[ 美国 外交官 ] 中国的信贷危机

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China's Credit Crunch
A crackdown on micro-lending, aimed atprotecting consumers, is leaving China’s lower class with little access tocredit.

中国信贷危机
为保护消费者,中国开始针对小额信贷进行清理,致使该国底层民众几乎丧失信贷机会

By Andrew McCormick  March 12, 2018



People ride escalators below advertisementsfor an online shopping application in an electronics store in Beijing (July 9,2015).Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

北京一家商场里,人们正乘坐手扶电梯,电梯通道上方贴满了网络购物广告。

The website for China Rapid Finance features a cartoon of a young woman on a bicycle.Smiling in a red sweater and earrings, she pedals on an upward slope ofprosperity, boosted along the way by loans of increasing value. With a $100loan, she was able to purchase food. With $1,000, she supported her education.With $10,000 in loans, she might one day afford marriage, a car, and even ahouse. The message is clear: small loans are the ticket to a better life inChina.

“中国便捷贷款”网站的广告里,一位卡通形象的年轻女子,戴着耳环、身穿红色毛衣,骑着自行车,满面春光地奔向富足之路。随着车的行进,贷款金额也逐步上升。开始她先贷了100美元用于买吃的,之后又贷了1000美元支付学费,最后贷了10000美元用于结婚,买车甚至是房子。宣扬的信息很明确,那就是,在中国,小额贷款是奔向美好生活的门票。

China Rapid Finance is one of thousands ofprivate online micro-lending companies in China which, in recent years, havefilled a critical gap in the country’s economy by extending credit to membersof the lower and lower-middle classes, who traditionally have not had access toborrowing under the state-owned banking system.

“中国便捷贷款”是中国近些年来数千家网上小额贷款公司的其中之一。由于该国中下层民众,在国有银行体系下通常无法获得贷款,因此这类提供小额贷款公司的出现,填补了中国经济中的一个关键空白。

Proponents of the payday and peer-to-peerloans offered by these companies assert that they offer borrowers upwardfinancial mobility and the opportunity to achieve the trappings of amiddle-class lifestyle. But the rapid proliferation of lending companies in anunregulated market has also led to widespread over-borrowing and a spate ofpredatory debt collection practices. More and more borrowers began to defaulton loans, and financial analysts and government regulators both worried that agrowing debt bubble at the basement rungs of the chinese economy might threatenthe general stability of the country’s financial system.

这些提供点对点、日付资金的公司,其拥护者们认为,这类公司为借款人提供了有益的资金流动性,让人们获得达到中产阶级生活水准的机会。由于该类企业不受市场监管,贷款公司迅速扩张泛滥,致使产生大量过度透支及掠夺性贷款行为。越来越多的贷款人拖欠贷款,金融分析师和政府监管部门开始担心,一个不断膨胀的债务泡沫有可能会威胁到国家金融稳定。

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In December, in an effort to mitigatesystemic risk and curb consumer exploitation, state financial authoritiesannounced rules aimed at reeling back unchecked growth in the online lendingindustry. Thousands of companies operating without government license werebanned from lending outright. The few hundred that remained in the market —including big names in China like Quidian, PPDai, and Jianpu — became subject to tight restrictions on totallending, the customers they could lend to, and the interest rates they couldcharge. As a result of the regulations, many companies are expected to go outof business, and many would-be borrowers are likely to be left once again withseverely limited credit options.

2017年12月,为了减轻系统性风险、抑制贷款消费,国家财政部门发布了加强网上贷款监管的规定。数千家未经政府许可的公司将禁止放贷。包括一些中国大型企业,如趣店、拍拍贷和简谱投资,它们在贷款总额、客户信用和利率方面等均受到严格的限制,因此市场上仅有数百家公司存活下来。由于这些规定,预计将有不少家公司倒闭,很多潜在借款人将再次面临无款可贷的情形。

In a market economy where it takes money tomake money, experts say access to credit is a leading factor separating theeconomic power of the wealthy and politically well-connected from that of thosein lower strata of the Chinese system. New regulations in online lending wereput in place, in part, to protect lower-income consumers — but, at a time ofstark income inequality across China, they might also prove to be one morething holding them back.

