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翟东升 | 十年回望,我们见证一个颠倒了的世界国政评论
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作者简介


翟东升,中国人民大学国际关系学院副院长、国际政治系副教授。

     

本文为翟东升副教授受邀专为国际货币基金组织2018春季年会特刊所作。英文稿为刊物编辑后翻译。


十年回望,

我们见证一个

颠倒了的世界

       


十年前的金融危机席卷了全球,开创了我们今天所处的所谓后危机时代。十年回望,金融危机究竟改变了什么?


记得危机刚刚爆发的时候,美国金融界的思想家们比如债券之王Bill Gross先生曾提出,后危机时代将有三大主题,再规制化reregulation,去杠杆deleverage和去全球化deglobalization。这份预言实现了多少?


再规制化曾被犹犹豫豫、三心二意地尝试了一下,然后坚决地放弃了:金融危机的罪人们并没有坐牢,而是被救助了,成功地保住了他们的奖金和自由,其中一些人甚至保住了他们的职位。


美欧的高杠杆,十年来发生了转移而不是下降,先是让公共部门大幅扩张了债务以承接金融部门和私人部门转移出来的债务和亏空,然后是利用美元和欧元的特权将债务利率压到零乃至负利率,从而将数万亿美元的亏空转化为全球外围地区的高通胀。


当年预言的三个主题中,只有去全球化正在切实发生,2016年特朗普当选总统和英国脱欧公投,标志着自1979年开始向全世界布道全球化福音的盎格鲁萨克森民族,如今掉转枪口攻击自己当年提倡的全球化。新自由主义的全球化被它自己的母国给抛弃了,成为二十一世纪的思想弃儿。民粹主义、孤立主义、保护主义取代了开放、多元、平等、创新等一系列全球化精神。


这个世界在后金融危机的十年间迅速颠倒过来,全球化课堂里的学生变成了老师。中国共产党领袖的习近平同志在达沃斯向全世界宣传继续开放市场的好处,在各种场合维护多边治理体系和全球气候治理,并正在中国国内付出巨大政策和财政代价鼓励创新和环保。IMF的拉加德女士发现自己跟中国领导人而不是华盛顿特区的政府拥有更多的共同语言:前者正在争取IMF中更多份额,更大发言权,并乐意承担更大的责任;而美国至少一半国民将其先辈们一手建立的一众多边机构视为低效、负担和累赘。IMF的经济学家们也不再像以前那样执着于资本项目的开放,而中国恰恰在努力让其汇率和利率获得弹性和自主性,并审慎却又坚定地放开其资本项目。


据说IMF的章程中明确规定其总部应该设在经济规模最大的成员国。考虑到中国经济未来数年的增速、通胀、统计方式的调整和汇率升值前景,我估计早则2021年,晚则2025年,人们就会面临一个严肃的选择题:IMF和世界银行的第二总部应该选址上海浦东还是北京南边的雄安新区?我的建议是选址雄安新区,不仅是因为它离北京的中国财政部和国家开发银行只有半小时的高铁,风光秀美,建筑全新,而且更重要的是,上海实在不适宜人类在冬季居住。它的冬季最低温会在零下5度左右,但是由于地处淮河以南,而中国是不允许淮河以南区域在冬季集中供暖的,所以作为从小生活在上海附近的人,在我记忆中,长江沿线的人们过冬取暖主要靠抖。那么谁适合去上海呢?我建议自由女神不妨搬过去,因为这位来自法国的(非法?)移民长期徘徊在纽约市大门口,刻在其基座上的词语已经在美国显得相当不合时宜。假如自由女神搬到长江口的长兴岛,她将得以见证脚下的造船基地如何快速建造出人类历史上最壮观的海军舰队,从而守护一个更加开放的全球航海和贸易秩序。

 

