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2007-03-15 16:33沪江论坛

The world economy 世界经济

India overheats  印度经济过热 (陈继龙 编译)

Feb 1st 2007
From The Economist print edition

India cannot run as fast as China without further reform

  THE Indian tiger is on the prowl[1]. (1)This week, in an apt piece of symbolism, Tata Steel, which dates back to the days of the Raj, leapt into the league of top producers when it bought Britain's Corus, which includes the steelmaking remnants of the old imperial power. Nor is Tata alone: younger Indian companies such as Infosys and Wipro are storming international markets. Meanwhile, the world's business people and investors queue up to lavish money on India's talented engineers and computer scientists,
  印度这只老虎正在四处觅食(寻找投资机会)。本周,塔塔钢铁集团(Tata Steel)收购了英国科鲁斯(Corus)集团,一跃成为世界最大钢铁制造商之一。塔塔创立于英帝国殖民统治时代(Raj),而科鲁斯又是古老的英帝国钢铁制造业历史的仅存见证,因而这次并购案具有很好的象征意义。塔塔公司并非特例——印度新生代企业如Infosys和Wipro都在抢占国际市场。与此同时,世界企业人和投资者也纷纷把钱“砸”在才华横溢的印度工程师和计算机专家身上。

  The roar from Delhi is echoing across Asia. After peevish[2] years cast as China's underperforming neighbour, the huntress is now in hot pursuit. Over the past year the Indian economy has grown by an impressive 9.2%, not far behind China's 10.4%. At some point this year India's growth rate could even outpace China's; and if you measure things by purchasing power parity, India should soon overtake Japan and become the third-biggest economy, behind only America and China.
  德里的热闹传遍了亚洲。印度这个“捕猎者”作为中国的近邻,多年来一直表现不佳,心情急躁,如今正奋起直追。过去一年印度经济显著增长,达9.2%,接近于中国的10.4%。在一定的时期内印度今年的增长速度甚至可能超过中国;如果按购买力平价(purchasing power parity, PPP)计算,印度很快就会超过日本,成为仅次于美国和中国的世界第三大经济体。

  (2)No wonder an increasing number of Indian businessmen, policymakers and economists are basking[3] in the belief that their country is burning bright having at last broken free of its bureaucratic cage. An economy once famous for the “Hindu rate of growth”, of 3% a year, was opened up by the reforms of the 1990s, many of them pushed through by the man who is now prime minister, Manmohan Singh. His government's latest five-year plan assumes that India can sustain average growth of 9%. Who can doubt “Incredible India”, to borrow the slogan of its tourism campaign?
  很显然,印度越来越多的商人、决策人士和经济学家满以为他们国家彻底摆脱了官僚主义的束缚,形势一片大好。这个曾经以“印度式发展速度”(即每年3%)著称的经济体,从上世纪90年代开始进行改革开放,其中很多改革措施都是由现任总理曼莫汉•辛格推动实施的。辛格政府最新推出的五年计划指出,印度有能力维持 9%的平均增长速度。用印度旅游业的发展口号来说,就是要建设一个“令人难以置信的印度”,这一点谁会怀疑呢?

Tweaking the long tail  揪住“长尾巴”

  (3)Fast growth is essential to pull millions of Indians out of poverty, so it is sad to pour cold water on this story. But that is precisely what is needed when there are so many alarming signs of overheating. Across India prices are rising fast, factories are at full capacity, loans are piling up. Yes, the economic reforms of the early 1990s spurred competition, forced firms to become more productive and boosted India's trend—or sustainable—rate of growth. But the problem is that this new speed limit is almost certainly lower than the government's one. Historic data would suggest a figure not much above 7%—well below China's 9-10%.

  When you mention overheating, many analysts point towards China. Yet India displays far more symptoms of the disease. Inflation has risen to 6-7% (compared with 2.8% in China); a record 99% of Indian firms report that they are operating above their optimal capacity; and credit is expanding at an annual rate of 30%, twice as fast as in China. Unlike China, India also has a widening current-account deficit—a classic sign of overheating, as domestic output fails to keep pace with surging demand. And if you are looking for a stockmarket bubble, Indian share prices have risen more than four-fold over the past four years, far more than in China. If something is not done, then a hard landing will become inevitable.
  一说起经济过热,不少分析人士都会想到中国,不过印度的“过热征象”要严重得多。通胀已升至6~7%,而中国仅为2.8%;印度企业中有创纪录的99%报告说运转已经超过最佳产能;信贷以每年30%的速度增长,比中国快一倍。不同于中国的是,印度的经常项目赤字(current-account deficit)也日益恶化,而这恰好是经济过热的典型表现,它表明国内已经是供不应求。股市泡沫也存在,印度股价过去四年来增长了4倍,远远超过中国。如果无所举措,印度将不可避免地迎来经济“硬着陆”。

  The Reserve Bank of India has been too timid in cooling down domestic demand: although one interest rate was raised this week by a quarter point, the overall rise in rates over the past two and a half years has not even kept up with consumer-price inflation. But the main focus of the government's attention should be on supply—and dismantling[4] the many barriers that keep its speed limit below China's.

