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中美贸易战

Investors sweat as game of chicken over Sino-US trade heats up
中美贸易博弈升温让投资者捏一把汗

眼下投资者还是认为美中最终会达成协议。但美中之争还会长期继续下去,即便协议达成,到头来可能也无法落实。

No one wins from trade protectionism and the return of Tariff Man, and retaliatory measures from Beijing will only exacerbate what was already shaping up as a testing period for financial markets and investment portfolios.

贸易保护主义和“关税侠”(Tariff Man)归来不会制造任何赢家,而北京方面的报复性措施只会加剧金融市场和投资组合面临的日益艰难的局面。

Equity markets began May showing signs of fatigue after a powerful rebound in recent months. That’s hardly surprising given that asset prices need to see stronger evidence of a resilient global economy, thereby signalling the current cycle has room to run longer.

经过近几个月的强劲反弹,5月股市开始表现出疲态。考虑到资产价格需要更有力的证据来证明全球经济的韧性、从而显示当前这轮周期还有继续的空间,这谈不上令人意外。

That now looks a far tougher challenge after the US jacked up tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports on Friday, a move foreshadowed by President Donald Trump last Sunday who duly rattled financial markets this week. An escalating trade war after a hiatus of several months takes us back to the final quarter of 2018, when markets approached the brink, only for central banks to come riding to the rescue.

在上周五美国提高了对2000亿美元中国输美商品的关税后,眼下全球市场面临的挑战要艰难得多。上上周日美国总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)的举动已经预告了提高关税的举动,可以想见地扰乱了随后一周的金融市场。休战数月后重新升级的贸易战,把我们带回了2018年最后一个季度——当时市场已接近崩溃边缘,只能等各国央行出手相救。

A growing risk is that Mr Trump won’t just stop with this latest escalation. There’s the threat of extending US tariffs to all Chinese imports and Washington trade hawks are circling Japan and eyeing Germany and the wider eurozone.

日益加大的风险是,特朗普不会就此收手。美国有可能对所有中国输美商品加征关税,而且华盛顿方面的贸易鹰派人士正瞄准日本并在觊觎德国和整个欧元区。

The prospect of a further hit to international trade comes at a time when the global economy needs all the help it can get. Over the past year the cost from US and Chinese tariffs has been accompanied by stalling trade flows and left its mark on the global economy, notably for China, Japan and Europe.

就在全球经济需要一切可能获得的帮助之际,国际贸易可能进一步受到冲击。过去一年,美中关税战的代价伴随着贸易流动的停滞,并对全球经济产生了影响,尤其是对中国、日本和欧洲。

But a moderating pace of US growth from last year’s stimulus-fuelled heights also leaves its economy vulnerable to trade stress beyond the already suffering agricultural sector. On Wall Street, the S&P 500’s dominant and most profitable sector, technology, faces a challenge given that more than half of its sales are generated outside the US, by far the highest of any major industry in the index.

但美国经济增速较去年刺激计划推动下的高点有所放缓,也使得美国经济容易受到贸易压力的影响,这种影响不仅局限于本已举步维艰的农业领域。在华尔街方面,标普500指数(S&P 500)中占主导地位、利润最高的科技行业正面临挑战,因为该行业逾一半的销售额来自美国以外的市场——这个比例远高于该指数中其他任何主要行业。

For investors, the two big macro concerns framing their risk allocation decisions for 2019 and beyond is whether China’s stimulus flows into the global economy, and have central banks done enough to support a rebound in activity after their new year policy pivots. Further trade protectionism leaves the global economy, together with elevated asset prices and a massive rise in debt over the past decade, looking ever so vulnerable as the recession clock ticks a little louder.