颠倒过来的除了开放议题,还有节能减排环保理念。2007年,当我在布鲁塞尔一所大学工作的时候,我曾与中国驻欧盟使团的朋友们聊起气候变化,我们一致认为这是欧洲的阴谋:他们在推动此项全球议题,不仅有利于欧盟的全球道义领导地位,同时又有利于欧洲的新能源和环保产业。欧洲人施压中国人与之共同搞节能减排,一定是想剥夺我们淮河以南的中国人过冬取暖的权利。然而,随着中国在节能环保和新能源产业的进步,这种阴谋论已经从我的头脑中消失了。不对,事实上这种阴谋论没有消失,而是悄悄转移到了地球的另一端:十年后的今天,美国有不少朋友认为是中国人在阴谋推动绿色环保节能减排的国际议题,以便谋取产业上的好处;他们相信气候变暖是一个伪科学假新闻;多开采煤炭和石油有利于改善美国经济结构。


对于中国而言,2008年以来真正变化的可能是产业结构和竞争力。十年前,中国的GDP规模还小于日本,位列全球第三;中国的出口项是劳动密集型为主,所谓的高科技主要是他国高科技零部件在中国的组装品,比如苹果手机在台资富士康大陆工厂中的组装出口工业。但是到今天,美国的超市中多数消费商品不再来源于中国,而是越南、印尼、孟加拉国乃至非洲国家。中国在产业链的阶梯上已经爬上去了若干台阶。在苹果手机的供应链中,中国厂商不再是单纯的组装者,而是提供了其中数十种重要元器件。“在中国制造Made in China”正在转变为“由中国制造made by China”。中国的自有品牌和专利产品,在许多领域表现出他们自身的竞争力,比如电动汽车、智能手机、无人机、高铁等等。


甚至在创新和互联网领域,中国的角色也正在发生变化。多年前听过个笑话说,万维网被分为两部分:全球网和中国互联网。但是站在今天的全球互联网发展和治理水平来看,中国的主张和政策路径恐怕不无道理。200年前,报纸等大众媒体的崛起使得各社会内绝大多数识字人口都被各自的主流意识形态所覆盖,从而出现了政治学上所谓的“大众政治”,人们的意识形态分布呈现钟型曲线状态,换言之,社会共识很强大且稳定。但是在互联网时代,尤其是移动互联网时代,传统媒体被网络信息边缘化,普通个体从信息的接受者变成了传播者和加工者,人们不再被媒体精英洗脑而是自我寻找信源从而自我洗脑,于是我们这个时代的主流意识形态出现了剧烈的分裂,社会共识迅速瓦解。许多国家的政治动荡和社会分裂恐怕同移动互联网和即时通信时代的到来不无关系,而中国的信息管控和审查虽然有明显的代价,但是至少人们相对少受泛滥的假消息假新闻之困扰,社会共识比较稳定。不但是政治,从商业和产业角度看,中国的互联网发展道路也是成功的:随着时间的推移,原先在互联网领域的保护主义者、模仿者、闭关自守者中国,正在悄悄地改变其被动地位,开始对外输出其网络服务和品牌。除美国之外的绝大多数国家在网络经济和人工智能领域都没有真正发展起有竞争力的品牌和企业来,唯独能够同美国的互联网巨头们相抗衡的可能主要是中国的少数几家BAT企业。互联网应用转移到手机平台之际,中国的网络企业似乎有反超之势,不止一位欧洲来华留学生告诉我,当他们回到欧洲时才意识到带着现金或者信用卡上街是多么老土、多么落后、多么不安全。深圳的一位IT业企业家则说,他去年夏天前往硅谷住了三个月,试图学习硅谷的新思想新模式,但是等他回到深圳的时候,他发现自己已经落伍了。


在持续了十年的负利率和超低利率之后,西方经济体正在看到走出后危机时代的曙光。日本央行开始缩减长期国债的购买。十年来美日欧依靠什么产业走出后危机时代?答案可能还是央行。一个悖论在于,后危机时代的美日欧央行大幅扩大其资产负债表,或者说印了很多钞票以兜住其资不抵债的金融机构和公共部门,但是他们的汇率贬值了吗?没有!大幅贬值的是发展中国家的货币,印度、巴西、俄罗斯等等。这让我们想起美国前财政部长的那句名言,这是我们的货币,却是你们的问题。用自己的本币借债,是发达国家才拥有的特权,如今中国的人民币正在努力加入这个特权俱乐部,通过人民币的国际化来改变自己在这个无(硬)锚货币体系中的不利地位。


