2021-07-10:全球经济下隐藏的新断层

Global growth 全球经济增长

The new fault lines on which the world economy rests 全球经济下隐藏的新断层

Global growth is coming back fast. But the recovery from the pandemic is uneven and fragile全球经济迅速恢复涨势。但疫情后复苏情况既失衡又脆弱

Jul 10th 2021 |

THE PANDEMIC caused a fearsome economic slump, but now a weird, exhilarating boom is in full swing. The oil price has soared, while restaurants and haulage firms are having to fight and flatter to recruit staff. As listed firms signal that profits will hit an all-time high this year, stockmarkets are on a tear. An index produced by JPMorgan Chase and IHS Markit suggests that global growth is at its highest since the exuberant days of 2006.

疫情造成了严重的经济衰退,如今经济发展大有方兴未艾之势,既不可思议又令人振奋。油价飙升,餐厅和运输公司竞争激烈,不惜大肆讨好追捧以招到员工。已有迹象表明,上市公司股价今年会达到历史新高,股市牛气冲天。一项由摩根大通和埃信华迈编制的指数显示,全球经济增长正处于自2006年繁荣时期以来的最高点。

Any escape from covid-19 is a cause for celebration. But today’s booming economy is also a source of anxiety, because three fault lines lie beneath the surface. Together, they will determine who prospers, and whether the most unusual recovery in living memory can be sustained.

只要能摆脱新冠疫情,就可喜可贺。但今天的经济繁荣却也是焦虑之源,因为表象之下暗藏了三大断层。这三大断层将决定哪个国家能走向繁荣,以及人类有史以来最反常的经济复苏是否能够持久。

The first fault line divides the jabs from the jab-nots. Only those countries getting vaccinations into arms will be able to tame covid-19. That is the condition for shops, bars and offices to reopen permanently, and customers and workers to have the confidence to leave their homes. But only one in four people around the world has had a first dose of vaccine and only one in eight is fully protected. Even in America some under-vaccinated states are vulnerable to the infectious Delta variant of the virus.

第一条断层将已接种疫苗和未接种疫苗国家分隔开来。只有国民接种了疫苗的国家才能遏制新冠疫情。这是商铺、酒吧、办公室能永久重开,顾客及工人有信心出门工作的条件。但全球只有四分之一的人口接种了第一剂疫苗,八分之一的人口完成了全部接种。即使在美国,一些接种率低的州,面对颇具传染性的德尔塔疫苗也显得束手无策。

The second fault line runs between supply and demand. Shortages of microchips have disrupted the manufacture of electronics and cars just when consumers want to binge on them. The cost of shipping goods from China to ports on America’s west coast has quadrupled from its pre-pandemic level. Even as these bottlenecks are unblocked, newly open economies will create fresh imbalances. In some countries people seem keener to go for a drink than they do to work behind the bar, causing a structural labour shortage in the service sector. House prices have surged, suggesting that rents will soon start to rise, too. That could sustain inflation and deepen the sense that housing is unaffordable.

第二条断层割裂了供需。就在消费者购物欲旺盛增长时,微芯片短缺却扰乱了电子产品和汽车制造业。从中国到美国西海岸港口的货运成本较疫情前已翻了两番。即使瓶颈消除,随着其他经济体陆续解封,也会导致新的供需失衡。在一些国家,人们似乎更热衷于去酒吧消费,而不愿在吧台后工作,这造成了服务业的结构性劳动力短缺。房价飙升,表明租金也会很快开始上涨。这会导致通胀居高不下,加剧人们对房价难以承受的无力感。

The final fault line is over the withdrawal of stimulus. At some point, the state interventions that began last year must be reversed. Rich-world central banks have bought assets worth over $10trn since the pandemic began and are nervously considering how to extricate themselves without causing a flap in capital markets by tightening too fast. China, whose economy did not shrink in 2020, offers a sign of what is to come: it has tightened credit policy this year, slowing its growth.

最后一条断层与刺激政策退场有关。各国从去年开始的干预政策终有一天必须退场。自疫情爆发以来,富国央行已购买了价值超过10万亿美元的资产,如何在不因政策过快收紧而引发资本市场震荡的情况下全身而退,央行也是伤透脑筋。2020年中国经济并未呈现出萎缩态势,指出了未来走向:今年中国已收紧信贷政策,以减缓经济增长。

Meanwhile, emergency government-aid schemes, such as unemployment-insurance top-ups and eviction moratoriums, are beginning to expire. Households are unlikely to get a fresh infusion of “stimmies” in 2022. Deficits will contract rather than expand, dragging down growth. So far, economies have largely avoided a wave of damaging bankruptcies but nobody knows how well firms will cope once emergency loans come due and workers can no longer be furloughed at taxpayers’ expense.

同时,失业保险补贴、暂停驱逐令等政府紧急援助计划即将期满。2022年各国家庭都不大可能获得新的政府纾困金。赤字不会扩大,反而会缩减,进而拖慢经济增长。到目前为止,经济在总体上避免了极具破坏性的倒闭潮,但一旦紧急贷款到期,工人停薪休假(由纳税人买单)结束,企业是否能应付自如,还是未知数。

You might think that an event as extreme as a pandemic, combined with the unprecedented government response to it, would eventually trigger an equally extreme global economic reaction. Pessimists worry about a return to 1970s-style inflation, or a financial crash, or that capitalism’s underlying energy will be drained by state handouts. Such apocalyptic outcomes are possible, but they are not likely. Instead a better way to think about the unusual outlook is to examine how the three fault lines interact differently in different economies.

