IF CHINA is the workshop of the world, Japan is the pristine, state-of-the-art laboratory in its backyard. You can see that by the sort of products shipped through the East China Sea in ever-greater quantities from Japan ever since China led a recovery in world trade last year. Forget the digital cameras and other high-tech gadgets. Japanese exports to China are reviving mainly on the back of products that seem to have all the sex appeal of gravel: plastic materials (up 105%, year on year, in January and February), non-metallic mineral goods (up 113%), construction machines (up 152%), textile machines (up 171%), vehicle parts (up 144%) and scientific instruments (up 133%).

如果说中国是世界工厂,那么日本就是其后院中纯粹的、最先进的实验室。自从去年开始中国引领世界贸易复苏,大家可以看到较之以前更大量的产品从日本船运穿过中国东海。忘记那些日本引以为傲的数码相机以及其他高科技小玩意吧。尽管日本向中国德出口开始复苏,但这些出口中国产品的涨幅低于那些超级有吸引力的产品,这些产品包括:塑料原料 (今年1,2月份同比上涨105%)、非金属矿产(上涨113%)、工程机械(上涨152%)、 纺织机械(上涨171%)、汽车零部件(上涨144%)和科学仪器 (上涨133%)。


Despite appearances, these are all high-tech products or high-value industrial ingredients that feed into a supply chain that snakes through the factories of East Asia to the rest of the world. With public money in China pushing growth there to a brisk canter, and inventories all over the world being restocked, it was only a matter of time before Japan’s exporters began to benefit.

除去外表不同,这些都是注入一条供应链的高科技产品或者高价值工业原料。这条供应链的上产品从东亚的工厂流向世界其他地方。随着中国的公共资金推动经济活跃地发展,世界各地的存货正在充实起来,而日本的出口商受益也指日可待。


The strength of the recovery has surprised many economists. Japan was one of the hardest-hit countries during the global financial crisis. The collapse in exports helped put a nail in the coffin of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had ruled Japan for most of the past 55 years, partly on the strength of its ties with Japan’s globe-trotting corporate giants. It was swept from power last September by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which promised to end the economy’s dependence on fickle exports and promote a more balanced economy.

许多经济学家对日本经济复苏的力度感到吃惊。日本是此次全球金融危机中受冲击最为严重的国家之一。出口的暴跌成为压垮自民党的最后一根稻草,而自民党之所以能统治日本长达55年,部分是由于与日本的跨国公司巨头之间亲密的关系。去年九月份民主党将自民党赶下台,并许诺选民要结束依靠易变的出口的经济模式,并促进经济向平衡发展。


Fickleness cuts both ways, however. Japan’s recession hit bottom in the first three months of 2009. JPMorgan calculates that over the subsequent nine months the export revival led to annualised growth of 3.1%, outstripping both America and the euro zone. Corporate profits enjoyed their biggest surge on record, albeit from very depressed levels. Unemployment has edged downwards and in January this year monthly wages crept higher compared with a year earlier for the first time in more than 18 months. JPMorgan recently upgraded its forecast for first-quarter GDP growth from 1.8% to 3.5%.

然而,易变是把双刃剑。2009年第一季度,日本的经济衰退触底。根据摩根大通的数据,在去年4月至12月,日本出口强劲复苏,带动全年经济增长率达3.1%,超过了美国和欧元区的增速。日本公司的盈利也创纪录地增长,尽管这种增长是从萧条中恢复的。日本失业率已经降低,今年1月份月工资水平18个多月来首次实现同比在增长。最近,摩根大通对日本第一季度的经济增长预测由1.8%上调至3.5%。


Last year’s rebound in GDP, JPMorgan notes, was only a quarter of what Japan lost in the first 12 months of the crisis, so it still has a long way to go. Unless growth in global demand is sustained, it remains heavily reliant on pump-priming, both in China and at home. The recovery is likely to be given an extra fillip this year by the 2010 budget, passed on March 24th, which includes handouts to families with children under 16. In principle, spurring domestic consumption by any means available is the right thing for the seven-month-old government to do, given the fragility of the rebound. But given Japan’s precarious public finances, a bigger question is: can the recovery be sustained?

