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[2015.11.28] 自由交流 贫富皆为

2015-11-29 03:10| 发布者: tom| 查看: 66568| 评论: 3|原作者: bleuciel

摘要: 美国大陆寒气袭人,加勒比地区的属地波多黎各却是30°C。那儿的圣胡安老城留有西班牙殖民时期的建筑,街道两旁的棕榈树来回摇摆。还有蔚蓝的大西洋,一眼望不到头。可它的经济前景并不明朗。政府欠债720亿美元,还还 ...


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Free exchange
自由交流

For richer, for poorer
贫富皆为

One way or another, America’s government will end up bailing out Puerto Rico
无论如何,美洲政府都会出钱援助波多黎各
Nov 28th 2015 | From the print edition



1. IN DECEMBER, as a winter chill descends on the continental United States, temperatures in Puerto Rico often reach 30°C. Palm trees sway alongside the Spanish colonial buildings in Old San Juan; the blue Atlantic stretches to the horizon. Yet the economic outlook for America’s Caribbean dependency is anything but sunny. Its government owes $72 billion in debt, which it says it cannot repay. On December 1st the territory is supposed to make—and is almost certain to miss—a $354m debt payment. And that is just the first of a series of repayments that add up to $1.4 billion (or nearly 1.5% of GDP) due in December and January.

11月,美国大陆寒气袭人,加勒比地区的属地波多黎各却是30°C。那儿的圣胡安老城留有西班牙殖民时期的建筑,街道两旁的棕榈树来回摇摆。还有蔚蓝的大西洋,一眼望不到头。可它的经济前景并不明朗。政府欠债720亿美元,还还不了。12月1日应当还款3.54亿美元,这肯定是做不到的。12月和1月要还款14亿美元,而3.54亿美元的还款仅是第一步。

2. Politicians in Washington are scrambling for a solution. The island’s fiscal woes are in part the result of chronically bad budgeting. But they also stem from structural economic weakness. Bailing out Puerto Rico, which is self-governing but not a state, is not a popular option. Yet when any corner of America faces a deterioration in its long-run economic fortunes, the costs will end up being shared, one way or another.

此时,华盛顿的政要们正在寻找对策。波多黎各遭遇了财政灾难,既因为长期以来预算糟糕,又因为结构性经济疲软。这个岛屿虽然自治但未独立。经济援助并不欢迎,但美洲只要有国家经济面临下滑,人们就各种方法共同解决问题。

3. For decades Puerto Rico, which is poorer than the mainland, enjoyed a special tax status designed to encourage economic development. From 1976 the income of some manufacturers was exempt from both federal and local tax. Investment poured in, notably in pharmaceuticals. But in the 1990s the tax break fell victim to efforts to balance America’s federal budget and was phased out. When it came to an end in 2006, the island sank into a deep and protracted depression. The economy has since shrunk by 14%. Employment is 12% below the peak of 2006. As the economy has withered, obligations to creditors have loomed larger.

波多黎各比美国大陆穷。几十年来,为鼓励经济发展,税收状况特殊。1976年以来,某些制造业免除了联邦税和地方税。投资拥入,尤其是药业。1990年代,人们努力平衡美洲联邦财政,实行了减税政策,结果失败,并逐步停止。2006年废止时,经济已经陷入大萧条,旷日持久。自此,经济缩减14%,就业率12%,低于2006的最好时期。经济萎缩,债权人负担加重。

3. Many Puerto Ricans have not waited for a recovery. More than 200 move to the mainland every day. Roughly 5m Americans of Puerto Rican descent live in the continental United States; 3.5m remain on the island. Its labour force has shrunk 11% since 2009.

