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冷笑话2009-06-04虽然这里只是一个很小很小的博客,

但是每个人似乎都应该用自己微薄的影响力在今天这样的日子说些什么或做些什么。

我就给大家说个冷笑话吧

我爱北京敏感词,敏感词前太阳升~伟大领袖敏感词,指引我们向前进

发表于15:53 | 阅读全文 | 评论 6 | 编辑 | 分享 0美国国债:收益率2009-06-03Buttonwood
布雷顿森林体系

Not so risk-free
并非那么无风险
May 28th 2009
From The Economist print edition

There are questions about the long-term appeal of American Treasury bonds
美国国债的长期表现令人怀疑

LIKE London buses, big events in America’s Treasury market all seem to come at once. In a week when the Treasury auctioned more than $100 billion of notes and bonds, ten-year Treasury yields surged to their highest level in six months, despite a buy-back offer by the Federal Reserve. That will raise the cost of finance for companies and homeowners.

就像伦敦巴士一样,美国债券市场的大事件都是毫无预兆就发生的。在一周之内,财政部拍卖了多达1000亿美元的债权,尽管联储回购了一部分,十年期国库券的收益率一路飙升到6个月以来的最高点。这会加重公司和家庭的财务成本。

All this activity was inevitable once the authorities decided to combine a huge fiscal deficit with quantitative easing (expansion of the money supply). It has been accompanied by a sharp rise in the gap between short and long rates. The ten-year yield has risen from 2.08% on December 18th to 3.70% on May 27th.

一旦当权者决定将巨额的财政赤字和数量性政策(货币供给增加)相结合的时候,所有的这些行为都是不可避免的。伴随着债券发放而来的长短期利率之间的差距大幅增加。十年期债券的收益从12月18号的2.08%上涨到了5月27号的3.70%。

Some of that rise in yields is undoubtedly due to investors switching back into shares on hopes that the global recession might end next year. But there have also been concerns about America’s long-term financial health. On May 27th Moody’s said it had no plans to reduce America’s coveted AAA debt rating. But on the same day John Taylor, a professor at Stanford University and the creator of the Taylor rule on monetary policy, wrote in the Financial Times that the American government “is now the most serious source of systemic risk.”

收益率上涨的从某种程度上说是令人猝不及防的,因为投资者在寄希望于全球大萧条会在明年年底结束的基础上将投资转回了股票市场。但是同样也存在着对美国长期财政健康度的担心。5月27号,Moody’s称他们还没有将美国的AAA级评级下调的计划。在同一天,身为斯坦福大学教授同时也是货币政策上泰勒定律创建者的John Taylor在财经周刊上撰文称:美国政府现在处在最严重的系统风险的萌芽阶段。

On the surface, the worries seem odd. Is America likely to default on its obligations? No. To put it another way, if the world ever got into a state where America did prove unable to pay, lots of other assets would have defaulted first. Even though the American budget position is deteriorating rapidly, it is still a lot healthier than that of either Italy or Japan. Both countries have been carrying debt/GDP ratios of more than 100% for years without suffering a meltdown.

从表面来看,这种担心让人觉得可笑。美国有可能会不履行自己的责任吗?不会的,从另外一个角度看,如果世界陷入了一种连美国都被证实如法偿还债务的境地的话,会有大量的资产在此之前就首先被拖欠了。尽管美国的债务情况在逐渐恶化,但他仍然要比意大利或是日本的债务状况健康的多。几年来,意大利和日本的债务 – GDP比率都维持在大于100%的水平却没有彻底垮台。

Government bonds are generally regarded as risk-free in their home countries, because the government has the power to tax and to print money. Since America is the world’s largest economy, has the most liquid financial markets and operates the world’s premier reserve currency, the Treasury bond has been seen as the global risk-free asset.

通常政府债券在本国内被认为是无风险的,因为政府掌握着征税和印制钞票的权利。自从美国成为世界最大的经济体,拥有着流动性最强的金融市场以及操控着世界首要储备货币以来,美国国库券被认为是全球最无风险的资产。

But that status implicitly rests on the belief that the American government will not exploit its advantages to the full. The same fiscal and monetary policies that seem appealing as a way of addressing domestic economic weakness also reduce the appeal of its debt to foreign investors.

但是这种情况潜在的基础是一种对美国政府不会把自身的优势消耗殆尽的信赖。在拉动国内经济走出低迷方面具有吸引力的财政和货币政策同样也削减了其债权对国外投资者的吸引力。

America does not formally need to default to penalise its creditors; it can simply let its currency decline. Short-dated Treasury bonds (those with a maturity of one-to-three years) have returned a healthy 18% in dollar terms over the last three years. But when translated into Chinese yuan that return dwindles to just 0.3%.

