FlyTitle: The economic emergency

Governments are spending big, and trying new tricks, to keep the world economy from falling dangerously sick

各国政府正花费巨资并祭出新招,以防世界经济陷入危险的困境【新冠报道】

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A  CHARACTER IN a novel by Ernest Hemingway once described bankruptcy as an experience that occurs “two ways: gradually, then suddenly”. The economic response to the covid-19 pandemic has followed this pattern. For weeks policymakers dithered, even as forecasts for the likely economic damage worsened. But in the space of just a few days the rich world has shifted decisively. Many governments are now on a war footing, promising massive state intervention and control over economic activity.

海明威小说中的一位人物曾经将破产描述成“以两种方式”发生的经历:“先是逐渐地,然后突然地。”对新冠肺炎大流行的经济反应也遵循了这种模式。在很多个星期里,尽管对可能发生的经济损失的预期越来越差,决策者们一直踌躇不前。然而在短短几天之内,富裕世界就发生了毅然决然的变化。许多政府现在都处于战争状态,承诺大规模干预并控制经济活动。

The new phrase on politicians’ lips is “whatever it takes”—a line borrowed from Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in 2011-19. He used it in 2012 to convince investors he was serious about solving the euro-zone crisis, and prompted an economic recovery. Mr Draghi’s promise was radical enough. Politicians are now proposing something of a different magnitude: sweeping, structural changes to how their economies work.

政客们挂在嘴边的新说法是“不惜一切代价”,这是从2011至2019年担任欧洲央行行长的马里奥·德拉吉(Mario Draghi)那里借来的一个表述。他在2012年用这句话来向投资者证明自己对解决欧元区危机这桩事是认真的。这在当时促进了经济复苏。德拉吉的承诺已经足够激进了,但政客们现在提议的东西是另一个量级的——对经济运作方式实施大范围的结构性改变。

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There are unprecedented promises. On March 16th President Emmanuel Macron of France declared that “no company, whatever its size, will face the risk of bankruptcy” because of the virus. Germany pledged unlimited cash to businesses hit by it. Japan passed a hastily compiled spending package in February, but on March 10th supplemented it with another one that included over ¥430bn ($4bn) in spending and almost four times as much in cheap lending. Britain has said it will lend over £300bn (15% of GDP) to firms. America may enact a fiscal package worth well over $1trn (5% of GDP). The most conservative estimates of the total extra fiscal stimulus announced thus far put it at 2% of global GDP, more than was shovelled out in response to the global financial crisis of 2007-09.

这些承诺是空前的。3月16日,法国总统马克龙宣布,“任何公司,不论大小,都不会因为病毒面临破产的风险”。德国承诺向遭受病毒打击的企业提供无限现金援助。日本在2月通过了一项仓促制定的支出方案,但在3月10日又补上了一个方案,其中包括超过4300亿日元(40亿美元)的支出,以及四倍于此的廉价贷款。英国已表示将向企业提供超过3000亿英镑的贷款(占GDP的15%)。美国可能会颁布价值超过1万亿美元(占GDP的5%)的一揽子财政方案。按最保守的估计,迄今宣布的财政刺激方案总额也已占到全球GDP的2%,超过了为应对2007至2009年金融危机做出的努力。

That sinking feeling

不祥的预感

In part this radical action is motivated by the realisation that the coronavirus, first and foremost a public-health emergency, is also an economic one. The jaw-droppingly bad economic data coming out of China hint at what could be in store for the rest of the world. In the first two months of 2020 all major indicators were deeply negative: industrial production fell by 13.5% year-on-year, retail sales by 20.5% and fixed-asset investment by 24.5%. GDP may have declined by as much as 10% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020. The last time China reported an economic contraction was more than four decades ago, at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

