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全球经济动荡不安,美国能否自保

更新时间:2016/1/13 9:50:53 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Can U.S. Remain an Island of Stability in the Global Economy?
全球经济动荡不安,美国能否自保

The Chinese stock market is plummeting so fast that authorities there keep shutting it down. North Korea set off a bomb in a nuclear test. Two of the Middle East’s great powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are eyeing each other menacingly. In the European Union, political extremists are on the rise, migrants are pouring in and Britain may drop out (three phenomena that are not unrelated).

中国股市下跌如此之快,以至于中国监管机构一再关闭股市。朝鲜开展核试验,引爆了一颗核弹。中东地区两个最强的国家沙特阿拉伯和伊朗,正在怒目对视。在欧盟,极端的政治立场正在增强,移民正在涌入,英国可能会退出欧盟(这三个现象并非互不相关)。

And in the United States, the number of people filing unemployment claims is hovering near the lowest levels in four decades, the jobless rate may well fall below 5 percent for the first time since 2007, and whatever the noise on the presidential campaign trail, Congress recently passed bipartisan legislation to keep the government running comfortably into next year.

而在美国,申领失业救济的人数停留在40年来的最低水平附近,失业率很可能在2007年以来首次下降到5%以下。此外,无论竞选中的候选人们如何聒噪,国会两党最近合作通过了一项立法,确保政府可以安然运转到明年。

Seven days in, 2016 is shaping up to be a chaotic year in global economics and geopolitics, with profound challenges nearly everywhere. Except, for now at least, in the world’s largest economy. The American economy is acting as a steadying force in a volatile world.

进入2016年已经七天,这一年在全球经济和地缘政治方面都趋于混乱,几乎所有地方都面临着深远的挑战。到目前为止,全球最大的经济体还是一个例外。美国经济在动荡的世界里,成了一股稳定性的力量。

A giant question for 2016 — not just for Americans but for people across the globe who benefit from having one of the world’s major economic engines revving while others putter — is how resilient the United States will prove to be.

世界大型经济体中美国还在正常运转,其他经济体却遇到了麻烦,这一点让全球很多人受益。2016年的一个大问题是,美国抵御冲击的能力究竟有多强,这个问题不仅与美国人有关,还与世界各地因美国经济而受益的人有关。

On one hand, in an interconnected global economy, troubles in one place can spread easily, whether through financial markets, the banking system or trade linkages. Just Thursday the World Bank downgraded its forecast of 2016 global growth, which implies less demand for American products around the world — and fewer jobs for American workers.

另一方面,在紧密联系的全球经济中,一个地方遇到的麻烦很容易就会蔓延,无论是通过金融市场、银行体系,还是贸易联系。就在周四,世界银行(World Bank)调低了2016年的全球增长预期,这预示着全世界对美国产品的需求会降低——美国工薪阶层的就业岗位也会减少。

On the other hand, in the past the United States has shown an uncanny tendency to benefit economically from tumult abroad.

另一方面,过去国外出现经济动荡时,美国常常会出人意料地获得经济利益。

“The United States may not have incredibly robust economic growth and has plenty of problems you can point to,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a geopolitical consultancy. “But from a stability perspective, when things are more unstable the United States in some ways gets stronger” as both people and invesment dollars gravitate to the nation’s relative stablity.

“或许美国经济并没有惊人的强劲增长,也可以指出它的很多问题,”地缘政治咨询机构欧亚集团(Eurasia Group)总裁伊恩·布雷默(Ian Bremmer)说。“但从稳定的角度来看,局面比较不稳定的时候,美国可以通过某种方式变得更强”,因为人员和投资都会因为美国的相对稳定,而受到吸引。

The truth is, not one of the problems that have flared across financial news tickers so far in 2016 is completely new or surprising. Rather, they are continuations of trends that were well established in 2015.

事实上,2016年到目前为止,财经新闻里冒出来的问题,没有哪个是全新或出人意料的。它们其实延续了2015年即成的趋势。

And as disturbing as it may be to see tensions rise between the nations on either side of the Persian Gulf, conflict in the Middle East is not exactly new. Usually the way those tensions ripple through the global economy is by driving the cost of oil up; instead, the opposite is happening.

尽管波斯湾两侧的两个国家之间紧张局势开始加剧,这让人很担忧,然而中东地区的冲突并不完全是新问题。这种紧张局面对全球经济产生冲击的方式,通常是驱使石油价格提高,然而现在发生的情形恰恰相反。

Oil prices fell to $37 a barrel from around $53 a barrel over the course of last year, and are now under $34. The Shanghai Composite Index fell sharply starting in June of last year, and even after steep declines in the opening days of 2016 is above its late-August level (though it is anybody’s guess how much it would have fallen absent a string of government interventions to try to stanch the declines).

石油价格在去年一年从每桶53美元,下降到了37美元,现在则降到了34美元以下。上证综合指数去年6月开始遭遇重挫,尽管2016年开局的几天时间里也大幅下跌,但仍高于8月底的水平(不过谁都不知道,如果政府没有采取一系列干预措施来遏制颓势,行情会下跌到何种程度)。
 
Economic growth has been slowing not just in China but across many emerging markets, including Brazil and Nigeria, for two years now. Europe and Japan are growing only barely, and even formerly hot advanced economies like Canada are suffering from the commodity glut.

