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0005-Economist翻译训练—Time for a double dip?

(2011-08-11 02:29:05)
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杂谈

分类: Economist笔译训练

America's economy 美国经济

Time for a double dip? 二次探底的时候到了?

A lousy debt deal, rising fears of a recession, the danger of longer-term stagnation: America’s outlook is grim

债务协议一塌糊涂,衰退之忧与日俱增,长期经济停滞若隐若现:美国前景堪忧

Aug 6th 2011 | from the print edition 2011年8月6日| 来自打印版本

0005-Economist翻译训练—Time <wbr>for <wbr>a <wbr>double <wbr>dip?

THIS ought to have been a good week for the American economy. The country’s leaders at last ended a ludicrously irresponsible bout of fiscal brinkmanship, removing the threat of global financial Armageddon by agreeing to raise the federal debt ceiling. Yet far from heaving a sigh of relief, investors are nervous. Stock markets around the world have tumbled. On August 2nd, the day the debt deal was signed, the S&P 500 index saw its biggest one-day fall in over a year, and yields on ten-year Treasury bonds dropped to 2.6%, their lowest level in nine months, as investors sought safety.

美国经济在这周本应表现良好。但该国领导人最终以滑稽且不负责任的财政边缘政策而收场——同意提高联邦债务上限,这一决定消除了可能引发全球金融灾难的隐患。然而,这还不足以让那些紧张的投资者松一口气。全球股票市场受挫。8月2日,就在债务协议签署当天,美国标普500指数遭遇一年来最大单日跌幅,十年期债券收益率下跌至2.6%,这是其九个月来的最低水平,投资者们都纷纷寻找更安全的投资。

It is not all to do with America: the euro zone is a mess and manufacturing everywhere seems to be slowing. But America’s prospects have suddenly darkened. Statistical revisions and some grim new figures have revealed a weaker-than-assumed recovery that has all but ground to a halt. Once stalled, an economy can easily tip back into recession, particularly if it is hit by a new shock—as America’s is about to be, thanks to a hefty dose of fiscal tightening made worse by the debt deal. The odds of a double dip over the coming year are uncomfortably high, perhaps as high as 50%.

不仅是美国,欧元区也是一片混乱,各地的制造业似乎都放缓了复苏的脚步。但是美国的前景顿时黯淡下来。统计数据的修订和最近披露的糟糕数字显示,比预期还差的复苏几乎要停滞不前了。一旦停滞,经济就很容易重陷衰退,特别是遭受新的冲击时。正如美国即将要面对的那样,债务协议的达成为紧缩的财政政策打了一针强心剂。不幸的是,来年经济二次探底的可能性可能高达50%。

America’s recovery from a balance-sheet recession was always bound to be sluggish and fragile. And its woes need not fell the world economy, thanks to the strength of emerging markets. But the thoughtlessness of the debt deal—notably its failure to tackle any of the real sources of America’s fiscal problems, such as entitlement spending—raises a bigger worry. Can the country’s politicians, so starkly polarised and so willing to gamble with the economy, be trusted not to turn what was always an inevitable period of hardship into longer-term stagnation?

美国从资产负债失衡的衰退中产生的复苏总是缓慢且脆弱的。但得益于新兴市场的力量,美国的经济悲哀不会导致世界经济的崩溃。但是债务协议考虑并不周全,明显不能从根本上解决美国的财政问题,比如弹性支出,而这将会引发更大的担忧。已经明显两极化的美国政治家们,不惜拿美国的经济做赌注,人们是否还能相信他们不至于将一次不可避免的艰难时期变成一次长期的经济衰退?

 

The fin rising to the surface 初露端倪

Begin with the state of the recovery. On July 29th America’s government statisticians published revisions to the past few years of GDP statistics. They showed that the 2008 recession was deeper than first thought, and the subsequent recovery flatter. Output has not yet regained its pre-recession peak. And the feeble recovery is petering out. Over the past year output has grown by a mere 1.6%, well below what most economists consider to be the economy’s underlying growth rate, and a pace that has in the past almost always been followed by recession. Over the past six months the United States has eked out annualised growth of merely 0.8%. Even observers who, like us, had expected America to bounce along near the bottom for a while had not expected growth to be this low.

先从复苏状态说起。7月29日美国政府的统计学家公布了过去几年GDP数据的修订,结果显示2008年的衰退比开始想象的更为严重,随后的复苏也不尽人意。产值仍未重新回到衰退前的峰值,本已乏力的复苏正在消失殆尽。过去一年里产值仅增长了1.6%,远远不及大多数经济学家预计的增长率,以往出现这样的增长速度,随之而来的通常都是衰退。过去6个月里,美国一直在竭力维持其年仅0.8%的增长率。像我们这样的旁观者,曾预计美国经济会在谷底反弹一段时间,却不曾料到会目睹如此之低的增长率。

Temporary factors have played some role in this. Soaring oil prices crimped consumer spending. The Japanese earthquake disturbed supply chains. In some industries, notably car production, a rebound is plainly under way. But the overall economy is now so weak that it would take a lot to get growth up to a reasonable rate. And there are some signs that the temporary shocks may have left a more lasting dent on the psyche of firms and shoppers. That is why the newest figures are so disconcerting. Consumer spending fell in June; consumer confidence slumped in July, as did manufacturers’ orders. Of course, these are early, incomplete, snapshots, but the chances of a double dip over the coming year, which seemed relatively small only a month ago, have risen alarmingly.

