本屆諾貝爾經濟學獎得主 Paul Krugman 針對當前美國的經濟情勢提出一些看法,值得大家參考。茲將原文轉貼如下,我把標題與部分內容翻譯成中文,如有錯誤歡迎指教。此外,大家有空也可以去 Krugman 的部落格看看他人的回應,蠻有趣的。

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Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, sees “green shoots.”(字譯為綠芽,意譯為春燕) President Obama sees “glimmers of hope.”(希望的曙光) And the stock market has been on a tear.

So is it time to sound the all clear? Here are four reasons to be cautious about the economic outlook.

1. Things are still getting worse. (經濟情勢仍在惡化中) Industrial production just hit a 10-year low. Housing starts remain incredibly weak. Foreclosures, which dipped as mortgage companies waited for details of the Obama administration’s housing plans, are surging again.

The most you can say is that there are scattered signs that things are getting worse more slowly — that the economy isn’t plunging quite as fast as it was. And I do mean scattered: the latest edition of the Beige Book, the Fed’s periodic survey of business conditions, reports that “five of the twelve Districts noted a moderation in the pace of decline.” Whoopee.

2. Some of the good news isn’t convincing.(部分好消息的說服力仍然薄弱) The biggest positive news in recent days has come from banks, which have been announcing surprisingly good earnings. But some of those earnings reports look a little ... funny.

Wells Fargo, for example, announced its best quarterly earnings ever. But a bank’s reported earnings aren’t a hard number, like sales; for example, they depend a lot on the amount the bank sets aside to cover expected future losses on its loans. And some analysts expressed considerable doubt about Wells Fargo’s assumptions, as well as other accounting issues.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs announced a huge jump in profits from fourth-quarter 2008 to first-quarter 2009. But as analysts quickly noticed, Goldman changed its definition of “quarter” (in response to a change in its legal status), so that — I kid you not — the month of December, which happened to be a bad one for the bank, disappeared from this comparison.

I don’t want to go overboard here. Maybe the banks really have swung from deep losses to hefty profits in record time. But skepticism comes naturally in this age of Madoff.

Oh, and for those expecting the Treasury Department’s “stress tests” to make everything clear: the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, says that “you will see in a systematic and coordinated way the transparency of determining and showing to all involved some of the results of these stress tests.” No, I don’t know what that means, either.

3. There may be other shoes yet to drop. 可能還有未爆彈)Even in the Great Depression, things didn’t head straight down. There was, in particular, a pause in the plunge about a year and a half in — roughly where we are now. But then came a series of bank failures on both sides of the Atlantic, combined with some disastrous policy moves as countries tried to defend the dying gold standard, and the world economy fell off another cliff.

Can this happen again? Well, commercial real estate is coming apart at the seams, credit card losses are surging and nobody knows yet just how bad things will get in Japan or Eastern Europe. We probably won’t repeat the disaster of 1931, but it’s far from certain that the worst is over.

4. Even when it’s over, it won’t be over. (就算經濟海嘯現在已經結束,但後遺症依然存在)The 2001 recession officially lasted only eight months, ending in November of that year. But unemployment kept rising for another year and a half. The same thing happened after the 1990-91 recession. And there’s every reason to believe that it will happen this time too. Don’t be surprised if unemployment keeps rising right through 2010.

Why? “V-shaped” recoveries, in which employment comes roaring back, take place only when there’s a lot of pent-up demand. In 1982, for example, housing was crushed by high interest rates, so when the Fed eased up, home sales surged. That’s not what’s going on this time: today, the economy is depressed, loosely speaking, because we ran up too much debt and built too many shopping malls, and nobody is in the mood for a new burst of spending.

Employment will eventually recover — it always does. But it probably won’t happen fast.

So now that I’ve got everyone depressed, what’s the answer? Persistence. (堅持)

History shows that one of the great policy dangers, in the face of a severe economic slump, is premature optimism. (歷史告訴我們,在面對如此嚴峻的經濟衰退之時,執行重大政策時所面臨的危機就是過早的樂觀。按:重大政策指振興經濟方案。)F.D.R. responded to signs of recovery by cutting the Works Progress Administration in half and raising taxes; the Great Depression promptly returned in full force. Japan slackened its efforts halfway through its lost decade, ensuring another five years of stagnation.

The Obama administration’s economists understand this. They say all the right things about staying the course. But there’s a real risk that all the talk of green shoots and glimmers will breed a dangerous complacency.

So here’s my advice, to the public and policy makers alike: Don’t count your recoveries before they’re hatched.

 

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看完後,你會很感嘆,現在台灣幾乎快聽不到學者「質疑」的聲音,難道台灣的景氣真的一夜反轉?

反之,各大媒體不斷報導馬戲團官員、藝人、專業股市投資人甚至股市老師出來講台灣的經濟因為與中國關係的升溫而變得多好;製造業因為急單就說燕子來了云云。我心中的想法是,台灣是倚靠出口為導向的貿易國家,如果世界主要的消費國經濟都如此不振,台灣的出口怎麼會好?經濟又怎會好轉?

 

參考資料:

2009/4/16 Paul Krugman's blog @ NY Times: Green Shoots and Glimmers

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  • HubertYu
  • 如克魯曼的原文,過早的樂觀主義將導致危險。其實,執政者莫不希望早日度過危機,否則執政的基礎將被逐步侵蝕...

    或許,我們缺乏的是勇於說出真話的政治人物,特別是說出的真話不被社會多數人所接受 :>
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