Friday, October 31, 2014
12

美国的其余30%

纽黑文——美国消费者现在只剩下以前无所不能的影子。2012年第二季度美国个人消费经通胀调整后的实际年增长率仅为1.5%——而且这还算不上什么失常表现。不幸的是,这不过是2008年初以来日趋明显的疲软格局的延续。

与危机爆发前10年3.6%的增长趋势相比,过去18个季度实际消费需求的年均增长率仅有可怜的0.7%。美国消费者还从未有过如此长时间的弱势记录。

其中的原因并不是什么秘密。消费者在住房和信贷这两个泡沫上下了大注。不计后果的货币和监管政策把原本简陋的居所变成了自动提款机,让有房一族从泡沫当中提取美元,享受着超出自身经济能力的生活。

这两大泡沫其实早已破裂,美国家庭正被迫面对泡沫破灭所带来的金融后果。相关问题包括水下资产、创记录的负债和深度储蓄短缺。与此同时,失业率飙升和收入增长欠佳也收紧了本已过度举债的消费者脖子上的绞索。

于是乎,美国家庭前所未有地放低了姿态。消费者把赚取的微薄收入用来还债和重建储蓄,而不是用来支出。此举确为逻辑理性之举——因此绝非美联储靠超乎常规的宽松货币政策可以抵消的。

美国消费者前所未有的紧缩态度已经将美国经济增长预测翻了个底朝天。消费通常占国内生产总值的70%(准确的讲二季度为71%)。但这70%几乎没有任何增长,而且在可以预见的未来强劲增长的可能性也微乎其微。这就导致推动经济复苏的巨大压力落到其余30%的美国经济身上。

其实,这其余30%的表现可圈可点,尤其考虑到70%消费所产生的严重阻力。其余这30%主要包括四个部分:即公司资本支出、净出口(出口减去进口)、住宅建设和政府采购。(技术上还应该包括库存投资的速度,但该指标仅为生产和销售之间的周期性缓冲,而并非最终需求的来源。)

鉴于过去四年半中实际消费区区0.7%的增长率,大萧条后美国经济能以2.2%的速度缓慢复苏不失为一个奇迹。这主要归功于除消费以外的其余30%,特别需要感谢强劲的出口和企业资本支出的反弹。

反之,政府部门却朝着相反的方向发展,因为国家和地方政府执行紧缩,联邦采购也随着后危机时代的赤字爆炸达到了极限。房地产部门过去五个季度已经开始复苏,但因为之前的状况过于严重,其目前增长对整体经济的影响微乎其微。

鉴于消费今后几年持续疲软的可能性极大,美国经济增长议程需要重点挖掘其余30%的潜力。在构成这其余30%的四大门类中,资本支出和出口这两类最有可能有所作为。

这两大增长源头的前景不仅会影响到复苏的前景,还很可能成为美国经济增长模式重大转变的决定因素。70/30的分割进一步凸显了挑战:美国必须直面一次根本性的调整——逐渐摆脱对国内需求的过度依赖,并向外部需求争取更多的支持。

共同占国内生产总值约24%的资本支出和出口构成了此次转型的关键因素。资本支出的比例将将超过GDP的10%,远低于2000年近13%的峰值。可如果美国企业要配备先进的产能、技术和私有基础设施,夺回国内外市场份额,资本支出就必须超过2000年的峰值。只有这样从2009年中以来令人印象深刻的出口增长才能更进一步。也只有这样美国才能遏制外国生产企业进口渗透的增长势头。

其余这30%也象征美国所面临的更深层次的战略问题——同时也是深刻的竞争挑战。向外部需求转型也并非招之即来,必须依靠勤奋、毅力和迟到的竞争力复苏来努力争取。

美国在这方面也已经落后。世界经济论坛发布的全球竞争力指数显示,美国从前一年的第四位下滑至2011-2012间的第五位,延续2005年来明显的持续下滑势头。

持续下滑可以归结为若干因素,其中包括中小学教育缺陷和宏观经济管理的低效。同样令人不安的还有美国的基础设施质量排名(第24位)、技术有效性和吸收度排名(第18位)、此外还有供应链生产工艺的广度和深度(第14位)。

全方位的改善对美国竞争力的复苏至关重要。但迎接上述挑战需要美国其余的30%——尤其是私人资本开支保持强劲的增长势头。由于美国消费可能会持续低迷,同样这30%还必须继续担负起疲弱的经济复苏重担。

所有这些都不可能在真空当中实现。没有美国储蓄迟到已久的复苏,恢复竞争力和持续复苏所需的资金根本不可能实现。在政府赤字超大和家庭储蓄欠佳的年代,这或许是美国所面临的最严峻的挑战。

翻译:Xu Binbin

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  1. CommentedTom Hagan

    Yet another incorrect analysis. To begin with, the housing and credit bubble did not "cause" the financial collapse.The financial collapse would have happened anyway, but sooner. The effect of the bubble was just to keep the music playing longer.

    The real cause of the collapse was that banks ran out of borrowers. Had they stopped lending when they first could not find borrowers who would pay them back, the collapse would have occurred then. Instead, they began lending money they knew was never going to be paid back, liar loans, and when these inevitably failed, the bubble they induced collapsed.

