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油价暴跌、美股熔断:全球经济进入下行周期?

Economy Faces ‘Tornado-Like Headwind’ as Financial Markets Spiral
油价暴跌、美股熔断:全球经济进入下行周期?

The fast-spreading coronavirus and a plunge in oil prices set off a chain reaction in financial markets on Monday, a self-perpetuating downward cycle that could inflict serious harm on the global economy.

周一,迅速传播的冠状病毒和油价暴跌引发了金融市场的连锁反应,这种自我延续的下行周期可能对全球经济造成严重损害。

What started last month as unease about a potential economic slowdown in China has evolved into a borderline panic, with the S&P 500 on Monday crashing nearly 8 percent. The mayhem is threatening to roil the underlying global financial system and the abilities of companies large and small to survive a potential economic monsoon — a downward spiral that is fed and intensified by these destructive forces.

上个月开始的对中国经济可能放缓的不安情绪,已经演变成一种边缘恐慌,标准普尔500指数周一大跌近8%。这场混乱可能从整体上扰乱全球金融体系,以及大小企业度过潜在的经济季风——这些破坏性力量助长和加剧的螺旋式下降——的生存能力。
 

纽约证券交易所,周一是金融危机以来股市表现最差的一天。

The odds of such a storm grew after an unexpected fight between Russia and Saudi Arabia. After failing to reach an agreement about how much oil to produce and sell on international markets, Saudi Arabia announced it would quickly ramp up production.

俄罗斯与沙特阿拉伯之间出乎意料的石油价格战也增加了这种风暴发生的可能性。两国未能就在国际市场上生产和销售多少石油达成共识,沙特阿拉伯宣布将迅速提高产量。

Oil prices had been falling as investors fretted about a possible recession. On Monday, they plummeted over 20 percent — the sharpest decline since the first Persian Gulf war.

由于投资者担心可能发生经济衰退,油价一直在下跌。周一,它们暴跌了20%以上——这是自第一次海湾战争以来的最大跌幅。

The S&P 500 has tumbled 19 percent over the past few weeks, and Monday was its worst one-day decline in over a decade. The free fall has vaporized more than $5 trillion in stock market wealth.

标普500指数在过去几周下跌了19%,周一是10年来最大的单日跌幅。这种自由落体式下跌使超过5万亿美元的市值蒸发。

Less than 10 minutes after markets opened in the United States on Monday morning, the sell-off became so steep that automatic “circuit breakers” kicked in and halted trading. It was the first time that has happened since the current circuit breakers were set in 2013. The S&P’s 7.6 percent drop came on the 11th anniversary of the start of the current bull market, one of the longest ever. A 20 percent drop from the high point would signal what’s known as a bear market, a marker the S&P 500 has only narrowly avoided for now.

周一上午美国市场开盘不到10分钟,大量抛售触发了自动“熔断”机制,导致交易暂停。这是目前的熔断机制于2013年设定以来的首次触发。标准普尔跌幅为7.6%,它发生在这一轮牛市开始11周年之际——这是有史以来最久的一次。如果从最高点下跌20%,则意味着所谓的熊市,标准普尔500指数目前勉强避开了该指标。

The public health crisis is now threatening to turn into a financial one, which in turn could amplify the virus’s economic fallout.

公共卫生危机现在有可能要演变成一场金融危机,这又可能加剧该病毒导致的经济影响。

“There’s panic,” said Dan Krieter, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “We’re heading into what looks to be a global recession, including the U.S.”

蒙特利尔银行资本市场公司(BMO Capital Markets)的分析师丹·克里特(Dan Krieter)说:“市场弥漫着恐慌情绪,看上去我们正在步入全球性衰退,包括美国。”

President Trump told reporters at a White House coronavirus briefing on Monday evening that “we are going to take care of and have been taking care of the American public.” He said he would meet with the Senate on Tuesday to discuss a payroll tax cut and help for hourly wage earners.

特朗普总统在周一晚间举行的白宫冠状病毒简报会上对记者说:“我们将照顾好并一直照顾美国公众。”他说,他将在周二与参议院会面,讨论削减工资税和为时薪者提供帮助的问题。

The downward cycle — there are signs it is underway — might play out like this: As the virus disrupts manufacturing supply chains as well as travel, consumer spending would fall and businesses would falter, and stock prices would plummet. The threat to corporate profits would send investors in search of safe havens, like government bonds, sending those prices up and their yields down, in turn straining the banking industry. Banks would limit financing for businesses, which would cut production or lay off workers to hoard capital.

下行周期——有迹象表明正在进行中——有可能会像这样发展:随着病毒扰乱制造供应链以及旅行,消费者支出将下降,企业运转困难,股价暴跌。对企业利润的威胁将促使投资者寻找政府债券等避风港,从而导致其价格上涨、收益率下降,给银行业造成压力。银行将限制企业融资,企业就会减产或裁员以囤积资本。

Already, investors have hustled to safety, shunning corporate bonds and driving up the financing costs for many companies. And as they piled into U.S. government bonds, long-term interest rates fell to historic lows; benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds, whose interest rates until last week had never sunk below 1 percent, were recently yielding half that.

