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巴菲特:通货膨胀如何欺诈股票投资者

www.eastvalue.cn 更新时间:2011-6-3 新闻来源:《财富》杂志1977年5月号Barrons翻译
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  导读:核心问题在于:股票市场的资本回报率没有随着通货膨胀而上升,而似乎是停滞在了12%

  股票在通货膨胀环境下像债券一样表现不佳,这已经不是个秘密。在过去10年里,我们一直处于这种通胀环境里。确实,这是一个股票遇到麻烦的时期。但是,在这段时间里造成股票市场难题的原因仍然没有被人们完全理解。

  在通胀时期债券持有者所遇到的问题一点也不神秘。当美元月复一月地贬值,一种本金和收入都用美元支付的证券不会是个大赢家。你根本不需要一个博士学位就能搞懂这个问题。

  一直以来,人们认为股票是不同的。多年来,传统智慧坚持认为股票是对通货膨胀的对冲。这个说法来源于一个事实,那就是股票不像债券一样是对美元的所有权,而是对有着生产设施的公司的所有权。因此,股票投资者们相信,无论政客们如何印钞票,股票投资者仍然能保持他们投资的实际价值。

  但是为什么实际上不是这么回事?主要原因在于:我认为股票在经济实质上非常类似于债券。

  我知道我的主张对很多投资者来说显得古怪。他们马上就观察到债券的回报(利息)是固定的,而股票投资的回报(盈利)会每年变化极大。这确实是事实。但是,任何研究战后公司总体回报的人都会发现一个现象:资本回报率实际上并没有变化那么多。

  How Inflation Swindles the Equity Investor

  The central problem in the stock market is that the return on capital hasn’t risen with inflation. It seems to be stuck at 12 percent.

  by Warren E. Buffett, FORTUNE May 1977

  It is no longer a secret that stocks, like bonds, do poorly in an inflationary environment. We have been in such an environment for most of the past decade, and it has indeed been a time of troubles for stocks. But the reasons for the stock market’s problems in this period are still imperfectly understood.

  There is no mystery at all about the problems of bondholders in an era of inflation. When the value of the dollar deteriorates month after month, a security with income and principal payments denominated in those dollars isn’t going to be a big winner. You hardly need a Ph.D. in economics to figure that one out.

  It was long assumed that stocks were something else. For many years, the conventional wisdom insisted that stocks were a hedge against inflation. The proposition was rooted in the fact that stocks are not claims against dollars, as bonds are, but represent ownership of companies with productive facilities. These, investors believed, would retain their Value in real terms, let the politicians print money as they might.

  And why didn’t it turn but that way? The main reason, I believe, is that stocks, in economic substance, are really very similar to bonds.

  I know that this belief will seem eccentric to many investors. They will immediately observe that the return on a bond (the coupon) is fixed, while the return on an equity investment (the company’s earnings) can vary substantially from one year to another. True enough. But anyone who examines the aggregate returns that have been earned by companies during the postwar years will discover something extraordinary: the returns on equity have in fact not varied much at all.

  停滞的息票

  战后10年,一直到1955年,道琼斯工业指数里的公司的资本回报率是12.8%。战后的第二个10年,这个数字是10.1%。在第三个10年,是10.9%。财富500强(历史数据最早到50年代中期),这一个更大范围的数据显示了相似的结果:1955-1965年资本回报率11.2%,1965-1975资本回报率11.8%。这个数字在几个特殊年份里非常高(财富500强的最高值是1974年的14.1%)或者非常低(1958年和1970年是9.5%)。但是,过去这些年,总体上,净资产的回报率持续回到12%的水平。在通胀时期,这个数字没有显著超越这一水平。在价格稳定的时期净资产的回报率也没有超越这一水平。

  让我们先不把这些公司看成上市的股票,而是生产的企业。让我们假定企业的所有人按净资产价值购买了这些企业。如果是这样,这些企业的所有人自己的回报也是12%左右。由于回报如此固定,我们有理由把回报看成“股票的息票”。

  当然,在现实世界里,股票投资者并不只是购买并持有。相反,很多人在股票市场上反复买卖,试图战胜其它投资者,以获得公司盈利里面自己那部分的最大化。这种争斗,从总体上来说是无效的,对股票及股票自身的盈利无影响,却减少投资者的收益。因为这些活动会造成很高的摩擦成本,比如咨询费和交易费等。一个活跃的期权市场的引入根本无法增加美国企业的生产率,只不过是产生了给这个赌场配置数以千计的人手的需求。而摩擦成本则进一步升高。

  The coupon is sticky

  In the first ten years after the war - the decade ending in 1955 -the Dow Jones industrials had an average annual return on year-end equity of 12.8 percent. In the second decade, the figure was 10.1 percent. In the third decade it was 10.9 percent. Data for a larger universe, the FORTUNE 500 (whose history goes back only to the mid-1950’s), indicate somewhat similar results: 11.2 percent in the decade ending in 1965, 11.8 percent in the decade through 1975. The figures for a few exceptional years have been substantially higher (the high for the 500 was 14.1 percent in 1974) or lower (9.5 percent in 1958 and 1970), but over the years, and in the aggregate, the return on book value tends to keep coming back to a level around 12 percent. It shows no signs of exceeding that level significantly in inflationary years (or in years of stable prices, for that matter).

  For the moment, let’s think of those companies, not as listed stocks, but as productive enterprises. Let’s also assume that the owners of those enterprises had acquired them at book value. In that case, their own return would have been around 12 percent too. And because the return has been so consistent, it seems reasonable to think of it as an "equity coupon".

  In the real world, of course, investors in stocks don’t just buy and hold. Instead, many try to outwit their fellow investors in order to maximize their own proportions of corporate earnings. This thrashing about, obviously fruitless in aggregate, has no impact on the equity, coupon but reduces the investor’s portion of it, because he incurs substantial frictional costs, such as advisory fees and brokerage charges. Throw in an active options market, which adds nothing to, the productivity of American enterprise but re

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