  (4)So far, reform in India has focused on setting its inventive private sector free from the world's most fearsome bureaucracy. This has unleashed[5] entrepreneurial talent, but more change is needed. Now is the time to tackle the public sector itself. Infrastructure, such as roads and power, and public services, such as education and drinking water, are woefully inadequate and limit growth. Even as the economy has been booming, many public services have worsened. It seems incongruous that somebody can own a mobile phone, yet has to waste hours queuing for drinking water. India's top computer scientists are feted[6] around the world, yet most children in rural areas lack the basic education needed to find more productive work. Around half of all Indian women are illiterate, compared with a ratio of around one in seven in China.

Singh's songsheet 辛格曲高和寡

  India's rulers have two bad excuses for not dealing with those roads, schools and hospitals. The first is theoretical. Many Indian economic commentators say that further structural reforms, though desirable, are not essential to keep the economy growing at 8% or more because of the “demographic dividend”. A fast-growing working population and a falling dependency rate (thanks to a lower birth rate) will ensure more workers, more saving and hence more investment.
  印度领导人指出了未及解决道路、学校和医院问题的两个理由,但都不住脚。第一个是理论上的。印度许多经济评论员认为,虽然深化结构改革再好不过,但凭借“人口红利”(demographic dividend),要维持8%或更高的增长速度也是能做到的。有了劳动力人口的快速增长以及人口负担系数(dependency rate)的减小(出生率较低之故),就不愁没有更多的劳动力、更多的储蓄进而有更多的投资。

  India's demographic structure is indeed starting to look more like that in East Asia when its growth took off. (5)But this mechanistic view of growth assumes that demography is destiny and that economic policies do not matter. In fact, open markets, education and investment, especially in infrastructure, were the three chief ingredients of East Asia's success. Population growth by itself does not add to prosperity, unless young people are educated and new jobs are created. India needs to reform its absurdly restrictive labour laws which hold back the expansion of manufacturing particularly.

  The second excuse for doing nothing is practical: there is little room to spend more on schools and hospitals. India already has one of the biggest budget deficits among the large emerging economies (as much as 8% of GDP going by the widest measure). In fact, plenty can be achieved by reform, rather than just spending. Private investors are hesitant about putting money in infrastructure, because the regulators are not independent enough of populist politicians to guarantee a decent return.

  If these things can be tackled, India can indeed match China's growth. (6)Mr Singh remains a reformer, but his government relies on the support of the communist parties and, with today's prosperity, there is no stomach to take them on. The worry is that today's overheating will need to boil over before that mindset changes.


  1. (be/go) on the prowl (be/go) prowling 小心而悄悄的移动; 徘徊(觅食): There was a fox on the prowl near the chicken coop. 有只狐狸在鸡舍附近踅来踅去. * (joc 谑) The soldiers went on the prowl hoping to meet some girls. 这些大兵逛来逛去, 希望碰上花姑娘.
  2. peevish adj. easily annoyed (esp by unimportant things); irritable 易怒的(尤指对小事); 急躁的.
  3. bask v.  [I, Ipr] ~ (in sth) sit or lie enjoying warmth 坐著或躺著取暖: basking in the sunshine, by the fire, on the beach 在阳光下、火炉旁、海滩上取暖 * (fig 比喻) basking in sb's favour, approval, etc 受某人的恩惠、嘉许等.
  4. dismantle v. 1 take (sth) to pieces 将(某物)拆开; 拆除(某物): dismantle a faulty motor, machine, etc (for repairs) 把有毛病的发动机、 机器等拆开(以便修理) * dismantle an exhibition, a theatrical set, etc 把所有展品、 戏剧布景等拆除 * (fig 比喻) We should dismantle our inefficient tax system. 我们这个效益很差的税收制度应该废除.  2 remove fittings and furnishings from (a building or ship) 拆除(建筑物或船只)的装备.
  5. unleash v. [Tn, Tn.pr] ~ sth (against/on sb/sth) (a) set sth free from a leash or restraint 解开带子或去掉限制以放开(某事物): unleash the guard dogs 解开带子放出警卫犬. (b) (fig 比喻) set sth free from control; release sth in a powerful attack (on sb/sth) 使某物不受控制; 放出某物对(某人[某物])进行强有力的攻击: unleash the forces of nuclear power 发出核动力的攻击力 * He unleashed a torrent of abuse againstthe unfortunate shop assistant. 他对那倒霉的店员骂不绝口.
  6. fete v. [Tn esp passive 尤用於被动语态] honour or entertain (sb) in a special way 特别款待或招待(某人): The queen was feted wherever she went. 女王不论走到哪里都受到盛情款待.

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