波多黎各很多人都等不起复苏。每天有200人流向美国大陆。将近有500万波多黎各血统的美国人住在美国大陆;350万人未走。2009年后,劳动力缩减11%。

4. This migration to more prosperous places saps the Puerto Rican economy of potential, but it is precisely what economists think ought to happen when one region of a larger economy falls on hard times. At 5.7%, the unemployment rate in Detroit, a cash-strapped American city, is ten percentage points below the level of six years ago, when the car industry was in crisis. It would be much higher but for the shrinkage of Detroit’s labour force, which has contracted by about 5% since 2009. Between 2000 and 2014 about 90,000 Detroiters, or 2% of the population, moved away. In much of America’s industrial heartland, labour forces are shrinking. The migration of working-age adults away from struggling areas reduces joblessness. The country as a whole benefits as labour is drawn toward places that are on the up.

人口流向更加富庶的地区,破坏了本地经济的潜力。这就是大经济体中小区域落难时的情况,跟经济学家想的一样。美国城市底特律缺乏资金,失业率为5.7%,比6年前低10个百分点。但假如劳动力不萎缩,失业率还会更高。2009年后,萎缩近5%。2000 至2014年间,底特律约有9万人(总人口的2%)出走。美洲很多工业中心城市,劳动力都在缩减。适龄工作人口离开艰苦的地区,减轻了失业状况。总体来看,波多黎各还是受益了,因为劳动力都流向了富庶的地区。

5. Migration reduces unemployment, but it cannot liberate struggling spots from accrued obligations—most notably pensions. Puerto Rico’s biggest government-pension programme has sufficient funds to cover just 0.7% of future obligations. State pension pots are not in quite such bad shape, but massive liabilities still loom. In Illinois, where the labour force has shrunk by about 3% since 2007, pensions are just 39% funded. Puerto Rico will not be the last local government to run out of money.

人口外流可以减少失业,但不能解放那些艰苦的地区,因为那里债台高筑,主要是养老金方面。波多黎各养老计划是最大的项目,有充足的资金,未来可以负担0.7%。波多黎各养老金体系并不差劲,但巨大的债务还是令人担忧。2007年后,伊利诺斯州劳动力缩减约3%,州出资的养老金只占39%。波多黎各不会成为把钱花光的最后一个地方政府。

6. Perhaps for that reason, many politicians are adamant that the federal government should never rescue insolvent localities. Detroit, for one, was left to write down its debts in bankruptcy court. Puerto Rico cannot do that. The law bars states and territories from declaring bankruptcy, in order to deter profligate behaviour.
That makes little sense when redistribution among states is already enormous. Because America’s tax system is progressive, rich states contribute much more per person to the Treasury than poor ones. Alabama and West Virginia routinely receive more than $2 in federal spending for each dollar they pay in federal tax; New York and California receive less than $0.70 on the dollar. Most of the redistribution comes in the form of programmes like Social Security (the national pension scheme) and Medicare (public health insurance for the elderly), for which average spending per person is not that different from one state to another.

可能由于此,很多政要都坚定认为,联邦政府不能求助破产的地方政府。底特律就是例子,当时底特律在破产法院记录下了自己的债务。波多黎各不能这样,因为法律规定,州和属地不能宣布破产,就是为了避免挥霍。这就是说不通了,因为美国各州之间分配差异巨大。较富裕的州上缴国库,对个人的分配多于较贫穷的州。阿拉巴马州和西弗吉尼亚州,每上缴联邦税收1美元,就会收到联邦2美元多的返还。纽约和加利福尼亚返还却不足0.7美元。重新分配多是以社会保障(国家养老金计划)和医保制度(老年人医辽保险)的形式进行,为的是对个人花费州与州之间不能差异太大。

7. During the financial crisis these handouts to poorer regions became even more generous. The federal government stood behind all American banks and borrowed to finance infrastructure spending and increased unemployment benefits. It also took in less tax, offsetting some of the pain of the recession. Indeed, America’s fiscal union is so good at absorbing shocks that it is often cited as a model for the more accident-prone euro zone.

金融危机期间,贫困地区的援助更加大方。联邦政府支持所有的美国银行,让他们放款去资助基础设施建设,增加失业救济。同时,还减轻税务,减轻因衰退产生的悲痛。其实,美国的财政同盟十分擅长吸收冲击,都被事故多发的欧元区引为典范。

In sickness and in health
无论生病还是健康


8. The administration of Barack Obama has released a sensible plan to rep