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克鲁格曼:躲避绝境

几个月前,坠入深渊的可能性似乎实在太真实。在某些方面,2008年末的金融恐慌严重程度堪比20世纪30年代的银行业恐慌,而且有段时间,主要经济指标—-世界贸易、世界工业生产、甚至是股票价格—-都在以1929-30年或更快的速度下滑。

Paul Krugman 克鲁格曼

Averting the Worst

躲避绝境

zinnia译,人文与社会编辑小组校

August 9, 2009


So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.

如此看来,我们终究还是躲过了第二次大萧条。是什么拯救了我们?从根本上说,是“大政府”。


Just to be clear: the economic situation remains terrible, indeed worse than almost anyone thought possible not long ago. The nation has lost 6.7 million jobs since the recession began. Once you take into account the need to find employment for a growing working-age population, we’re probably around nine million jobs short of where we should be.

要搞清楚的是:经济形势依然糟糕,甚至要比不久前任何人想象的还糟。自经济衰退开始以来,国民失业人数达670万。一旦你考虑到不断增长的适业人口的就业需求,我们离本应有的水平差约900万个岗位。

And the job market still hasn’t turned around — that slight dip in the measured unemployment rate last month was probably a statistical fluke. We haven’t yet reached the point at which things are actually improving; for now, all we have to celebrate are indications that things are getting worse more slowly.

就业市场依然未好转—上个月算出的失业率微降可能属统计偶然。我们并未到事情实际好转的时候;当下我们所能庆贺的迹象是事情变糟的速度更慢了。

For all that, however, the latest flurry of economic reports suggests that the economy has backed up several paces from the edge of the abyss.

然而,尽管如此,最近疾风骤雨般的经济报告则暗示经济已从悬崖边退回好多步。

A few months ago the possibility of falling into the abyss seemed all too real. The financial panic of late 2008 was as severe, in some ways, as the banking panic of the early 1930s, and for a while key economic indicators — world trade, world industrial production, even stock prices — were falling as fast as or faster than they did in 1929-30.

几个月前,坠入深渊的可能性似乎实在太真实。在某些方面,2008年末的金融恐慌严重程度堪比20世纪30年代的银行业恐慌,而且有段时间,主要经济指标—-世界贸易、世界工业生产、甚至是股票价格—-都在以1929-30年或更快的速度下滑。

But in the 1930s the trend lines just kept heading down. This time, the plunge appears to be ending after just one terrible year.

但是,20世纪30年代的趋势线保持下行。而这次,骤跌似乎只是在历经惨痛的一年后便接近尾声。

So what saved us from a full replay of the Great Depression? The answer, almost surely, lies in the very different role played by government.

是什么挽救了我们,让大萧条未能重演?答案几乎很确定地在于政府扮演了不同的角色。

Probably the most important aspect of the government’s role in this crisis isn’t what it has done, but what it hasn’t done: unlike the private sector, the federal government hasn’t slashed spending as its income has fallen. (State and local governments are a different story.) Tax receipts are way down, but Social Security checks are still going out; Medicare is still covering hospital bills; federal employees, from judges to park rangers to soldiers, are still being paid.

可能在这次危机中,政府角色最重要的方面并非政府之所为,而是政府之所不为:与私营经济不同,联邦政府并未因其收入减少而削减开支。(州及当地政府则另有说法。)税单减少,但社保金依然放行;医保依然覆盖医疗费;从法官到园林员到士兵,联邦职员依然正常获取工资。

All of this has helped support the economy in its time of need, in a way that didn’t happen back in 1930, when federal spending was a much smaller percentage of G.D.P. And yes, this means that budget deficits — which are a bad thing in normal times — are actually a good thing right now.

所有这些都在紧要关头支撑着经济,这种方式在20世纪30年代并未发生,那时联邦政府开支占GDP比重也要更小,这意味着预算赤字—-在正常时期是不好的事—-如今确实成了件好事。

In addition to having this “automatic” stabilizing effect, the government has stepped in to rescue the financial sector. You can argue (and I would) that the bailouts of financial firms could and should have been handled better, that taxpayers have paid too much and received too little. Yet it’s possible to be dissatisfied, even angry, about the way the financial bailouts have worked while acknowledging that without these bailouts things would have been much worse.

除了这个“自动”稳定效应,政府也介入拯救金融部门。你可能要争论(我也会)金融公司的救市计划本能且本应该做得更好,纳税人付出太多却收益甚微。在对金融救市运作方式不满意,甚至是恼怒的同时,也是可以承认没有这些救市措施事情将会更糟。

The point is that this time, unlike in the 1930s, the government didn’t take a hands-off attitude while much of the banking system collapsed. And that’s another reason we’re not living through Great Depression II.

关键是政府并没有采取顺其自然之态, 这不同于20世纪30年代在银行系统大部分瘫痪时。这也就是我们如今能躲过第二次大危机的另一个原因。

Last and probably least, but by no means trivial, have been the deliberate efforts of the government to pump up the economy. From the beginning, I argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the Obama stimulus plan, was too small. Nonetheless, reasonable estimates suggest that around a million more Americans are working now than would have been employed without that plan — a number that will grow over time — and that the stimulus has played a significant role in pulling the economy out of its free fall.

最后可能也是最不重要的,但绝不是无关紧要的,是政府为推动经济所作的深思熟虑的努力。一开始,我认为被称为奥巴马经济刺激计划的《美国复苏和再投资法案》实在是太小了。但是,合理预计表示,得益于这项计划,与假设不施行这项计划相比,美国就业人数增加了约100万人—这数字将日益增加—-而且经济刺激方案挽救经济的自由下落方面扮演了重要的角色。

All in all, then, the government has played a crucial stabilizing role in this economic crisis. Ronald Reagan was wrong: sometimes the private sector is the problem, and government is the solution.

总的来说,政府在此次经济危机中扮演了一个至关重要的稳定角色。罗纳德. 里根错了:有时,私营经济是问题,而政府则是解决方式。

And aren’t you glad that right now the government is being run by people who don’t hate government?

你难道不高兴吗?现在是不讨厌政府的人在运行政府。

We don’t know what the economic policies of a McCain-Palin administration would have been. We do know, however, what Republicans in opposition have been saying — and it boils down to demanding that the government stop standing in the way of a possible depression.

我们无法知道麦凯恩-裴琳政府的经济政策本将如何。然而我们却知道,共和党所反对的东西正在说明问题---他们的观点总结起来就是要求政府停止阻拦大萧条的发生。

I’m not just talking about opposition to the stimulus. Leading Republicans want to do away with automatic stabilizers, too. Back in March, John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that since families were suffering, "it’s time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we ‘get’ it." Fortunately, his advice was ignored.

我并非仅仅讨论反对经济刺激。共和党领袖也希望消灭自动稳定器。回顾三月份,众议院少数党领袖,约翰.博纳声明,由于美国家庭正在遭受苦难,“政府是时候勒紧裤腰带以示美国人民我们‘收到’(信号)了 。”值得庆幸的是,他的意见被忽视了。

I’m still very worried about the economy. There’s still, I fear, a substantial chance that unemployment will remain high for a very long time. But we appear to have averted the worst: utter catastrophe no longer seems likely.

我依然十分担心经济状况。我担心失业率依然很可能将长期居高。但是我们显然已经避免了绝境:彻底的灾难不再可能。

And Big Government, run by people who understand its virtues, is the reason why.

 原因便是:理解政府优点者运行了“大政府”。

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