다음은 the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com 에
Stimulus Exit Looms Over Beijing
Chinese premier is expected to reaffirm
government's 8% growth target and
commitment to expansion policies
BEIJING—China's leaders, kicking off the annual legislative session Friday, face the challenge of how to explain to the nation the gradual withdrawal of an enormous stimulus program without denting public confidence.
When Premier Wen Jiabao delivers his government work report—the Chinese equivalent of a State of the Union address—to the National People's Congress Friday, he is widely expected to reaffirm the government's totemic 8% target for economic expansion, which it has maintained for several years despite significant fluctuations in actual growth rates. Mr. Wen will also reaffirm a commitment to policies that support expansion, though that pledge is vague enough to give him considerable leeway to shift the course of policy.
Discussion of the economy is likely to dominate this year's session of the congress, a largely ceremonial gathering of nearly 3,000 delegates who discuss and ratify the top leadership's policies. The ten-day meeting, the pinnacle of the annual political calendar, takes place amid growing public concern about high local housing prices and nervousness about the global economy.
Though China isn't now facing the kind of market worries about government debt that are bedeviling Europe, few analysts disagree that China urgently needs to cool down its credit-fueled stimulus. The scale of last year's bank lending has raised worries about the future health of the financial system, and signs of property bubbles in major cities are spreading.
Mr. Wen's speech marks his latest effort to articulate where the world's fastest-growing major economy is headed. The premier has been in the public eye unusually often in recent months, repeating his mantra that "confidence is more important than money or gold" and affirming the government's commitment to supporting the economy. But he has also acknowledged excesses in the stimulus program and spoken of the need to find other ways to keep growth going in the future.
"Last year, Beijing had a simple strategy and a simple message: lend as much money as necessary to keep growth at 8%. This year, the job is trickier: it has to reduce lending, but not so much that growth stalls," said Arthur Kroeber, managing director of research firm Dragonomics in Beijing. "It will be hard to do that without damaging business and consumer confidence."
The government is now trying to strike a tricky balance, reflecting an awkward transition under way in China's economy. The initial boost from the stimulus is already fading, but many economists doubt that private-sector businesses are ready to take over as a growth driver. The brightest spot in the Chinese economy—the booming property market—has become a lightning-rod for public discontent as housing prices surge, pushing the government to rein things in.
The government's moves so far have sent financial markets on a rocky ride. Shanghai's benchmark stock market index has fallen nearly 8% this year, and small moves by China to tighten liquidity have sent global markets reeling several times in recent months.
Overseas investors have become ever more pessimistic on China. In a monthly survey of fund managers by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, the net percentage of respondents expecting stronger Chinese growth over the next 12 months—the share of those who do minus the share of those who don't—fell to 7% in February from 51% in January.
At the Meeting
Such big swings happen in part because it is so difficult for investors to track China's policy changes. The government has actually been ratcheting back the stimulus since the second half of last year. But most of its early moves came through regulatory changes and instructions to banks that were communicated privately rather than publicly announced. It wasn't until January that the central bank used a more transparent and public tool, raising the share of deposits that commercial banks must keep on reserve.
"When policy makers think about communicating policy, they really think about its impact on the real economy, rather than thinking about its impact on financial markets," said Wang Qing, China economist for Morgan Stanley. "That's one of the reasons the communications strategy is not that effective," and overseas investors are often confused by China's policy moves, he said.
So far, the government's intended audience—households and businesses within China—seem less fazed than financial markets. China's official consumer-confidence index rose every month from July to December 2009, the most recent month for which data are available. The job market has improved to the point where manufacturers in the south complain they can't find enough workers.
With inflation a growing worry, the government needs to pay particular attention to the effect its words have on ordinary people's expectations of future prices, chief bank regulator Liu Mingkang said this week. "We need to improve policy statements and information disclosure, and release the necessary policy signals in a timely manner to guide the public to form a realistic judgment," Mr. Liu said.
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