FlyTitle: Buttonwood

A fictional fund manager on the agonies of stock-picking in a falling market

来听一听我们虚构的一位基金经理讲述在下行的市场中选股的苦恼【新冠报道】

经济学人双语版-投降式抛售 Capitulation

I SUSPECT THAT this not a common feeling, but part of me is excited about the crash in stock prices. It is the part of me with a personal-account portfolio. I have long-term financial goals. I want to hold equity risk, even as others run from it. If I can buy streams of cash flows at lower prices, I am happy. But another part of me, the professional who invests on behalf of others, is anxious. I try to fuse these two selves. It is not easy.

我猜这种感受不是很普遍,但股票价格暴跌让我感到兴奋。兴奋的是有个人账户投资组合的那个我。我有长期的财务目标。别人都在抛售股票逃避风险,而我还是想持有。如果能以较低的价格获得滚滚现金流,我就很开心。但另一个我——帮别人投资的那个专业人士——就很焦虑。我试着融合这两个我,但这并不容易。

In my lifetime there have been three bear markets in which the value of shares in aggregate has fallen by half. Perhaps this episode will be as bad—or worse. I don’t know. I can say this, though. For a long-term investor who doesn’t have to worry about perfect timing, there should be opportunities to buy good stocks at attractive prices. As a private investor, I can wait for risky bets eventually to pay off. My clients may not be so patient.

股票总价值跌去一半的熊市我这辈子遇到过三次。这一次也许会同样糟糕,甚至更糟。我也不知道。但我可以承认我不知道。对于一个不需要操心完美时机的长期投资者来说,应该有机会以诱人的价格买进好股票。作为一名私人投资者,我可以等着高风险的押注最终获得回报。而我的客户可能没这个耐心。

Nobody knows how this pandemic will play out. Lots of people claim to know, of course. A few of them will be right, by luck or judgment. That’s a matter for the scientists and for economists, too. The biggest insight I have gleaned from economics is that asset prices are set at the margin. The stock price on the screen is the one at which the most desperate seller and the bravest buyer are willing to do business. When the ranks of the first group overwhelm the second, the result is a rout—or capitulation, in market-speak.

没有人知道这场大流行病将如何结束。当然,很多人说自己知道。他们中的少数人会是对的,靠运气,或者靠判断力。这是科学家的问题,也是经济学家的问题。我从经济学中获得的最大洞见是,资产价格是由边际决定的。屏幕上的股票价格是最绝望的卖家和最勇敢的买家愿意交易的价格。当第一类人的数量压过第二类人时,就出现了崩溃,用市场行话说就是投降式抛售。

Every recession is unique. This one has the impact of a natural disaster or a nuclear accident. But every recession is also the same. You can never be sure how deep it will be, how long it will last and what scars it will leave. China has just experienced its sharpest downturn in a century. That is scary. But 2008 was scary. The dotcom bust was scary. I was a baby in 1974, but my old boss tells me that was scary. True, this is a different kind of scary. I call my parents every day to check how they are. I didn’t do that in 2008. (I wasn’t trading stocks in pyjamas on a weekday either.) This could be a savage recession. But it will be like other recessions in that there will be a recovery.

每次衰退都是独一无二的。这一次的影响堪比自然灾害或核事故。但每次衰退又都是一样的。你永远不知道它会有多严重,持续多久,留下怎样的伤疤。中国刚刚经历了一个世纪以来最严重的经济衰退。这很可怕。但2008年也很可怕。互联网泡沫破裂也很可怕。1974年时我还是个婴儿,但据我的老上司说那时候也很可怕。的确,这次的可怕不一样。我每天都给我父母打电话问他们好不好,2008年时我可没这么做。(那时候我也没在工作日穿着睡衣交易股票。)这可能会是一次非常严重的衰退。但和其他衰退一样,总会有复苏的一天。

In the meantime, stock prices can keep falling. I understand why people are selling. A lot are forced to. They may have borrowed to buy stocks and had their loans called by nervy lenders. Fund managers that promised low volatility must cut their equity risk. But capitulation is more than this. It is the dumping of stocks that have already fallen a long way. Retail investors are prone to it. But why would any professional do it? Well, sometimes you sell your duds so you don’t have to talk about them anymore—to the firm’s risk manager or to your clients. Owning a stock that goes to zero is too horrible to contemplate. So you sell. And sometimes you sell things that as a private investor you would hold onto or double-down on. Clients want you to take risk. But they don’t like what risk-taking looks like when it doesn’t work. Try explaining, after the fact, why you bought a stock two weeks before the firm went bankrupt, because you judged that, should it survive or be rescued, you stood to make ten times your money.