市场经济中对于如何赚钱,专家们表示,信用是一个主要因素,它将有钱人、有地位的人以及底一般底层民众分隔开来。一定程度上,网络贷款新规定的目的是为了保护低收入消费人群,但是,随着中国各地收入差距逐渐拉大,这可能会变成为一种障碍。

“Anytime something bad happens in the market system, there’s a sensein the government that it has to be reversed completely,” said Cheryl Xioaning Long of the Xiamen UniversitySchool of Economics. “Regulations are imposed on the micro-lending industry,rather than addressing the root problem of there being no access to capital forlower members of society. There’s little thought for the idea that maybe havinga loan with high interest is better than having no loan at all.”

厦门大学经济学院,龙小宁(注:合聘教授,国家万人计划其中一员)说道:“市场体系一旦出现问题,政府就产生一种必须要解决的思想。监管是对小额贷款行业实施的,而不是解决社会底层民众无法获得资金的根本问题。大家可能没意识到,高息贷款总比不能贷要好。”

The online micro-lending industryofficially counted approximately $150 billion in activity in 2017 and has grownexponentially in recent years, amid dramatic rises in internet access andsmartphone usage across China. Many borrowers in the lower and lower-middleclasses, who grew accustomed to small loans as a routine part of their lives,have expressed frustration in the wake of the December regulations.

随着中国互联网接入和智能手机使用量的急剧攀升,小额贷款行业近年来呈指数增长,据官方统计,预计2017年该行业产生9450亿人民币规模的市场。许多中下阶层民众,已习惯把小额贷款当做日常生活的一部分,但自从去年12月实施监管之后,这些人表现出了失望情绪。

“My credit line is suddenly reset to zero?!” complained one user ofthe Baidu lending platform in February. “You can’t play me like this. I waspaying my debts on time!”

今年2月,百度贷款平台的一位用户抱怨道:“我的信用额突然被重置为零。你可不能这样玩我啊。我可是按时还款的啊!”

“Is this how you treat an old customer?” said another user. “I’m onlytrying to buy something worth a couple hundred dollars, and you turned me downin a second. I’m without words.”

另一位用户说到。“这就是你们对待老顾客的方式吗?”“我只是想买个几千块钱的东西,不容分说你们瞬间就拒绝了我。”

Since the micro-lending industry’sinception in China, financial experts have broadly celebrated its burgeoningdiversity, as companies provided for niche needs whichhad long been unmet by the legacy financial system. Some companies offeredsmall loans for healthcare, for instance, while others targeted specific groupsof people, like farmers.

自小额贷款行业在中国成立以来,金融专家们就对多元化的小额贷款充满了溢美之词,因为企业提供的福利,长期以来一直没有得到传统金融体系的满足。例如,有些公司提供小额医疗贷款,而有的些公司却以农民等特定人群为目标。(注:这里的关键词“niche needs”-我认为是福利需求,没太理解,有请这方面的大神指点)

“Having access to loans, especially for poor, rural families has abig impact on their ability to raise incomes and pursue other opportunities,”said Alfred Park, editor-in-chief of the China Economic Review.“But people don’t always know what they’re getting into.”

《中经评论》(注:英国杂志)总编 Alfred Park 表示:“获得贷款,尤其对于贫困农村家庭,对他们提高收入、寻找商机有着重大影响。但人们不知所措无从下手。”

Xu Xia is one borrower who has seen boththe good and bad of online lending. A Shanghai-based marketing manager in hermid-20s, Xu began borrowing in college to supplement to the small livingstipend she received from her parents. Xu is typical in that she initially usedloans to make day-to-day ends meet: she paid for her smartphone service andcared for her cat. Always just a few clicks away from a new loan, though, Xuquickly found herself prone to overspending.