当然,十年来中国地位的改变并没有让她变得更加自由主义而是对自己的文明和制度更加自信。中国政治家和知识分子开始意识到西方新自由主义的弊病和夸张之处,最典型的代表是我的朋友李世默先生在TED上的那篇演讲。中国人曾经认真地向前苏联学习,希望他们教导的全能主义体系能够帮助中国迅速站起来;80年代开始中国又真诚地向美国和西方学习,希望他们教导的自由市场模式能让中国富起来。这两位老师完成了他们的任务,但是这位学生却发现老师们其实也不完美,苏联太穷太专制,而美国太弱太混乱。现在,中国人开始把目光投向欧洲,但是这次的目光不再是仰视,而是平视,中国希望与欧洲大国一起复兴丝绸之路,探索一条融合市场效率与政府管控能力的第三条道路。全球化能否获得新生,希望可能就在欧洲和中国之间。



A World Turned Upside Down


What changes has the financial crisis wrought over the past decade? When the crisis broke out in 2007–2008, US financial commentators such as Bill Gross, the American investor and fund manager, known as ‘the king of bonds’, foresaw three major themes in the post-crisis era: greater regulation, deleverage and deglobalisation. To what extent have these predictions come true?


Regulation was applied – irresolutely – and failed. The real culprits of the financial crisis were not jailed but exonerated. They successfully preserved their freedom – and their wealth – with some even retaining their positions.


High leverage in the US and Europe over the past decade has merely been transferred rather than decreased. This leverage first forced the public sector to significantly expand its debt to incorporate loans and deficits diverted by the financial and private sectors; the US and European countries then capitalised on the privileges of the US dollar and the euro to push the debt interest rates down to zero or negative, turning trillions of dollars of deficit into high inflation in the global periphery.


Of Gross’s three predicted themes, at that time, only deglobalisation was actually happening. Populism, isolationism and protectionism replaced the global spirit of ‘opening‑up’, pluralism, equality and innovation. The election of Donald Trump as US president and the UK’s decision in 2016 to leave the European Union highlight the major Western powers’ repudiation of the ideas of globalisation they had endorsed since the term was first conceived in 1979. Neoliberal globalisation has been abandoned by its own creators and has become a discarded theory in the 21st century.


- A world in reverse gear


The world rapidly went into decline in the decade following the financial crisis, when the students of globalisation became its teachers and the developing countries that had previously followed the West’s guidance in promoting globalisation began to set the benchmark for its implementation. President Xi Jinping advocated the benefits of the progressive opening of China’s markets at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos in January 2018. He also supported implementation of multilateral governance systems and global climate governance, and is now encouraging innovation and environmental protection, managed through huge financial cost and policy reform. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) managing director, Christine Lagarde, has found more common ground with Chinese leaders than those in the US. China seeks a larger share, a louder voice and greater responsibilities in the IMF, whereas at least half of US citizens view such multinational institutions as inefficient and burdensome. The IMF’s economists are no longer as dedicated to the liberalisation of capital accounts, although their Chinese counterparts are struggling to inject flexibility and autonomy into exchange and interest rates, and to prudently but firmly release funds for its capital projects.


The IMF’s constitution stipulates that its headquarters should be located in the member country with the largest economy. In light of the growth of the Chinese economy, adjustments in statistical methods and the prospect of exchange rate appreciation, it is believed that, as early as 2021, a serious decision will need to be made on the location of the second headquarters of the IMF and the World Bank – slated to be either Pudong in Shanghai or the Xiong’an New Area south of Beijing. 


In a world turned upside down, an interesting reversal has occurred in energy and emissions reduction. A decade ago, some in China were dubious of the policy of ‘going green’. Its progress, driven by the EU, was conducive to the EU’s global moral leadership and its new energy and environmental industries, yet would deprive Chinese people south of the Huai River of winter heating. However, with the improvement of China’s energy saving and environmental protection policies, and the development in new energy industries, this doubt waned. However, it has re-emerged in the US, where it is often claimed that China conspires to push for green energy conservation and emissions reduction merely to attain industrial benefits, that global warming is believed to be pseudoscience – or ‘fake news’ – and that only more coal and oil can upgrade the economic structure in the US.