从形式上看美国没必要用违约的方式来惩罚借贷方,只要很简单的将美元贬值就可以了。在过去三年里,用美元计价的短期国库券(期限为1-3年的债券)健康程度恢复到了18%,但是兑换成人民币之后这种健康程度的恢复减少到了只有0.3%。

History is full of examples of sovereign nations failing to pay their overseas creditors in full. When push comes to shove, governments are unwilling to impose the required level of austerity on their voters. This happened in the 1920s Weimar Republic, which opted for hyperinflation rather than paying the reparations bill, and in 1930s Britain, which abandoned the gold standard in the face of the Depression. (Note the results of the recent referendums in California, where voters rejected all budget-balancing proposals.)

历史上有太多这样的例子:主权货币国家沦落到要全额支付其海外借贷方的地步。当努力争取变成强制要求时,政府不愿意将这种节衣缩食强加到他们的选民身上。这样的事情发生在20世纪20年代的魏玛共和国,他们选择了超级通货膨胀而不是支付赔款账单,同样的例子是20世纪30年代在面对大萧条时弃用了金本位制的英国,(请注意一下最近在加利福尼亚进行的全民投票,选民否决了赤字平衡的计划)

In countries that are frequent offenders, including those in Latin America, foreign creditors have in the past demanded that government debt be denominated in a foreign currency. America has been able to borrow in dollars. However, for foreign investors, that means Treasury bonds are not risk-free at all.

在包括拉丁美洲国家这样经常出问题的国家里,国外债权人过去的做法是要求政府债券以外币标价。美国有能力用美元标价来借钱。然而,对国外投资者来说,这意味着国库券并不是完全无风险的。

Even domestic investors might reflect on the potential for inflation to erode the real value of their holdings. Inflation-adjusted, the capital value of Treasury bonds fell by more than five-sixths between 1962 and 1981.

即使国内的投资者可能会考虑通胀对其拥有的真实资产的潜在吞噬程度。用通胀调整后,1962到1981年间国库券的资本价值减少了5/6还多。
Inflation-linked government bonds ought thus to be a more appropriate risk-free asset than conventional bonds. Foreign investors might calculate that, over the long run, a dollar decline would be matched by higher inflation, for which they would be compensated. However, the index-linked market is a lot less liquid than that for conventional debt. And cynics might wonder whether governments will really meet their obligations when faced with runaway inflation, rather than finding a way to “redefine” the statistics.

因此,与通胀有直接关系的政府债券应该比传统证券更适合做为无风险资产。国外投资车可能是考虑,在经过一段时间后,美元贬值会伴随着更高的通胀,因为这两者是要互补的。然而,与指标相关的市场要远小于传统债务的流动性。而愤世嫉俗的人们可能还是要想在遇到无法控制的通胀时,政府是否会真的实现自己的义务,而不是寻找一种方法来重新定义统计表。

So what might replace Treasury bonds as the global risk-free asset? Some would opt for gold, although it pays no yield and its nominal value is highly volatile. China has no asset that seems appropriate. What about German government bonds? Fiscal policy is relatively prudent and the European Central Bank seems far more committed to fighting inflation and maintaining a stable currency than other monetary authorities.

所以,什么才是替代政府债券成为全球性无风险资产的可能呢?,尽管没有收益率而且名义价值波动很大,可能一些人还是会选择黄金。中国并没有看似合适的资产。那么德国政府债券呢?德国的财政政策相对更透明而且欧洲央行同其他货币当局不一样,他们似乎更倾向于应对通胀并且维持货币稳定。

发表于13:17 | 阅读全文 | 评论 0 | 编辑 | 分享 0奥巴马:午夜凶铃2009-06-03Lexington
列克星敦

Tough enough?
够不够强硬?
May 28th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Barack Obama must pass the telephone test
巴拉克奥巴马必须要通过“午夜凶铃”的考验

Illustration by KAL


FIFTEEN months ago, at the height of the battle for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton unleashed her most powerful weapon, a telephone call. “It’s 3am and your children are safe and asleep,” a voice intoned. “But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something is happening in the world.” Barack Obama might be able to give a pretty speech. But was he “tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world”?

十五个月之前,民主党提名的斗争进行到白热化时,希拉里?克林顿使出了她的杀手锏--“午夜凶铃”。“凌晨三点钟,当你的孩子们都安全地熟睡时”一个声音吟诵道“但是白宫里面的一个电话机正在铃声大作。世界上又出事了。”奥巴马也许又要做一个漂亮的演说。但是他是否“经过考验并准备好来引领一个危险的世界 ”?

The telephone has been ringing off the hook of late, as hostile governments tweak the new administration, to see what it is made of, and Republican politicians raise doubts about Mr Obama’s national-defence credentials. On Memorial Day North Korea tested a nuclear bomb, following up with a few ballistic missiles for good measure. (The North Koreans were kind enough to give the administration a heads-up, in case the Mr Magoos of the intelligence establishment missed the fireworks.) On May 21st Dick Cheney delivered a televised speech accusing the administration of unravelling “some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11”. The day before that, the Iranians tested long-range missiles.

