The pandemic has created big performance disparities between the world’s economies. They could get even larger
疫情使得全球经济体的表现呈现大差距。这种差异可能还会扩大

赢家与输家 Winners and losers-书迷号 shumihao.com

IN FEBRUARY THE coronavirus pandemic struck the world economy with the biggest shock since the second world war. Lockdowns and a slump in consumer spending led to a labour-market implosion in which the equivalent of nearly 500m full-time jobs disappeared almost overnight. World trade shuddered as factories shut down and countries closed their borders. An even deeper economic catastrophe was avoided thanks only to unprecedented interventions in financial markets by central banks, government aid to workers and failing firms, and the expansion of budget deficits to near-wartime levels.
今年2月,新冠疫情对世界经济造成了二战以来最严重的冲击。封锁措施和消费骤减导致劳动力市场崩溃,相当于近五亿份全职工作几乎在一夜间消失。随着工厂停产和各国关闭边境,世界贸易也剧烈震动。多亏了各国央行以空前力度干预金融市场、政府资助工人和濒临倒闭的企业,以及将预算赤字扩大到接近战时水平,才得以避免了更深重的经济灾难。

The crash was synchronised. As a recovery takes place, however, huge gaps between the performance of countries are opening up—which could yet recast the world’s economic order. By the end of next year, according to forecasts by the OECD, America’s economy will be the same size as it was in 2019 but China’s will be 10% larger. Europe will still languish beneath its pre-pandemic level of output and could do so for several years—a fate it may share with Japan, which is suffering a demographic squeeze. It is not just the biggest economic blocs that are growing at different speeds. In the second quarter of this year, according to UBS, a bank, the distribution of growth rates across 50 economies was at its widest for at least 40 years.
经济崩盘在各地同步发生。然而,随着经济开始复苏,各国表现开始拉开巨大的差距,甚至可能会重塑世界经济秩序。据经合组织(OECD)预测,到明年年底,美国经济规模将恢复到2019年的水平,而中国会增长10%。欧洲仍将滞留在低于疫情前的产出水平,而且可能会持续好几年;背负着人口结构压力的日本可能也面临类似的命运。不仅是这些最大的经济体的增速存在差异。瑞银(UBS)的数据显示,今年第二季度,50个经济体的经济增速分布达到了至少40年来的最大宽度。

The variation is the result of differences between countries. Most important is the spread of the disease. China has all but stopped it while Europe, and perhaps soon America, is battling a costly second wave. Over the past week Paris has closed its bars and Madrid has gone into partial lockdown. In China, meanwhile, you can now down sambuca shots in nightclubs. Another difference is the pre-existing structure of economies. It is far easier to operate factories under social distancing than it is to run service-sector businesses that rely on face-to-face contact. Manufacturing makes up a bigger share of the economy in China than in any other big country. A third factor is the policy response. This is partly about size: America has injected more stimulus than Europe, including spending worth 12% of GDP and a 1.5 percentage point cut in short-term interest rates. But policy also includes how governments respond to the structural changes and creative destruction the pandemic is causing.
这种增速差异源自各国在多方面的差别。最重要的就是疫情蔓延的情况。中国几乎已经控制住了疫情,而欧洲却仍在应对代价高昂的第二波疫情,美国恐怕很快也会陷入这种境地。过去一周里,巴黎关闭了酒吧,马德里进入了部分封城状态。与此同时,在中国人们却已经可以去夜店畅饮桑布卡了。另一个差别是原有的经济结构。在保持社交距离的情况下,比起依赖面对面接触的服务业,运营工厂要容易得多。制造业在中国经济所占的比重高于任何其他大国。第三个因素是政策应对。这在一定程度上关乎规模:美国比欧洲推出了更多经济刺激措施,包括相当于GDP 12%的支出以及将短期利率下调了1.5个百分点。但政策还包括政府如何应对疫情带来的结构性变化和创造性破坏。

These adjustments will be immense. The pandemic will leave economies less globalised, more digitised and less equal. As they cut risks in their supply chains and harness automation, manufacturers will bring production closer to home. As office workers continue to work in their kitchens and bedrooms for at least part of the week, lower-paid workers who previously toiled as waiters, cleaners and sales assistants will need to find new jobs in the suburbs. Until they do, they could face long spells of unemployment. In America permanent job losses are mounting even as the headline unemployment rate falls.
这些调整将是极广泛的。疫情将导致各个经济体的全球化程度降低、数字化程度提高、不平等程度加大。在降低供应链风险和利用自动化技术的过程中,制造商会将生产搬迁到距离本土更近的地方。由于上班族每周仍至少会有一部分时间在厨房和卧室里工作,那些以前从事服务员、清洁工和售货员等工作的低收入劳动者将需要去郊区另谋生计。在找到新工作之前,他们可能会面临长时间的失业。在美国,整体失业率降低之时,永久流失的工作岗位仍在增加。

