What Japan’s most profitable policy experiment can teach us | 日本最赚钱的政策实验给我们的启示 - FT中文网
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观点 养老金

What Japan’s most profitable policy experiment can teach us
日本最赚钱的政策实验给我们的启示

Shinzo Abe’s reform to the Government Pension Investment Fund holds lessons for ageing societies everywhere | 安倍晋三对政府养老金投资基金的改革为世界各地的老龄化社会提供了启示。
Imagine a policy that adds 1 per cent of GDP a year to the fiscal resources of a large, advanced economy. This policy works like magic. The money appears out of nowhere, with no rise in taxes, no cuts in spending, no assets sold and no debt to pay back. Such a policy would have great appeal to cash-strapped governments around the world and is surely too good to exist. Nevertheless, exist it does. Any guesses? The answer is a 2014 reform to the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan, the world’s largest pool of retirement savings, in which it took on some currency and equity risk.
想象一下,一项政策能使一个大型发达经济体的财政资源每年增加GDP的1%。这项政策就像变魔术一样。这笔钱似乎不知道是从哪里冒出来的,不需要增税,不需要削减开支,不需要出售资产,也不需要偿还债务。这样的政策将对世界各地资金紧张的政府产生巨大的吸引力,而且肯定是好到不可能存在。然而,它确实存在。猜一猜?答案是2014年对日本政府养老金投资基金(GPIF)进行的改革,让这个全球最大退休储蓄资金池承担一些汇率和股权风险。
Undertaken by former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the 2014 reform shifted the GPIF from a largely domestic portfolio, with 60 per cent held in Japanese government bonds, to one that is 50 per cent equity and 50 per cent international. According to Stephen Jen and Joana Freire of Eurizon SLJ Capital, the portfolio has grown from ¥137tn in 2014 to ¥226tn today, compared with the ¥168tn at which it would now stand if the fund had kept it unchanged. The extra return amounts to about 10 per cent of Japan’s GDP, or $370bn, which must make it the most lucrative asset allocation review in history.
由日本前首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)发起的2014年改革,将GPIF的投资组合从主要为国内投资(其中60%为日本国债),转变为50%为股权、50%为国际投资的投资组合。据Eurizon SLJ Capital的斯蒂芬•詹(Stephen Jen)和乔安娜•弗莱雷(Joana Freire)称,该投资组合已从2014年的137万亿日元增长到今天的226万亿日元,相比之下,如果不改革,目前的投资组合规模将为168万亿日元。额外的回报相当于日本GDP的10%左右,即3700亿美元,这使其成为历史上最赚钱的资产配置调整。
The portfolio has benefited, of course, from the weakness of the yen, which fell from roughly ¥100 to the dollar to roughly ¥150 over this timeframe, but that is the point of taking currency risk, not a lucky accident. A period of bad asset returns could wipe out some of the gains. This is, however, a policy experiment that the world should study. Here are six lessons.
当然,该投资组合受益于日元疲软,在这段时间内,日元从1美元兑100日元左右跌至1美元兑150日元左右,但这正是承担汇率风险的意义所在,而不是幸运的意外。一段时间的不佳资产回报可能会抹去部分收益。不过,这是一个值得全世界研究的政策实验。以下是六条经验。
First, Japan has reason to be grateful to Abe, who was prime minister from 2012 to 2020 before his assassination in 2022. Opponents attacked the GPIF reform as speculation with the public’s retirement savings but Abe and his advisers showed leadership, riding out periods of bad publicity when the fund’s value went down. The GPIF reform may not be his greatest legacy but it is one to be proud of.
首先,日本有理由感谢安倍晋三,他在2012年至2020年期间担任首相,后在2022年被暗杀。反对者抨击GPIF改革是用公众退休储蓄进行投机,但安倍和他的顾问们表现出了领导力,挺过了基金价值下跌时的负面报道时期。GPIF改革或许不是安倍最伟大的遗产,但却是值得骄傲的遗产。
Second, it highlights the importance of looking at net rather than gross public debt. Japan famously has the world’s largest gross public debt at 252 per cent of GDP. Its net public debt stands at 158 per cent of GDP, with the assets in the GPIF making up a chunk of the difference. Imagine an alternative reform in 2014, which used the GPIF money to cancel government bonds. In that case gross debt would have fallen, but Japan would have missed out on the excess returns from the investment portfolio and net debt would now be 10 percentage points higher.
其次,它凸显了关注公共债务净额而非总额的重要性。众所周知,日本拥有全球最大的公共债务总额,相当于GDP的252%。其净公共债务相当于GDP的158%,其中GPIF中的资产占了差额的一大部分。试想一下如果在2014年进行另一种改革,用GPIF的钱来对消政府债券。在这种情况下,总债务会下降,但日本将错过该投资组合的超额回报,净债务现在将高出10个百分点。
Third, the GPIF’s shift shows a different way to think about public finances. In some sense, a government is like the ultimate university endowment fund or life insurance company: it is designed to exist forever, it has long-term obligations to future pensioners and a huge capacity to absorb risk.