采取这种激进的行动在某种程度上是由于人们认识到,冠状病毒虽然首先且最重要的是一个公共卫生事件,但也是一个经济紧急事件。中国糟糕的经济数据令人瞠目,这也暗示着世界其他地方将会遭遇什么。2020年的前两个月,所有主要指标都非常负面:工业产出同比下降13.5%,零售额下降20.5%,固定资产投资下降24.5%。2020年第一季度GDP可能同比下降多达10%。中国上一次报告经济收缩是在40多年前,当时文化大革命刚刚结束。

Grim numbers are starting to pile up elsewhere, not so much in the official statistics, which take time to be published, as in “real-time” economic data produced by the private sector. Across the world, attendance at restaurants has fallen by half, according to OpenTable, a booking platform. International-passenger arrivals at the five biggest American airports are down by at least 30%. Box-office receipts have crumpled (see chart 2).

严峻的数字开始在其他地方累积。官方统计数据看起来还好,因为需要过一段时间才会发布,但私营部门产生的“实时”经济数据则十分明显。根据预订平台OpenTable的数据,全球餐厅客流量下降了一半。美国五个最大机场的入境国际旅客人数降幅达至少30%。电影票房收入一蹶不振(见图2)。

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The disruption to international travel will hurt trade, since over half of global air freight is carried in the bellies of passenger planes. The combination of disrupted supply chains and depressed demand from shoppers should hit trade far harder than overall GDP, if the experience of the last financial crisis is anything to go by. Already, the American Association of Port Authorities, an alliance of the ports of Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States, has warned that cargo volumes during the first quarter of 2020 could be down by 20% or more from a year earlier.

国际旅行的中断将损害贸易,因为全球航空货运的一半以上是由客机的腹舱运送的。如果上一次金融危机的经历确有一些参考价值的话,供应链中断和购物者需求低迷结合起来,对贸易造成的冲击要远大于对GDP总量的冲击。美洲港务局协会(加拿大、加勒比海地区、拉丁美洲和美国港口组成的联盟)已经警告说,2020年第一季度的货运量可能比去年同期下降20%或更多。

Official data are now starting to drip out. The Empire manufacturing index, a monthly survey covering New York state, in March saw its steepest drop on record, and the lowest level since 2009. In February Norway’s jobless rate was 2.3%; by March 17th it was 5.3%. State-level numbers from America suggest that unemployment there has been surging in recent days.

官方数据现在开始点滴流出。纽约州月度调查“帝国制造业指数”3月录得有史以来最大跌幅,也是自2009年以来的最低水平。2月挪威的失业率为2.3%,到了3月17日已升至5.3%。美国的州级数据表明近日失业率在急升。

All this is fuelling grim forecasts. In a report on March 17th Morgan Stanley, a bank, estimated that GDP in the euro area will fall by an astonishing 12% year-on-year in the second quarter of the year. The Japanese economy is forecast to contract by 2% this quarter and 2% next. Most analysts see global GDP shrinking in the first half of the year, with barely any growth over 2020 as a whole—the worst performance since the financial crisis of 2007-09.

所有这些都加剧了悲观的预测。摩根士丹利银行在3月17日的报告中估计,欧元区的GDP在今年第二季度将同比下降多达12%。预计日本经济本季度将萎缩2%,下季度再萎缩2%。大多数分析师都认为,上半年全球GDP萎缩,整个2020年将几乎没有增长——这会是自2007至2009年金融危机以来最糟糕的表现。

Even that is likely to prove optimistic. On March 17th analysts at Goldman Sachs noted that they had “not yet built a full lockdown scenario” into their forecasts for advanced economies outside Europe. Forecasts for America, which is at an earlier stage than Europe and Asia when it comes to the outbreak, remain Panglossian; very slow growth in China and a big recession in Europe could by itself be enough to send the world’s largest economy the same way. Steven Mnuchin, America’s treasury secretary, warned last week that the country’s unemployment rate could reach 20% unless Congress passes a stimulus package. A negotiating ploy? With shopping malls emptying, factories grinding to a halt and financial markets buckling, lawmakers may be loth to challenge the claim.