徐霞,20多岁就在上海当上了名营销经理,对于网上贷款的好坏,她有比较深刻的理解。作为父母给予生活费的补充,徐在大学期间就开始贷款。徐的典型做法是,她把贷来的钱用于维持日常生活开销,比如充话费,养猫。但徐发现钱永远只是鼠标点了那么几下就借来了,导致自己很容易超支。

“Cash loans make you feel richer than you actually are,” Xu said.“It’s addictive. I am now owing a lot of debt.”

徐说道:“借来的现金总让你感觉比实际的更有钱,还很容易让人上瘾,我现在还欠着不少钱呢。”

Xu said she is aware that new rules aremaking it harder for her friends to get loans. But based on her own experiencewith debt — today Xu spends roughly half her monthly salary just paying off oldloans — she doubts if this is a bad thing.
Still, experts say negative consumerexperiences are not explicit signs that an industry is broken or requiresregulation. In the case of online lending, an institutionalized system offinancial education might also prepare consumers to approach debt responsiblyand ward off loan sharks.

不过,专家们表示,消费者此种负面体验,并不能成为对该行业进行整顿或进行监管的客观原因。以网上贷款为例,金融教育制度化也可以让消费者做好准备,对债务负责,避开高利贷。

Park explained that diversity and dynamism in any industry must alwaysbe balanced by prudent regulation. Because there has not been significant datakept on who specifically in China has utilized online lending — due, notincidentally, to a lack of regulation — he said it is difficult in this case topredict if the net gain of consumer protection will outweigh a loss of diversityin the market and the reality that, under new regulations, some consumers willlose access to credit.

Park 解释到,任何行业的多样化与活力化都必须通过审慎的监管来平衡。因为没有特定数据可判断出,谁有资格可以进行网上贷款——这并非特意去进行监管。他说道,这种情况下,很难预测保护消费者的净收益是否会超过市场多样化所带来的损失。现实是,按照新规定,一些消费者将失去获得信贷的机会。

The impact of the regulations willultimately depend on how people were actually using small loans, according toMichael Pettis, a Carnegie Senior Fellow and professor of finance at PekingUniversity. If more people were borrowing to invest in small businesses orjumpstart their lives, Pettis said the regulations could damage their prospectsand the Chinese economy in general. If more people were borrowing for vanitypurchases, on the other hand, the regulations could be helpful for China,because this sort of consumption most often leads to compounding householddebt.

据卡耐基高级研究员、北京大学金融学教授michael pettis的说法,法规的出台,终归取决于人们实际使用小额贷款的方式。Pettis说道,如果有些人想贷款创业、改善生活,这些规定可能会令他们失望,还会损害中国整体经济。换个角度来看,如果贷款人是一些爱慕虚荣的人,这些法规反而有利于中国,因为此种贷款往往会导致家庭债务高台。

In any case, Pettis warned that aheavy-handed crackdown on a young lending industry could have long-termnegative outcomes, given credit as a factor in China’s economic inequality.

Pettis警告说,无论怎样,强力压制这么一个新兴信贷企业,可能导致产生长期负面后果。因为中国经济不平等,信贷是其中一个因素。

“As long as money and economic opportunity stay at the top, wherepeople save more than they spend, you have less money being injected into theeconomy,” Pettis said. “That’s when economies eventually stagnate.”

Pettis说到:“只要货币和经济优势维持在高位,人们的钱就会存大于支,注入经济资金就会减少。最终导致经济停滞。”

Andrew McCormick is a reporter currently studying at Columbia Journalism School.Additional reporting was provided by Chuan Tian and HaneyaHasan at Columbia Journalism School.

作者:哥伦比亚大学新闻系记者 Andrew McCormick;Chuan Tian 、 Haneya Hasan补充报道。

 
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