与此同时,股价可能会继续下跌。我理解人们为何抛售。很多人是被迫的。他们可能是借钱买股票,然后被紧张兮兮的贷方追债。承诺低波动性的基金经理必须降低股票风险。但投降式抛售不止如此。投降式抛售是抛掉已经跌了很长一阵子的股票。散户往往会这么做。但为什么还有专业人士也这样呢?这个嘛,有时候你把手上亏损的股票卖了,就不必再跟公司的风险经理或你的客户谈论它们了。持有一只跌至零的股票太可怕了,想都不敢想。所以就卖了。而有时候卖掉的股票是你作为散户会持有甚至加倍下注的。客户希望你冒险,但冒险不成功时,他们就不喜欢了。你想想,事后该怎么解释你在某家公司破产前两周买了它家的股票,因为你判定要是它能撑下来或被救,就可以赚十倍的钱。

I am lucky. I have been in the top-quartile of stockpickers. So I have earned the trust to make risky bets in a falling market. A good portfolio in a recession is not necessarily a good portfolio for when the economy recovers. I know that at some point I am going to have to change tack. I would have to be a genius to time this shift perfectly. And I am not a genius. The best I can hope for is not to get it too badly wrong.

我挺幸运。我一直是排在前四分之一的股票高手。所以我赢得了信任,能在市场下跌时做高风险押注。经济衰退时表现好的投资组合在经济复苏时不一定好。我知道到某个时刻我必须改变策略。我得是个天才才能完美地把握转向的时机。而我不是天才。我能期望的最好结果就是别弄得太糟。

My instinct is to be contrarian, to buy what others now hate. Some industries, such as oil, are outside my comfort zone. The politics of OPEC are too messy for me to fathom. But I have an eye on mining companies with attractive dividend yields and low debt. If China’s economy rebounds, they will benefit. And, yes, I am absolutely looking at airlines. A national champion or two is bound to be saved. In the right situation, I might make a lot of money for clients. Dislocation on this scale will take out the weaker players in every industry. The best companies will emerge even stronger. I hope I pick the right ones.

我的直觉是反向操作,买别人现在讨厌的股票。有些行业在我的舒适区之外,比如石油。欧佩克的勾心斗角太混乱了,我理解不了。但我在留意股息收益率诱人、债务较低的矿业公司。如果中国经济反弹,它们会从中受益。还有,没错,我绝对会考虑航空公司。一两家国家龙头航空公司肯定会被保下来。条件合适时,我说不定能给客户赚不少钱。这么大规模的混乱会让每个行业的弱者出局。最好的公司会更加强大。希望我能选对。

There will come a time when the market surveys the whole panorama—bad businesses cleared out; interest rates even lower; fiscal policy in the pipeline; cheaper stocks—and changes direction. I have to be ready for that. The S&P 500 is America’s capital stock. It will survive (or most of it will). People will want to fly, stay in hotels and go to restaurants and coffee bars again. I have to keep that in mind always. I feel queasy. But this is the game I have chosen to be in.

总有一天,市场会纵览全局,看到糟糕的企业被清理出局、利率甚至更低了、财政政策正在酝酿,有更便宜的股票。然后市场就会改变方向。我必须为此做好准备。标普500指数公司是美国的股本,它们会存活下来(或者其中大部分会)。人们还是会想要坐飞机、住酒店、下馆子、泡咖啡厅。我必须时刻牢记这一点。我有点心神不宁。但这是我选择参与的游戏。