摩根大通指出,去年日本经济的反弹,只相当于其在爆发经济危机的第一年GDP所损失的四分之一,因此,想要完全恢复,日本还有很长的路要走。除非全球需求增长能够持续,否 则经济就会对政府刺激政策十分依赖,不管是在中国还是其国内。3月24日通过的2010财年预算将会推动日本经济复苏,这份预算案包括对含有16岁以下子女的家庭补贴计划。考虑到复苏的脆弱性,对于这个上台只有七个月的民主党政府,无论如何,从原则上来说,刺激国内消费是正确的事情。但是,如果考虑到日本危险的公共财政状况,一个更大的问题 是:这种经济可持续吗?


The answer, disappointingly, is not for very long. That is because the cyclical upturn is unlikely to do any more than paper over Japan’s deep-seated problems. These include deflation, huge public debt, ugly demographics and a glaring lack of decisiveness among policymakers about how to deal with them. Unless things change radically, these problems seem destined to sap nominal growth for years to come, with possibly disastrous consequences.

令人失望的是,答案是不会太长。这是因为周期性的经济复苏除了掩盖日本根深蒂固的问题之外,没有任何作用。这些问题包括通货紧缩、巨额公共债务、老龄化日益严重以及政 策制定者在处理这些问题方面欠缺果断。


Deeply depressing
深感忧虑

 
To start with, Japan’s economy continues to operate far below capacity. The output gap stands at 7%, three times bigger than it has been at any time since Japan’s asset-price bubble burst 20 years ago, according to Richard Katz of the Oriental Economist, a newsletter. The gap between actual GDP and potential GDP (when the economy is at full throttle) correlates well with deflation, he argues (see chart 1). That suggests consumer prices have further to fall. In its latest estimate the Bank of Japan (BoJ), the credibility of which should rest on ending deflation, predicted that consumer prices would continue to fall until March 2012.

首先,日本的经济继续在远低于实际产能的情况下运行。根据东方经济学家期刊的理查德•卡茨 ,目前日本产出缺口高达7%,是20年前日本资产价格泡沫破灭之后任何时候的4倍 多。他认为,实际GDP和潜在GDP(充分利用产能所能生产出的GDP)的缺口与通缩之间高度关联(见表1)。缺口的扩大暗示消费者价格将会进一步下降。日本银行应该通过终结通缩获得其声誉,根据其最新的预测,日本的消费物价在2012年3月以前将会一直下降。


Falling prices mean that nominal GDP, which last year hit its lowest level since 1991, is likely to remain in the deep freeze. That will add to pressure on the public purse: in the 2010 budget, borrowing, at ¥44 trillion ($468 billion), is for the first time forecast to exceed tax revenues, at ¥37 trillion. It also means the gross debt-to-GDP ratio, already the highest in the rich world at 190%, will continue to rise.

持续下降的价格意味着,去年创下自1991年来最低的名义GDP会一直处于“深度冻结”。这样会加重对政府财政的压力:2010预算中,借款(负债)将高达44万亿,预计将是首次超过37万亿日元的税收收入。这也意味着日本的总负债与GDP之比,达到富国中最高的190%,将会进一步上升。


Some argue that this combination of deflation-sapped growth and high debt makes Japan next in line for a Greek-style debt crisis. In a report last month, Goldman Sachs said some foreign investors were positioning themselves for a “meltdown”. They were buying options to prepare for two related events: a sharp rise in long-term interest rates because of an erosion in debt sustainability, and a slump in the yen caused by capital flight from Japan.