但即便是这些预测也可能太乐观了。3月17日,高盛的分析师指出,他们“尚未将完全封锁的情况”纳入对欧洲以外发达经济体的预测中。比起欧洲和亚洲爆发,美国所处的阶段尚早,对它的预测仍然过分乐观;而中国非常缓慢的增长和欧洲的严重衰退本身就足以使世界最大的经济体落入同样的下场。美国财政部长史蒂芬·姆努钦上周警告说,除非国会通过一揽子刺激方案,否则美国的失业率可能会达到20%。这是个谈判策略吗?商场空无一人,工厂陷入停顿,金融市场崩溃,议员们可能不愿意去质疑这一主张。

Despite stomach-churning declines in GDP in the first half of this year, and especially the second quarter, most forecasters assume that the situation will return to normal in the second half of the year, with growth accelerating in 2021 as people make up for lost time. That judgment is in part informed by China’s experience. More than 90% of its big industrial firms are officially back in business. Its stockmarket had been one of the world’s worst performers in early February but is now the best (or rather, least bad). There remains, however, a risk that global containment and suppression of the virus will need to continue for a year or longer. If so, global economic output could be dragged down for much longer than most people expect.

尽管今年上半年,特别是第二季度的GDP下降令人揪心,但大多数预测者认为情况将在下半年恢复正常,而随着人们弥补损失的时间,2021年的增长将加速。这种判断部分是根据中国的经验得出的。中国超过九成的大型工业公司正式恢复了运营。中国股票市场在2月初曾是全球表现最差的市场之一,但现在却是表现最好的(或着说是最不差的)。但是,需要花一年或更长时间在全球抑制病毒的风险仍然存在。如果是这样,全球经济产出被拖累的时间可能会比大多数人的预期要长得多。

Perhaps the greatest lesson of the global financial crisis was that it paid to act decisively and to act big, convincing markets and households that policymakers were serious about countering the slump. If done right, central banks and governments can end up doing a lot less than they actually promised. A pledge to bail out banks makes it less likely savers will withdraw deposits and make a rescue necessary.

也许从全球金融危机获得的最大教训是,采取果断而宏大的行动,使市场和家庭相信政策制定者在认真地应对经济下滑,是有好处的。如果做得好,各地央行和政府最终所做的可能比实际承诺的要少得多。对银行纾困的保证可降低储户急于提取存款而导致银行需要救援的可能性。

This time around, central banks sprang into action. Since February the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates by 1.5 percentage points. Other central banks have followed suit. Further deep rate cuts are not possible, though; interest rates were very low long before the virus began to spread.

央行这次出手可谓迅捷。自2月以来,美联储已将利率降低了1.5个百分点。其他央行也纷纷效仿。不过,再要大幅降息已不可能了。早在病毒开始传播之前很久,利率就已经很低了。

Let’s get fiscal

上财政手段吧

Not all central banks are acting as boldly as they can. China has room to cut interest rates—its benchmark rate is 1.5%—but has held back in part because inflation is quite high (largely as a result of African swine fever, which hit pig stocks, raising prices). Central banks could try more creative policies. On March 19th the ECB’s governing council agreed to launch a €750bn bond-buying programme, covering both sovereign and corporate debt. But the real action is now taking place on the fiscal front.

并非所有央行都已尽其所能。中国还有降息的空间(基准利率为1.5%),但一定程度上由于通胀偏高(主要原因是非洲猪瘟影响了生猪存量,导致价格上涨)而未有动作。中央银行可以尝试更具创造性的政策。3月19日,欧洲央行理事会同意启动一项7500亿欧元的债券购买计划,涵盖主权债务和公司债务。但是,现在真正的行动是在财政方面。

Governments are falling over each other to offer bigger and better stimulus packages. All countries are spending more on health care, both in an effort to find vaccines and cures and to increase hospital capacity. However, the bulk of the extra spending is on companies and people.