你也许会认为,如疫情这般极端的事件,加上政府前所未有的应对措施,最终会引发同样极端的全球经济反应。悲观主义者担心会再次出现1970年代的恶性通胀,或全球金融大崩盘,再或者政府这么大把撒钱,终会耗尽资本主义潜能。以上这些末世结果是有可能发生的,但几率不大。在预测这一非比寻常的经济前景时,较佳做法是分析不同经济体中,上述三大断层如何以不同方式互相影响。

Start with America. With abundant vaccines and enormous stimulus, it is at the biggest risk of overheating. In recent months inflation has reached levels not seen since the early 1980s. Its labour market is coming under strain as economic activity shifts. Even after a rise of 850,000 in the number of jobs in June and accounting for abundant vacancies, the number of people working in leisure and hospitality is 12% lower than before the pandemic. Workers are reluctant to return to the industry, which has pushed up wages. Hourly pay is almost 8% higher than in February 2020. Perhaps they will come back when emergency unemployment benefits expire in September. But countries without such a scheme, like Australia, are also seeing a labour shortage. Attitudes to work may be changing at the bottom of the income spectrum, among waiters and cleaners, not just among well-heeled professionals who dream of yachts and sabbaticals. All this suggests that America’s economy will run hot, with continual pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten policy.

先来看美国。美国疫苗数量充足,刺激计划规模庞大,最有可能出现经济过热。近几个月来通胀率已达到了1980年代初的高位。随着经济活动转移,劳动力市场面临重重压力。尽管6月增加了85万个工作岗位,考虑到大量职位仍然空缺,休闲和酒店业从业人员人数仍比疫情前低了12%。人们不愿回到这个行业工作,因而抬高了工资水平。每小时工资比2020年2月上涨了近8%。也许9月紧急失业补贴到期后,才会有所回落。但澳大利亚等国并没有类似补贴计划,也正面临劳工短缺问题。对于工作,不仅仅是梦想着游艇和年假的富裕专业人士,连位于收入底层的服务生和清洁工的态度或都正在发生改变。这都预示着美国经济将过度火热,美联储将不断面临收紧政策的压力。

Elsewhere in the rich world the picture is less exuberant. It includes some jab-nots, like Japan, which has fully vaccinated less than 15% of its population. Europe is catching up on vaccines, but its smaller stimulus means that inflation has not reached American levels. In Britain, France and Switzerland 8-13% of employees remained on furlough schemes at the end of May. In all these economies the risk is that policymakers overreact to temporary, imported inflation, withdrawing support too quickly. If so, their economies will suffer, just as the euro area suffered after the financial crisis of 2007-09.

其他富裕国家的经济增长就没这么旺盛了。有一些国家还未完成疫苗接种,比如日本,完全接种疫苗人数还不到全国人口的15%。欧洲在疫苗接种方面正迎头赶上,但其刺激计划规模较小,也意味着通胀率还未达到美国的通胀水平。在英国,法国和瑞士,直到5月底,8-13%的雇工仍处于停薪休假中。以上经济体面临的风险在于决策者可能会对暂时性、输入性通胀上升反应过度,过快撤销各种扶持政策。这将使经济受创,重演欧元区在2007-09年金融危机后的惨况。

Low- and middle-income countries are in a bind. They should be benefiting from surging global demand for commodities and factory goods, but they are struggling. Indonesia, battling another covid-19 wave, is redeploying oxygen from industry to hospitals. In 2021 the poorest countries, which are desperately short of vaccines, are forecast to grow more slowly than rich countries for only the third time in 25 years.

中低收入国家深陷困境之中。全球范围内对大宗商品和工厂产品的需求激增,它们本应从中受益,但却举步维艰。印度尼西亚为对抗另一轮疫情来袭,将工业用氧转为医用。最贫困国家面临严重的疫苗短缺问题,据预测,2021年这些国家的经济增长将慢于富裕国家,这在25年中极为罕见,仅为第3次。

Even as covid-19 weakens their recoveries, emerging markets face the prospect of higher interest rates at the Fed. That tends to put downward pressure on their currencies as investors buy dollars, raising the risk of financial instability. Their central banks do not have the luxury of ignoring temporary or imported inflation. Brazil, Mexico and Russia have raised interest rates recently, and more places may follow. The combination of jabbing too late and tightening too soon will be painful.

对于新兴市场,疫情削弱了其经济复苏,另一方面,又面临美联储加息的可能。这往往会对其货币造成下行压力,因为投资者会购进美元,加剧金融动荡。其央行无法对暂时性或输入性通胀置之不理。巴西、墨西哥和俄罗斯最近都提高了利率,还有更多国家可能效仿。疫苗接种滞后,加上政策收紧太快,将使其经济遭受重创。

Prepare to take shelter做好避难准备

The economic cycle has been frantic, leaving the slump far behind in only a year. Perhaps by the summer of 2022 most people will be vaccinated, business will have adapted to new patterns of demand and stimulus will be unwinding in an orderly way. In this weird boom, however, beware those fault lines. ■

经济周期突飞猛进,仅用了一年时间就一扫萧条景象。也许到2022年夏天,大多数人都已完成疫苗接种,企业也已适应新的需求模式,刺激政策将有序退场。然而,在这波诡异的繁荣期中,要警惕这三大断层。

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