From Yang Qian

Value of Cooperatives in the Financial Crisis

The 2008 global financial crisis has dealt a heavy blow to the world economy. Till now, the recovery of the economy has still been rather slow. The American economy is lurching forward, the sovereign debt crises in the EU tend to worsen, the emerging markets are fighting against increasing inflation, the IMF keeps downgrading its forecast for economic growth and the global economy is full of uncertainties. This financial crisis prompted the political and business leaders in the world to have a rethink and triggered expert opinions and numerous symposia and academic papers. Apparently, the economic crisis has pushed the world towards a more rational direction.
Same as other types of economic organizations, cooperatives also endured the ordeal of the financial crisis. The book “Capital and the Debt Trap” now being published summarizes the development of cooperatives during economic crises with detailed data and proves to the world the value of cooperatives. The information provided by this report not only boosts the confidence of cooperatives in the world but also dispels a century’s doubts on the value of cooperatives.
The cooperative, as a corporate organization of joint ownership and democratic control, is an economic organization through which the weak safeguard their rights and interests. As a worldwide movement, cooperatives have existed for more than 160 years across the world. They have always contended against selfish and greedy capitalism. Today, cooperatives are playing a positive role in every social and economic sector. In the economy, cooperatives keep improving themselves amidst the competition with large capital and are becoming very important economic organizations. Relying on its fast expansion, capitalism is arrogant to cooperatives. This also prompts cooperatives to study relentlessly. However, the mock at cooperatives has never disappeared and the value of cooperatives has always been put in doubt. From “Capital and the Debt Trap”, we learn that the cooperative movement and enterprises are getting more mature in Europe, America and Asia and are bringing about a force of harmony for the world. Through the organizational form of cooperatives, numerous farmers and the weak form a power counterbalancing capital. They not only safeguard their way of self existence and their interests but also facilitate the solution of many contradictions during economic development in different countries at a lower social cost.
After observing the development practice of cooperatives in many countries, this book found that in the 2008 financial crisis, cooperatives universally outperformed other types of economic organizations. Particularly, in comparison with the avaricious and unrestrained financial capital, cooperative banks have had a better performance and more reliable stability. In this unprecedented systemic crisis, the stable development of cooperatives fully reflects the fact that cooperative organizations sticking to the principle of democratic control can more effectively cope with market uncertainties. We have seen that when the systemic risk of the financial crisis emerged, the capitalist system built on the basis of greed was like a shoddy building which cannot withstand a single blow. For impartiality and efficiency – a time-honored proposition, obviously government officials, scholars and people in business circles in the world have one more case for thinking and one extra brand new perspective. No doubt, efficiency obtained to the detriment of the future is not what the world really wants, while the balance brought about by the development of cooperatives and the contribution of cooperatives to society also prove to the world the overall superiority of the cooperative system.
This book is a very good reference to the governments of the countries which are entering the age of the new economy. To the world economy, which is being globalized, harmony is a perpetual theme of development. However, our world still has many imperfections. The unbalanced development of the world is getting more obvious and the Matthew Effect is ubiquitous both inside a country and throughout the world. This reminds us of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers during the British Industrial Revolution and the concept of cooperative which they established. Today is different from the situation 160 years ago. What is happening in the world is an information revolution stirred up by the virtual world. Under the push of financial capital, its influence on the world is much more intensive and far-reaching than the influence created by steam engines. The theme of balanced development is meeting a challenge which is grimmer that that encountered 160 years ago. No country can keep its economy away from the challenge. Economic development alone can hardly secure social stability. The government should fulfill its duties. It not only should develop the economy but also needs to strike a balance. Obviously, cooperatives are a force which must be reckoned with.
China as an emerging market economy adopted cooperatives late. In 2007, China enacted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Specialized Farmers Cooperatives, creating a good legal environment for the development of cooperatives. At present, China has more than 400,000 registered specialized farmers’ cooperatives and this figure is increasing at a speed of 10,000 a month. Supply and marketing cooperatives as traditional cooperative organizations in China are currently trying to establish a rural commodity circulation network and develop specialized farmers’ cooperatives in the light of the Chinese Government’s plan for reforming supply and marketing cooperatives. In the last three years, the business scale of supply and marketing cooperatives has ascended to a higher stage every year. The gross sales amount exceeded one trillion yuan in 2008 for the first time, surpassed 1.2 trillion yuan in 2009 and reached 1.563697 trillion yuan in 2010, 1.7 times as much as that in 2007, up by 18.53% every year on average. The 21,602 grassroots cooperatives in China realized 353.873 billion yuan of gross sales amount and 1.16 billion yuan of profit in the year, up by 77.8% and 152.2% as compared to 2007. 54,817 specialized farmers’ cooperatives of various types were established, doubling the 2007 number. There were 219,700 village-level multi-purpose service centers, 42,300 more than in 2007 and covering above one third of the villages of China. Although China has not avoided the impact of the worldwide financial crisis, and while the impact of the financial crisis made itself continuously and increasingly felt, Chinese supply and marketing cooperatives have been growing by leaps and bounds, showing their value with strong Chinese characteristics. We are proud that the performance of Chinese cooperatives is totally consistent with the assessment made in “Capital and Debt Traps”. In the territory covered by the International Cooperative Alliance, China is becoming an increasingly brilliant region.
This book prompts us to pay tribute to the ideal pursued by the forerunners of cooperatives. In the past 160 years, new elements of the times have continuously been added into the ideal of cooperative, but they have always stuck to humanistic principles that are to the opposite of capitalism. This unprecedented financial crisis has made people see the greater brilliance of humanism. We have good reasons to believe that, after successfully resisting the financial crisis, the international cooperative movement will be in a more favorable condition to play its role in economic development and gain more opportunities to make contributions to mankind.

