经济学家:全球制造业在低迷中期待需求回暖
2016-03-15 17:00:26
经济学家:全球制造业在低迷中期待需求回暖(2016.03.15)

  提要:由于需求疲软,各经济体制造业的走势普遍低迷不振。究其原因,发达市场的很多制造商将市场低迷归因于中国经济减速。但另一方面,中国经济也是全球经济低迷的受害者。全球贸易低迷对制造业的影响尤为突出。而且,大宗商品价格的下跌意味着,石油公司和金属公司不会投资新建厂房、采购设备,令资本品制造业成为受害者。全球制造业的最大希望是,目前的低迷只是暂时的;但当下市场上的悲观情绪仍占据上风。

  (外脑精华·北京)全球制造业走势低迷

  最负盛名的工业企业之一卡特彼勒公司生产建筑、采矿和交通运输业使用的重型挖掘和输送设备。1月28日发布的最新财报显示,卡特彼勒面临着需求低迷的挑战,因为其很多客户行业和企业都处于困境之中。2015年该公司营业额同比下降近15%,比2012年的峰值减少29%。

  卡特彼勒面临的挑战是当前全球制造业所处困境的缩影。就发达经济体而言,制造业的分量远远小于服务业,例如制造业增加值仅占美国GDP的12%。尽管如此,制造业的低迷现状却引发了很多经济学家对整体经济前景的担忧。

  最新数据反映了问题的严重性。今年以来,通用电气、塔塔和庞巴迪都宣布了大规模裁员计划。2015年12月,意大利、英国、德国和法国的工业生产分别下跌0.7%、1.1%、1.2%和1.6%。中国的官方采购经理指数和财新采购经理指数都已低于临界点50,处于收缩区间之中。

  1月份,美国制造业产值环比增长0.5%,但也仅仅回到去年10月份的水平;此前6个月中,下跌的月份有4个。供应管理协会编制的美国采购经理指数10月份以来一直低于50。不同于制造业PMI的低迷状态,大多数经济体的服务业PMI则处于扩张区间中。

  多种因素打击制造业

  发达市场的很多制造商将近期的市场低迷归因于中国经济减速。钢铁工业正承受着中国投资造成的巨量过剩产能和价格暴跌的重压。本世纪前10年,中国的旺盛原材料需求驱使全球矿业公司增加生产、航运公司扩充船队。随着中国需求的下滑,矿业和航运业双双遭受打击。过去12个月之中,彭博大宗商品价格指数下跌了28%。波罗的海干散户指数(BDI)已经从峰值下跌了98%。最新数据显示,中国进口值同比下降了18.8%。

  但另一方面,中国经济也是全球经济低迷的受害者。最新数据显示,其出口值同比下跌了11.2%,对美国和欧盟出口分别同比下滑10%和12%。全球金融危机之前,全球贸易增速长期高于GDP增速,而今则落后于GDP增速。据经合组织估算,2015年其贸易量仅增长了2%。

  全球贸易低迷对制造业的影响尤为突出。出口相关就业人口占美国制造业就业总人口的25%左右,而服务业的相应数字仅有6%。2015年,尽管美国就业总人口增势强劲,但制造业就业却是零增长。据美银美林估算,2015年底,美国贸易导向型行业产值的年化增速只有0.1%。

  而且,大宗商品价格的下跌意味着,石油公司和金属公司不会投资新建厂房、采购设备,令资本品制造业成为受害者。例如,石油巨头埃克森美孚已宣布将2016年资本支出计划削减25%。

  美国工业部门开工率(即产能利用率)可能已在2015年底见顶,但这一周期性峰值低于以往的周期性峰值。目前,美国工业企业的销售难度很大,库存-销售比率处于金融危机以来的最高点。预计标准普尔500指数工业企业4季度的盈利将同比下跌5.4%,营业额下跌7.3%。

  美国制造业还承受着美元升值的压力。以贸易加权汇率衡量,2014年中期以来美元已升值22%,令纸、塑料等低利润大宗工业品的制造商成为受害者。然而,汇率因素却无法解释欧洲制造业的低迷:以贸易加权汇率衡量,欧元在过去5年间已下跌了11%。

  投资者依然悲观

  全球制造业的最大希望是,目前的低迷只是暂时的。大宗商品价格大跌对能源和原材料工业产生了短期影响。但就中期而言,价格下跌有利于发达市场的消费需求,有助于刺激制成品销售。汽车制造业的情况已经证明了这一点:在汽油价格下跌的鼓励下,2015年美国汽车销量创下了1760万辆的历史新高。

  就中国而言,近期数据可能受到了春节假期的扭曲。2015年中国公路货运量实现了增长。官方采购经理指数显示,消费品工业走势依然稳健。中国央行行长周小川近期接受采访时表示,中国不会采取竞争性贬值的汇率政策,而且中国的外汇储备足以抵抗看空人民币的投机行为。周小川的表态立刻推动了人民币升值。

  不过,当下市场上的悲观情绪仍占据上风。2016年初,即使汽车股的走势也低迷不振。美银美林进行的全球基金经理调查显示,目前全球基金的工业股配置份额已降至2011年以来的最低点。或许规模大得多的服务业能带动制造业摆脱困境,但投资者现在还不敢对此抱有希望。

  

  英文原文:A vital chunk of the world economy is beset by weakness

CATERPILLAR is one of the most renowned industrial brands. It makes the kind of heavy machinery-loaders, excavators and off-road trucks-that is used in the construction, mining and transport industries when things need to get dug out or shifted somewhere. But the firm's latest results, released on January 28th, show that it is struggling to shift its own products. "This past year was a difficult one for many of the industries and customers we serve," it said. Revenues in 2015 were nearly 15% lower than they were in 2014, and 29% below the 2012 peak.