其中也有一些临时性因素带来的影响。飙升的油价抑制了消费者支出;日本地震扰乱了供应链。在某些行业,特别是汽车制造业,正出现平缓的复苏迹象。但是目前,经济整体呈现疲软,仍需付出更多努力才能增长到一个合理的水平。有迹象表明,短暂的冲击可能对企业和消费者留下更持久的精神创伤。这也是为什么最新披露的数字如此令人不安的原因。消费者支出6月份下滑,7月份消费者信心也出现了下滑,制造商订单缩水。当然,这些都只是早期不完整的迹象,但是美国经济在来年两次探底的可能性,已经由原先预计的相对较小,上升到令人担忧的程度。

If that happens, then America’s politicians will bear much of the blame. Their prescription for a weak economy is a large slug of austerity. Thanks to the expiry of a payroll-tax credit and extended jobless benefits in December, the United States is on course for a fiscal contraction of some 2% of GDP next year, the biggest of any large economy—and enough to drag a weak economy into recession.

如果来年真的发生二次探底,那么美国的政治家将遭受更多的指责。他们采取大量的紧缩政策来应对疲弱的经济。但是由于工资税减免政策的终止和失业福利延长至12月份,美国明年的财政紧缩将占到GDP的2%,对任何一个强大的经济体来说,这个数字都足以将本已疲软的经济拖入衰退。

The debt deal, which implies only modest new spending cuts in the short term, is not directly responsible for this. But Congress could, and should, have stopped this potentially ruinous trajectory. There was a deal to be had: keep up spending in the short term, with a stress on much-needed infrastructure investment, as well as extending the temporary tax cuts, in exchange for a big medium-term reduction in the deficit, centred on entitlements and tax reform. Congress did precisely the opposite, failing to support the economy now and failing to find enough cuts over the next decade to stabilise America’s debt. Any hard decisions have been given to a commission—a cop-out that condemns workers and firms to more crippling uncertainty about how the country’s fiscal mess will be tackled. Would you build a factory today if you knew that taxes had to rise eventually, but had no idea which ones?

债务协议对短期内新增开支的削减影响不大,并不能直接导致经济的衰退。但是国会本可以,也应该阻止这个具有潜在破坏性的趋势。这个协议本应该是:保持短期内开支,将重点放在急需的基础设施投资,延长短期税务减免政策,争取一次较大幅度的中期财政赤字削减,削减的中心将围绕弹性开支和税务改革。而国会的做法恰恰相反,没能对现在的经济提供良好的支持,也未能在接下来的十年内找出足够的削减项目以稳定美国的债务状况。任何的艰难决定都扔给了委员会,这种彻头彻尾的逃避行为迫使工人和企业越发怀疑国内的财务混乱局面还能否得到解决。如果你知道税率早晚要上涨,只是不知道是哪一种税,那你今天还会投资建厂吗?

Worse, the poisonous politics of the past few weeks have created new sorts of uncertainty. Now that the tea-partiers have used default successfully as a political weapon, it will surely be used again. The refusal to compromise, rapidly becoming a point of honour for both parties, is wreaking damage elsewhere, partially shutting down the Federal Aviation Administration and postponing trade bills. At best, the politicians will have slowed a sputtering expansion; at worst they will have killed off the recovery and inflicted lasting harm on the world’s most impressive prosperity machine.

更糟糕的是,前几周的政治毒瘤已经制造了新的不确定因素。既然茶党成功地使用了违约这一政治武器,那他们也必将会再次使用。拒不妥协很快变成了双方引以为豪的资本,但这种做法却在其他方面产生了破坏性影响,比如部分关闭联邦航空管理局,推迟贸易法案。最好的预计是,这些政客会减缓这种乏力的增长;最坏的打算是,他们会扼杀经济复苏,给这个世界上最繁荣的国家带来持久的伤害。

 

In the land of the blind the one-eyed Fed is king

在盲人成群的地方,独眼的美联储就成了国王

Does it have to be this way? Not necessarily. Barack Obama or one of his Republican challengers may yet discover the courage to tell the truth about the American economy in next year’s presidential election. But given the politicians’ current uselessness, the only institution with the power to avert danger is the Federal Reserve. With interest rates so low, that means more quantitative easing. Printing more money is justifiable in the circumstances, but still a tool offering diminishing returns. Fiscal help would have been much better.

一定要这样吗?不见得。贝拉克-奥巴马和他的某位共和党挑战者都还没有勇气在明年的总统大选时说出美国经济的真实情况。但是鉴于目前政客们无所作为,唯一能扭转这种危险局面的夜就只有美联储了。如此低的地率,就意味着需要更多的量化宽松政策。印制更多的钞票在当下并不是毫无道理,但仍然只是一种事倍功半的方法。提供财政支持才是更好的选择。

If America does manage to avoid recession and slowly begins to pull out of this mire, it will be testimony to its underlying strengths. It still has huge advantages over other rich countries: a younger, less-taxed population, a more innovative economy and, for now at least, the dollar as the global reserve currency. If only it had the political leaders to match, its chance of avoiding recession would be far better than one in two.

如果美国真的能够摆脱经济衰退,慢慢地脱离现在的困境,这将成为其潜在实力的最好证明。相对其他的富有国家,美国仍有其巨大的优势:人口年轻化且税务负担轻,经济创新性强,还有至少现在还在全球普遍流通的美元货币。如果辅以杰出的政治领导人,那么美国避免经济衰退的可能性将远远高于50%。

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