不仅中国的经济增长出现放缓,许多新兴市场国家也出现了放缓,包括巴西、尼日利亚,而且放缓态势现在已经延续了两年。欧洲和日本几乎没有增长,曾经蓬勃增长的发达经济体,如加拿大,也因大宗商品供过于求而面临压力。

Against that gloomy backdrop, the consensus economic forecasts for the United States — the International Monetary Fund forecasts 2.8 percent growth in 2016 — look pretty terrific. The American stock market indexes, despite the global sell-off and major hits to oil companies’ earnings, remain above their September levels.

在这种悲观的背景下,对于美国经济增长预期的共识显得相当不错——国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)预期美国2016年会增长2.8%。尽管全球市场下行,石油企业营收受到冲击,但是美国股市的指数仍然高于去年9月的水平。

But there are two basic questions about the notion that the United States can serve as an island of economic and political stability in a messy world.

但美国能在混乱的世界中,成为一个经济和政治都稳定的孤岛的想法,却面临着两个基本问题。

First, what happens if that changes? Second, what happens if it doesn’t?

首先,如果事情起了变化,会发生什么?其次,如果不变,又会发生什么?

The “things change” scenario is the risk that these global headwinds become too powerful for the United States to overcome.

“事情起变化”的情形所构成的风险是,全球经济的逆风太强,美国无法克服。

Already, oil producers and their suppliers are suffering. The American industrial sector is groaning under the weight of a strong dollar, which drives up the price of exported goods. That’s a consequence of the mismatch between growth in the United States and the rest of the world.

石油生产者和它们的供应商已经承受了压力。由于美元走强,美国的出口商品价格提高,于是美国工业界在重压之下痛苦不堪。这就是美国增长与世界其他地区局面的错配产生的后果。

The strength in the service sector and the broader consumer economy in the United States has offset any damage so far. But the 2008 crisis showed how the global economy is intertwined in ways that are hard to predict — and that’s before accounting for the geopolitical dangers from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula that could cause major economic disruptions if they take a dark turn.

美国服务业及更广泛的消费经济的强劲势头,冲抵了目前遭遇的冲击。但2008年的危机显示出,全球经济会以始料未及的方式纠缠在一起——而且这还没有考虑中东和朝鲜半岛可能发生的地缘政治危险,如果那里的问题出现恶化,就可能会极大地干扰经济。

If something does go wrong, the usual buffers in the global economy look to be weakened or nonexistent right now. Government deficits are high in much of the world, and even where they aren’t, political leaders have shown no desire to open the spending floodgates in an effort to boost economies. If the American economy were to slump and President Obama were to ask the Republican Congress for fiscal stimulus, it would give new meaning to “Dead on Arrival.”

一旦有什么问题出了差池,就会很麻烦,因为全球经济中通常存在的缓冲器目前似乎受到了削弱,甚至已不复存在。在世界很多国家,政府赤字都很高,在那些赤字不高的国家,政治领袖也没有表现出扩大开支,从而支撑经济的意愿。如果美国经济走软,奥巴马总统就需要请求共和党控制的国会批准财政刺激——到时候经济恐怕就无药可救了。

And central banks have flooded the world with so much easy money that it’s not clear what further benefit new efforts would have — why, for example, would we try a fourth round of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve?

各国央行也已经向全球注入了太多廉价的资金,并不清楚采取新举措还能进一步产生什么效果。比如,为什么要尝试让美联储(Federal Reserve)实行第四轮量化宽松呢?

Then there’s the less obvious risk from this mismatch between what is happening in the United States and the rest of the world — the risk of what happens if it doesn’t change.

此外还有不太明显的风险,即美国的状况与世界其他地方的状况之间的错配——如果这种局面不改变,会产生怎样的风险?

During the years running up to the 2008 crisis, the United States served as the global consumer of last resort. Americans kept shopping when the rest of the world hunkered down. The side effect of that role in the global economy was constantly increasing debt, which in the pre-crisis era frequently took the form of mortgage-related securities.

在2008年危机爆发之前的数年里,美国为全球充当了“最终消费者”的角色。其他国家俭省节约的时候,美国人一直在购物。在全球经济中扮演这一角色的副作用是债务不断提升,而这在危机之前的时期,时常表现为债务抵押债券的形式。

The longer other global economies remain a mess and the United States remains on a relatively steady course, the more these same forces will reassert themselves. This means that an ever-strengthening dollar will hobble American exporters while fueling an American consumption binge. Broadly, it would mean that crisis-era hopes of a more balanced global economy might not come to fruition.

全球其他经济体处在混乱之中,而美国相对稳定的局面持续得越久,同样的这些力量就越会重新发挥作用。这意味着不断走强的美元会伤害美国的出口企业,进而诱发美国人大肆消费。更广泛的后果则是,这或许意味着危机时期的那种让全球经济更平衡的希望,可能不会成为现实。

In other words, the best thing that could happen for the global economy would be for the mismatch between the United States and the rest of the world to end — and not because the United States falters. Rather, it would happen if Europe and Japan achieved more rapid growth, China managed its shift toward a more consumer-driven economy and other emerging markets weathered a tough year while continuing their progress toward stable and sustainable growth.

换句话说,全球经济最好的局面将是,美国与世界其他地区之间的错配能够结束——而且手段不能是让美国跌跟头,而是要让欧洲和日本取得更快的增长,中国实现转型,让经济更多地由消费驱动,其他新兴市场挺过艰难的一年,仍然继续成长,并实现稳定和可持续的增长。

It’s a tall order for a world full of unpredictable risks. Good thing 2016 has another 51 weeks to go.

但对于这个充满了无法预测的风险的世界,上述要求未免苛刻。2016年能否一帆风顺,还要看未来的51个星期。

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