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日本特别报告5——吐旧纳新 势在必行

(2010-12-10 08:52:38)
标签:

日企未来

日本产业

日本制造

《经济学人》

翻译练习

杂谈

分类: 地球Media文摘

Corporate euthanasia

吐旧纳新 势在必行

 

To boost productivity at home, Japan needs to kill off some of its old, unprofitable companies

要提高国内生产力,日本需关闭一些衰老、不再盈利的企业。

 

Nov 18th 2010

《经济学人》发于2010年11月18日

 

THE oldest company in the world is Kongo Gumi, a construction firm based in Osaka. It started building Buddhist shrines in 578AD, and was still run by a man surnamed Kongo 40 generations later. The next four firms by age are also Japanese. According to Yasuchika Hasegawa, chief executive of Takeda Pharmaceuticals (founded in 1781), more than 20,000 Japanese firms are at least 100 years old.

世界上历史最悠久的公司叫金刚组,是大阪的一家建筑公司。它始建于公元578年,当时建造佛教寺庙,经过40代人的薪火相传,至今仍由一个姓氏为金刚的人所掌控。历史悠久性排名靠前的另外四家公司也是日本人开设的。据武田制药(Takeda Pharmaceuticals,始建于1781年)的首席执行官长谷川闲史(Yasuchika Hasegawa)称,日本有至少100年历史的公司有两万多家。

 

This has many merits in a world where most firms come and go. No one wants to see Japan’s industrial heirlooms vanish. But too many businesses are surviving because credit costs nothing, and bankers care little whether their borrowers are profitable or not. That has two damaging consequences: it ossifies corporate culture, and it drags down productivity.

公司的生灭沉浮,这个世界已司空见惯,而日企的长生不老却有其长足之处。没有人希望看到日本世代相传的工业繁荣风淡云散,但是太多日企都在垂死挣扎,因为日本信贷宽松,银行对于借贷企业是否盈利毫不关心。这有两个恶果:一来僵化了企业文化,二来拖了生产力的后腿。

 

According to Mr Feldman at Morgan Stanley MUFG, since the 1990s productivity has been rising by an average of around 1% a year. That is not too bad by rich-world standards, but the trend is downwards, and if it drops much further GDP will turn negative because of the country’s demographic drag.

据摩根士利丹三菱日联的费尔德曼先生称,自上个世纪90年代开始,日本的生产力水平平均每年仅为1%。这对于发达国家来说勉强还说得过去,但是它却面临着继续下滑的趋势,如果再下降一大截,日本的国内生产总值将转为负增长,因为日本的人口是个很重的包袱。

 

Productivity is poorest in service industries, source of 70% of Japan’s output, but an official at METI describes it as “very weak across the board”. In the domestic market, where two-thirds of output is generated, production per worker in manufacturing is adversely affected by too much competition. That is because companies refuse to consolidate, clinging onto a wide portfolio of businesses, so industries are saturated and profit margins are poor.

服务业是生产力最贫瘠的行业,虽然它占据了日本产值的70%,但日本经济贸易产业省的官员将它描述为“全面衰竭”。在担负了日本三分之二产值的国内市场,制造业的人均产值受到了强劲竞争带来的负面影响。这是因为,日企拒绝相互合并,涉足更广泛的业务领域,所以日本产业已趋于饱和,利润空间非常狭小。

 

In carmaking, for instance, Japan has Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Mazda and Subaru. South Korea mainly has Hyundai. As a result, says METI, the market per car company in Japan, with a population 2.5 times that of South Korea, is only two-thirds the size of its neighbour’s. Moreover, the slowdown in the global car market since 2008 has left Japan with huge overcapacity.

以汽车制造业为例,日本有丰田、本田、尼桑、铃木、三菱、大发、马自达和斯巴鲁。而韩国的品牌只有现代。日本经济贸易产业省称,结果,日本人口是韩国的2.5倍,而日本每家汽车企业的市场份额却只有这个邻国的三分之二大。另外,自2008年以来的全球汽车市场放缓,让日本严重产能过剩。

 

In the service industries, meanwhile, the problem is too little competition rather than too much. Few foreign firms are active in Japan. Myriad construction firms are kept alive by lashings of political pork. The country has 350,000 wholesalers, many of whom just sell to each other, and most make only just enough to keep going. Many of the 1m retail outfits serve as tax dodges for pensioners who sell a few items of stationery or snacks from their front room. They rarely go bust because they have no overheads, and stop only when the owners are too old to carry on.