一些人认为,通缩和高赤字的双重冲击将会使日本成为下一个希腊。高盛上月在一份报告中说,外国投资者已经为日本“倒债”做准备。他们买入相关期权对赌两件相关的事情: 一是由于债务可持续性受侵蚀导致长期利率激增,另一个是资金从日本外流导致日元大幅贬值。


One senior bureaucrat in the finance ministry returned from a G7 meeting in Canada in February, his ears ringing with worries about Greece—and, by extension, Japan. But he appeared to find it more wearying than alarming. “For years we have been hearing warnings that Japanese-government bonds are going to collapse. It’s like the doomsday view of the dollar,” he moaned. Pointing to a trading screen on the wall where ten-year Japanese bond yields were  yielding a meagre 1.4%, he noted that the market was still holding firm (in Greece, yields were about 7% at the time). He believes that Japan still has plenty of room to avoid a fiscal implosion.

一名财务省的高级官员今年2月参加完了七国集团峰会之后,他的耳边还回响起对希腊的担心,以及进一步,对日本的债务状况也表示忧虑。但是,他似乎发现这些都是令人厌倦的 话语而不是警告。“多年来,我们一直听到说日本政府债券会崩溃的谣言,这就像是美元末日说一样”他低吟着。他指出市场对日本国债的信心依旧坚定,墙上的交易屏显示,十年期日本国债的收益率处于1.4%的低位,而同期得希腊债券的收益率则高达7%。他认为,日本还有相当大的空间来防止出现财政崩溃。

 
In the short term, there are grounds for sharing his confidence. In many sovereign-debt crises, the trigger is not the level of debt, but the government’s inability to finance it. In a recent IMF working paper*, Kiichi Tokuoka notes that in recent years there has been scant linkage between Japanese government-bond yields and the size of Japan’s debt and deficits. Indeed, when net debt was less than 20% of GDP in the early 1990s, ten-year bonds yielded 7%. As the debt has soared, yields have moved in the opposite direction (see chart 2).

短期内,这名官员有许多理由自信。在以往多次的主权债务危机中,触发危机爆发的导火索不是负债水平,而是政府不能继续筹措到资金还债。在最近的一份国际货币基金组织(IMF)的工作论文中,德冈贵一(Kiichi Tokuoka)指出,近年来日本政府债券的收益率与日本的债务和财政赤字的规模之间没多大联系。的确,在20世纪90年代初,日本的净负债占到GDP的比重不到20%,但是那时十年期日本国债的收益率高达7%。随着债务飙升,日本国债收益率向相反的方向变化。(见表2)


There are many Japan-specific reasons for this, he argues. The Japanese have a large, albeit now scarcely growing, store of savings that have helped finance the build-up of debt. At the end of 2008 domestic investors held 94% of Japanese government bonds, perhaps reflecting the risk-averse nature of Japanese society. More than half of the country’s ¥1,400 trillion of financial assets is held in cash and deposits (in America the figure is 14%), and a large part of these are invested in Japanese government bonds via the banking system. Big public institutions such as the Japan Post Bank hold lots of government bonds. So do Japanese firms, many of which have large financial surpluses after a long period of post-bubble deleveraging.

德冈贵一认为,有许多日本特有的原因造成上述的情况发生。尽管几乎没有增长,日本仍有大量的储蓄来为债务融资。截至2008年年底,国内投资者持有94%的日本国债,这也许反映出日本社会规避风险的本质。日本1400万亿日元的金融资产一半以上是以现金和存款的形式存在的(美国这一比例是14%),而且这其中一大部分是通过银行系统投资于日本国债。一些大的公共机构如日本邮政银行大量持有日本国债。一些日本公司,由于在后泡沫时代去杠杆化的长期作用下,拥有大量的资金剩余,它们也同样投资于日本国债。


There may be other factors at play, too. Even with nominal interest rates so low, deflation has given investors a pretty good risk-adjusted return. Why diversify? Other assets, such as land and shares, remain at paltry levels compared with their bubble-era peaks. Investing abroad has been hobbled by the yen’s strength. Japanese government bonds, by contrast, have enjoyed one of the biggest bull runs in history. Some even suggest, with a conspiratorial wink, that one reason the authorities have done so little to tackle deflation is that they fear the consequences in the bond market if consumer prices were to accelerate.