最近“午夜凶铃”总是响个不停,那些敌对政府想把美国新一届政府拧开看看里面是什么馅儿的,共和党人则对奥巴马的国防体系表示怀疑。在阵亡将士纪念日,朝鲜试射了核武器,另外接连发射了弹道导弹。(朝鲜还够贴心地发出预警,免得情报机构的脱线先生们错过了精彩表演)五月二十一日,迪克切尼作了电视演说,责难政府没有阐明“一些自911以来保护人民安全的非常政策”。就在一天之前,伊朗试射了远程导弹。

All this has put Mrs Clinton’s question from last February back at the heart of American politics. Conservative websites are buzzing with comparisons between Mr Obama and Jimmy Carter. “Jimmy Carter took a little over three years to create the image of the US as a confused and soft power,” argues Bahukutumbi Raman on Forbes.com. “Obama is bidding fair to create that image even in his first year in office.” Some Democrats are also whispering that they are worried about the comparison. Mr Carter’s weakness on foreign policy locked the Democratic Party out of the White House for over a decade. Mr Obama needs to prove that he is capable of doing the “daddy things” (defending the country) as well as the “mommy things” (appointing empathetic Supreme Court justices).

这一切都把克林顿夫人去年二月提出的问题放在美国政治核心。保守党的网页喧嚣着将奥巴马和吉米?卡特进行对比。“吉米?卡特用了三年多一点的时间塑造了一幅美国作为一个困惑并软弱政府的形象。卡特在对外政策上的软弱使民主党人被排斥在白宫外长达十多年。奥巴马需要证明他有能力来做“爸爸的事情”(保卫国家)同时也能做好“妈妈的事情”(任命善解人意的最高法院大法官)

How much truth is there that Mr Obama is flunking the telephone test? The problem with North Korea is that it is not a fair test of anything. It is easy to mock the finger-wagging from Susan Rice, Mr Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, about violations of international law, as the perfect example of pusillanimous liberalism.

说奥巴马先生没有通过“午夜凶铃”的考试又多少是真的呢?朝鲜问题无论如何都不是一个公平的测验。很容易将奥巴马的联合国大使苏珊赖斯对朝鲜违背国际法的谴责嘲笑为是懦弱的自由主义的一个绝好的例子。

But where would “toughness” get America? It would be hard to make the Hermit Kingdom any more isolated than it already is. Cutting off American aid would produce mass starvation without depriving the ruling elite of its luxuries. It might also risk destabilising a country that has many thousands of artillery pieces and rockets aimed at Seoul. George Bush tried toughness, including branding North Korea a member of the “axis of evil”, before returning to softer policies.

但是,强硬又会将美国引向何方呢?那将会使这个遁世王国更加孤立。切断美国的人道主义援助将会带来大规模的饥荒,却不能剥落统治精英们的奢侈生活。这也会冒险让一个国家将成千上万门大炮和火箭炮对准首尔。乔治布什尝试过强硬,包括将朝鲜命名为“邪恶轴心”,而之后却也转回更为怀柔的政策。

Mr Cheney’s critique of Mr Obama’s naiveté is a much fairer test than Kim Jong Il’s fireworks. But in fact Mr Obama passes the Cheney test fairly well, providing a well-calibrated combination of toughness and strategic innovation. He may have made a lot of noise about talking to America’s enemies. He may have abandoned Bush-era phrases such as “the war on terror”. But he has done little to unwind that war.

切尼对奥巴马幼稚的批评比起金正日的试射是一个更加公平的测验。但事实上奥巴马很好地通过了切尼的测验,他提出了一个更为精准的结合强硬和战略革新的组合体。他可能已经对美国的敌人喋喋不休;他可能已经放弃了布什时代的一些字句,诸如“反恐战争”,但是他却对结束那场战争所做甚少。

He has embraced Mr Bush’s policy of gradually withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. He has increased the number of troops in Afghanistan by around 20,000. He has also stepped up drone attacks on what the American army calls the “Af-Pak” region. Far from abandoning the war on terror, Mr Obama is shifting its central front from Iraq to Afghanistan, and doing what he can to sell it better. That hardly counts as naive doveishness.

他接受了布什逐步从伊拉克撤出野战部队的政策。他已经把在阿富汗的部队增加到20000人。他也派遣无人侦察机去那些被美国军队称之为“Af-Park” 的地区。奥巴马远远不是放弃了反恐战争,而是将战争的中心前线从伊拉克转到阿富汗,并且做那些他能够做的更好的事情。这很难算所“天真的鸽派”

Mr Cheney concentrated his heaviest rhetorical fire on Mr Obama’s opposition to “enhanced interrogation”. But such opposition is hardly a sign of wimpishness. Large numbers of military and former military officers, including David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, and John McCain, a man who was brutally tortured by the North Vietnamese, have come out strongly against practices such as waterboarding, for both practical and moral reasons. The information that such techniques produce is often tainted, and the damage that they do to America’s image around the world is immense.

