它限制措施。

Experts dispute the idea that speculative flows would have much influence on prices, at least where institutional investors such as pension funds are concerned.

专家们对投机性流入会对价格产生巨大影响的观点持有异议,至少是就养老基金等机构投资者而言。

“Pension funds control a very small slice of the global commodities market and certainly not enough to move the price drastically over the long term,” says Alasdair Macdonald, senior investment consultant at Towers Watson. “Although it's difficult to attribute the [oil price] spike to just one thing, it was probably helped by additional pension fund demand clashing with a lagging supply.”

韬睿惠悦(Towers Watson)资深投资顾问阿拉斯代尔•麦克唐纳(Alasdair Macdonald)表示:“养老基金只控制了全球大宗商品市场的很小一块,肯定不足以推动价格的长期大幅变动。尽管我们很难将(油价)飙升归咎于一个因素,但额外的养老基金需求与供给不足的冲突,可能帮助推动了价格的上涨。”

Kevin Norrish, managing director, commodities research for Barclays Capital, says rules pension funds follow on asset allocation mean they tend to sell as commodities prices rise and buy as they fall.

巴克莱资本(Barclays Capital)大宗商品研究董事总经理凯文•诺里什(Kevin Norrish)表示,养老基金遵循的资产配置规则意味着,他们往往在大宗商品价格上涨时抛售,下跌时买入。

“As prices were going up, index dealer positions in Nymex WTI oil futures contracts were going down as a share of the market. When oil prices fell after July 2008, index swaps increased as a proportion of the market as pension funds needed to adjust their positions to maintain the dollar value of their allocations,” says Mr Norrish.

诺里什表示:“当价格上涨时,指数交易商所持纽约商品交易所西德克萨斯中质原油(Nymex WTI)期货合约的市场份额在下降。2008年7月后,当油价下跌时,由于养老基金需要调整头寸,以维持其资产配置的美元价值,指数掉期交易所占市场比例随之上升。”

Institutional investor interest in commodities has risen partly in response to a 2006 paper by academics Gary Gorton and Geert Rouw­en­horst.

机构投资者对大宗商品兴趣增加,在一定程度上是对学者加里•戈顿(Gary Gorton)与格特•鲁文荷斯(Geert Rouw­en­horst) 2006年合著的一篇论文的回应。

Working as consultants to AIG, an insurer and commodity investment manager, the two found that over a long period, commodity futures' returns match equities but with a negative correlation, indicating they usually go up when stocks fall.

作为保险商兼大宗商品投资管理公司美国国际集团(AIG)的顾问,两位学者发现,在长期内,大宗商品期货合约的回报率与股票相当,但两者关系为负关联,即股票下跌时大宗商品期货合约价格通常会上涨。

“The argument that commodities offer an uncorrelated diversification away from equities is a persuasive one,” says Mr Norrish. “This diversification can increase a portfolio's return for a given level of risk, or reduce risk for a given level of return.

诺里什表示:“认为大宗商品应提供一种与股票无关的多样化配置的观点,很具有说服力。这种分散投资可以提高既定风险水平下投资组合的回报率,或降低既定回报率水平下投资组合的风险。”

“Commodities behave differently and, if you make long-term strategic allocations, there should be no correlation with equities and bonds.”

“大宗商品表现不同,如果你进行长期战略配置,它们应该与股票和债券不存在关联性。”

Towers Watson's Mr MacDonald says UK pension funds themselves are not set up to make allocations to specific commodities.

韬睿惠悦的麦克唐纳表示,英国养老基金的创建并不是为了对某些大宗商品进行配置。

“As consultants, our starting point is that pension funds are very undiversified,” says Mr MacDonald. “Our clients have spent the last five to 10 years diversifying. We bring them concepts, one of which is commodities as protection assets, used primarily for diversification rather than returns.”

麦克唐纳表示:“作为顾问,我们的出发点是,养老基金的投资品种非常单一。我们的客户过去5到10年进行了分散投资。我们给他们带去了理念,其中之一是,大宗商品是保障性资产,主要用于分散风险,而非获取回报。”

Another argument in favour of greater allocation to commodities is their value as a hedge against inflation.

支持增加大宗商品配置的另一个论据是,它们具有对冲通胀的价值。

Threadneedle's Mr Donora says: “Hard commodities such as gold can be used as an efficient inflation hedge, and concerns about inflation can be a significant driver of precious metals prices.

Threadneedle的多诺拉表示:“黄金等硬商品可用作有效的通胀对冲工具,人们对通胀的担忧会推动贵金属价格大幅上涨。”

“Managing a commodities portfolio, I'm more concerned that the tightening of monetary and fiscal policy will lead to increased risk of currency weakness. I'm still reluctant to call it inflation risk, but only because inflation statistics aren't what they used to be.”

