本杰明·弗里德曼（Benjamin M. Friedman）曾任哈佛大学经济学院院长，现为哈佛大学经济系教授，多次为美国政策制定者与公共职位候选人就经济问题提供建议。
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：如何看待周小川行长在央行近16年的工作？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您如何看待周小川对中国金融市场改革的贡献？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：为了应对2008年的金融危机，央行对其资产负债表进行了迅速扩张，许多人在当时并不认同周小川的举措，您对当时他采取的政策怎么看？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：所以您认为周小川是一位成功的、杰出的银行领导者吗？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您认为在周小川卸任之后，中国金融市场的发展会出现怎样的变化？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：人民币要实现国际化面临的最大挑战和困难是什么？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：人民币在两年前加入了SDR，您认为这会对人民币的国际化起到推动作用吗？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：所以您认为SDR更多的是概念性的是吗？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：最近一段时间，人民币出现了快速升值。
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：同时美元指数出现了相对贬值，您对这种现象怎么看？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您认为人民币是一个可靠的货币吗？是否可以长期持有以规避国际金融市场的风险？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：所以您认为还需要很长时间才能实现吗？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您认为人民币和中国的经济政策会对世界经济产生重要影响吗？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：我们知道美联储和中国中央银行的领导层最近都发生了更迭，鲍威尔将会担任美联储的主席，您认为未来中美两国的金融政策会出现什么变化？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您知道，中国的民众一直都对美联储的政策非常关注，您认为中国经济在多大程度上会受到美联储政策的影响？
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：中国有很多民众担心美联储的利率调整会影响到中国的经济。
网易研究局（微信 ID ： wyyjj163 ）：您认为未来中美两国在金融领域会出现什么冲突吗？
Q: From a perspective of an economist, how do you comment on Zhou Xiaochuan and his nearly 16 years’ work at PBOC?
A: I think governor Zhou has made a significant contribution, not only to the bank, but also to the health and well-being of the Chinese economy, and I’m glad to provide specific as you like what I have in mind in both regards.
Q: Can you briefly comment on his contribution on China’s financial market or reform?
A: Yes. Let me start off with his role at PBOC, and I think what’s clear to monetary economic sense of central banker outside China, is that during governor Zhou’s time in office, the PBOC has become significantly more professionalized, compared to banks in early history. And I point not only to governor Zhou himself in the way which he has run the bank and represented abroad, and also articulated the monetary policy, but to many of the economists whom he has brought into the bank.
As for the comment, I think governor Zhou deserves a lot of credit for attracting, maintaining and supporting such a high level group of people, and many others as well. I would begin with saluting governor Zhou’s success at professionalizing the bank.
Now next, I would turn to the success of the policy during governor Zhou’s term. And there I would point to three elements that strike me as important and successful.
First, if you look back to period before governor Zhou took office, inflation in China was both high and volatile, and also the growth of money and credits was relatively unrestrained in various periods. I think governor Zhou has done an excellent job in steering Chinese monetary policy so that inflation has become much better behaved, and the growth of money and credits was much more restrained, that after all is the central task of monetary policy in any economy. And I think the PBOC gets high marks now, for the way in which they’ve been able to make a lot of progress in this area during governor Zhou’s term in office, I think that’s a real achievement for him.
Second, more specifically, the rest of the world is extremely impressed with the way in which China manage to maintain its economic growth in the aftermath of the worldwide financial crisis of 2007-2009. I remember being in China, maybe 2009.I recall the foreign economists were there who study China, many of them were extremely skeptical that China would be able to maintain its growth rate. At the same time certainly the developed countries were experiencing a severe downturn, many of them like the United States was in the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression of the 1930s, the Chinese economists present were quite confident that China’s economic growth will continue, and they were right, they turned out to be exactly right. We all know this has to do with many things other than simply monetary policy and has to do with governmental investment programs, and other contributions. But nonetheless, it took some effort on the part of PBOC monetary policy to make that happen as well, so I think it was a significant economic event that took place during governor Zhou’s term.
