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Renminbi Rising?

  发布日期:2013-12-13  浏览次数:

Renminbi Rising?

SHANGHAI – China is increasingly debating whether or not the renminbi should be internationalized, possibly joining the US dollar and the euro as an international vehicle currency (IVC) – that is, a currency that other countries use to denominate the prices of their traded goods and international loans. Related to this is a debate about whether Shanghai can become a first-tier international financial center (1-IFC) like London and New York.

Financial history can help to answer these questions. First, a city can become a 1-IFC only if its national currency is an IVC. But, as London’s status shows, a longtime 1-IFC can retain its position in the international financial system even if its currency is no longer an IVC.

Second, the transaction cost of using a foreign currency as a medium of exchange is inversely proportional to the extent to which that currency is used globally. Similar economies of scale characterize foreign investors’ use of a particular international financial center. As a result, there cannot be more than three or four IVCs and 1-IFCs.

Third, a country’s financial sector must be both open, with no capital-flow restrictions, and sophisticated, with a wide range of instruments and institutions. It must also be safe, with a central bank maintaining economic stability, prudential regulators keeping fraud and speculation in check, macro-prudential authorities displaying adequate financial fire-fighting capabilities, and a legal system that is predictable, transparent, and fair.

Last – and most important – successful convergence to IVC and 1-IFC status requires the national economy to be strong relative to other economies for a substantial period of time. The United Kingdom occupied a position of global economic leadership for more than a century. In 1914, the US/UK GDP ratio was 2.1, but the US dollar was not an IVC, suggesting that America’s relative economic strength was inadequate. A decade later, in 1924, the ratio was 3.2 and rising – and the US dollar had eclipsed the British pound as the most important IVC.

Relative economic strength explains why the Japanese yen failed to develop into an IVC, and why Tokyo – whose financial markets satisfied the relevant requirements – failed to become a 1-IFC. With its GDP reaching only about 60% of America’s at its peak in 1991, Japan never attained the critical mass required to induce foreigners to use the yen to lower transaction costs.

Determining the future international status of the renminbi and Shanghai must begin with a calculation of China’s expected relative economic strength vis-à-vis the US under two plausible scenarios.

In the first scenario, China becomes caught in a middle-income trap, with per capita GDP stuck at 30% of America’s – an outcome that has characterized Latin America’s five largest economies since at least 1960, and Malaysia since 1994. This would put China’s economic strength relative to the US at 1.1 – well below the necessary ratio.

In the second, more favorable scenario, China’s per capita GDP would reach 80% of America’s – higher than the 70% average rate for the five largest Western European countries since 1960 – and its economic strength relative to the US would amount to roughly 2.8. This would make the renminbi eligible for IVC status and enable Shanghai to choose whether to become a 1-IFC. But China’s economy still would not be strong enough relative to the US for natural market forces to ensure the renminbi’s international success.

Given this, the Chinese government would have to implement decisive measures to encourage international traders and creditors to price their transactions in renminbi. Specifically, China would have to use its market power to promote pricing in renminbi for relevant manufactured exports and raw-material imports, and encourage renminbi denomination of foreign financial assets that China purchases (which the country’s status as a net creditor should facilitate).

But there are serious pitfalls to avoid in this process. As the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 demonstrated, capital-account liberalization could lead to financial meltdowns – a danger that opponents of internationalizing the renminbi often cite. But these risks do not outweigh the potential benefits of financial openness, and they can be minimized with effective monitoring and regulation, including requirements for large capital buffers and low leverage ratios, together with strong crisis-response mechanisms, like a resolution trust corporation.

In fact, effective financial-monitoring and prudential-regulation systems do not have to precede opening the capital account. On the contrary, developing and enacting financial regulation must be a gradual process, shaped by both existing knowledge and firsthand experience. After all, no financial market is either completely open or completely closed forever; the degree of openness at a given moment depends on policy choices.

The recent establishment of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone will allow for the emergence of an offshore international financial center that offers real-world training to China’s regulators. This will give them the tools they need to recognize the signs of a developing crisis, defuse the threat, and efficiently handle the recapitalization and reorganization of failed financial institutions.

China’s pursuit of an IVC and a 1-IFC city would serve not only its own interests. Allowing the renminbi to help meet global demand for international reserves and risk diversification would also strengthen global financial stability.

There is little time to waste in internationalizing the renminbi. Given the limited number of currencies that can serve as IVCs, the failure of the renminbi to achieve IVC status before, say, the Indian rupee, the Russian ruble, or the Brazilian real could mean that the renminbi is denied IVC status – and that Shanghai fails to achieve 1-IFC status – for generations, if not forever.

© 1995-2013 Project Syndicate

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/wing-t--woo-lays-out-the-conditions-that-china-must-meet-to-internationalize-its-currency-and-turn-shanghai-into-a-global-financial-center#E2C4bqLGWLLJd1U4.99

胡永泰:人民币崛起?