“作为一个大宗商品投资组合的管理者,我更关切的是,货币与财政政策收紧会导致货币贬值风险升高。我仍不愿意称其为通胀风险,但这仅仅是因为通胀统计数据不同于以往。”

However, others dispute whether commodities are an effective hedge against inflation.

不过,其他专家对大宗商品是否是一种有效的通胀对冲工具持有不同意见。

Mr Norrish of Barclays Capital says: “I don't see a hedge against inflation to be one of the main benefits of exposure to commodities.

巴克莱资本的诺里什表示:“我不认为对冲通胀是投资大宗商品的主要好处之一。”

“Historically, commodities can appreciate when other assets don't and there have been times in the past when rising commodity prices have been a trigger for inflation, such as in the 1970s, when they were an important factor in kick-starting a wage-price spiral.”

“从历史上看,在其它资产贬值时,大宗商品可能会增值,但过去也曾有过一些时期,是大宗商品价格的上涨引发了通胀,比如上世纪70年代,它们就是触发工资与价格螺旋上升的重要因素。”

But this scenario has not been seen for some time and the relationship between commodities and inflation has yet to be tested in an era of globalisation.

但这种情形已经有一段时间没有见到,而全球化时代大宗商品与通胀的关系仍有待检验。

“If you're looking to hedge inflation, it is better to invest in inflation hedging instruments like inflation-linked bonds and inflation swaps. That way, you get a product designed to do a specific job rather than hoping another asset will provide inflation hedging based on what happened a long time ago.”

“如果你想对冲通胀,更好的做法是投资通胀对冲工具,比如与通胀挂钩的债券以及通胀互换产品。这样,你就会获得专门对冲通胀的产品,而不是依据很久以前曾发生过的事件,寄希望于另一种资产会提供通胀对冲功能。”

Towers Watson's Mr MacDonald says the inflation hedging aspect of commodities is a secondary argument for holding them. “Over the past two years, the price of oil has fallen dramatically but inflation has risen. There's an awful lot of volatility out there and, because of that, when it comes to hedging inflation I don't feel commodities are as efficient as other purpose-built financial instruments.”

韬睿惠悦的麦克唐纳表示,通胀对冲功能是持有大宗商品的次要考虑因素。“过去两年,油价急剧下滑,但通胀却在抬头。大宗商品的波动性也蔚为可怕,有鉴于此,当谈到对冲通胀时,我认为,大宗商品不及其它专项金融工具有效。”

Even if the efficacy of commodities as an inflation hedge is in doubt, few dispute the diversification benefits of holding them. So will commodities ever become a mainstream asset class for pension funds, like equities and fixed interest?

即使大宗商品作为通胀对冲工具的效用受到了质疑,但很少有人质疑持有它们所能获得的分散风险效益。那么大宗商品最终会像股票与固定收益产品一样,成为养老基金的主要资产类别吗?

“We estimate there's around $290bn globally invested in commodities by pension funds and other institutions,” says Mr Norrish. “And that's a tiny proportion, less than 1 per cent, of the total amount of assets held globally.

诺里什表示:“我们估计,全球养老基金及其它机构对大宗商品的投资约为2900亿美元。这在全球所持资产总额中所占的比重极低,连1%都不到。”

“We're seeing a steady increase in exposure and we believe it's an asset class that will grow, though it's unlikely we'll ever see pension funds with as much exposure to commodities as they have to equities.

“我们看到它们对大宗商品的投资正稳步增加,而且我们相信,这种资产类别将会增长,不过我们可能永远也不会看到,养老基金对大宗商品的投资会与股票一样多。”

“Target exposures to commodities are usually no more than 5 per cent, so it will always remain a niche.”

“他们对大宗商品的目标投资份额通常不超过5%,所以它将永远是一个利基资产类别。”

Mr MacDonald believes commodities will never be a mainstream asset class for pension funds. “The benefits of commodities investment, for some funds, don't justify the time, effort and expense of the due diligence to investigate the viability of such a niche asset class,” he says.

麦克唐纳相信,大宗商品永远不会成为养老基金的主流资产类别。他表示:“对一些基金而言,大宗商品投资带来的效益,不值得他们为如此小众资产类别的可行性尽职调查付出时间、精力及成本。”

“By value, for the bigger funds, it makes sense to consider commodities, but many are constrained by rules and regulations,” he adds.

“就投资价值而言,对于较大的基金,考虑大宗商品是有意义的,但许多基金受到规定与监管的限制,”他补充表示。

“If funds investigate the small investable bit of a very huge market, they may decide to concentrate their efforts on more liquid assets in other markets.”

“如果要基金对一个非常巨大市场中一小块可以投资的领域进行调查,他们可能会决定将资源集中于其它市场上更具流动性的资产。”

译者/何黎

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