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复旦大学经济学院金融学教授

复旦大学经济学院金融学教授,中国世界经济学会常务理事、复旦大学经济学院副院长、复旦大学中国经济国际竞争力创新基地常务副主任,复旦大学世界经济研究所副所长,《经济研究》匿名审稿人,比利时鲁汶大学应用经济系博士学位评审组成员、日本一桥大学国际共同研究中心兼职研究员.

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结构改革优先于货币政策的独立性(英文)  

2006-11-27 12:41:52|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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MARVIN Goodfriend and Eswar Prasad are two leading scholars in the field of international finance. Their article about China’s monetary policy is inspiring in many ways.

As they rightly point out, the fast expansion of money and bank credit supply has fueled an investment boom in China.

However, they did not discuss what had ultimately caused such an easy money policy and the consequent investment expansion.

The failure to discuss the ultimate reason would render the two scholars’ policy analysis somehow irrelevant for China at present, although it may be of value in the long run.

The ultimate culprit of an investment boom on the back of easy money supply lies in the tilted economic structure of the country: a strong export market versus a slack domestic one. Under this structure, domestic savings continue to pile up while investment with abundant foreign exchange earned from exports mainly goes to real-estate projects and financial markets.

As a result, there is little inflationary pressure in the commodity market. As such, any effort to control price stability alone would have little effect on correcting China’s economic structural imbalance.

The high liquidity of the massive foreign exchange revenue would make adjustments in domestic inflation rates largely ineffective.

That’s why the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, instead has resorted to expedient and discretionary monetary policies, such as sudden adjustments of the commercial banks’ reserve ratios, to reduce money supply.

The central bank does so in the belief that any monetary policy based on price management, such as paying attention to the actual interest rate, exchange rate and inflation rate, would be futile before China fixes its titled economic structure to boost domestic demand.

At present, direct suspension of over-liquid money may work better than installing an independent monetary policy immediately.

As the Chinese economy still relies heavily on export and inward foreign direct investment, the central bank must maintain a relatively stable exchange-rate system to minimize possible risks from the world market.

Such a stable exchange-rate system helps China restructure its economy in an orderly way.

The main tasks of reform include improving the social-security network to ease public anxiety about the future and giving more favorable policies to the countryside to narrow the yawning wealth gap.

The reform of the current-exchange rate system will take place once there is substantial change for the better in China’s economic structure, such as the narrowing of the wealth gap and stronger domestic demand.

When that day comes, Marvin Goodfriend and Eswar Prasad will find their policy suggestion is regarded as highly positive for China. But an independent monetary policy can’t be brought forth in a hurry. The time is not ripe yet for China to introduce an independent monetary policy based on price signals and management.

If capital-market bubbles make Chinese commercial banks worse off, the central bank will have to burst those bubbles even if there is no inflation in the commodity market.

In so doing, the central bank can hardly afford to adopt a monetary policy that simply focuses on keeping inflation low.

What’s more, businesses may no longer be sensitive to price signals under a tilted economic structure.

In sum, China’s current monetary policy — focusing on expedient and discretionary adjustments — is rather passive in nature because it lacks independence. However, such a temporary lack of independence is necessary as long as it helps China rebalance its economy.
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