《经济学人》:美国经济,全是借口
日期:2011-06-13 11:00

(单词翻译:单击)

The economy 美国经济

Excuses, excuses 全是借口

A litany of special factors exposes the recovery’s fragility
一长串的特殊原因暴露出经济恢复十分脆弱

Jun 2nd 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition



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.

从金融危机中恢复过来通常是一个缓慢而艰难的过程,但美国的恢复进程似乎就要陷入休克。5月26日,政府说一季度GDP按年增长率来计算增长了1.8%,与初始估算相符。经济学家们曾经希望实际情况可以更加乐观。更糟糕的是,由于经济疲软的迹象累加,预测者从一开始就把对当前季度的预测从一个月前的3.5%左右将到了2.7%,现在可能会更少。

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,奥巴马与共和党达成协议延长小布什的税收减免政策,并颁布了新的政策,这使得专家对今年经济增长的预测达到3%-4%。但如今经济恢复已经长达两年之久,公认的增长率为2.6%。这一增长率仅仅略高于美国的长期潜能,但若想降低失业率,还是力道不足。当然,对于银行以及家庭来说,后危机时代最重要的事即减少债务,这意味着经济V型的回升几乎不可能。即便是这样,现在的状况也算是糟糕的了。

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不停的找借口。最开始是暴风雪。然后是日本的地震、台风,还有影响供应美国汽车组装工厂配件的核灾难。后来,由于冰雪融化,洪水袭击了阿肯色、密西西比、密苏里、田纳西,而且阿拉巴马和密苏里也遭遇龙卷风。美国今年已经经历了5场极端天气,每一场都会带来至少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%.

最为重要的一个特殊因素是石油。一加仑的石油从12月底的三美元涨到5月初的3.9美元。这大大削弱了消费者的购买力,这些购买力本来可以根据12月的税收协议释放出来的,并且可以用来改善就业情况。消费者的总消费量截止到四月底的三个月中仅仅增长了6.7%,但大多数增长量又被通货膨胀抵消了。实际的增长量仅为微小的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.

不过华尔街的专家们仍然希望在未来的几个月中经济能回暖,因为那些特殊因素正在削弱。由于新兴市场的货币政策缩紧,石油的价格在过去的三周内有所回落。就业率一直在回升,尽管速度较以前更为缓慢。(5月份的数据在《经济学人》付送印刷之后将要发布。)而且洪水以及龙卷风后重建也可以刺激下半年的经济。

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.

不过,如果突发事件可以如此轻易的抑制增长,则这只能凸显经济的地基有多么不稳固。有更多的例子来证明这种不稳固,比如2010年底以及2011年初的GDP报告中,家庭实际税后收入大幅下降。现在看来,消费者完全是靠少存钱来维持他们缓慢的消费增长。由于通过收入来计算的GDP应该与通过开销来计算的GDP相同,所以统计收入的糟糕的数据表明GDP数值应该再降低一些。

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.

三月房价创下金融危机后的新低更是雪上加霜。摩根斯坦利的Besty Graseck认为房价会在明年再降10%-20%。这也只是她说的众多银行借款非常谨慎的原因之一,另外银行也面临来自他们抵押贷款的管制者以及购买者对于包销更为严格的审查。

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.

奥巴马和共和党都在异常努力的寻找便宜的方法来刺激经济。5月26日时白宫宣布他们发现有几百条规定可以被废除或者削弱。同一天,共和党宣布了一系列非常敏感的想法,例如通过自由贸易协议,清理专利办公室积压的工作。不过他们最重要的政策是联邦政府减少开支。“家庭都在勒紧裤腰带严格按照预算生活——华盛顿也应该如此,”共和党众议院多数党领袖Eric Cantor说。也许这样说没错,但当家庭无法提高消费能力时,政府减少开支也是保证这场貌似得了贫血症的经济恢复进程尽快恢复过来无可厚非的方法。

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重点单词
  • currentn. (水、气、电)流,趋势 adj. 流通的,现在的,
  • budgetn. 预算 vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算 vi.
  • unemploymentn. 失业,失业人数
  • weaknessn. 软弱
  • enactvt. 制定法律,扮演
  • measuredadj. 量过的,慎重的,基于标准的,有韵律的 动词me
  • announced宣布的
  • slackn. 松弛的部分,松散,淡季,中止 adj. 松弛的,不
  • emergingvi. 浮现,(由某种状态)脱出,(事实)显现出来
  • fell动词fall的过去式 n. 兽皮 vt. 砍伐,击倒 a