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僵尸企业藏在哪里?

【导读与启示】7月27日,我们课题组通过人大国发院发布了《中国僵尸企业研究报告》(点击阅读),此报告利用了1998-2013年中国工业企业数据库(包含大约80万家企业和360万个观测值)和1998-2015年上市公司数据库,分析了中国工业部门僵尸企业的现状、原因和对策。报告引起了很大的社会反响,几十家海内外媒体报道。作为半个媒体人,我特别感兴趣的是,面对同一份报告和素材,各家媒体如何在激烈的市场竞争过程中呈现差异化的优势?

一个基本发现是:网络媒体追求速度,在发布会当天就立即报道,内容主要来自报告原文;党媒会比较谨慎,国社记者特意跟我核实了好几遍数据;外媒更强调观点的个性化,几个外媒记者都对我进行了补充采访;还有一些新媒体,利用超炫的画图技巧来展示报告中的各种图表。但总体来看,差异主要体现在形式上,内容上的差异不多,这可能跟大部分记者本身不是经济学出身有关。十年前,我曾建议人大经济学院与新闻学院合办“财经记者班”,我相信市场仍然亟需此类人才。将来,经济学就是一门大学必修课,而不是经济学专业的壁垒。上面这些话,足够一个新闻学博士写几篇论文了。

今天转载香港《南华早报》(South China Morning Post)的英文报道,好久没看英文的读者,就当复习一下英语吧。——楼兰君

《Where do zombies lurkin China? Mostly in steel and real estate, report finds》
 

PUBLISHED : Saturday,30 July, 2016, 12:15am
 
Maggie Zhang


 
A sweeping analysis of the mainland’s “zombie” firms found that more than half of its steel mills and nearly half of all property developers qualified for the title.
 
The report, by the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University, also found the bulk of the firms were state-owned companies, many of which emerged after 2008, when China spent 4 trillion yuan to counter the effects of the global recession.

The report defined zombie companies as firms that received cheap funding but ran at a loss or did not generate enough profit to cover their interest payments.
 
The zombies return: why are steel firms in China coming back from the dead?
 
They pose a challenge for the leadership which has emphasised structural reforms to eliminate inefficiencies but at the same time wants state companies to become “bigger andstronger”.
 
The report, covering more than 800,000 industrial firms, said at least 7.5 per cent of industrial companies were zombies in 2013, according to latest available data. About 350 listed companies, or about 13 per cent of the total, also qualified as zombiefirms last year, even though they are supposed to be the best businesses.
 
Nie Huihua, vice-dean of the academy and main author of the report, said his team examined the regional distribution of the zombie firms, and what factors ?allowed them to exist.
 
“Tackling the problem of zombie companies largely depends on Beijing’s resolution and firm hand,” Nie said.
 
“Of course, we will see resistance from vested interests at various levels, but it is not an issue that can’t be solved.”
 
The report had been sent to policymakers in Beijing, he said.
 
He said part of the reason the firms continued to exist was local cadres were desperate to keep them alive for their own political careers.
 
“Some local governments put job-creation pressure on normal enterprises and push them to expand capacity, then compensate them with fiscal support,” the report said.
 
“It creates new zombie companies and made it difficult to close the existing ones.”
Banks also preferred to lend to state-owned or state-backed companies despite their balance sheet, according to the report.
 
Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank in Shanghai, said government endorsement was amajor reason why zombie firms received credit from banks, State firms were seen as low-risk.
 
China’s banks told to stop lending to ‘zombie’ steel and coal firms
 
“The best way is less intervention from the government and ?allowing the market to play the decisive role,” Lu said.
 
Beijing has already targeted zombie companies for eliminating, but the progress is limited. The leadership should withdraw its “visible” hand from the economy, the report said.

Meanwhile, the idea of making state businesses “bigger and stronger” should also be reassessed, according to the report.
 
“It’s very hard to define ‘better’ or ‘stronger’, but it’s much easier to define ‘bigger’,” the report said.
 
“If state-owne denterprises keep expanding … it will inevitably lead to more excessive capacity and, therefore, more zombie companies.”
 

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