也有一些其他因素起作用。即使名义利率现在如此之低,通缩使得投资者们有不错的风险调整回报。为什么要去使投资多样化呢?一些其他的资产,如土地和股票比起在泡沫时期的峰值,它们的价格仍处在极低的价格。由于日元不够坚挺,海外投资一直步履维艰。相反,日本国债发行量正在经历其史上最大幅度上涨。一些带有阴谋论的论调甚至暗示说,日本政府在处理通缩问题方面如此不利的一个原因是它们担心一旦消费物价上涨的话,会严重影响到债券市场。


Crisis? What crisis?
危机?什么危机?

Paradoxically, however, the belief that there is no imminent crisis brewing may be Japan’s biggest problem. Without it, there may be nothing to force Japan’s policymakers out of a deep paralysis. The scale of the institutional lethargy in Japan is at times breathtaking. Everyone, it seems, puts the blame for deflation and rising debt elsewhere.

矛盾的是,日本最大的问题是国内不相信危机即将来临。没有这种危机感,就没有力量促使日本的政策制定者们从“深度瘫痪”中拉出来。制度性的“昏睡”的规模现在是触目惊心的。似乎所有人都责怪造成通缩和债务激增的原因在其他地方。


Take deflation, for instance. By any reckoning it has had a corrosive effect on consumption, debt and investment in the past decade. And expectations of further deflation are entrenched: more than 35% of people expect prices to be flat or lower in five years’ time. The finance ministry, led by Naoto Kan, a newish finance minister, argues with increasing stridency that it is necessary for the BoJ to root out deflation, so that Japan can once again resume nominal GDP growth. Yukio Hatoyama, the prime minister, has collared Masaaki Shirakawa, the BoJ’s governor, on the issue.

以通缩为例。从任何方面来说,在过去十年当中,通缩都对消费、债务和投资产生不利影响。而且,目前市场对于未来通缩会加剧的预期已经根深蒂固:超过35%的日本人认为在未来五年内价格会持平或下降。由菅直人领导的日本财务省一直大声呼吁,认为日本银行有必要根除通缩,只有这样日本才能恢复名义GDP的增长。首相鸠山由纪夫也因此事质询日本银行行长白川方明。


Yet because the annual decline in consumer prices has been only moderate— they have never fallen by more than 1.4%, in contrast with the rapidly plunging prices of America’s Depression in the 1930s—the central bank tends to view deflation as insidious, rather than cataclysmic. As one insider rather nonchalantly puts it, it is a symptom of bigger underlying problems, rather than the problem itself.
然而,因为日本的消费价格年下降率一直很温和——从来没有下降超过1.4%,相比之下,美国三十年代大萧条的时候美国的物价急剧下降,所以中央银行认为通缩只具有潜在的危险,而不是灾难性的。正如财务省的一位内部人士漠不关心地说,这(通缩)是更大的潜在问题的征兆,而不是问题本身。


The bank thinks the real problems are low productivity growth in Japan, which keeps wages low and suppresses demand for goods and services, and high public debt. In that sense, bizarrely for a central bank, it does not appear to believe that deflation is a monetary problem. Its own earlier experience of monetary stimulus since 1995, when it more than doubled the monetary base with little discernible effect on nominal growth, has left it unimpressed. As a result, it injected liquidity only half-heartedly into the system during the global financial crisis, putting it at odds with central banks in other rich countries.