As more activity moves online, business will become more dominated by firms with the most advanced intellectual property and the biggest repositories of data; this year’s boom in technology stocks gives a sense of what is coming, as does the digital surge in the banking industry. And low real interest rates will keep asset prices high even if economies remain weak. This will widen the gulf between Wall Street and Main Street that emerged after the global financial crisis and which has worsened this year. The challenge for governments will be to adapt to all these changes while maintaining popular consent for their policies and for free markets.
随着越来越多活动转移到网上,拥有最先进的知识产权和最庞大的数据库的公司将日益主宰商业世界,今年科技股的繁荣以及银行业的数字化浪潮都预示着未来的趋势。同时,即使经济依然疲软,实际利率低迷仍使资产价格居高不下。这将进一步拉大华尔街和普罗大众之间的鸿沟,这种鸿沟在全球金融危机后出现,在今年进一步恶化。政府面临的挑战就是如何适应所有这些变化,同时能保持公众对其政策和自由市场的认同。

Europe is the laggard. Its response to the pandemic risks ossifying economies there, rather than letting them adjust. In its five biggest economies, 5% of the labour force remains on short-work schemes in which the government pays them to await the return of jobs or hours that may never come back. In Britain the proportion is twice as high. Across the continent, suspended bankruptcy rules, tacit forbearance by banks and a flood of discretionary state aid risk prolonging the life of zombie firms that should be allowed to fail. This is all the more worrying given that, before the crisis, France and Germany were already embracing an industrial policy that promoted national champions. If Europe sees the pandemic as a further reason to nurture a cosy relationship between government and incumbent businesses, its long-term relative decline could accelerate.
欧洲落在了后头。它应对疫情的措施有可能使本地经济陷入僵化,而不是让经济顺应变化做出调整。在欧洲五大经济体中,5%的劳动力仍然通过短时工作计划由政府支付薪资,等待着那些可能永远无法恢复的工作岗位或工作时间。在英国,这个比例还要再高一倍。在整个欧洲大陆,暂停执行的破产规则、银行心照不宣的容忍,以及大量自由裁量支配的国家援助,都有可能让本应任其倒闭的僵尸企业继续苟延残喘。更令人担忧的是,法国和德国在危机爆发之前就已经在推行促进本国龙头企业发展的产业政策。如果欧洲视本次疫情为又一个理由来进一步巩固政府与既有企业的密切关系,那么它相对衰落的长期趋势可能还会加剧。

The question-mark is America. For much of the year it got the policy balance roughly right. It provided a more generous safety-net for the jobless and a larger stimulus than might have been expected in the home of capitalism. Wisely, it also allowed the labour market to adjust and has shown less inclination than Europe to bail out firms that are in danger of becoming obsolete as the economy adjusts. Partly as a result, unlike Europe, America is already seeing the creation of many new jobs.
美国的情况要打个问号。在今年大部分时间里,美国大致做到了政策平衡。它为失业者提供了更慷慨的安全网,推出的经济刺激规模超过了人们对这个资本主义大本营原本会有的预期。它很明智的做法是同时任由劳动力市场自行调整,而不像欧洲那么倾向于救助那些在经济调整中濒临淘汰的公司。这在一定程度上已经令美国涌现出许多新的工作岗位,与欧洲形成反差。

Instead America’s weakness is toxic and divided politics. Earlier this month President Donald Trump seemed to ditch talks over renewing its stimulus, meaning that the economy could fall over a fiscal cliff. Critical reforms, whether to redesign the safety-net for a tech-driven economy or to put deficits on a sustainable course, are all but impossible while two warring tribes define compromise as weakness. Covid-19 is imposing a new economic reality. Every country will be called on to adapt, but America faces a daunting task. If it is to lead the post-pandemic world, it will have to reset its politics. ■
美国的软肋是有害和分裂的政治局面。本月稍早时,总统特朗普似乎放弃了对新一轮经济刺激方案的谈判,这意味着美国经济可能会跌落财政悬崖。关键的改革——无论是为科技型经济重新设计社会安全网,还是让赤字走上可持续的道路——几乎都不可能实现,因为在针锋相对的两个政党眼里,任何妥协都是软弱的表现。新冠疫情带来了新的经济现实。所有国家都必须调整适应,但美国面临艰巨的任务。如果它要在后疫情时代领导世界,就必须要在政治上重新校准。