投资者竞相避险,躲开公司债券,这使许多公司的融资成本提高。随着他们大量购入美国政府债券,长期利率跌至历史低点;基准的10年期美国国债利率截止上周从未跌破1%,而最近只有这个数字的一半。

Hoping to forestall that spiral, the Federal Reserve on Monday said it would increase the volume of short-term loans available to banks to make it easier for them to continue lending. It was the second time in a week — after an emergency interest-rate cut last Tuesday — that the had Fed moved to stem potential fallout as the coronavirus sent markets gyrating.

为抢在螺旋式下降前,美联储周一表示,将增加银行可获得的短期贷款数量,便于它们继续放贷。在上周二紧急降息之后,这是一周来美联储第二次采取行动,遏制因冠状病毒导致市场震动的潜在后果。

Even for people who don’t have money in the markets, the developments are ominous. Large and small businesses hire or fire workers and buy equipment and raw materials based on their own financial strength and their expectations for how the economy will perform in the future. As companies retrench, it affects workers and suppliers, which then have to tighten their own belts.

即使未做投资的人,事态发展也是被不看好的。大小企业根据自身的财务实力和对未来的经济预期,来雇用或解雇工人以及购买设备和原材料。随着公司缩紧开支,它影响到工人和供应商——到那时他们不得不勒紧裤腰带。

Layoffs rise; wages decline. Consumers spend less.

裁员增加,工资下降。消费者支出减少。

Businesses in need of cash would normally turn to their banks for help in moments like this. But as banks get squeezed by sliding interest rates, their ability and appetite to lend to struggling companies diminish — the type of situation the Fed was trying to head off by increasing its short-term lending. At the same time, panicky investors don’t want to buy risky corporate debt, severing another potential lifeline for many companies. Investors are also yanking their money from mutual funds that invest in leveraged loans, a risky type of corporate debt that has become a popular way for many companies to finance their operations in recent years.

需要现金的企业在这样的时刻通常会向银行寻求帮助。但是,随着银行受到利率下滑的挤压,它们向陷入困境的公司提供贷款的能力和意愿减弱了——这正是美联储试图通过增加短期贷款来缓解的情况。同时,恐慌的投资者不想购买高风险的公司债务,从而切断了许多公司的另一条可能的生命线。投资者还从投资于杠杆贷款的共同基金撤资,这种杠杆贷款是一种高风险类型的公司债务,近年来已成为许多公司进行业务融资的常见方式。

The result could be a surge in bankruptcies as companies — in particular in the shale industry, where many drillers are deep in debt — tip over a financial cliff. More workers lose their jobs. Families cancel vacations and postpone big purchases.

其结果可能是,随着企业——尤其是许多钻探企业深陷债务的页岩油行业——从财务悬崖上跌落,破产数量激增。更多工人失去工作。家庭取消假期,推迟大宗采购。

Round and round the cycle goes, further sapping the economy.

这种循环周而复始,会进一步削弱经济。

“Markets want to hear that the global economy is open for business, and the problem is, it isn’t easy to say that going forward,” said Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at the investment advisory firm Silvercrest Asset Management.

“市场希望听到全球经济照常运作的消息,但问题是,以后这话可不容易说,”投资咨询公司银冠资产管理(Silvercrest)的首席策略师帕特里克·霍瓦内茨(Patrick Chovanec)说。

It is possible, of course, that investors’ gloom will prove to be overblown.

当然,事实可能会证明投资者的悲观情绪被夸大了。

At some point, for example, the coronavirus is likely to stop spreading; it already appears to be easing in China and South Korea. If that happens soon, any economic damage from closed factories and canceled conferences and restricted travel may prove fleeting.

例如,冠状病毒到了某个时刻可能会停止传播;中国和韩国的疫情似乎已经在放缓。如果这种情况很快发生,工厂关闭、会议取消和旅行限制造成的任何经济损失都可能是短暂的。

Perhaps Russia and Saudi Arabia will quickly reach an agreement. And until they do, there is a silver lining to rock-bottom oil prices: The resulting cheap fuel will be a boon to consumers and to industries like trucking and airlines.

或许俄罗斯和沙特阿拉伯将很快达成协议。在此之前,油价触底的困境还会带来一线希望:由此带来的廉价燃料将给消费者、卡车运输和航空等行业带来福音。

All is not lost. Even after the decline on Monday, the S&P is still up 140 percent over the last 10 years. And the scorching bond market rally — bond prices go up as yields go down — has delivered outsize returns to many individual investors. Mutual funds and E.T.F.s holding longer-term U.S. government bonds were up 22 percent so far this year as of Friday, according to Morningstar.

并非一切都是坏消息。即使在周一下跌之后,标普500指数过去10年仍上涨了140%。而债券市场的火热反弹——债券价格随着收益率下降而上升——为许多个人投资者带来了巨大的回报。据晨星公司(Morningstar)的数据,截至上周五,共同基金和ETF持有的长期美国政府债券价格今年以来上涨了22%。

In addition, low interest rates are good for people who own or are looking to buy a home. A mortgage refinancing boom is underway, and many borrowers will pocket substantial monthly savings.