日本银行认为日本真正的问题是生产力的低增长,这样导致工资处于低水平、抑制对货物与服务的需求以及高公共负债。从这种意义上说,很奇怪的是,这家中央银行似乎不认为通缩是一个货币层面的问题,因为其从1995年开始实施货币刺激政策,当时基础货币增加了一倍以上,然而这对名义(经济)增长没有太大作用。所以,在全球金融危机中,日本银行就“漫不经心”向金融系统地注入流动性,使得它显得与其他富国的中央银行格格不入。


The BoJ’s resistance to acting more forcefully may be rooted in its own analysis of its earlier experience. It also seems to be haunted by the potential consequences for its credibility if it acts and fails. That position might be understandable if it were a clearly stated policy. But the bank seems to want it both ways. After much government pressure, in March it said it would extend its emergency supply of three-month loans to the banking system by ¥10 trillion. But far from being seen as a principled move to jump-start lending, this was perceived as a weak attempt by the bank to get the government off its back—and the BoJ’s credibility took a further knock.

日本银行拒绝采取更加有力的行动,可能是基于对以前一些经验的分析。似乎它也担心如果采取行动失败后会对其信誉产生潜在的影响。如果是一项阐述清楚的政策的话,这种处境就可以很好理解。但是,日本银行两种都想要。受到来自政府的太大压力之后,3月份日本银行宣布将向银行系统的3个月期紧急贷款增加10万亿日元。但是这还远不能被看作是启动信贷的原则性行动,外界认为这是日本银行是一个微弱的试探,以摆脱受政府影响,然而这却更加影响其信誉。


When it comes to public debt, the finance ministry’s ostrich-like argument that there is little it can do about it until the BoJ deals with deflation is just as frustrating. It, too, appears to think that things are not as bad as the outside world believes. As one central banker ruefully puts it: “Japan is not faced with an imminent debt crisis. But that is a mixed blessing.”

当然,在公共债务问题上,财务省的鸵鸟式理论也很牵强,说除非日本银行消除通缩,否则财务省应对高负债所采取的措施很有限。而且,财务省似乎认为情况不想外界想象的那么糟糕。正如一位央行行长指出:“日本没有面临紧迫的债务危机。但这是好坏参半。”


The torpor dates back years. The finance ministry is haunted by its premature attempt to raise consumption taxes before a recovery was fully under way in 1997. Another attempt to overhaul spending and taxation was launched in 2006, not long before the bursting of the global credit bubble brought it to a halt. According to the OECD, under previous LDP governments, much of the emphasis on improving public finances was focused on spending cuts rather than tax increases. Taxation as a share of GDP remains among the lowest in the OECD. But the tax system is hardly conducive to growth, with some of the highest corporate-tax rates and lowest consumption-tax rates in the rich world. To bureaucrats in the finance ministry, this suggests there is plenty of fiscal  flexibility in Japan to deal with the debt problem. The trouble is they have never succeeded at tax reform.

这种决策上的迟缓可以追溯到多年前。财务省就受到困扰,因为1997年在经济处于全面复苏之前,其过早地提高消费税。另外一个不太成功的尝试就是在2006年发起财政支出和税收政策的改革,但是之后不久的全球信贷泡沫破灭致使改革停顿。根据经济合作与发展组织,在之前的自民党领导下,政府的改善财政侧重于削减支出而不是提高税收。目前,日本税收收入占GDP的比重在经合组织中是最低的。但是目前的税收体系很难对经济增长产生作用。因为在富国中,日本的公司税率是最高的,消费率是最低的。对于财务省的官僚来说,这意味着日本政府在通过财政措施处理债务问题的时候有很大灵活性。但问题是他们从来没有在税收改革方面的成功经验。


Into this policy vacuum came the new DPJ government last year, with Mr Hatoyama vowing that he would not consider raising the consumption tax until the next elections in 2013. Greece’s fiscal mess may have knocked a greater sense of urgency into his administration. After his first G7 meeting in February, Mr Kan, the newly appointed finance minister, began to speak more publicly of fiscal reform.