而服务业,问题却在于竞争较少,而非竞争过剩。活跃于日本市场的外国企业极少。大量的日本建筑公司要靠大量的政治拨款来养活。日本有350,000个批发商,很多批发商只是相互之间做交易,而且大多数的所得只能够维持基本运营。退休金领用者常在自己的朝街的房间买点文具或者零食,所以100万零售商中的大部分都是这些逃税的老人。这些小店基本不会倒闭,因为他们没有企业管理费用,所以会一直开到店主年岁很大不能再经营的时候才会息业。

 

Both manufacturing and services suffer from head-in-the-sand attitudes in the finance industry. Banks are sitting on huge amounts of money because of the high stock of savings, but they mostly put it into ultra-safe Japanese government bonds. A senior executive at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG), Japan’s largest bank, describes this as a “public mission” to help sustain public finances. After lending mishaps in Latin America in the 1970s his bank has an abiding desire to be cautious. “We’ve existed for 130 years. Prudence has really helped us to become a survivor.”

制造业和服务业都惨遭金融业鸵鸟政策的毒害。日本银行因大量储蓄额坐拥巨资,但他们大多却只将这些资本变成极其安全的政府债券。日本最大银行三菱UFJ金融集团(日联三菱)的高级执行官将这称之为帮助公共财政的“公共任务”。自上个世纪70年代在拉丁美洲翻船后,这家银行一直奉行谨慎政策。“我们已经运营了130年。审慎态度让我们成为了幸存者。”

 

The upshot, however, is a disturbing lack of risk capital—not to mention vision. Bankers say their customers have little appetite for loans, but a third of those in the system are made by government entities, which may crowd out the private sector. One-quarter of the nation’s household assets sit in the postal system, which has been beset by on-off privatisation plans.

然而,结果就是日本严重缺乏风险资本——更别提未来的愿景。银行称他们的客户对于贷款没什么欲求,但是这个体系中有三分之一的客户是行政实体构成,在与私企的较量中突出重围。这个国家的邮政体系占据了全国四分之一的家庭资产,是否推进私有化的计划将其层层围堵。

 

According to Naomi Fink of the banking arm of MUFG, much of the liquidity available is in the form of inter-company loans, meaning that big firms keep their suppliers afloat. That seems to be the mission of the finance industry as a whole: to keep everyone afloat. It is not hard to do when money is so cheap. But given the lack of growth in the Japanese economy over the past 20 years, it suggests that many companies are on life support.

据三菱日联(MUFG)银行部门的内奥米·芬克(Naomi Fink)称,大部分可用的流动资金是以公司间贷款的形式存在的,也就是说,大公司养活他们的供给方。这似乎是整个金融业的使命:不让一个人溺死。当货币不值钱的时候不难实现。但是考虑到过去20年中日本经济增长缓慢,这意味着,很多公司都已命悬一线。

 

Japan’s big banks could make more money if they were sufficiently bold and outward-looking to enter foreign credit markets and fund the expansion of Japanese firms abroad, where there are many more growth opportunities. Hiroshi Watanabe, head of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC), the government agency that increasingly funds overseas projects, laments that “the megabanks are still very cautious about lending in foreign currencies. They feel comfortable getting money in yen but they don’t know how to raise it abroad.”

如果日本大银行能够足够大胆,视野够广,可以涉足国外信贷市场,并且为日企的海外扩张提供金融支持,他们将大大受益,因为国外市场有更多的增长机遇。为日本海外项目提供金融支持日益增多的政府机构——日本国际合作银行(JBIC)的总裁渡边博史(Hiroshi Watanabe)悲叹,“在日本的大银行对于外汇放贷仍很谨慎。他们觉得赚到日元很安心,但他们不知道怎样在海外用日元融资。”

 

Naoto Kan’s new government appears to have grasped the importance of productivity. It has introduced a ten-year strategy that seems to be aiming for the best of all worlds—a strong economy, strong public finances, a strong welfare system—but its priority is growth. “We need to revive an energetic Japan,” Mr Kan said at his inaugural news conference in June.

菅直人的新政府似乎领悟到了生产力的重要性。他们提出了一个十年战略构想,力争实现全方位的提升——强大的经济、强劲的公共财政、强健的福利体系——但是它的首要任务是经济增长。“我们需要使日本重新焕发活力。”菅直人在6月他的就职新闻发布会上说。

 

The growth targets—3% a year in nominal, 2% in real terms by 2020—may be based more on hope than experience, but the diagnosis of the industrial problems is refreshingly clear-eyed. METI says Japan’s dependence on the car industry, which generated half of all GDP growth from 2000-07, is unsustainable. It also points to Japan’s uncompetitive tax system. Big firms pay around twice as much as their South Korean rivals in absolute terms, yet tax revenues are notoriously weak. The government plans to lower corporate tax rates in order to boost competitiveness.

经济增长目标——到2020年,名义上达到每年3%,实际达到2%——愿望大于经验判断,但是他们对于工业问题的诊断,洞察得一清二楚。日本经济贸易产业省称,日本经济对于汽车产业严重依赖,2000至2007年,产值占全国GDP的一半,这是不可持续的增长。它还指出了日本毫无竞争力的税收体系。日本的大公司纳税的绝对值高于韩国竞争者一倍,但是日本税收低迷却恶名昭彰。日本政府计划降低企业纳税率以提高企业竞争力。

 

But is its solution the right one? It believes it must actively support industries with strong global growth potential, such as clean energy, because everyone else is doing it. But by “picking winners”, it risks a huge misallocation of resources if it makes the wrong choice.