切尼将他的唇枪舌剑集中在奥巴马反对“酷刑”上。但这种反对不是懦弱的标志。很多军方官员和前军方官员,包括中央司令部长官戴维?彼得雷乌斯和曾经被越南酷刑折磨过的约翰?麦凯恩,都对诸如水刑之类的酷刑提出过强烈的反对。严刑逼供出来的信息经常是有缺陷的,而且他们对美国在全世界形象的破坏是巨大的。

Living with Mr Kim
与金共舞

Still, it would be wrong to imply that Mr Obama has passed the telephone test with flying colours. The president is paying the price for raising expectations about the power of diplomacy to absurd heights. So far Mr Obama’s charm offensive has produced plenty of warm words but few practical concessions. The Europeans have refused to stimulate their economies as much as America would like, or to send a significant number of troops to Afghanistan. Iran has become even noisier about its desire to go on enriching uranium. Mr Obama is now finding out, as the Bush administration did before him, that some regimes are not susceptible to American policies, hard or soft, wise or dumb.

但这也不意味着奥巴马通过了“午夜凶铃”的考验并大获全胜。总统正在为将对外交的期望值提升到一个荒谬的高度而买单。截至目前,奥巴马的魅力攻势产生出了大量的温暖话语,但是很少的实际让步。欧洲拒绝向美国一样刺激他们的经济,也不愿意向阿富汗派出大量军队。伊拉克甚至闹着渴望要继续他们的铀浓缩。奥巴马现在发现,正如之前的布什政府一样,一些政权不那么容易受美国政策的影响,无论是强硬的,还是怀柔的,英明的或者愚蠢的。

Mr Obama is also guilty of doing too little to prepare for life with North Korea. The administration has paid remarkably little attention to the country. Mr Obama’s special representative for North Korean policy has retained his job as a university administrator. The top East Asia specialist at the State Department has still not been confirmed, though that has more to do with the Senate’s sloth than with Mr Obama’s negligence.

奥巴马对没有为与朝鲜共存的生活做好准备而心虚。政府对这个国家的关注明显太少了。奥巴马朝鲜政策的特别代表还在一所大学工作。国务院的东亚问题专家到现在也还没有确定,尽管比起奥巴马的疏忽,这些更多的是由于参议院的懒惰引起的。

The administration has pulled off a short-term coup by shifting public attention from North Korea to the Supreme Court, at least for a while. But Mr Kim and his kind will not disappear. Mr Obama needs to fill the gaps in his administration as quickly as possible. He also needs to lower expectations about what can be achieved by replacing one American president with another. The 3am call is still the one that can make or break a presidency.

政府已经采取一个短期的妙计将公众的注意力从朝鲜转移到最高法院,至少是暂时地。但是金正日和他那些妙主意并没有消失。奥巴马需要尽快填补政府的缺口。他也得降低对更换一个美国总统能够带来什么成就的期待。午夜3点的电话铃仍然能够成就或者毁掉一个总统。

发表于13:15 | 阅读全文 | 评论 0 | 编辑 | 分享 0深海宝藏:高品位矿石2009-05-27Seabed mining
海底矿产

The unplumbed riches of the deep
来自深海的宝藏

May 14th 2009 | WOODS HOLE, MASSACHUSETTS
From The Economist print edition

And why they’ll wait a while longer before being disturbed
开采这些宝藏,还需等多久

Click to enlarge:
点击放大:


IN TEENSPEAK, if a star such as Madonna or J.Lo is huge, that is a reference not to her size but to her popularity. Similarly, in the world of seabed geology, if a sulphide deposit is massive, it is not necessarily big, but formless and rich in metals. As it happens, seafloor massive sulphides are also huge—at least they were until recently. The collapse in commodity prices last year has diminished them a bit, but many expect their popularity to recover.

按照青少年的话语,如果像麦当娜和詹妮弗.洛佩兹这些明星是巨星,并不是因为她的体格,而是因为她的知名度。同样,海底地质认为,如果硫化物矿床是巨大的,并不需要其体积大,只需其不定型和其金属含量高。碰巧的是,至少目前海底块状硫化物也是巨大的。虽然由于去年的物品价格暴跌已经使其减弱了很多,但大多数人估计其会反弹。

The excitement arose because oceanographers had started to find these mineral-rich deposits on the network of submerged mountain ranges that run along the seabed between continents (see map). Such ridges occur where the great plates of the Earth’s crust are spreading apart, and the seafloor holds formations of hot, volcanic rock.

令人喜悦的是,在大陆之间横卧在海底的山系里,海洋学家开始找到一些富含这些矿物的矿床(见地图)。这些山脉出现在地壳大板块离散的部位,此处的海底形成了热的火山岩石建造。

Ever since the dredges of HMS Challenger on her voyage of scientific discovery in the 1870s brought up from the depths “immense numbers of more or less circular nodules”, it has been known that lots of minerals lie on the seabed. However, most of these plum-sized objects—known as manganese nodules, though they contain several other metals—are several kilometres deep. Russia mines some in territorial waters in the Gulf of Finland and several other countries hold exploration licences, but bringing them to the surface has never become economic.