The company’s woes are emblematic of the problems facing manufacturers worldwide. Although manufacturing is a much smaller part of most developed economies than services-just 12% of output in America, for example-its recent weakness makes many economists nervous about the wider outlook.

Recent data point to the size of the problem. Big jobs cuts have been announced this year by GE, Tata Steel and Bombardier. In December industrial production fell by 0.7% in Italy, 1.1% in Britain, 1.2% in Germany and 1.6% in France. In China both the official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of manufacturing activity and that of Caixin, a leading financial magazine, are below 50, the threshold that indicates contraction (see chart).

In America, manufacturing output rose by 0.5% in January but only back to its level in October; it has fallen in four of the past six months. The manufacturing PMI, compiled by the Institute for Supply Management, has been below 50 since October. Services-sector PMIs in most countries, by contrast, indicate continued expansion.

A slowdown in Chinese economic growth, as the authorities try to switch from an investment-led to a consumption-led model, is blamed by many manufacturers in the developed world for their problems. The steel industry is suffering from the effect of past Chinese investment, which has led to massive overcapacity and plunging prices. China's demand for raw materials in the first decade of this century also prompted mining companies to step up production, and shipping companies to build more vessels. As Chinese demand has dropped, both industries have taken a pounding. Bloomberg's commodity index has fallen by 28% over the past 12 months. The Baltic Dry index of shipping rates is down by 98% from its peak. The latest data show that Chinese imports, by value, have fallen by 18.8% over the past year.

Yet China itself is suffering from weak global demand; the value of its exports has fallen by 11.2% over the same period, including declines of 10% to America and 12% to the EU. Before the financial crisis, global trade used to grow faster than GDP, now it is lagging behind. The OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, estimates that trade volumes last year grew by just 2%.

The sluggish nature of trade growth has a disproportionate impact on manufacturing. Around 25% of all American manufacturing jobs are linked to trade, compared with just 6% of jobs in services. Even though overall job growth in America has been strong, there were no net gains in manufacturing employment last year. In trade-intensive American industries, Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that output was growing at an annual rate of just 0.1% by the end of 2015.

Falling commodity prices also mean that oil and metals producers are not investing in new plant and equipment, which hurts the companies that produce such goods. Exxon Mobil, an oil giant, has announced a 25% cut in its capital-expenditure plans for 2016, for example.

American capacity utilisation, a measure of how much productive capacity is not idle, may have peaked at a lower level than in previous cycles (see chart). Firms seem to be struggling to sell what they produce: the inventories-to-sales ratio is higher than at any time since the financial crisis. By the time the fourth-quarter reporting season is over, American industrial companies in the S&P 500 are expected to have reported an annual decline of 5.4% in earnings and 7.3% in sales.

The rising dollar is a problem for American firms, as it makes their wares more expensive. On a trade-weighted basis, the greenback is up by 22% since mid-2014. That is painful for companies that make low-margin commoditised goods such as paper or plastics. But currency movements cannot explain the weakness in European manufacturing; the trade-weighted euro has dropped by 11% over the past five years.

The best hope for manufacturers is that this weakness is temporary. Falling commodity prices have had a short-term impact on the energy and materials industries. But in the medium term, lower prices should be good for consumer demand in the developed world, and they will step up their purchases of manufactured goods. Carmakers have already shown that it is possible to buck the trend. Low petrol prices encouraged American car buyers last year, with sales hitting a record 17.6m.

As for China, recent data may be distorted by the effect of the lunar-new-year holiday. Chinese road freight grew last year; officials have started breaking out consumer-focused industries within its official PMI, and those data still seem robust. In a rare interview published this week by Caixin, Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of China's central bank, dismissed worries on the part of developed-world manufacturers that the Chinese would devalue the yuan to enhance the competitiveness of their exports. He vowed not to pursue a policy of competitive devaluation, and insisted China had more than enough in foreign-exchange reserves to fend off those who were speculating against the currency. His comments sent the beleaguered yuan soaring: it hit its highest level this year on February 15th.

For the moment, however, pessimism reigns. Even the shares of carmakers have taken a battering in the early weeks of 2016, underperforming the rest of the market. Global fund managers polled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch now have their lowest weighting in industrial stocks since 2011. Perhaps the much-larger services sector will pull manufacturing out of its rut. But investors are not counting on it.

来源:经济学家

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