And the third and the last element that I want to point to, is the period of extreme volatility both in the RMB exchange rate and also in the prices on the China’s security market that China sustained a few years ago. This could have been very bad for China and Chinese economic growth, but it wasn’t, it turned out China managed to work through this period of volatility and thrived very well. Once again, I’m sure this had to do with many elements of China’s policy other than just PBOC is doing, but for sure PBOC had a large part to do with it. This also happened on governor Zhou’s term, and I would give him a lot of credit for that as well.
Those are the three things I had in mind.
Q: But you know, in order to cope with the financial crisis in 2008, the balance sheet of PBOC expanded rapidly, some people didn’t agree with Zhou’s measures taken at that time, how do you like these policies?
A: I would look at the balance sheet expansion and like what other central banks were doing. Look at my own country here in the United States, before the financial crisis, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve system was about 800 billion dollars, the peak was 4.5 trillion dollars, so that means the balance sheet of Federal Reserve multiplied by a factor about 5.If you look at other central banks around the developed world, the multiple was similarly about 5.Bank of England and European Central Bank it’s about 3-4, although they are still there, not through yet. And the Bank of Japan similar multiple, the Swedish Riksbank was about a multiple of 3.So in all of these cases, central banks did the policy that governor Zhou pursued, it was in keeping with other well-run central banks were doing at the time, so I certainly would not be critical.
Q: So I think from your perspective, you think Zhou is quite a successful and outstanding governor.
A:Yes,I do, I think he will be remembered in the future, in the same way that we look back at some of the crucial governors, we would call them the Chairman of Federal Reserve, people like Paul Volcker, I’m guessing he will be remembered in that way in the future.
Q: I would like to know what do you think of development and trend of China’s financial market after Zhou retires?
A: Well, I think there are still some tasks to be done. The most obvious one, at least most obvious to me, is dealing with the legacy of bad debts. I’m talking in part of the banks of course. But also, even the bad debts held by various prevention and even local governments, we all know that a large part of China’s economic growth in recent years has been financed by debts. Many of these debts are not really good debts in the way that we at least think of them.
So I think working through that legacy is going to take China quite a bit of time, it’s a slow process, and the magnitude of the problem in China is very large. I’m confident that it can be handled, so I don’t think this is any kind of substantial threat, but it is a real problem that needs to be taken care of. At least according to western press, some of the recent actions by the government seemed to show that they are very serious about planning to make progress, that’s one area in which I would think that progress need to be made.
I think the second would have to do with is, what I would call professionalization of the banks in my sense, in meeting people that are the personnel at the top level of the big four banks, in their positions, for political reasons rather than because they are the right people. I’m an economist, but I would hope that over time, China will evolve a way of allowing those institutions to be run in a more professional way.
Q: Could you talk about what do you think is the biggest challenge for RMB to be an international currency?
A: Well, it’s not just the challenge for the currency, it’s the challenge for the market behind the currency, the security of market. Because when you talk about people holding dollars, yes, I understand some people broad hold dollar deposits, that’s not really what we mean. For example, when we say China holds however many trillions of dollars, the dollars that China holds, we don’t mean they’re holding dollar deposits, we mean they’re holding various assets denominated in dollars. So talking about the use of currency internationally, we’re really talking about the ability of international investors to participate in a country’s security market, it has to do in the first instance with the trading, rules also has to do with what security is there to buy in the first place. So when it go back to the dollar, when we’re talking about people holding dollars, that means mostly they’re holding things like treasury deals, they’re holding things like Bank CDs. So I think there are some developments of security markets in China that needs to happen before we can think of RMB is having kind of opportunities connected to it, that the dollar is sterling and the Euro and other country’s currencies like that have.
Q: You know, that RMB has joined SDR for two years, do you think this will have a large impact for RMB to be internationalized?
A: No, I don’t think so. I’ve always been very skeptical of the SDR, I don’t think it has anything more than symbolic importance, to me, it doesn’t matter a bit.