自从19世纪七十年代英国皇家海军的“挑战者”号科学考察船将深海大量大致成圆形的结核带出水面之后,人们知道有大量的矿产在海底。其中,李子般大小被称之锰结核的矿石大多数在几公里深处。俄罗斯矿业在芬兰海湾的领海内和其他几个国家都持有勘探证,但将这些矿物开采到地面上经济上还不具可行性。

In the 1960s, however, mineral deposits of a different kind were found in the Red Sea, where the spreading seafloor impels the slow separation of Africa and Arabia. A similar stretching takes place wherever two tectonic plates move apart, for example, in the Galápagos Rift off Ecuador, and it was here in 1977 that the first deep-sea hydrothermal vents were discovered. These vents form above cracks in volcanic areas of the ocean floor through which seawater seeps, there to be heated by hot, sometimes molten rock. The water dissolves minerals deep in the Earth’s crust before rising like a geyser from the seafloor at temperatures of up to 400°C.

然而,在20世纪60年代,在红海发现了一种不同类型的矿床。扩张的红海海底推动着非洲大陆与阿拉伯半岛缓慢地分离。其实,在两构造板块离散的部位都存在相似的海底扩张,例如厄瓜多尔附近的加拉帕戈斯裂谷。在此裂谷中发现了第一个深海热液通道。这些热液通道,位于海底火山区裂隙上部,由于海水渗透下去,然后被灼热或熔融的岩石加热。这些被加热的海水溶解深部地壳的矿物,最终上升至海底形成间歇泉,其温度高达400°C。

This mineral-laden fluid, if it is rich in iron and sulphur, emerges to create a plume of black “smoke”, from which, when it meets cold bottom water, the minerals are precipitated. Tall chimneys form, growing up to six metres (20 feet) a year, and around them live strange creatures: giant tubeworms, for instance, with neither mouth nor stomach nor anus, that live on microbes whose energy derives not from the sun but from chemical compounds in the fluids from the crust. Over time the chimneys collapse, creating the deposits of high-grade massive sulphides that so excite the deep-sea miners.

当含矿流体升至海底时遇到底部冷水,矿物发生沉淀。如果这些含矿流体富含铁和硫,则会冒出一缕缕黑“烟”。此时,高大的形成,其每年生长达6米(20英尺)。在烟囱周围生活着奇怪的生物。以巨管虫为例,它既没有嘴也没有肠胃与肛门。它赖以为生的微生物的能量不是来之太阳,而是来之地壳流体中的化学化合物。随着时间推移,烟囱坍塌,形成高品位块状硫化物矿床。这些矿床让深海矿业很感兴趣。

Hydrothermal vents of this kind are found roughly every 100km (54 nautical miles) along the 65,000km or so of mid-ocean ridge. They are also found in volcanic “back-arc” basins behind ocean trenches, where one tectonic plate is sliding beneath another. Many of these basins are in the western Pacific, part of a great “ring of fire” that runs in a horseshoe from New Zealand north through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, eastward through the Aleutian islands and then south along the Pacific coast of North and South America, encompassing most of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.

沿着大约65000公里的洋中脊,大约每隔100公里(54海里)都会有此类热液通道。在海沟后侧的弧后盆地的火山中,此处是一个板块俯冲到另一板块的地方,也发现了该类通道,。很多这些盆地是在西太平洋:从新西兰向北到印度尼西亚、菲律宾和日本,然后向东到阿留申群岛,再向南沿着南、北美洲的太平洋沿岸。这一马蹄形火山链包括了世界上大多数活火山和休眠火山。

High-grade stuff, just sitting there
高品位矿石,静静等候在那儿

One reason massive-sulphide formations beguile miners is that the metals they contain—notably copper, gold, zinc and silver—are highly concentrated. Another is that they are often big, 200 metres wide and long, tens of metres thick, and may contain several million tonnes of ore. All lie on the surface of the seabed, and many are only 1-2km below water level.

块状硫化物岩层让矿业公司很感兴趣,原因之一就是,它们所含的金属品位高,如铜、金、锌和银等贵金属。另一个原因是,它们经常很大,长与宽达200多米,厚10米,可能蕴藏几百万吨铁。并且,所有的矿石在海底表面,许多在水面以下仅1到2千米。

At that depth technology developed for the offshore oil industry can nowadays be employed for mining. In particular, the deep-water pumps and suction pipes developed to bring subsea oil up to the surface can be used in the riser pipes needed to bring minerals (mixed with water) up from a massive-sulphide mine. The oil industry has also developed remotely-operated vehicles to make trenches for seabed pipelines, which can be adapted for cutting ore, even though it may lie much deeper, at, say, 1.5km down. In general the technology in the machines needed to carry out deep-water mining is no longer exotic. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has a vehicle that can reach depths of 11km.