各国政府正在竞相提供更大更好的刺激方案。所有国家都在医疗上投入更多资金,以期寻找疫苗和治疗方法,并提高医院的容量。不过,额外支出中的大头是用于企业和民众。

Take companies first. China, where the outbreak has slowed, is now trying to get people out and buying things. Foshan, a city in Guangdong province, has launched a subsidy programme for people buying cars. Some cities have started giving out coupons that can be spent in local shops and restaurants. Nanjing this month gave out e-vouchers worth 318m yuan ($45m).

先说企业。中国的疫情已经缓和,现在正努力让人们出门买东西。广东省佛山市已经启动了一项购车补贴计划。一些城市已经开始发放购物券,可在当地的商店和餐馆消费。本月南京发放了价值3.18亿元人民币的电子购物券。

Most countries, however, are in or about to enter the worst part of the outbreak. As customers dry up, many firms will go bust without government help. Calculations by The Economist suggest that 40% of consumer spending in advanced economies is vulnerable to people shunning social situations. Firms in leisure and hospitality are especially rattled. The Moor of Rannoch hotel, in about as rural a part of Scotland as it is possible to find, says its insurer will not be paying out a penny for lost custom, since covid-19 is a new disease and thus not covered under its policy.

但是,大多数国家正在或即将进入疫情最严重的阶段。随着客户枯竭,没有政府帮助的话会有许多企业破产。本刊的计算表明,人们避开社交场合会影响发达经济体中40%的消费者支出。休闲和招待类企业首当其冲。位于苏格兰乡村最偏僻地区的兰诺克沼地酒店(Moor of Rannoch)说,它投保的保险公司不会因酒店无人光顾而赔付一分钱,因为新冠肺炎是一种新疾病,不在其保险范围内。

One approach is to reduce firms’ fixed costs, largely rent and labour. China’s finance ministry will exempt companies from making social-security contributions for up to five months. The government has also temporarily cut the electricity price for most companies by 5% and enacted short-term value-added-tax cuts. The British government has extended a one-year business-rates holiday to all companies operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Yet for many firms, no matter how much the government helps them reduce costs, revenues are likely to fall further.

一种方法是减少企业的固定成本,主要是租金和人力成本。中国财政部将免征企业社保缴费最多五个月。政府还暂时将大多数公司的电价下调了5%,并颁布了短期增值税削减计划。英国政府已为所有零售、酒店和休闲行业企业免征一年的营业房产税。然而,对于许多企业而言,无论政府如何帮助它们降低成本,收入都很可能进一步下降。

So measures may be needed to allow firms to maintain cashflow. Many banks are offering hefty overdrafts to tide corporate clients over. To encourage banks to keep lending, Britain has promised them cheap funding and state guarantees against losses. For very small firms, many of which do not borrow at all, it is offering non-repayable cash grants of up to £25,000.

因此,也许需要采取措施帮助企业保持现金流。许多银行都提供大量透支,以帮助企业客户渡过难关。为了鼓励银行继续放贷,英国向他们承诺提供便宜的资金和国家对损失的担保。对于非常小的公司(其中许多公司根本没有借款),它正在提供最高25,000英镑的无需偿还的现金补助。

Other countries are enacting similar plans. The Japanese government is helping small firms by mobilising its state-owned lenders to provide up to ¥1.6trn of emergency loans, much of it free of interest and collateral requirements. Small firms qualify for help if their monthly sales fall at least 15% below a normal month’s takings. Bavaria, a rich state in Germany, announced on March 16th that small and medium-sized companies with up to 250 employees could receive an immediate cash injection of between €5,000 and €30,000. The European Commission has already relaxed state-aid rules so that governments can channel help to ailing companies.

