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如何输掉一场贸易战?
How to Lose a Trade War

[2018年7月9日] 来源:纽约时报 作者:保罗·克鲁格曼   字号 [] [] []  

Trump’s declaration that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” is an instant classic, right up there with Herbert Hoover’s “prosperity is just around the corner.”

特朗普的宣言“贸易战是好事,很容易赢”当场就成了经典,堪与赫伯特·胡佛(Herbert Hoover)的“繁荣近在眼前”媲美。

Trump obviously believes that trade is a game in which he who runs the biggest surplus wins, and that America, which imports more than it exports, therefore has the upper hand in any conflict. That’s also why Peter Navarro predicted that nobody would retaliate against Trump’s tariffs. Since that’s actually not how trade works, we’re already facing plenty of retaliation and the strong prospect of escalation.

特朗普显然认为,贸易是一个游戏,赢家是拥有最大顺差的人,而进口超过出口的美国在任何冲突中都处于有利地位。基于同样原因,彼得·纳瓦罗(Peter Navarro)预测,没有人会对特朗普的关税进行报复。由于这并不是贸易实际运作的方式,我们已面临大量报复,且情况极有可能恶化。

特朗普总统上月在七国集团峰会上谈公平贸易问题。
特朗普总统上月在七国集团峰会上谈公平贸易问题。

But here’s the thing: Trump’s tariffs are badly designed even from the point of view of someone who shares his crude mercantilist view of trade. In fact, the structure of his tariffs so far is designed to inflict maximum damage on the U.S. economy, for minimal gain. Foreign retaliation, by contrast, is far more sophisticated: unlike Trump, the Chinese and other targets of his trade wrath seem to have a clear idea of what they’re trying to accomplish.

但问题是:特朗普的关税设计得很糟糕,就算一个认同他粗糙的重商主义贸易观点的人也会这么认为。事实上,到目前为止,他的关税结构是对美国经济造成最大损害,从而换取最小的收益。相比之下,外国的报复措施要复杂得多:与特朗普不同,中国和其他承受特朗普贸易战怒火的国家似乎清楚地了解它们想实现的目标。

The key point is that the Navarro/Trump view, aside from its fixation on trade balances, also seems to imagine that the world still looks the way it did in the 1960s, when trade was overwhelmingly in final goods like wheat and cars. In that world, putting a tariff on imported cars would cause consumers to switch to domestic cars, adding auto industry jobs, end of story (except for the foreign retaliation.)

关键在于,除了对贸易平衡的执着,纳瓦罗/特朗普的观念似乎还在按照1960年代的样子来想象世界,当时的贸易绝大部分发生在小麦和汽车这样的最终产品内。在那个世界里,对进口汽车征收关税将导致消费者转用国产汽车,增加汽车行业的就业,就是这样(除了会有外国报复)。

In the modern world economy, however, a large part of trade is in intermediate goods – not cars but car parts. Put a tariff on car parts, and even the first-round effect on jobs is uncertain: maybe domestic parts producers will add workers, but you’ve raised costs and reduced competitiveness for downstream producers, who will shrink their operations.

然而,在现代世界经济中,很大一部分贸易发生在中间产品当中——不是汽车,而是汽车零部件。如果对汽车零部件征收关税,甚至对就业的第一轮影响也是不确定的:也许国内零部件生产商会增加工人,但你令下游生产商的成本提高,竞争力降低,因此下游生产商将缩减业务。

So in today’s world, smart trade warriors – if such people exist – would focus their tariffs on final goods, so as to avoid raising costs for downstream producers of domestic goods. True, this would amount to a more or less direct tax on consumers; but if you’re afraid to impose any burden on consumers, you really shouldn’t be getting into a trade war in the first place.