本文来源于财经网 2013年12月17日 10:17

http://comments.caijing.com.cn/2013-12-17/113699789.html

在1991年的最高峰,日本GDP只有美国的60%,因此日本从未达到过促使外国人使用日元来降低交易成本的临界值。如果人民币不能抢在印度卢比、俄罗斯卢布或巴西雷亚尔之前成为IVC将意味着在几代人的时间里,人民币都将失去IVC地位

上海——

在中国,一场日益激烈的争论是人民币是否应该国际化,加入美元和欧元的行列成为国际媒介货币(international vehicle currency,IVC),即其他国家用来为贸易商品和国际贷款计价的货币。与此有关的一场争论是上海是否能够成为顶级国际金融中心(first-tier international financial center ,1-IFC),与伦敦和纽约相抗衡。

金融史可以帮助回答这些问题。首先,一个城市只有在所在国货币成为IVC时才可能成为1-IFC。但是,正如伦敦的地位所表明的,即使所在国货币已不再是IVC,老牌1-IFC仍可以保有其在国际金融体系中的地位。

其次,使用外国货币作为交易媒介的交易成本与这种货币的全球使用程度成反比。外国投资者使用某一特定国际金融中心具有类似的规模经济特征。因此,IVC和1-IFC的数量不会超过三四个。

再次,一国的金融部门必须是开放的,没有资本管制,并且十分成熟,具备各种工具和机构。它还必须是安全的,有一家维持经济稳定的中央银行,有监督欺诈和投机的审慎监管者,有足够的金融救火能力的宏观审慎当局,有可预测、透明、公正的司法体系。

IVC和1-IFC的第四个也是最重要的一个成功秘诀是,在相当长的一段时间里,其国民经济相对其他经济体保持优势。英国占据全球经济领导地位超过一百年。1914年,美国/英国GDP之比为2.1,但美元仍不是IVC,这表明美国的相对经济实力仍不够强大。十年后的1924年,美国/英国GDP之比变为3.2,并呈现继续上升之势,美元也超过英镑成为最重要的IVC

相对经济强势解释了为何日元没有发展成为IVC,以及东京——其金融市场已满足相关条件——没有能够成为1-IFC。在1991年的最高峰,日本GDP只有美国的60%,因此日本从未达到过促使外国人使用日元来降低交易成本的临界值。

确定人民币和上海的未来国际地位必须从计算两种大概率情形下中国对美国的相对经济强度开始。

在第一种情形中,中国将陷入中等收入陷阱,人均GDP停留在美国的30%——拉美最大的五个经济体自1960年以来便处于这一状态,马来西亚则从1994年开始处于这一状态。这意味着中国对美国的相对经济强度为1.1,远远低于必要条件比率。

在第二种较有利的情形中,中国人均GDP将达到美国的80%——高于西欧最大的五个经济体自1960年以来的平均水平70%——其对美国的相对经济强度将达到2.8左右。这意味着人民币有资格获得IVC地位,上海也有资格选择是否成为1-IFC。但中国经济相对美国的强度不足以保证通过自然市场力量让人民币获得国际成功。

基于此,中国政府必须采取果断措施鼓励国际交易者和债权人用人民币为交易定价。具体而言,中国必须利用其市场实力促使用人民币为相关出口制造品和原材料进口品定价,并鼓励用人民币为中国购买的外国金融资产计价(在这方面,中国的净债权人地位应能有所助益)。

但在此过程中需要规避诸多陷阱。正如1997—1998年亚洲金融危机所标明的,资本账户自由化可能导致金融崩溃——这也是人民币国际化的反对者经常提到的危险。但这些风险尚不足以胜过金融开放的潜在好处,也可以通过有效监控和监管实现最小化,包括提高资本缓冲、降低杠杆率以及成立清算信托公司等强大的危机反应机制。

事实上,有效的金融监控和审慎管理体系并不一定要先于资本账户开放。相反,发展和实施金融监管必须是渐进过程,根据现有知识和第一手经验改进。毕竟,不存在永远完全开放或封闭的金融市场,给定时刻的开放程度根据政策选择而定。

最近成立的上海自由贸易区将允许离岸国际金融中心的出现,中国监管者将受到真实世界的训练。这将让他们获得识别危机发展信号、扼杀风险、有效处理倒闭金融机构资本重组所需要的工具。

中国对IVC和1-IFC的追求不仅符合其自身利益。让人民币帮助满足世界对国际储备和风险多元化的需求能加强全球金融稳定。

人民币国际化刻不容缓。能成为IVC的货币数量极为有限,如果人民币不能抢在印度卢比、俄罗斯卢布或巴西雷亚尔之前成为IVC将意味着在几代人的时间里(如果不是永远的话)人民币都将失去IVC地位,上海也将无法获得1-IFC地位。

胡永泰是加州大学戴维斯分校、复旦大学和中央财经大学经济学教授。他也是马来西亚乔治城槟城研究所执行主任

【作者:胡永泰】 (编辑:陈君)

关键字:人民币崛起

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