现在,海洋石油工业的深海技术可以用于矿业。尤其是将石油从水下开采到地面所使用的石油深水泵和吸管可以用于矿业的升管中。此技术可以开采块状硫化物矿床中的矿物和水混合物。并且,石油工业已经开发出可用于海底管道挖槽的遥控船,可以经过改造用来切割矿石,即使这些矿石在1.5千米以下也没问题。一般而言,用于开采深水矿的技术不再遥远。伍兹霍尔海洋研究所开发的设备可以到达水下11千米。

Apart from the Russians, the only company mining the seabed at present is De Beers, which gathers diamonds off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa. These gem-quality stones were once carried down the Orange river and have since been swept up the coast, some even borne ashore by tide and wind. But they lie only about 100 metres down, so scooping them up is fairly simple.

除了俄罗斯之外,只有德比尔斯公司在海底采矿,它是在纳米比亚和南非海岸开采钻石。这些含宝石的岩石曾经顺着奥伦治河搬运到海岸,甚至有一些被海浪和风将其带上岸上。并且,大部分宝石仅在水下100米,因此寻找它们是相当简单的。

Two other companies have shown serious interest in seabed mining. One is Neptune Minerals, an Australian-based company that applied for a mining licence in 2008 for two deposits in about 1,250 metres of water near the Kermadec islands off New Zealand. It has also been granted exploration licences in territorial waters off Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia and Vanuatu. But it is nowhere near mining commercially. The other company is Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian firm whose Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea’s territorial waters contains 60,000-100,000 tonnes of copper, and gold too. It was due to start production next year, but most operations are now on hold.

另外两家公司对海底矿产显出浓厚的兴趣。在2008年,澳大利亚矿业公司,在离新西兰不远的克马德克群岛群岛附近水下1250米的地方,申请了两处采矿证。在巴布亚新几内亚领海附近的密克罗西亚联邦和瓦努阿图,Neptune已经取得探矿证。但在经济上没有一处值得开采。另一家是加拿大Nautilus 矿业公司,它在巴布亚新几内亚领海的索瓦拉一号工程蕴藏6万到10万吨铜和一些金。预期明年开始投产,但现在大多数运作近乎停滞。

Corbis
考比斯图片公司

Smoke without fire—just copper, zinc, gold and silver, and creatures unimaginable
无火之烟——只有铜、锌、金和银,与难以想象的生物

The big mining companies have been watching these two ventures with interest. Anglo American, one of the biggest, has an 11% holding in Nautilus (and 45% in De Beers), chiefly, it says, to keep abreast of the possibilities of seabed mining. But Chris Carlon of Anglo is emphatic that the world’s mining industry is not yet eager to tackle the deep ocean. For a start, there is a glut of copper, the metal that probably has to cover the cost of any massive-sulphide mine, leaving gold or some other more valuable metal to provide the profit. Last year the industry produced 360,000 tonnes of copper that turned out to be unwanted. Second, plenty of land-based deposits still remain to be exploited. Anglo American alone produces on land as much copper as the likely output of 100 massive-sulphide mines. As for gold, a tonne of old mobile phones contains about three times as much of it as a tonne of typical ore, even though recovery may be problematic.

矿业巨头们非常感兴趣地关注着这两家企业。英美矿业公司拥有Nautilus公司的11%股份,以及德比尔斯的45%,那就意味着其可以跟进海底矿业。但英美矿业公司的克里斯.卡隆非常强势地认为,世界矿业公司并未急迫地区开发深海。首先,巨量的铜就已收回任何块状硫化物矿的开发成本,剩下的金以及其他更贵的金属便可以产生利润。去年,海底矿业产出了36万吨铜,结果却无法销售。其次,大量陆地上的矿床仍然需要开采。英美公司仅仅在陆地上生产的铜可能相当于100个块状硫化物矿。至于金,一吨废旧手机含金数量是一吨普通金矿矿石的3倍,即使回收可能有问题。

Moreover, mining companies much prefer the known difficulties of operating on land to those of operating on the seabed. The risks of working in a place where volcanic activity seems to have stopped but may suddenly resume are uncertain. So indeed are the possible obligations to repair the underwater environment: no legal codes are yet in place for deep-sea mining. That helps to explain why the only places in which companies have dipped more than a toe in the water are in exclusive economic zones, which are not just shallower than many parts of the distant ocean but also within the legal ambit of a national authority.