去年民主党上台执政以后,日本政策上出现了真空。鸠山由纪夫许诺在2013年大选之前不会考虑提高消费税。但是,希腊债务危机给鸠山政府带来更大的紧迫感。在今年二月第一次出席完七国集团峰会之后,新任命的财务大臣菅直人开始在公开场合更多地谈论财政改革的问题。


Others have taken up his call. Yoshito Sengoku, Mr Kan’s replacement as strategy minister, says that the moment borrowing exceeded tax revenues in the 2010 budget, it was clear that Japan had reached a turning point. “I don’t think the situation will go immediately as it did in Greece. But going forward the Japanese bond market will always be under pressure and the government officials who are in charge of fiscal policies have to be ten times more cautious than before,” he says.

一些官员开始响应他的号召。继任菅直人成为新的国家战略大臣的仙谷由人说,2010年日本的预算债务首次超过税收,很明显日本已经到达一个转折点。“我不认为日本会马上进入希腊所处的境地。但是,未来日本债券市场会一直承受压力,负责制定财政政策的政府官员必不得不以前谨慎十倍以上。”他说。


He favours an increase in the consumption tax and may also support cuts in corporate tax when he announces a medium-term plan for fiscal reform in the spring. But the politics of a significant overhaul are excruciatingly complicated. After a series of political-funding scandals involving Mr Hatoyama, support for his administration has fallen sharply ahead of upper- house elections in the summer. So it is a safe bet that any talk of tax reform will be accompanied by soothing promises of higher welfare spending.

当今春仙谷由人宣布一项中期的财政改革计划的时候,他表示赞成提高消费税和降低公司税。但是任何重大改革背后的明争暗斗都是极其复杂的。在一系列的政治献金丑闻之后,民众鸠山政府的支持率锐减,而不久后日本将会举行参议院选举。因此,可以肯定的说,政府发表的任何关于税收改革的言论必须辅以更高福利支出的承诺来安抚民心。

We can't go on like this
我们不能再像这样下去了

At present none of the ideas being aired to deal with Japan’s problems is anything like bold or concrete enough to sound convincing. And though the government may muddle through for a few years yet, ultimately the situation is unsustainable.At some point, unless radical steps are taken, Japan’s government will go bust.

目前,任何关于处理日本问题想法缺乏勇气和具体措施,听起来都难以令人信服。尽管日本政府在未来若干年对此问题上可能会敷衍,但是这种情况终将是不可持续的。在未来某一时间,除非采取激进措施,否则日本政府就会完蛋。

The IMF’s Mr Tokuoka reckons that as the population ages, savings will dwindle, which could reduce inflows to the government-bond market. He calculates that even if the household savings rate remains at 2.2%, by 2015 gross public debt could exceed households’financial assets, which might make domestic funding more difficult and lead Japan to rely more on foreigners. Meanwhile, government pension funds have more flexibility to invest in other assets besides government bonds.

基金组织的德冈贵一认为,随着人口老龄化,储蓄将会逐渐减少,这样流入债券市场的资金将会减少。根据他的数据,即使日本家庭储蓄率保持在目前2.2%的水平,到2015年国内公共债务会超过家庭金融资产总额,到那时就会使得从国内筹资很难,导致日本更加依赖外国投资者。同时,除政府债券外,政府养老基金在投资方面更具灵活性,可以投资于其他资产。


With interest payments at 26% of tax revenues, rising yields would come as a huge shock to Japan. Already, some economists argue that flat bond yields give only the illusion of market stability. Ryutaro Kono, chief economist of BNP Paribas in Japan, says that given the fall in Japan’s potential growth rate and the drop in inflation expectations, yields should normally have plunged. “The fact that the long-term rate has generally been flat for the last 18 months suggests the risk premium is rising on questions of the sustainability of Japan’s public debt,” he says.