因此,在当今世界,聪明的贸易战士——如果真有这样的人——将把关税集中在最终产品上,避免为下游国内商品生产者增加成本。诚然,这相当于直接对消费者征收或多或少的税;但是,如果你害怕给消费者带来任何负担,那么你从一开始就真不应该挑起贸易战。

But almost none of the Trump tariffs are on consumer goods. Chad Bown and colleagues have a remarkable chart showing the distribution of the Trump China tariffs: an amazing 95 percent are either on intermediate goods or on capital goods like machinery that are also used in domestic production:

但特朗普的关税几乎都不是针对消费者产品的。查德·鲍恩(Chad Bown)及其同事做了一张出色的图表,显示了特朗普对中国关税的分布情况:中间商品或国内生产中使用的机械等基础商品占到了惊人的95%:

Is there a strategy here? It’s hard to see one. There’s certainly no hint that the tariffs were designed to pressure China into accepting U.S. demands, since nobody can even figure out what, exactly, Trump wants from China in the first place.

这是什么策略吗?很难看出来。当然,没有迹象表明这些关税旨在迫使中国接受美国的要求,因为没有人能弄清楚特朗普究竟想从中国那里获得什么。

China’s retaliation looks very different. It doesn’t completely eschew tariffs on intermediate goods, but it’s mostly on final goods. And it’s also driven by a clear political strategy of hurting Trump voters; the Chinese, unlike the Trumpies, know what they’re trying to accomplish:

中国的报复看起来非常不一样。它并不完全避免对中间产品征收关税,但主要集中在最终产品上。它还受到一种明确的政治策略驱使,即伤害特朗普的选民;与特朗普们不同的是,中国人知道他们想实现的目标:

What about others? Canada’s picture is complicated by its direct response to aluminum and steel tariffs, but those industries aside it, too, is following a far more sophisticated strategy than the U.S.:

别的国家怎么样?加拿大的情况因其对钢铝关税的直接反应而变得复杂,但除了这些行业之外,它也在采取比美国更为精确复杂的战略:

Except for steel and aluminum, Canada’s retaliation seemingly attempts to avoid messing up its engagement in North American supply chains. In broad terms, Canada is not targeting imports of American capital equipment or intermediate inputs, focusing instead on final goods.

除了钢铝,加拿大的报复似乎是在试图避免破坏它在北美供应链中的参与。从广义上讲,加拿大不是在针对美国基础设备或中间投入的进口,而是将重点放在最终产品上。 And like China, Canada is clearly trying to inflict maximum political damage.

而且和中国一样,加拿大显然是在试图给美国造成最大的政治损失。

Trade wars aren’t good or easy to win even if you know what you’re trying to accomplish and have a clear strategy for getting there. What’s notable about the Trump tariffs, however, is that they’re so self-destructive.

即使你知道你想要实现什么目标,并且有明确的战略来实现这些目标,贸易战也不是好事,一点也不容易赢。然而,特朗普关税值得关注的地方在于,它们如此具有自毁性质。

And we can already see hints of the economic fallout. From the Fed’s most recent minutes:

我们已经可以看到对其经济后果的暗示。来自美联储最近的会议纪要:

[M]any District contacts expressed concern about the possible adverse effects of tariffs and other proposed trade restrictions, both domestically and abroad, on future investment activity; contacts in some Districts indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy. Contacts in the steel and aluminum industries expected higher prices as a result of the tariffs on these products but had not planned any new investments to increase capacity.

[许多]地区的联系人,对关税和其他拟议中的国内外贸易限制对未来投资活动可能产生的不利影响,都表示了担忧;一些地区的联系人表示,由于贸易政策的不确定性,资本支出计划已经缩减或推迟。由于对钢铝征收的关税,而且没有任何新投资计划来增加产能,该行业的联系人预计价格会上涨。

So Trump and company don’t actually have a plan to win this trade war. They may, however, have stumbled onto a strategy that will lose it even more decisively than one might have expected.

因此特朗普和他的一伙人实际上没有制定什么能够赢得这场贸易战的计划。他们可能只是偶然发现了一种战略,它将令他们输掉这场战争,而且比人们所预料的更加彻底。

欢迎在Twitter上关注本文作者Paul Krugman @PaulKrugman。

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