此外,矿业公司更宁愿开发陆地上困难已知的矿,也不愿意开采海底矿产。因为存在很多不确定因素。工作的危险在于,此处的火山活动表面上已经停止,但可能会突然重新开始。虽然还没有关于深海矿业的法律法规,但更有可能需要承担修复水下环境的义务。这有助于理解为什么矿业公司只在经济专属区开展活动,那儿不仅比许多远洋地区深度较浅,更由于其在一个国家主权的法律范围内。

Seafloor mining beyond countries’ territorial waters is regulated by the International Seabed Authority, set up under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. So far it has issued only eight licences, all for exploration, not production, all for nodules, not massive-sulphide deposits, and all to governmental or quasi-governmental agencies (of China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and an east European consortium). No wonder. Commercial miners want both a clear title to their holding and exclusive rights to exploit it. They also have to answer to shareholders.

国际海底管理局监管那些不在领海之内的海底矿产。它是在联合国大会海洋法下设立的一个国际机构。但迄今为止,它仅仅签发了8个证,且全部是勘探证,而没有开采证;且全部是结核类的,而没有块状硫化矿;且全部是给政府或准政府的机构(中国、法国、德国、印度、日本、俄罗斯、南韩和一家东欧财团的)。不必奇怪,因为商业矿业需要明确的持有权以及专属的开采权。同时,他们还必须向股东解释清楚。

One day, however, deep-sea mining will surely start to look commercially attractive again. At present China and Russia are the two countries most interested in massive sulphides, followed by India and South Korea. Russia, which has been grubbing around on the seabed for years, knows exactly what it wants and where: it has found four massive-sulphide deposits of over 10m tonnes each in the past four years, all on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. China is less sure of what it is after, but has become interested in the southern Indian Ocean, as well as the zone in the North Pacific where most of the manganese-nodule licences have been granted. While China makes up its mind, it is blocking all decision-making at the International Seabed Authority, which was due to issue legal, environmental and revenue-sharing regulations about mining in international waters this month but is unlikely to do so. Fortunately, no miners are in a hurry to get started—and massive sulphides, unlike huge rock stars, can wait.

尽管如此,深海矿业在将来某一天肯定会开始变得在商业上很有吸引力的。目前,中国和俄罗斯对块状硫化物矿产最感兴趣的两个国家,随后的是印度和南韩。俄罗斯已经在海底搜寻很多年,明确知晓想要什么以及在那儿。在中大西洋脊,俄罗斯已发现四处块状硫化物矿床,并且每处都超过1千万吨。中国还不确定在寻找什么,但已对南印度洋感兴趣,还有北太平洋。大多数锰结核矿探矿证是在北太平洋。虽然中国已下定决心,但却阻扰国际海底管理局做决策。国际海底管理局预定本月将颁布关于国际水域矿产法律、环境和利益分配方面的规章制度,但现在可能性不大了。值得庆幸的是,没有任何矿业公司急匆匆地开始行动,且不像巨星那样,他们能够等待。

发表于15:03 | 阅读全文 | 评论 2 | 编辑 | 分享 0中国和阿拉伯人在国外囤地2009-05-27Land deals in Africa and Asia
亚非土地交易

Cornering foreign fields
在国外囤地
May 21st 2009
From The Economist print edition

The Chinese and Arabs are buying poor countries’ farms on a colossal scale. Be wary of the results
中国和阿拉伯人大规模购买贫穷国家的农田,当心后果




Illustration by Claudio Munoz





OVER the past two years, as much as 20m hectares of farmland—an area as big as France’s sprawling farmland and worth $20 billion-30 billion—has been quietly handed over to capital-exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and China. They buy or lease millions of acres, grow staple crops or biofuels on it, and ship them home. The countries doing the selling are some of the world’s poorest and least stable ones: Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Pakistan. Usually, when foreigners show up in these places, it is with aid, pity and lectures (or, in one instance, arrest warrants for war crimes). It must make a nice change to find their farms, so often sources of failure and famine, objects of commercial interest instead.


过去两年,沙特阿拉伯、科威特和中国这些资本输出国静悄悄的接手了大约2000万公顷的农田,面积和法国广阔的农田一般大,价值在200至300亿美元。他们购买或租借上万英亩用来种植主要作物和生产生物燃料,并把这些运送回国。出售农田的国家是世界上最贫穷动荡的国家:苏丹、埃塞俄比亚、刚果和巴基斯坦。外国人来到这些国家时,通常带着援助、同情和演讲(还有一种,对战争犯罪下的逮捕令)。对于这些经常资源枯竭和闹饥荒的国家来说,他们的农田能带来商业利益,这的确是个很好的转变。


Yet while governments celebrate these investments, the rest of the world might reasonably ask why, if the deals are so good, one of the biggest of them helped cause the overthrow of the government that signed it—the one in Madagascar. Will this new scramble for Africa and Asia really reduce malnutrition, as its supporters say? Or are critics right that these are “land grabs”, “neocolonialist” rip-offs, different from 19th-century colonialism only because they involve different land-grabbers and enrich different local elites?