Yang Qian
Director of Training Center, All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives
Director of International Cooperative Exchange Center of China, All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives

Chinese version

金融危机中的合作社价值

2008年全球金融危机重创了世界经济,至今经济的复苏依然十分缓慢,美国经济复苏的脚步沉重蹒跚,欧盟的主权债务危机则有愈演愈烈的危险,新兴市场国家则正在与越来越明显的通货膨胀较量,国际货币基金组织不断下调经济增长的预期,全球经济发展前景充满了太多的不确定性。对这场金融危机,全球的政商领袖都在进行反思,各行各业的专家发表言论,无数的研讨会和学术论文,经济危机显然使全世界朝着越来越理性的方向发展。
与其他类型的经济组织一样,在金融危机中,合作社也同样经受着考验。最新出版的《资本与债务陷阱》一书用非常详实的资料总结了处于经济危机过程之中的合作社发展,不失时机的向世界证明了合作社的价值。这份报告所提供的信息,不仅提振全球合作社组织的发展信心,而且回答了100多年来有关合作社价值的疑问。
合作社作为一种共同所有和民主控制的企业组织,是弱者维护自我权益的经济组织,作为一个世界性运动,在全球发展已经超过160年的历史。它一直在与自私、贪婪的资本主义抗争。今天,合作社已经在社会经济各个方面都发挥着积极的作用。在经济发展中,合作社始终在与大资本的竞争中完善自己,成为非常重要的经济组织。资本主义以其高速的膨胀傲慢地对待合作社,也促使合作社不断学习。但是,对合作社的嘲笑始终没有消失,对合作社的价值始终存在争论。借由《资本与债务陷阱》一书,我们看到了从欧洲到美洲再到亚洲,合作社运动以及合作社企业愈加成熟,带给世界的是一股和谐的力量。无数的农民以及经济发展中的弱者,通过合作社的组织形成与资本抗衡的力量,不仅维护了自我生存的方式和利益,也使得不同国家经济发展中的很多矛盾容易解决,降低了社会成本。
本书在考察多国合作社的发展实践后发现,在2008年的金融危机中,合作社的表现普遍优于其他类型的经济组织,特别是与贪婪而失去节制的金融资本相比,合作社银行不仅有着更加良好的业绩,而且有着更加可靠的稳定性。在这样一个前所未有的系统性危机中,合作社的稳定发展充分反映出坚持民主控制原则的合作社组织能够更加有效的应对市场的不确定性。我们看到,在金融危机系统性风险发生的时候,建筑在贪婪理念基础之上的资本主义系统如同一个不堪一击的大厦。对公平与效率这样一个古老的命题,全世界的政府官员、学者和企业界的人士显然又多了一个思考案例和全新的角度。牺牲未来所换来的效率显然不是这个世界真正的需要,而合作社发展所带来的均衡以及对社会的贡献,也向世界证明了合作社制度的综合优越性。
本书对正在步入新经济的世界各国的政府具有非常明显的借鉴意义。在日益全球化的世界经济发展中,和谐始终是发展的主题。然而,我们这个世界依然有很多不完美的景象。世界发展的不平衡现象愈加明显,马太效应无论是在一国之内还是在世界范围内都普遍存在。这使我们不由不想起在英国工业革命时期发端的罗虚代尔公平先锋社,以及它所确立的合作社制度的理念。今天与160年前不同的是,世界范围内正在发生的是虚拟世界搅动的信息革命,伴随金融资本的推波助澜,远比蒸汽机给世界所带来的影响要深刻和深远的多。但是,均衡发展的主题却比160年前遇到了更大的挑战。一国经济已经很难独善其身,且单纯的经济发展已经很难带来社会稳定,政府要履行自己的职责,不仅要发展经济,更要追求均衡,而合作社与合作社企业显然是一支值得重视的力量。
中国作为一个新兴市场国家,合作社的发展起步较晚。2007年,中国通过了《中华人民共和国农民专业合作社法》,为合作社的发展创造了良好的法律环境,目前中国注册的农民专业合作社已经超过40万家,而且正在以每月1万家的速度增长;中国传统的合作社组织供销合作社也在根据中国政府对供销合作社的改革安排,努力建设农村商品流通网络,发展农民专业合作社,近三年来,供销合作社经营规模一年一个新台阶。2008年销售总额首次突破1万亿元人民币,2009年突破1.2万亿元人民币,2010年突破1.5万亿元人民币,达到 15636.97亿元人民币,是2007年1.7倍,三年来年均增长18.53%,全国21602个基层合作社社,全年实现销售总额3538.73亿元人民币,利润11.6亿元人民币,分别比2007年增长77.8%和152.2%。组织农民兴办的各类专业合作社54817个,比2007年增长近一倍。村级综合服务站21.97万个,比2007年增加4.23万个,覆盖了全国三分之一以上的行政村。世界性的金融危机虽然也对中国经济形成了冲击,但是中国的供销合作社则在金融危机影响不断深化过程中获得了长足发展,以浓重的中国特色体现了合作社的价值。我们非常自豪的是,中国合作社的表现与《资本与债务陷阱》一书所做出的判断是完全一致的。在国际合作社联盟的版图中,中国正在成为愈加靓丽的区域。
本书让我们更加感慨于合作社的先人们所追求的理想。经过160年的洗礼,合作社的理想在现实中不断被加入时代的元素,但至今依然坚守着与资本相对立的人本原则。一场旷世的金融危机让人本原则闪烁出更多耀眼的光芒。我们有理由相信,国际合作社运动在抵御了金融危机的冲击后,更有条件在经济发展中发挥作用,也更有机会为人类做出自己的贡献。

杨谦
中华全国供销合作总社培训中心主任
中华全国供销合作总社国际交流促进中心主任

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