其他国家也在制定类似的计划。日本政府动员其国有放款人提供至多1.6万亿日元的紧急贷款来帮助小企业,其中大部分没有利息和抵押要求。如果小企业的月销售额比正常月份少至少15%,就有资格获得帮助。德国富裕的巴伐利亚州于3月16日宣布,拥有不超过250名员工的中小型企业可以立即获得5000至30,000欧元的现金注入。欧盟委员会已经放宽了国家援助的规定,以便政府向陷入困境的企业提供帮助。

The second part of the fiscal response is about helping people, and in particular protecting them from being made unemployed or suffering a drastic drop in income if that does happen. Ugo Gentilini of the World Bank counts more than 25 countries that are using cash transfers as part of their economic response to the virus. Brazil will give informal workers, who make up roughly 40% of the labour force, 200 reais ($38) each. Small businesses will be allowed to delay tax payments and pensioners will get year-end benefits early. Australia is instituting a one-time cash payment of A$750 ($434) to pensioners, veterans and people on low incomes.

财政对策的第二部分是帮助民众,特别是保护人们免于失业或收入剧减的冲击(如果发生的话)。世界银行的乌戈·吉蒂利尼(Ugo Gentilini)称,有超过25个国家把现金转移支付加入了针对病毒的经济对策。巴西将给约占劳动力的40%的非正式工人提供每人200雷亚尔(38美元),小企业可以延迟纳税,退休人员将提早拿到年终福利。澳大利亚将向退休人士、退伍军人和低收入人群一次性发放现金750澳元(434美元)。

Northern Europe has led the way on implementing policies that make it less likely firms lay off workers. Germany has relaxed the criteria for Kurzarbeit (“short-time work”), under which the state pays 60-67% of the forgone wages of employees whose hours are reduced by struggling firms. Applications are going “through the roof”, according to the federal labour agency. The use of Kurzarbeit probably halved the rise in unemployment during the recession of 2008-09. More firms are now eligible to use it, temporary workers are covered, and the government will also reimburse the social-security contributions companies make on behalf of affected workers.

北欧在实施降低公司裁员可能性的政策方面领跑。德国放宽了“短工时”津贴政策(Kurzarbeit)的申请标准,向更多因为公司陷入困境而被缩短了工时的雇员补偿其损失工资的60%到67%。德国联邦劳工局称申请数量暴涨。在2008至2009年的经济衰退期间,这项津贴政策可能使得失业率的增长减少了一半。现在有更多的公司有资格使用它,临时工也被囊括进去,政府还将补偿公司为受影响的工人缴纳的社会保障金。

Bringing home the Danish bacon

带丹麦培根回家

In Denmark firms that risk losing 30% or more of their workforce will see the government pay 75% of the wages of employees who would otherwise be laid off, until June. Norway’s government has beefed up unemployment benefits, guaranteeing laid-off workers the equivalent of their full salary for the first 20 days. Freelancers whose work vanishes for more than a fortnight will get payments equivalent to 80% of their previous average income. In Sweden the state will cover half of the income of workers who have been let go, with employers asked to cover most of the rest.

在丹麦,对于有可能失去30%或更多劳动力的公司,政府将支付原本会被裁员的员工75%的工资直至6月。挪威政府提高了失业救济金,保证下岗工人在头20天会获得全薪;失去工作超过两周的自由职业者将获得相当于其先前平均收入的80%的付款。在瑞典,该州将支付被裁员工一半的收入,雇主被要求支付其余一半的大头。

So far America has passed more modest legislation. Federal funding for Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, is likely to boost spending by about $30bn, assuming it remains in place until the end of December, reckons Oxford Economics, a consultancy. America also has a new paid-sick-leave policy for some 30m workers, including 10m who are self-employed, worth just over $100bn. But in that regard America is merely catching up with other rich countries, which have far more generous sick-leave policies. America also has fewer automatic economic stabilisers, such as generous unemployment insurance, than most other rich countries. As a result, its discretionary fiscal boost needs to be especially large to make a difference.