然而当政府颂扬这些投资时,其他国家也许会提出合理的疑问:若交易千好万好,为什么马达加斯加岛上的一个国家,最大的穷国之一,推翻了其签订农田交易的政府?如支持者所言,对亚非新一轮的开发真的能平衡失调?抑或批评家是正确的,这些是“土地掠夺”和“新殖民主义”,与19世纪殖民主义的差别仅仅在于这些不同的掠夺者,使得当地主导者更富裕?


Protectionism or efficiency? 保护主义还是效率?


It would be graceless to write off in advance foreign investment in some of the most miserable places on earth. The potential benefits of new seeds, drip-feed irrigation and farm credit are vast. Most other things seem to have failed African agriculture—domestic investment, foreign aid, international loans—so it is worth trying something new. Bear in mind, too, that worldwide economic efficiency will rise if (as is happening) Saudi Arabia abandons mind-bogglingly expensive wheat farms in the desert and buys up land in east Africa.


在世界上有些最贫乏的国家在注入外国投资之前就销账是不道德的。引进新种子、滴灌技术和农场信贷潜在着巨大收益,似乎其它大多数方法,如本国投资、外国援助和国际贷款,对非洲农业不起作用,所以有必要另辟蹊径。同时要记住,若沙特阿拉伯出其不意抛售沙漠地区昂贵的小麦农田而买下东非的土地,世界经济效益是会增长的。


Yet these advantages cannot quell a nagging unease. For a start, most deals are shrouded in mystery—rarely a good sign, especially in countries riddled with corruption. One politician in Cambodia complains that a contract to lease thousands of acres of rice contains fewer details than you would find in a house-rental agreement. Secrecy makes it impossible to know whether farms are really getting more efficient or whether the deals are done mainly to line politicians’ pockets.


然而这些有利因素不能平息烦扰不安的声音。首先,大多数交易都是暗箱操作,极少有正当签订,尤其是在腐败大行其道的国家。柬埔寨的政治家抱怨出租上万亩稻田的合同条文还没有所能找到房屋租赁协议上的多。暗地交易不可能知道农田是否被真正高效使用,或主要让政客中饱私囊。


Next, most of these deals are government-to-government. This raises awkward questions. Foreign investment helps countries not only by applying new technology but also by reorganising the way people work and by keeping an eye on costs. Few governments do this well, corrupt ones least of all. One of the biggest problems of large-scale commercial farming in poor countries is that well-connected farmers find it more profitable to seek special favours than to farm. These deals may exacerbate that problem. Worse, the impetus for many of them has not been profit-seeking by those who want to turn around failing farms. Rather, it has been alarm at rising food prices and export bans. Protectionism, not efficiency, has been the driving force. It would be better to liberalise food markets and boost trade than encourage further land grabs.


其次,大多数是政府间的交易,这增加了难题。国外投资的帮助不仅是应用新科技,而且也改变人们的工作方式并管理花费。少数政府做的不错,那些腐败政府就不敢恭维了。穷国大规模商业农场的最大问题之一是有门道的农民找特殊关系比经营农田赚的要多,这些交易则助长了这种风气。更糟的是,在那些想周转破产农场的人的推动下,很多都没有盈利。一定程度上,这敲响了粮价上涨和禁令出口的警钟。驱动力不是效率而是保护主义。实现粮食市场自由化和刺激贸易比鼓励进一步地攫取土地更为有益。


Third, there are serious doubts about whether countries acquiring land are paying the true cost of it. Host governments usually claim the farmland they offer is vacant, state-owned property. That is often untrue. It may well support smallholders who have farmed it for generations. They have no title, only customary rights. Deals that push them off their land or override customary rights cannot be justified. International bodies, such as the African Union, are drawing up codes of conduct to limit such abuses. They are sorely needed.


第三,需要重视的问题是那些得到土地的国家是否支付了真实价钱。政府经常宣称他们出售的农田是未被占用的国有财产,那一般是假话,这些土地也许供养了祖祖辈辈在此耕种的佃农,他们没有所有权,只有传统权益。交易迫使他们失去土地,并置不被公正对待的传统权益于不顾。像非洲联盟此类国际机构正拟定规定整治不正之风,规定是急需的。


Even then, land deals will never help the poor as much as freer trade and stronger property rights. But if the deals eventually raised yields, spread technology and created jobs, that would at least be some cause for celebration. At the moment too many seem designed to benefit local elites more than local farmers; they use foreign labour and export most of their production, harming local food markets. Until they show otherwise, a dose of scepticism should be mixed with the premature hopes that the land deals have engendered.


尽管如此,土地交易永远不及自由贸易和强有力的财产权对穷国所做出的贡献大。但如果交易最终能增加收益、传授科技并创造就业岗位,至少庆祝也有了些理由。不过目前,不少人似乎计划着让当地主导者而不是农民获利,他们雇佣国外劳动力并出口大部分产品,这打击了当地粮食市场。除非他们采用别的方法,否则,已造成土地交易现状的如意算盘将会和一起质疑纠缠不清。

发表于15:00 | 阅读全文 | 评论 0 | 编辑 | 分享 0

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