对投资者而言,决定2019年及以后风险配置决策的两大宏观担忧是,中国的刺激措施是否会流入全球经济,以及各国央行在新年政策转向后是否采取了足够措施来支撑经济活动反弹。随着衰退的倒计时声音越来越响,贸易保护主义进一步抬头再加上过去10年资产价格攀升和债务大幅增加,使得全球经济看上去比以往任何时候都更加脆弱。

Among investors and strategists there is a view that, for all the political posturing, it serves the interests of both the US and China to avoid a game of chicken over trade. Others take comfort that, so long as the US and China keep talking, the path is open towards an agreement.

投资者和策略师中间存在这样一种观点:尽管双方摆出各种政治姿态,但避免在贸易问题上玩“懦夫博弈”符合美中双方的利益。另一些人感到安慰的是,只要美中继续保持对话,达成协议的道路就仍然畅通。

Expectations of an eventual agreement help explain the limited weakness in global equities this week. But the debate over who has the stronger hand at this poker table, and hopes of a “beautiful” trade agreement, misses a far more important point.

人们对美中两国最终将达成协议的预期,有助于解释本周全球股市疲软有限的局面。但是,关于这张牌桌上谁拿的牌更好的讨论,以及人们对于达成一份“漂亮”贸易协定的希望,都忽略了一个重要得多的问题。

Tariffs are likely to stay as the struggle for dominance between the world’s two largest economies runs well into the next decade. Any treaty on trade that eventually emerges will probably not pass enforcement over time. Moreover, Mr Trump and US trade hawks have plenty of company across party lines. Heading into the 2020 election cycle, being “tough on China” is seen as a vote winner.

A more troubling long-term view for investors is the onset of a more profound change. After several decades of globalisation — an era where companies have created complex supply chains for goods, services, staff and capital — the lights are dimming. True, supply chains will probably shift from China to other countries, but the disengagement between Beijing and Washington has broader repercussions.

随着全球两个最大经济体争夺主导权的斗争持续到下一个10年,关税可能会继续存在。最终达成的任何贸易协定可能到头来都不会得到落实。此外,特朗普和美国贸易鹰派在美国两党都有很多同道中人。在进入2020年的选举周期之际,“对华强硬”被视为可以赢得选票的立场。

Alan Ruskin at Deutsche Bank says this entails less US foreign direct investment into China, while Beijing will seek to avoid enlarging its already massive holdings of US dollar-denominated assets.

对投资者来说,更令人不安的长期观点是,一场更深刻的变革已经拉开帷幕。经过数十年的全球化——企业为商品、服务、员工和资本创造了复杂供应链的时代——灯光正在暗下来。没错,供应链很可能会从中国转移到其他国家,但北京方面与华盛顿方面关系的冷淡会产生更广泛的影响。

One of Mr Trump’s troubling legacies is far larger federal debt, with the red ink rising relentlessly over the coming decade. The likely scenario of weaker growth and the risk of a recession within the next few years will only exacerbate the pressure on US finances and hit the value of the dollar and the Treasury debt market.

德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)的艾伦•拉斯金(Alan Ruskin)表示,这将导致美国对中国的外国直接投资(FDI)减少,而北京方面将设法避免增持其已持有很多的美元资产。

As the largest foreign holder of Treasury debt, China is not going to spark a meltdown by dumping its holdings. But, over time, Beijing’s steady running down of its US assets looms as a slow-burn retaliatory measure that will resonate, particularly when the dollar weakens and Wall Street looks out at a world where China and other US trading partners recycle far less of their reserves across the Pacific.

特朗普留下的令人不安的遗产之一是更加庞大的联邦债务——未来10年预算赤字将不断攀升。未来几年增长可能放缓以及衰退风险的存在,只会加剧美国财政面临的压力,打击美元价值和美国国债市场。

作为美国国债最大的海外持有国,中国不会抛售所持的美国国债——那会引发崩盘。但随着时间推移,北京方面稳步减持美国资产的举动,可能会成为一种“温水煮青蛙”式的报复性措施,效果将会很明显,尤其是当美元走软、且华尔街密切关注中国和美国其他贸易伙伴的美元储备越来越少更新时。

译者/马柯斯

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