到目前为止,美国通过的立法更温和。咨询机构牛津经济研究院(Oxford Economics)估计,为穷人提供医疗服务的医疗补助计划(Medicaid)所获的联邦资助如果持续到12月底,可能会增加约300亿美元的支出。美国还对大约3000万工人实行新的带薪病假政策,其中包括1000万自雇人士,总价值略高于1000亿美元。但在这方面,美国只是在追赶其他富裕国家,那些国家的病假政策要慷慨得多。与大多数其他富裕国家相比,美国也没有多少自动化经济稳定器,比如慷慨的失业保险。其结果是,它见机行事的财政刺激需要特别庞大才能有所作为。

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It might be. The Trump administration’s plan to funnel money directly to households, if approved by Congress, is the most significant policy. It bears some resemblance to a scheme that was introduced in February in Hong Kong, in which the government offered HK$10,000 ($1,290) directly to every permanent resident. Mr Mnuchin is thought to favour a cheque of $1,000 per American—roughly equal to one week’s average wages for a private-sector worker—with the possibility of a second cheque later. Some $500bn-worth of direct payments could soon be in the post.

它还真可能非常大。如果国会批准,特朗普政府直接给家庭送钱的计划将是最重要的政策。它与香港2月份推出的计划有些相似,该计划由政府直接向每位永久居民提供10,000港币(1290美元)。据信姆努钦倾向于让每个美国人拿到一张1000美元的支票——大约等于私营部门工人一周的平均工资,之后还可能再拿一张。约5000亿美元的直接付款可能很快就会到位。

Some economists are leery about such a policy. For one thing, it would do little to prevent employers from letting people go, unlike the plans in northern Europe. Another potential problem, judging by Hong Kong’s experience, is administration of the plan: the territory’s finance secretary hopes to make the first payments in “late summer”, far too far away for people who lost work last week. Mr Mnuchin promises that payments will happen much sooner.

一些经济学家质疑这项政策。一方面,与北欧的计划不同,它对于阻止雇主裁员几乎没什么作用。从香港的经验来看,另一个潜在的问题是该计划的执行:香港财政司司长希望在“夏季末”发放首笔付款,这对于上周已经失业的人来说太遥远了。姆努钦承诺付款会快得多。

Chequered past

成败参半的过去

America has done something similar before, with results that were not entirely encouraging. The government sent out cheques in both 2001 and 2008 to head off a slowdown. The evidence suggests that people saved a large chunk of it. The psychological reassurance of a bit of extra cash could be significant for many Americans, but the sums involved are not especially impressive. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential contender, is not known for his smart economic policymaking, but his suggestion of $2,000 per household per month until the crisis is over is probably closer to what is required.

美国以前也做过类似的事情,结果并没有多么鼓舞人心。政府在2001年和2008年都发放了支票来阻止经济放缓。证据表明人们存下了很大一部分。对于许多美国人来说,增加一点儿现金的心理安慰意义重大,但金额并不是很可观。民主党总统候选人伯尼·桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)并不以精明的经济政策闻名,但他建议在危机结束前给每户每月发放2000美元,倒可能更接近所需的水平。

Indeed, more fiscal stimulus will be needed across the world, especially if measures to contain the spread of the virus fall short. After the Japanese government passes the budget for next fiscal year at the end of this month, it can begin work on a supplementary budget that takes the virus into full account. Britain’s Parliament has given Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, carte blanche to offer whatever support he deems necessary, without limit.

确实,全世界都将需要采取更多的财政刺激措施,尤其是在遏制病毒传播的措施不力的情况下。日本政府在本月底通过下一个财政年度的预算后,可以开始制定一项补充预算来充分考虑病毒的影响。英国议会已授予财政大臣里什·萨纳克(Rishi Sunak)全权来提供他认为必要的任何支持,没有上限。

经济学人双语版-实验性治疗 Experimental treatment

How much further can fiscal policy realistically go? Last year the 35-odd rich countries tracked by the IMF ran combined fiscal deficits of $1.5trn (2.9% of GDP). On the not-unrealistic assumption that the average deficit rose by five percentage points of GDP, total rich-country borrowing would rise to over $4trn this year. Investors have to be willing to finance that splurge. The yield on ten-year Treasury bonds, which had fallen as low as 0.5% as fears of the virus took hold and traders sought havens, has recently risen above 1%. This is probably due to firms and investors selling even their safest assets to raise cash, but might reflect some anxiety over the scale of planned government borrowing.