但是这是正确的解决办法吗?日本认为它必须积极支持有强劲国际增长潜力的产业,比如清洁能源,因为这是所有国家的做法,但是采取“挑选最优者”的办法,如果它做出了错误的选择,它将冒资源分配不当的风险。

 

At least there is broad agreement between the government and Japanese business about which industries deserve the most support. Japanese car firms and battery-technology companies are already well placed to create low-energy products: CO2 emissions per unit of GDP are half those in America, and brands like the hybrid Prius have become household names. “We were behind in the IT revolution. The green revolution is a competition we cannot lose,” says the METI official.

至少,在认定什么产业最值得支持方面,日本政府和企业之间有广泛的共识。日本的汽车制造企业和电池技术公司,都在生产低耗能产品方面很具条件:每单位国内生产总值的CO2排放量仅为美国的一半,像混合动力汽车丰田普锐斯这样的品牌已家喻户晓。经济产业省的官员称:“我们紧随IT革命。这场绿色革命的竞争,我们决不能失败。”


   Japan inside

日本制造

 

The government also wants to develop medium-sized firms with very high-tech products that form the basis of future devices. Like “Intel inside”, the logo the chip company puts on computers, products could carry a “Japan inside” badge of quality, METI muses.

日本政府也要发展生产高科技产品的中型企业,因为高科技产品构成了未来器械的基础。经济产业省还戏称,他们要像芯片生产商因特尔一样,计算机上都贴有因特尔的商标“Intel inside”,日本的产品也要贴一个标志质量的徽章“Japan inside”(日本制造)。

 

Given Japan’s broad manufacturing base, one big opportunity could be to develop cross-industry partnerships involving, say, water, nuclear power or railways that tap into the need for infrastructure development in emerging markets. Mr Watanabe of JBIC points to the example of harnessing solar or wind power with battery recharging. It is not the same type of connectivity that produced Facebook and Twitter, but it would have its uses.

考虑到日本雄厚的制造业基础,一个巨大的商机就是建立跨行业的合作关系,包括新兴市场基础设施建设所需的饮水设施、核能设施或者铁路等行业。日本国际合作银行(JBIC)的渡边(Watanabe)先生提到了利用太阳能和风能发展充电电池技术的例子。这和Facebook和Twitter产生的连通性不是一个类型,但其也有发展空间。

 

Boosting productivity, however, is not just about finding the industrial darlings of tomorrow. It is also about weeding out today’s second-raters so that profitable new businesses can spring up instead. To make that happen, Japan needs to do more to open up to foreign competition by forging free-trade agreements (FTAs). Japan has a handful with smaller economies like Mexico, Chile and Singapore, and has an economic partnership with the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Meanwhile its ambitious rival, South Korea, has signed FTAs with the European Union and others, and is restarting talks with America. Negotiation of such treaties has been held up by Japan’s powerful farm lobby—even though farming accounts for just 2% of GDP. Everyone else is paying a huge opportunity cost to protect those farmers.

然而,提高生产力,不仅仅是为工业找到未来的情人,也要铲除现今的二流产业,那样利润较大的企业才能涌现。为了实现这一愿景,日本需要签署自由贸易协定(FTAs),对外来竞争打开大门。日本同墨西哥、智利、新加坡等几个这些的小经济体有所联系,和东盟国家建立了经济合作关系。而同时,它野心十足的对手韩国已经和欧盟及其他国家签署了自由贸易协定(FTAs),并正重启与美国的对话。日本强势的农业部门,是签署这样协定的谈判的巨大阻力——虽然,农业只占日本国内生产总值的2%。所有人都在为保护农民的利益,付出巨大的机会成本。

 

What Japan needs most of all is a huge boost to its domestic economy, which is still its greatest source of demand. There are many ideas for achieving this, such as reviving its housing industry by getting it to build properties suitable for an ageing population, and beefing up its health-care sector. The finance industry too should be finding ways to encourage the elderly to do something constructive with some of their ¥1,500 trillion savings hoard. But that would require improvements in Japan’s social-security system, which delivers inadequate pensions and offers weak safety nets for those who lose their jobs.

日本最需要的就是大力推动国内经济,这依旧是扩大需求的最大源泉。完成这一目标的设想很多,比如建设适合老龄人口的住房以振兴房地产行业,以及加强卫生保健领域。金融业要寻找一些方式,鼓励老年人利用他们的1500万亿储蓄存款发挥建设性的作用。但是那势必要求日本社会保障体系的发展,因为在养老金和失业人口社会保障方面,其目前存在明显不足。

 

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