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富足而低调---另一种智慧

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企业界最近是出奇的安静。即使全球经济继续强劲增长,甚至在美国经济复苏了也快一年了,企业虽然是已赚得盆满钵满,但企业投资,兼并与收购水平依然走低。
ALL IS eerily quiet on the corporate front. Even though the global economy continues to grow strongly, and the economic recovery is nearly a year old even in America, corporate investment, and mergers and acquisitions, remain at low levels even though firms are sitting on record piles of cash.
这种现象反过来又让人越来越担心经济是否会持续复苏,或至少会不会以这么强劲的势头复苏。本月早些时候经济学人提到“如果企业再存着盈余不动的话,经济复苏的可能性是很小的。”
This, in turn, is causing growing concern about whether the recovery can continue, or at least continue with much strength. As The Economist noted earlier this month, “If cautious firms pile up more savings, the prospects for recovery are poor.”
企业为何如此谨慎?一个可能的因素就是它们认为经济前景非常不确定,特别是在美国和欧洲。最近发达国家股市不稳定,而且呈下跌趋势,二者已加重了公司本已耿耿于怀的担忧,那就是,到目前为止,经济复苏对政府开支的依赖性太强。鉴于最近关于公众节俭应付债券市场的秩序维护人员的必要性的政治言论,经济复苏可能不会持续下去。同时,私企的需求仍然不足。
Why are firms so cautious? One likely factor is that they regard the outlook for the economy as highly uncertain, particularly in America and Europe. The recent combination of volatility and a declining trend in developed-world stockmarkets has reinforced concerns that already abounded in companies’ executive suites, that the recovery so far has relied too much on government spending. That, given all the recent political talk about the need for public austerity to fend off bond-market vigilantes, may not continue. Meanwhile, private-sector demand remains anaemic.
第二个因素就是企业现在投资的必要性要小得多了,因为它们的产能利用还处于历史低谷。花旗银行金融策略集团的Carsten Stendevad 如是说。比如说,目前,美国的工业产能利用率为73%。高过了经济衰退时期的69%,但是与2008年九月经济走低前几年以及九十年大部分时间的80%以上的水平相比,还是相形见绌。由于工厂依旧有大量的闲置生产力,负责人们没有找到资本开支的足够理由。花旗集团预测,在发达国家,工业资本支出今年会下降3%,去年已经下降了10%。在发展中国家市场,资本支出今年可能增长8%,这个增长率不错,但是与去年的21%的增长率相比,还是相差甚远。
A second factor is that firms have much less need to invest now because their capacity utilisation remains at historically low levels, points out Carsten Stendevad of Citigroup’s Financial Strategy Group. Currently, for example, industrial-capacity utilisation in America is 73%. That is up from the recessionary low of 69%, but well below the 80%-plus level it was at in the years before the economic meltdown in September 2008, and during much of the 1990s. Since plants still have so much spare capacity, managers see little justification for capital spending. Citigroup forecasts that in developed countries, industry’s capital spending will fall by 3% this year after a 10% fall last year. In emerging markets, capex is expected to grow by 8% this year—not a bad rate, but far short of last year’s roaring 21% growth.
交易在哪里?
Where are the deals?
兼并和收购水平低---新的预测合并曲线没有兑现,深负众望---也在某种程度上归因于经济前景一直摇摆不定。然而可能更重要的是潜在的收购目标在它们的股价在某种程度上低于最近的高水平,(最近的情况通常是这样)越来越发现卖掉股权难以接受。
The lack of mergers and acquisitions—the much predicted new merger wave having failed to materialise—also owes something to the continuing uncertain economic outlook. Perhaps more important, though, is the fact that potential acquisition targets tend to find selling especially hard to stomach when their share price is some way below recent highs, as is generally the case today.
但从一方面来说,企业的担忧看起来有所减缓。在2008年金融市场崩溃后,特别是在很多大型企业为达到短期金融目标而依赖的商业票据市场,金钱就是一切。虽然现金储备如今处于历史记录水平,资金囤积看起来也处于巅峰水平。最明显的证明就是股票回购回潮,股票回购是将现金返还股东的一个常见方法。在今年上半年,股票回购已彪升至接近危机前的水平,这标志着企业认为它们没必要再因为害怕又一波系统性的金融崩溃非紧攥着每一分钱。
In one respect, corporate fears seem to have eased a bit, however. After the financial markets collapsed in 2008, especially the commercial-paper market on which many large firms relied for meeting their short-term financial needs, cash became king. Although cash reserves are now at record levels, the hoarding seems to be peaking. The clearest evidence of this is the return of the share buyback, a popular method of returning cash to investors. In the first half of this year, share repurchases have surged close to pre-crisis levels, says Mr Stendevad, a sign that firms feel they no longer need to cling to every last penny for fear of another systemic financial collapse.
投资者施压要拿回更多的现金的可能性可能会变大,特别是如果经济增长趋缓更是如此。企业在过去主要通过减少成本提升利润空间,在将来这可能没那么容易。如果企业不那样做,取而代之通过股票回购提振每股的收入,回到危机前的状态,也就是在2003-2008年期间列入标准普尔500的公司股票回购占到每股总收益的三分之一,这也不足为奇。
Pressure from investors to hand back even more of those cash piles is likely to grow, especially if economic growth falters, says Mr Stendevad. Firms have been able to boost profits in the past year mainly by cost-cutting, something that is unlikely to be as easy in future. It will be no surprise if instead firms use share repurchases to drive up their earnings per share, returning to the pre-crisis trend in which buybacks accounted for one-third of total earnings per share growth for firms in the S&P 500 during 2003-08.
通过这种方式赚更多的钱无疑让股东们喜笑颜开。然而,对经济来说,比起如果公司在盈利多的新商机上投资从而创造新的就业机会,好处要小得多,至少是在短期要小得多。对现在来说,企业唯一愿意进行那种投资的地方就是发展中国家,虽说是做比不做好,但也无法让欧洲和美国的不堪一击的经济好转起来。
Receiving more money this way will no doubt please investors. Alas, its benefits for the economy are likely to be much smaller, at least in the short-term, than if firms spent the money instead on profitable new business opportunities that can quickly generate new jobs. For now, the only place companies seem likely to do much of that sort of investing is in the developing world, which while better than nothing, is unlikely to cheer up the venerable economies of America and Europe.
标签:低调 智慧
16
2010-07-14 11:32 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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