《经济学人》:美国经济总是找借口
日期:2011-06-09 10:35

(单词翻译:单击)

The economy
美国经济

Excuses, excuses
总是找借口

A litany of special factors exposes the recovery’s fragility
次危机中的连环利空因素揭露美国脆弱的复苏

RECOVERIES from financial crises are usually subdued, but America’s is starting to look comatose. On May 26th the government said GDP grew by an annualised 1.8% in the first quarter, identical to its preliminary estimate. Economists had hoped for an upward revision. Worse, as signs of weakness accumulate, forecasters have trimmed estimates for the current quarter from around 3.5% they were projecting a month ago to 2.7% or less now.

金融危机后的经济复苏总是温和的,但是美国的复苏现在看上去有点疲软。在5月26日,美国政府声称在第一季度,美国的国内生产总值按年度计算增长了1.8%,这与之前的估计数字相一致。经济学家们本来希望经济增长率会有一个向上的修正。随着一系列的疲软迹象的增加,现在,经济预测员们把当前季度的经济增长估计值从上个月所预测的3.5%调整到了2.7%或者更低的数字。

Last December an agreement between Barack Obama and the Republicans to extend George Bush’s tax cuts and enact new ones led to forecasts of 3% to 4% growth this year. But the new consensus rate of 2.6%, for a recovery now two years old, is barely above America’s long-term potential and scarcely enough to bring unemployment down. To be sure, the post-crisis imperative for banks and households to reduce their debt meant a V-shaped rebound was never on the cards. Even so, this is a terrible performance.

去年12月,奥巴马和共和党人士之间在关于延长小布什的税收减免和颁布新的减税政策的事项上达成了一致,这使得人们对今年的经济增长有了3%到4%的预测。但是,近期的被公认的2.6的增长率几乎不能显示美国的长期增长潜力,这也不足以使失业率下降,因为到现在,复苏已经维持了两年之久。可以肯定的是,后经济危机迫使银行和家庭降低自身的负债,这意味着v字型的经济反弹是不可能发生的。

Economists have found themselves repeatedly making excuses. First it was the snowstorms. Then it was Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster which crimped the supply of parts to car assembly plants in America. Then, as the snow melted, floods ravaged Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, and tornadoes battered Alabama and Missouri. America has suffered five incidents of extreme weather this year, each inflicting at least $1 billion in damage.

经济学家们发现自己在不断地为自己的错误预测寻找托词。第一次推脱给了暴风雪。之后又推脱给了创伤美国汽车装配工厂零件供给的日本的地震、海啸以及核泄漏事故。再者,由于冰雪的融化,洪水又在阿肯色州、密西西比州、密苏里州和田纳西州肆虐。今年,美国经济在五场极端气候事件中受创,每一次都至少造成了10亿美元的损失。

The most important special factor has been petrol. Prices jumped from $3 per gallon at the end of December to $3.90 in early May. That has siphoned off much of the purchasing power that consumers should have extracted from December’s tax agreement and subsequent gains in employment. Total consumer spending rose at just a 6.7% annual rate in the three months to the end of April, but most of that increase was eaten up by inflation. Real spending grew by a paltry 2.2%.

对经济来说,最重要的次危机因素一直是石油。石油价格从去年12月末的3美元一加仑一直涨到了今年5月前期的3.9美元一加仑。油价的上涨摄取了绝大多数消费者原本可以从12月的减税政策以及之后再就业的收益中汲取的购买力。在直到4月底的3个月中,全社会的消费者支出刚好以年增长率计算增长了6.7%,但是这次增长的多数被通胀吞噬了。真实的消费支出的增长不足2.2%。

Still, Wall Street expects the economy to perk up in coming months as those special factors begin to fade. Petrol prices have slipped in the past three weeks as monetary policy has tightened in emerging markets. Employment seems still to be rising, albeit at a slower rate. (May figures were to be released after The Economist went to press.) And rebuilding after the floods and tornadoes may deliver a fillip in the second half of the year.

