• 經濟學人的金融中心特別報導

    英國的經濟學人雜誌在九月中的時候出版了一本關於金融中心的特別報導,雖然這期的天下有翻譯其中三篇文章(原文:123),不過,建議對當代金融中心研究有興趣的人可以看整個報導。

    這幾篇報導雖然不脫Sassen對Global Cities的研究,但還是有一些有趣的東西。

    好比說,關於「城市」與「國家」之間的關係。在「Magnets for money」這篇文章裡,作者一開始寫到:
    Unlike the walled medieval city-states, today's financial centres are increasingly dependent on their connections to one another. Technology, the mobility of capital and the spread of deregulation around the globe have created a vibrant and growing network. When one city is asleep, another is wide awake, so trading goes on round the clock. The number of transactions between financial centres has surged recently as investors have diversified across regions and asset types.
    這就不免讓人想到,從Arrighi那本「漫長的二十一世紀」到Taylor的「世界城市網絡」,「國家角色」其實一直是一個關鍵議題。有學者或許會很直接地認為,在全球化的時代,國家的管制(regulation)功能應該被取消掉,國家甚至不應該成為議題。不過,這份報告的另一篇文章,「The rules of the game」卻提醒我們,即使在美國華爾街:
    Even as technology, capital flows, product innovation and clients are racing ahead to become increasingly global, regulation is still rooted in the era of the nation-state. “Sovereignty is going to remain,” says Mr Tafara. It seems that Main Street still has a voice on Wall Street.
    另一個有趣的討論是關於金融中心的功能。過往的研究多半把金融中心視為「一種功能」,Sassen則是很含糊的把許多功能通包起來,而「Boutique shopping」這篇文章的副標:
    If you can't be the biggest, offer something special
    則是很直接的告訴我們,除了「大」金融中心以外,還有「專業化」這條路可走(台商籌資中心?)。「All shapes and sizes」這篇文章裡概述了亞太地區不同金融中心(香港、上海、新加坡、東京)的定位與策略,「A bouquet of desert flowers」這篇文章談的則是中東的杜拜。

    當然,金融中心的策略必然與交易所的改革有關,「Marketplaces on the move」提到「demutualisation, diversification and globalisation」三個趨勢:
    Demutualisation is an industry term for the end of market ownership by a small, privileged group of “seat owners”. Seat ownership typically confers not only the right to trade but also a say over the way an exchange is governed. But a growing number of these insiders' clubs have voted to end their exclusive ownership rights and sell shares in the exchanges to public shareholders. This has mostly resulted in greater efficiency, new investment in modern trading technology and a better deal for investors.

    Diversification, means the exchanges are trading a broader range of products. For most of their history, stockmarkets traded companies' shares in the countries or regions where they were based. Derivatives exchanges grew up offering contracts for the future delivery of commodities that were often produced, imported or widely traded nearby. These days exchanges trading derivatives are highly imaginative in creating new products. They have expanded well beyond commodities to offer contracts tied to anything from foreign currencies to the weather.

    Globalisation, is really another sort of diversification. This can involve the listing of foreign shares or depository receipts, alliances to exchange information or technology, or cross-border mergers. By reaching across national boundaries, exchanges are offering their customers a new mix of products as well as reducing costs and increasing profits. However, as in any cross-border merger they run the risk of over-complexity and integration difficulties. They also expose themselves to issuers who may not be governed by the robust accounting standards of the world's leading financial centres.
    最後,但不是最不重要的,是關於金融中心內部的社會議題,尤其是收入、階級與居住空間兩極化的現象。「Enduring attraction」這篇文章就在談這件事。而從西方都市研究來看,一個有趣的現象是,過去這些金融精英的居住空間是「郊區化」,如今,卻重新回到市區(不過,他們當然是住在Gated Community),甚至是與金融區比鄰而居(或許是因為市中心才有風格生活吧,呵呵)。相較之下,一般工人,或中產階級(看你怎麼定義)的居住空間則離市中心越來越遠,通勤時間甚至可以拉長到一個小時。
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    1 comment:

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