Q: So you think it doesn’t make sense, only conceptional?
A: Yeah, I don’t think it has much practical significance.
Q: Did you notice that there has been a rapid appreciation of RMB recently?
Q: And also the dollar index has recently been a little bit weakened, what do you think about this kind of appreciation, maybe relatively appreciated and depreciated?
A: I don’t have any view over a short run, thinking as an economist, it’s not helpful for assessing currency fluctuation in a short run. I think over a long period of time however, it’s likely that at least on a real basis, the RMB will appreciate relatively to the dollar, and the dollar will depreciate relatively not only to the RMB, but to other currencies as well. And this is just a matter of long run supply and demand for currencies, in part driven by notions of trade flows, but also by portfolio diversification I think. 25 years from now for example, I believe the role of dollar in international portfolios will be small than it is today, I believe the role of RMB will be larger, and that kind of shift is bound to affect currency values over the long run.
Q: Do you think RMB is a safe currency? I mean for foreign exchange reserve to avoid the risks from international financial market?
A: I don’t think it is there yet, over some periods of time, I’m confident that will happen, but I don’t think RMB is there yet. It goes back to the same issue of investment possibility and liquidity of market and safety of assets that we were talking about before.
Q: So you think there is still a long way to go?
A:I guess I don’t know how fast the transition will be, let’s say 20 years, I would like to think the transition will be completed by then, but maybe faster, I have no idea.
Q: Do you think the RMB and China’s financial policies have enough impact on the world’s economy yet?
A: I think it certainly does have an impact on the world’s economy, measured in terms that China is already the second largest economy. I don’t know what the latest forecast is, but within several short number of years, China will become the world’s largest economy in real terms. And China is increasingly involved in international investment flows, and markets open, China is already involved in trade flows, so what happens in China is what happens in Chinese currency, of course it is very important for the rest of the world.
Q:We all know that leadership of Federal Reserve and PBOC has both changed recently, Powell has come to his power, so what do you think of financial trends of China and the US will be like? And the trends of financial policies of these two countries will be like?
A: I think it will be very interesting. Talking about the United States, as you know, we have a new chairman of Federal Reserve, we have new people in the US treasury, and I think it remains to be seen whether the financial regulatory policy of the United States will remain the same or will go in very unfortunate direction. We had some amounted new regulation put in place, following 2007 to 2009 financial crisis, that regulation was not perfect by any means, I think the effort by Trump administration and many member of the Congress to remove some of the regulations is very wrong-headed, that is likely to open the way for the kinds of abuses with the banks and even what we call the Shadow Banking System. Stood the high crisis we had 10 years ago, I hope regulation is not relaxed in that way.
Now China is a different Case, China has different problems and different structure. I think the need for vigilance is real, looking at what happened 10 years ago shows the need for serious regulation. There was a view associated with people like Alan Greenspan, for example, the financial system is self-regulating, and I think many of those view was wrong before, but for anybody who didn’t know those view was wrong, he should have learned it was wrong from the crisis. The attempt here to roll back regulation is wrong-headed, I hope other countries do not move in that direction.
Q: You know, Chinese people pay much attention to the Fed’s policy, so how much do you think China’s economy is linked to the policy of Fed?
A: Oh, that’s a very good question.
Q: Many people are afraid that China’s economy will be influenced by Fed’s policy of interest rates.
A:I think that is true, behind what you said is a valid point that the dollar plays a disproportionate role in the world’s financial system, therefore when the United States raises interest rates, then interest rates around the world will go up, I think that is very true. So from perspective of a country like China, I think that means that the task which I indicated before, getting the bad debt problems under controls is all the more important, because those debts that are hard to service today’s interest rates will be even harder to service when interest rates go up.
Q: Will there be any conflict between China and the US? Regarding the financial fields?
A: No, I don’t think so. Country’s interests are not 100% aligned, that never happens, because countries have different production bases, different demand bases and so forth, I don’t see there is any need to believe that there is an inevitable conflict.