第三,GPIF改革显示了一种思考公共财政的不同方式。从某种意义上说,政府就像终极的大学捐赠基金或人寿保险公司:它被设计为永远存在,它对未来的养老金领取者负有长期义务,并有巨大的吸收风险的能力。
The government can invest in public sector assets that will generate future tax returns, such as education and roads, but it can invest in private sector assets as well. In circumstances where the private sector is hungry for safe assets such as government bonds, and willing to buy them at very low interest rates, it may well make sense to issue more, increase the public sector’s leverage and invest for a higher return. Jen and Freire suggest that the US Social Security Trust Fund, which is currently an accounting entity that only invests in special US Treasury bonds, should follow the GPIF into other assets.
政府可以投资于能产生未来税收回报的公共部门资产,如教育和道路,但它也可以投资私营部门资产。在私营部门渴望获得政府债券等安全资产,并愿意以极低利率购买这些资产的情况下,发行更多债券、提高公共部门的杠杆率,并进行投资以获得更高回报,可能是明智之举。Jen和Freire建议,美国社会安全信托基金——目前是一个只投资于美国特别国债的会计实体——应该效仿GPIF投资其他资产。
Fourth, the GPIF reform was relatively conservative. The portfolio shift was made consciously, with careful attention to risk, asset management by professionals and politicians kept at arm’s length. That makes a depressing contrast with an economically similar scheme in the UK, whereby local governments sought to fix their lack of tax revenue by borrowing billions of pounds from the central government, and investing it in commercial property and other assets. A number, such as Thurrock, Woking and Warrington, have got themselves into deep financial trouble. It will always be easy to confuse prudent use of the state’s balance sheet to fund long-term liabilities using long-term assets, and speculation to keep short-term tax rates low.
第四,GPIF改革相对保守。投资组合的转变是有意识地进行的,对风险有着谨慎的关注,由专业人士进行资产管理,与政治家保持一定距离。这与英国经济上类似的计划形成了令人沮丧的对比。在英国,地方政府试图通过向中央政府借款数十亿英镑,并将其投资于商业地产和其他资产,来解决税收收入不足的问题。Thurrock、Woking和Warrington等一些地方政府已经陷入了严重的财政困境。人们总是很容易将审慎使用国家资产负债表、用长期资产为长期负债提供资金,与为了保持低短期税率而进行的投机相混淆。
Fifth, the GPIF’s shift could apply to other pools of assets. For example, Japan is one of a number of Asian countries that maintains foreign exchange reserves much greater than it needs. If Tokyo does not want to take advantage of the weak yen to sell some dollars and retire some debt — which would be quite sensible — then it could shift some of these reserves into equities too, or hand them over outright to the GPIF. The way Hong Kong handles the investment portion of its Exchange Fund is an interesting example.
第五,GPIF的转变可以适用于其他资产池。例如,日本是外汇储备远远超过需求的亚洲国家之一。如果日本政府不想利用日元走弱的机会出售部分美元并偿还部分债务(这将是相当明智的做法),那么它可以将部分外汇储备转为股票,或者直接移交给GPIF。香港处理其外汇基金投资部分的方式就是一个有趣的例子。
Finally, there is a case to make this kind of reform early. Not only are the benefits accrued and the risks best managed over time, but the world continues to age and the demand for pension-paying assets rises with it. The return of inflation has made everybody feel better about returns but there is little sign that real interest rates — after inflation — have moved sustainably higher.
最后,有理由尽早进行这种改革。随着时间的推移,不仅福利会逐渐积累,风险也会得到最好的管理,而且世界还在继续老龄化,对养老金支付资产的需求也会随之上升。通胀的回归使每个人对回报感到更加满意,但几乎没有迹象表明实际利率(扣除通胀因素后)已经持续上升。
In finance there is never any free lunch. Return always comes with risk. But as ageing societies confront a rising fiscal burden, the success of Abe’s GPIF reform shows the merit, for governments, of thinking less like debtors struggling to pay the bills, and more like investors with large obligations, large balance sheets and a very long time horizon.
在金融领域,永远没有免费的午餐。回报总是伴随着风险。但在老龄化社会面临财政负担不断增加的情况下,安倍晋三GPIF改革的成功表明,对于政府来说,少从挣扎着还债的债务人的角度考虑问题,多从背负巨额债务、拥有庞大资产负债表和非常长远眼光的投资者的角度考虑问题是有好处的。
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