此外,低利率对拥有房产或打算买房的人来说是件好事。抵押贷款再融资热潮正在兴起,许多借款人每月将会节省大量资金。

“This is a temporary headwind to the economy,” said Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of global fixed income at BlackRock. “It’s temporary, but it’s a tornado-like headwind, so it’s going to be powerful for a period of time.”

“这对经济来说是暂时的逆风,”贝莱德(BlackRock)全球固定收益部门首席投资官里克·里德(Rick Rieder)表示。“这是暂时的,但这是一场类似龙卷风的逆风,所以它在一段时间内会很强劲。”

He added that the amount of uncertainty in the markets is higher now than it was at the peak of the financial crisis. “I don’t even remember in 2009 the uncertainty being so high,” he said.

他还说,目前市场的不确定性比金融危机最严重时还要高。“我甚至不记得2009年的不确定性有这么高,”他说。

Governments and central banks are scrambling to defuse the precarious financial situation. In addition to the Fed cutting interest rates and making it easier for banks to borrow money, the Trump administration and Congress are discussing ways to stimulate the economy.

各国政府和央行都在忙着缓和不稳定的金融形势。除了美联储降息、让银行更容易借贷之外,特朗普政府和国会还在讨论刺激经济的方法。

But that is unlikely to offer much immediate help.

但这不大可能提供多少立竿见影的帮助。

“Many investors are anticipating fiscal stimulus within days, but that’s not typically how D.C. acts — even in emergency situations,” Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy at Veda Partners, an investment advisory and consulting firm in Bethesda, Md., said in a note to clients on Monday. “It takes weeks to pass even the most urgent of legislation, and there are very few ideas circulating on Capitol Hill right now.”

“许多投资者预计几天内就会出台财政刺激措施,但这不是华盛顿的典型做法——即使在紧急情况下也是如此,”位于马里兰州贝塞斯达的投资咨询公司——韦达合伙公司(Veda Partners)的经济政策主管亨丽埃塔·特雷兹(Henrietta Treyz)周一在给客户的报告中说。“即使是最紧急的立法也需要数周时间才能通过,目前在国会山流传的想法也很少。”

In the meantime, the signs of stress are multiplying, especially in normally mundane corners of the financial markets.

与此同时,压力的迹象正在成倍增加,尤其是在金融市场通常平淡无奇的角落。

In recent days, for instance, investors that buy ultra-short-term debt issued by companies — including a popular variety known as commercial paper — have started growing jumpy. Investors like money-market mutual funds are demanding much higher interest rates.

例如,最近几天,购买企业发行的超短期债(包括一种被称为商业票据的流行品种)的投资者开始变得紧张不安。像货币市场共同基金这样的投资者要求更高的利率。

That drives up many companies’ borrowing costs, which makes it more expensive for them to operate. It also shows that institutional investors fear that an increase in corporate defaults could be imminent.

这推高了许多企业的借贷成本,使它们的运营成本更加昂贵。它还表明,机构投资者担心企业违约可能很快就会增加。

The good news is that the U.S. banking industry is, over all, much stronger than it was in 2008 as an intense financial crisis enveloped the world.

好消息是,总体而言,美国银行业比2008年金融危机席卷全球时要强大得多。

The energy industry, though, is shaping up to be among the hardest hit sections of the U.S. economy. Demand for energy was already set to decline with an economic slowdown. Then Saudi Arabia and Russia initiated a pricing war.

不过,能源行业正逐渐成为美国经济受冲击最严重的行业之一。随着经济放缓,能源需求已经开始下降。然后沙特阿拉伯和俄罗斯开始了价格战。

Shares of companies like Marathon Oil and Apache Corporation fell more than 40 percent on Monday, while Exxon Mobil stock fell 12 percent, and Chevron slid 15 percent.

马拉松石油(Marathon Oil)和阿帕奇(Apache Corporation)等公司的股价星期一下跌了40%以上,埃克森美孚公司(Exxon Mobil)的股价下跌了12%,雪佛龙公司(Chevron)的股价下跌了15%。

Some of the companies that pioneered the shale boom, including Chesapeake Energy and Range Resources, were already in trouble, and their woes are likely to intensify. Chesapeake’s stock goes for pennies; its bonds are trading at a level that reflect investor expectations of a default. Range Resources, an early natural gas driller in Pennsylvania, is, like many of its peers there, slashing its capital spending.

切萨皮克能源公司(Chesapeake Energy)和山脉资源(Range Resources)等引领页岩气热潮的公司已经陷入困境,而且它们的问题可能还会加剧。切萨皮克公司的股价分文不值,其债券交易水平反映了投资者对违约的预期。山脉资源是一家位于宾夕法尼亚州的早期天然气钻探公司,和它的许多同行一样正在削减资本支出。

That is likely to hurt the local economies in which the gas companies operate — another reminder of how the economy is in danger of getting sucked into a steep, sinking spiral.

这很可能会损害这些天然气公司所在地的经济——这再次提醒人们,经济正面临陷入陡峭、下沉螺旋的危险。
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