此外,国债的利息支付费用占税收收入的26%,不断上升的(债券)收益率将会对日本产生巨大冲击。一些经济学家已经说扁平的债券收益率只会产生市场稳定的幻觉。法国巴黎银 行日本区首席经济学家河野太郎(Ryutaro Kono)说,考虑到日本经济潜在增长率下滑以及通胀预期下降,在正常情况下债券收益率本应该暴跌。“事实上,长期利率在过去一年半中一直持平,这意味着风险溢价一直在上升,投资者担心日本公共债务不可持续。”他说。


Intergenerational transfer
两代之间的转移

 
What’s more, rising social-security payments as the population ages are likely to put even more pressure on public financing, while the shrinking workforce will mean even slower growth and smaller tax revenues. In 1990 almost six people of working age supported each retiree. By 2025 the Japanese government expects that ratio to fall to two. At some point Japan may have no other option than a domestic default in which the older generation, who hold most of the government bonds, will see the value of their investments cut to reduce the pressure on the younger generation. Such an intergenerational transfer would come at enormous political and social cost, not least in a society with such a strong sense of communal well-being.

而且,随着老龄化的进一步发展,不断上升的社会保障支出会对公共财政产生更大压力,然而萎缩的劳动力将意味着经济增长将会更缓慢,以及税收收入也会随之变少。1990年大约是每6个处于工作年龄段的人供养一个退休的老人。但是截至到2025年,预计这一比例将会下降到2比1。在未来某个时候,日本政府除了国内债务违约没有其他选择,而那些持有大部分日本国债的老一代将会发现他们的投资的价值大幅减少,从而减轻对年轻一代的压力。如此一个两代间转移将会耗费大量的政治和社会成本,尤其是在这样一个具有公共福利的强烈意识的国家。


Economists suggest many schemes to forestall such a crisis, most of which involve the government and the BoJ producing what the Oriental Economist’s Mr Katz calls a “fiscal-monetary one-two punch” to kick-start nominal growth. Massive and well-targeted fiscal stimulus is one option, he writes: the current “eco-points” subsidy scheme, which has led to a surge in purchases of energy-saving durable goods, is a good example. In return, the BoJ should commit to keeping long-term rates low by increasing its purchases of government bonds. Others favour a sharp cut in corporate tax rates to boost competitiveness.

经济学家建议了许多计划来阻止这样的一场危机,就涉及到政府和日本银行运用东方经济学家的Katz称之为财政、货币的组合拳的策略来推动名义增长。大规模和设定好目标的财政刺激政策是一个选择,他写道:目前的“生态点”补贴计划,导致节能耐用品的购买激增,就是一个很好的例子。作为回报,英国银行英国承诺通过增加购买政府债券来保持长期利率处于低位。另外一些经济学家也建议答复削减公司税率来提升竞争力。


Many observers agree that fiscal looseness is the best first step to faster nominal GDP growth. Jesper Koll, a strategist at JPMorgan, plausibly argues, however, that raising the consumption tax in small increments each year might encourage people to accelerate their spending plans. Whatever their prescriptions, few are optimistic. As Mr Katz puts it: “To reject both fiscal and monetary tools is to say that Japan can only wait for the rest of the world to rescue it. That’s the passive mindset that has kept Japan stagnant for two decades so far.”

许多观察家同意宽松的财政政策是迈开提高名义经济增长率第一步的最佳方法。摩根大通的策略分析师杰斯珀•科尔(Jesper Koll)认为,每年小幅提高消费税可以促使人们加快他们的支出计划。不管其应对方法是什么,很少有人会乐观。正如卡茨所说:“放弃财政和货币(政策)工具就等于说日本只能等世界其他国家解救它,这就是造成日本经济停滞二十年的被动习惯。”


One of the biggest challenges in stimulating growth is to persuade households and firms to borrow again. Richard Koo of the Nomura Research Institute calls their reluctance to do so the “debt-rejection syndrome”. Having finally paid off their bubble-era bills, many are likely to have a visceral objection to borrowing. He thinks an investment-tax credit for firms, and a promotion of investment by homeowners in Japan’s feeble housing stock, would help.