由于这些次危机的不利因素开始消失,华尔街还是期望在接下来的几个月中,经济会活跃起来。在过去的三周中,由于新兴市场中所实行的货币紧缩政策,石油的价格下滑了。就业似乎还在上涨,即便是以缓慢的速度。(在经济学人进行采访后,将会公布5月的数据)洪水和龙卷风过去之后的重建工作可能在下半年中给经济带来一个刺激。

Yet if one-offs can so easily depress growth, that only underlines how fragile the economy’s underpinnings are. More evidence of that fragility came in the GDP report’s sharp downward revisions to households’ real after-tax incomes in late 2010 and early 2011. It now appears that consumers have maintained their sluggish pace of spending only by saving less. Since GDP measured by income should equal GDP measured by spending, the poor income data suggest the GDP figures may have to be revised down.

然而,如果突发事件能如此轻而易举地压制增长,这只是凸显了美国的经济基础是如此的脆弱。在2010年末和2011年初,在国民生产总值报告中对家庭实际税后收入的急剧下调,为这种脆弱提供了更多的证据。现在,消费者们似乎在通过减少储蓄来维持他们增长迟缓的消费步伐。由于用收入法来计算GDP和用支出法来计算GDP应该得到相等的结果,所以,疲软的收入数据意味着GDP可能不得不向下调整。

To make matters worse, house prices in March fell to a new post-crisis low. Betsy Graseck of Morgan Stanley reckons they’ll fall another 10% to 12% over the next year. That is only one of many reasons she says banks are cautious about lending: they are also facing tougher scrutiny of their underwriting by regulators and buyers of their mortgages.

在5月,房价降到了后经济危机时期的新低,这使得问题变得更糟糕。摩根史坦利公司的Betsy Graseck估计房价在未来的一年里会再下降10%到12%。这只不过是Betsy Graseck所支出的多个关于银行为什么对惜贷的原因中的一个:另外,银行还面对审查者和他们的抵押贷款购买者的严厉审查。

Both Mr Obama and the Republicans are casting about for cheap ways to boost the economy. On May 26th the White House announced it had found several hundred rules it could eliminate or scale back. The same day, Republicans released a collection of mostly sensible ideas such as passing free-trade agreements and clearing the patent office’s backlog. But their main plank is that the federal government slash spending. “Families are tightening their belts and sticking to a budget—and Washington should too,” said Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the House. Maybe so, but spending less when households are in no shape to pick up the slack seems a sure-fire way to keep an anaemic recovery off-colour.

奥巴马和共和党人士都想构造出重振经济的廉价方法。5月26日,白宫方面宣布它可以废除或者缩减几百条条款。同一天,共和党人士发布了一系列最令人敏感的想法,比如通过自由贸易协议和清除专利局积压的专利。但是,他们主要的政纲是消减联邦政府支出。白宫里的共和党多数派领导Eric Cantor指出: “家庭们正为他们的债务勒紧裤腰带,同时严格遵守自己的支出预算,所以政府也应该这么做。”也许是这么做是对的,但是当家庭们还没有收起怠惰的状态的时刻就消减政府支出似乎是一个使原本就没什么活力的复苏继续萎靡的可靠选择。

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重点单词
  • consensusn. 共识,一致,合意 n. [生理]交感
  • scalen. 鳞,刻度,衡量,数值范围 v. 依比例决定,攀登
  • measuredadj. 量过的,慎重的,基于标准的,有韵律的 动词me
  • patentn. 专利,特许 adj. 专利的,显著的 vt. 批准
  • identicaladj. 相同的,同一的
  • subduedadj. 减弱的;被制服的;被抑制的 v. 使服从,压制
  • enactvt. 制定法律,扮演
  • performancen. 表演,表现; 履行,实行 n. 性能,本事
  • recoveryn. 恢复,复原,痊愈
  • sensibleadj. 可察觉的,意识到的,实用的 n. 可感知物