In China, perhaps the most enduring changes since 2008 are those in its industrial structure and its competitiveness. Ten years ago, China’s GDP was less that of Japan, and ranked third in the world. China’s export commodities were predominantly labour-intensive, and its so-called ‘high-tech’ products were the assembly of high-tech components of other countries – such as the assembly export industry of Apple mobile phones in Foxconn in Taiwan. But today, most consumer goods in US supermarkets are no longer sourced from China, but Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and even Africa. China has made great strides, ascending several steps in the industrial ladder. In the Apple mobile phone supply chain, Chinese manufacturers are not simply assemblers, but providers of dozens of important components, with the previously commonplace tag of ‘made in China’ gradually being transformed into ‘made by China’. China’s self-branded and patented products have proved their own competitiveness in many fields, including electric vehicles, smartphones, drones and high-speed trains.


China is also playing an enhanced role in the fields of innovation and the internet. There used to be a joke that the World Wide Web could be divided into two parts: the global network and the Chinese internet. However, as a consequence of current global internet development and a lack of governance, China’s policies and its reasons for their implementation may prove to be reasonable. Around 200 years ago, the advent of newspapers and other mass media attempted to shape the opinion of the majority of literate people to mainstream ideologies, resulting in ‘mass politics’. Now, the traditional media is marginalised by network information, and individuals have become the communicators and processors of information rather than recipients, breaking down control by media elites. A fierce split in mainstream ideology has accelerated the collapse of a Western social consensus. In China, despite the drawbacks of information control and censorship, the proliferation of fake news has had little effect, and the social consensus is relatively stable. 


- China plays catch-up


China’s development in IT is also proving successful in business and industry – China, the former protectionist, imitator and isolator in the internet field, is shedding its passive status and beginning to export its network services and brands to the world. Most countries are not developing seriously competitive brands and businesses in the network economy and artificial intelligence; only China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent can compete with the US internet giants and, as internet applications move to mobile platforms, China’s internet companies have the potential to overtake them. More than one European student in China has told the author that, on their return to Europe, they realised how old-fashioned, unsophisitcated and insecure shopping with cash and credit cards is. An IT entrepreneur in Shenzhen told the author that when he visited Silicon Valley for three months to explore new ideas, he found that, on his return to Shenzhen, the pace of innovation and technological development meant that he was already behind the times, and his knowledge and ideas were outdated.


After a decade of negative and ultra-low interest rates, Western economies are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel of the post-crisis era. For example, the Bank of Japan has started to trim purchases of long-term government bonds. Over the past 10 years, what have the US, Japan and Europe relied on most to lift them out of the post-crisis era? The answer is probably their central banks. Paradoxically, the central banks of the US, Japan and Europe have dramatically expanded their balance sheets by printing money to bail out insolvent financial institutions and the public sector – but their exchange rates have not significantly depreciated. Countries struggling with significant currency devaluation include India, Brazil, Russia and other developing economies. In 1971, after the ‘Nixon shock’ – when then-USPresident Richard Nixon undertook a number of economic measures, including cancelling the direct international convertibility of the US dollar to gold – then-US Treasury secretary John Connally declared: “This is our currency, but it is your problem.”


Debt borrowing in its own currency is a privilege enjoyed only by developed countries; China is now working hard to join that club by converting its disadvantaged position in this no (hard) anchor currency system through the internationalisation of the renminbi.


The change in China’s status over the past decade has not made it more liberal, but more confident of its own civilisation and system. Chinese politicians and intellectuals have begun to realise the shortcomings and exaggerations of Western neoliberalism. China learned first from the former Soviet Union that totalitarianism would strengthen China rapidly. From the 1980s onwards, China learned from the US that the free-market model would make China prosperous. Yet China – the student of these policical and economic policies – found that its teachers were not perfect: the Soviet Union was too poor and despotic, while the US is too chaotic. Now, China turns its eyes to Europe, this time not looking up, but head-on. China hopes to revive the ancient Silk Route together with the major European powers and explore the ‘third way’ of integrating market efficiency and government control. Can globalisation gain a new life? Europe and China hold the key.




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