实际来说,财政政策还能再走多远?去年,国际货币基金组织追踪的约35个富裕国家的财政赤字总计1.5万亿美元(占GDP的2.9%)。如果假设平均赤字占GDP的比重上升五个百分点——并非不可能,那么富裕国家的总借贷今年将超过4万亿美元。投资者必须愿意为这种挥霍提供资金。十年期美国国债的收益率一度因对病毒的恐惧和交易者寻求避风港而下跌至0.5%,最近回升至1%以上。这可能是由于公司和投资者出售手头哪怕最安全的资产来筹集现金,但也可能反映出对计划中的政府借款规模的担忧。

Still, 1% is still extremely low by historical standards. For a variety of reasons, including population ageing, there is—in normal times, at least—unprecedented demand for low-risk government securities. The Bank of Japan has promised to buy as many bonds as necessary to hold the yield on its government’s ten-year bonds close to zero. Investors remain queasy over some rich countries’ bonds, especially slow-growing European states. The ECB’s latest intervention should allow heavily indebted economies viewed with suspicion by markets, such as Italy, to borrow more cheaply—though it does not fully dispel doubts around the euro zone’s willingness to act to avert crisis.

但是,按照历史标准,1%仍然极低。由于包括人口老龄化在内的多种原因,至少在正常时期,对低风险政府证券的需求是空前的。日本央行已承诺购买无限量的债券,以将其政府十年期债券的收益率保持在接近于零的水平。投资者对某些富裕国家的债券仍然感到不安,尤其是增长缓慢的欧洲国家。欧洲央行最新的干预措施应该会使意大利等因债台高筑而受到市场怀疑的经济体更便宜地借贷,尽管它并不能完全消除人们对欧元区愿意采取行动避免危机的怀疑。

The question of financing the spending splurge may be more one of practicalities than of feasibility. America’s Treasury cannot issue trillions of dollars of new bonds overnight. It can, however, issue notes and bonds to the Federal Reserve, which could then credit the Treasury’s account, allowing vast sums to be spent immediately, points out Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics, a consultancy. The bonds could then be sold to investors at a later date. This approach amounts to money-printing, but with little risk of runaway inflation in these straitened times.

为大笔支出提供资金的问题可能不仅仅是理论上的,而更是实际操作上的。美国财政部不可能在一夜之间发行数万亿美元的新债券,但它可以向美联储发行票据和债券,后者将其记入财政部的账户,从而可以立即动用大量资金,咨询公司万神殿宏观经济(Pantheon Macroeconomics)的伊恩·谢泼德森(Ian Shepherdson)指出。债券可以在日后再出售给投资者。这种方法等同于印钞,但在当前困境中,通胀失控的风险很小。

The economic hit from covid-19 will be bad enough for rich countries, in both human and economic terms. But they are in a relatively fortunate position, with strong health-care systems, and investors who, for now, remain willing to lend to them on cheap terms. Poorer countries, where the threat posed by the virus is also growing rapidly, have less room to borrow and job markets with a higher share of informal workers who are ineligible for many protections. The rich world faces tough times, but will get through the crisis. The prospects of poorer places are far less certain. ■

不论是从人还是经济的角度,新冠肺炎造成的经济打击对富裕国家都将非常沉重。但它们的处境相对幸运——拥有强大的医疗系统,投资者目前仍愿意廉价向他们提供贷款。而在那些病毒威胁同样在迅速增长的贫穷国家,借贷的空间更小,就业市场上没有资格享受多种保护的非正式工人的比例也更高。富裕世界面临艰难时期,但将度过危机。贫困地区的前景就要模糊得多。■