2021-07-24:Leaders 美国经济增长会否放缓?

Delta’s beta 德尔塔测试

Does America face a slowdown in economic growth?美国经济增长会否放缓?

The Delta variant is by far the biggest of several risks to America’s economy德尔塔变株是迄今为止美国经济面临的最大风险

Jul 24th 2021 |

IT WAS INEVITABLE that global economic growth would slow from the breakneck pace set as economies recovered from the pandemic. Lately, investors have begun to worry about something worse: that America’s economy, which has led the rich-world rebound, could decelerate sharply. As well as supply bottlenecks and the withdrawal of economic stimulus, the country, like many others, now faces the ultra-infectious Delta variant. A painful slowdown remains unlikely. But the renewed spread of the virus is the biggest of those three dangers.

各国经济从新冠疫情中复苏,全球经济增长必然将不再飞速发展,而有所放缓。投资者开始担心更坏的情况可能发生:引领富国谷底反弹的美国经济,恐会急剧减速。除了供给瓶颈以及经济刺激政策退场等问题,和其他国家一样,美国如今还面临着传染力极强的德尔塔毒株侵袭。经济严重滞缓的可能性不大,但病毒重新开始传播则是上述三大威胁中美国经济所面临的最严峻考验。

To see how the latest rich-world coronavirus waves are likely to develop, consider that on July 20th America reported a seven-day moving average of 112 new cases for every million people. That is roughly where Britain, with a higher rate of vaccination, more restrictions and deadlier past outbreaks, was in mid-June before Delta got going. Britain now has 699 cases per million, the fifth-highest rate in the world. If all else is equal, Delta spreads two or three times as quickly as the original strain of the vius.

想知道富裕国家最新的新冠疫情会如何发展,让我们来看一下7月20日美国公布的七天移动平均值,为每百万人中112例新增病例。这个数值和英国在德尔塔病毒爆发前6月中旬的数值差不多,英国的疫苗接种率更高,限制措施更繁琐,以往疫情爆发中死亡率也更高。目前英国的数值为每百万人中有699例新增,感染率位列全球第五。在其他因素都一样的情况下,德尔塔变株的传染速度是原发病毒的2到3倍。

Thankfully, vaccines prevent almost all severe cases of disease and treatments have improved, saving more lives among those who are infected. That is why England lifted almost all restrictions on July 19th. But vaccines still let many symptomatic infections through the net: 12-21% of them for the Pfizer jabs America has used most. Delta is so infectious that countries will struggle to vaccinate their way to the threshold of herd immunity that stops the spread of the disease, even after successful campaigns. Given that 44% of Americans of all ages have not had a single dose, cases in the United States are likely to rocket upwards. States like Mississippi and Louisiana, where about three in five people are entirely unvaccinated, risk being struck by sudden and severe outbreaks.

好在疫苗能预防几乎所有重症,并且治疗方法已得到改进,能救治更多被感染的病患。因此英国在7月19日几乎全面解封。但也有些打了疫苗,仍呈显性感染的病例:这在美国注射最多的辉瑞疫苗中占到12-21%。德尔塔毒株传染性极强,即使在对抗疫情方面已取得成功,各国仍必须继续推广疫苗接种,以达到群体免疫,阻止病毒传播。鉴于所有年龄段的美国人中仍有44%未接种第一剂疫苗,感染病例很可能会激增。密西西比和路易斯安那等州,仍有约五分之三的人口完全未接种疫苗,很有可能会突发严重疫情。

The economic consequences of this will depend on how policymakers and consumers react. So far Los Angeles has brought back its mask mandate and New Orleans says it is studying new restrictions. Even if vaccines allow policymakers to avoid the return to strict measures, consumers may be too anxious to visit bars and restaurants. In Britain measures of mobility are down only slightly since June, but the experiment is still new. Exponential growth means that things can change fast.

经济将受到何种影响,将取决于决策者和消费者如何反应。到目前为止洛杉矶已恢复了佩戴口罩的强制规定,新奥尔良市正在考虑实施新的限制措施。尽管,由于有了疫苗,决策者无需恢复严厉封锁措施,消费者却可能忧心忡忡,不再敢去酒吧和餐厅。在英国,6月起才稍稍放宽了对人员流动的限制,也仍处于试验阶段。若感染以指数级增长,则意味着情况随时可能发生变化。

The risk from Delta is more troubling than the other issues facing America’s recovery; that supply will struggle to match demand and stimulus is due to be removed. So long as the economy stays open, it can ride these bumps.

相较于美国经济复苏所面临的其他风险,德尔塔毒株更为棘手;供应可设法满足需求,刺激计划也正该退场。只要经济保持开放,就继续能乘风破浪。

Shortages, most notably of microchips and space on container ships, have raised consumer-price inflation to 5.4%. Real wages have fallen over the past year as rising prices have eaten into workers’ purchasing power, and there are signs that inflation is beginning to trouble consumers. But during the pandemic households have built up $2.5trn of extra savings, equivalent to 12% of GDP in 2019. In June a record-high number of Americans told Gallup, a pollster, that they themselves were thriving financially. It may be hard to lay your hands on a decently priced car, but so long as Americans venture out of their homes, the service sector can power the economy.

供应短缺,主要集中在芯片和集装箱船空位方面,已使消费者价格通胀率上涨至5.4%。由于价格上涨侵蚀了工人的购买力,实际工资在过去一年呈降势,并且有迹象表明高通胀已开始给消费者造成困扰。疫情期间,美国家庭积攒起了2.5万亿的额外储蓄,相当于2019年全美GDP的12%。6月份,有创历史记录数量的美国人向民调机构盖洛普表示,自己手头阔绰。也许人们还是买不起豪车,但只要他们敢出门,服务业就能为经济提供发展动力。

The withdrawal of some forms of stimulus may even help. Service industries are short of workers. The end of enhanced unemployment benefits, which will become universal at the end of September, might bring some of them back into the job market. Other policy cliff-edges, such as the cancellation of moratoriums on evictions at the end of July, are a source of uncertainty. But any pain there is more likely to be concentrated than widespread, because the housing market is booming and job vacancies are plentiful.

一些美元刺激政策退场甚至会有所裨益。服务业面临人手短缺现象。9月底,在全美范围内将停发补充失业救济金,这也许能让一些人重返劳动力市场。其他政策断档,比如7月底将取消暂停驱逐令,则会带来不确定性。但是,由于房产市场一片繁荣,且存在大量的空缺岗位,即使经济遭遇阵痛,也不会是大范围的,更可能只集中于某几处。

For the economic recovery to continue, people must be willing to mix with others. Yet, in America and across the world, that is precisely what the Delta variant puts in jeopardy. ■

为了能让经济复苏持续下去,人们必须愿意与他人“亲密接触”。然而,在这方面,不论在美国还是全球各地,德尔塔变株却恰恰成为一大威胁。

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