目前,刺激经济增长的最大的挑战就是说服日本的家庭和公司再向政府借贷。野村综合研究所的理查德•库(Richard Koo)称他们(公司和家庭)不愿这么做的心理为“摆脱债务综合症”。已近偿还了在泡沫时代的账单,他们许多人反对借款。库认为给公司提供投资税优惠,以及推动日本家庭投资本来已经虚弱的房地产市场,会有帮助。


Macroeconomic medicine, though essential, will not be enough to solve Japan’s problems. Structural reforms to raise the economy’s efficiency will be needed too. The list of areas which need a shake-up is as long as it is familiar. The heavily mollycoddled agricultural sector needs deregulating, and services from transport to power generation need to be opened up to foreign competition. Allowing more immigrants would boost the labour force. Many of these proposals are a hard sell culturally. But if the perils of inaction were well laid out, it would not be the first time Japanese citizens have been asked to accept big sacrifices in the national interest.

尽管采取宏观经济层面的措施是必要的,但也不足以解决日本的问题。提升经济的效率的结构性改革也是必需的。需要改革所涉及的经济领域也是大家熟悉的。应该解除对农业部门的严重补贴,运输、发电等行业开放外国的竞争。允许更多的移民来增加日本的劳动力。以上的很多建议从文化上很难被接受。但是由于迟钝而产生危害的话,这也不是第一次日本公民被要求以国家利益为重接受巨大牺牲。


The trouble is, there is little tangible sense, either among politicians or in the country at large, that a crisis is brewing. And if the economy continues its cyclical improvement, the urgency of reform may appear even less compelling. It will be even harder given people’s abiding faith, Toyota’s humiliating recalls notwithstanding, in the prowess of Japan’s cutting-edge exporters and their growing links with China. As one businessman puts it, in a country that has been blighted by wars, fires and earthquakes throughout its history, people have grown accustomed to waiting until disaster is actually upon them before they focus on renewal.

问题是,不管是政客还是这个国家都没有意识到危机正在酝酿之中。而且如果经济继续周期性地复苏,改革的紧迫性就会减少。如果考虑到日本人的坚定信念,改革就会变得更难。尽管丰田耻辱性地发生大规模召回事件,人们相信日本尖端出口商的强大以及他们同中国之间联系日益紧密。正如一位商人所说,在一个历史上长期被战争、火灾和地震摧残的国家,人们习惯于等到灾难发生之后再关注如何重建。


A lot about this state of affairs—particularly the reluctance to do anything radical—is profoundly Japanese. It may mean the country is consigned to stagnation, which only makes an eventual default appear more inevitable. But the lessons from Japan are important for all countries, such as America, Britain and parts of Europe, that have suffered a big asset bust. It shows that in the aftermath of a meltdown, slow growth, low productivity, rising public debt and deflationary pressures can last a lot longer than anyone thinks—and that policymakers can make all sorts of mistakes as they try to escape them. 更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

目前所造成的事态,尤其是勉强做任何激进的变革,都是典型的日本式做法。这有可能意味着这个国家已经把自己托付和了经济停滞,而这最终会导致不可避免的出现违约。但是日本的教训对于所有的国家都是有很重要意义的,例如美国、英国以及部分欧洲国家,它们都经历过资产破产。在倒债之后,缓慢的增长、低生产力、攀升的公共债务以及通缩压力所持续的时间比人们想象的长得多。当政策制定者企图避免它们的时候,它们会犯各种各样的错误。

注释:
* “The Outlook for Financing Japan’s Public Debt” by Kiichi Tokuoka, IMF    国际货币基金组织经济学家德冈贵一论文“日本公共债务展望”