    But the bubble did not CAUSE the financial collapse, it simply delayed it.

    Neither Romney nor Obama has a fix for what ails us: insufficient demand caused by excessive inequality.

    The only thing that will fix the economy is a massive redistribution of wealth to restore demand, and then a permanent redistribution of income to prevent ever-growing inequality leading to eventual collapse, as now.

    Both Romney and Obama would lead us into the abyss, Romney a bit faster. With the program proposed by either, we are doomed.

  2. CommentedJohn A Werneken

    Vote for Romney then.

    "None of this can occur in a vacuum. The investment required for competitive revival and sustained recovery cannot be funded without a long-overdue improvement in US saving. In an era of outsize government deficits and subpar household saving, that may be America’s toughest challenge of all."

    Enough said; no progress possible with the Yuppie-Union-Ethnic wing of the Democratic Party in charge.

  3. CommentedF. W. Croft

    This article's right on the money. I'd note that, in addition to building exports, we need to work harder at attracting inbound investment. Beyond visa programs, we should probably consider something along the lines of the Special Administrative Regions that have worked in the PRC: areas such as Hong Kong or Shenzhen, where tax breaks and simplified regulation are used to attract capital and stimulate new business production. Paul Romer has suggested that a related approach be used in the US...

      CommentedPaulo Sérgio

      Can Right-to-work states be considered Special Administrative Regions against the mostly unionized northern states and California? It may then just require a concerted effort to position these states more favorably..

  4. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    Prof. Roach is absolutely right about the shift in focus to the other 30% as consumption is most likely to stall not only for the reasons sited but also for the demographic shift as the baby boomers approach retirement when savings more than consumption would be the natural fall out.

    But the problem with growth in capital spending is better observed in the slowdown of the same in S&P 500 in Q2 (5.6%) against 8.6% last year, as forward orders in capital equipment is showing a grim picture, which impacts the forward earnings and we see manifestations of this in the guidance statements. This normally moves to cost cutting responses for a majority, not the ideal for restoring the economy to the trajectory of growth.

    Procyon Mukherjee

      CommentedDavid Cearley

      I'm not sure consumption will fall much as boomers age. Take a look at the data from a report on boomer consumption;
      http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/181070/baby-boomers-control-70-of-the-us-disposable-in.html

      Consumers ages 47 – 66 (Baby Boomers) Facts:

      Control 70% of US disposable income
      Dominate 119 out of 123 CPG categories
      40% of customers paying for wireless service
      41% own Apple computers
      53% are on Facebook
      40% most likely to use an iPhone
      Over age 50 spend $7 billion online annually
      Purchase 62.5% of new cars
      Purchase 80% of luxury travel
      70% show up to vote in elections
      Boomers spend more money each month on technology than Gen X or Gen Y – an average of $650 per month
      Spend most on health care
      Spend most on pharmaceuticals
      One in 7 boomers care for a parent or family member
      71% of Boomers go online every day
      66% of Boomers send text messages


      Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/181070/baby-boomers-control-70-of-the-us-disposable-in.html#ixzz249CFbuRS

  5. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    Although the facts are all around us, even within this very article we still do not want to see it.
    The main problem is the excessive consumerism, an economic model that is based on constant quantitative growth, overproduction and over consumption of products we do not have a natural desire or need for, but a sophisticated marketing machinery and the subsequent social pressure forces us to keep buying them. As a result we all delved into deeper and deeper debt, we are unhappy and increasingly empty as we stuff ourselves with thing we do not need and we have no time to deal with things, health, family, proper education, real human connections, we should be dealing with and which things could make us truly happy.
    We still stubbornly, desperately try to rescue this fading and collapsing system instead of being happy that we are liberated from this unnatural and artificial consumer system, and that we got a chance again to return to a happy, normal, natural human life in the 21st century.
    If we lived within, and adapted to the natural laws governing our vast natural, integral system this planet still has enough bounty to supply double the present human population.
    Only we need to change our attitude and lifestyle.

      CommentedMelanie holzman

      Give it a rest, Mr. Hermann.

      You have made the same comment over and over. I, for one, do not want a philosophy of what YOU think is absolutely necessary forced on me.

      CommentedLinda Narbonne

      True. We must adopt new values and lifestlye, clarify the meaning of our life; a mutual paradigm and attitude as humans living together as one united entity in mutual care.

      The crisis is our opportunity to make that shift.

      "People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." — Jean Monnet

  6. CommentedJim Nail

    A clear summary, but there is one little word that gets insufficient attention in it: the word 'net.' Roach emphasizes exports as a growth engine, forgetting that the word in the economics books is 'net exports.' A difference with huge policy implications. Trade controls or other measures restricting imports from China, until something happens with their currency, would be just as effective in raising net exports as as, say, extra sales of high-tech weaponry to Saudi Arabia...

  7. Commentedjracforr jracforr

    Maybe we can combine two of America's problems and arrive at a solution to this problem. Firstly many companies are said to have stashed billions in off shore tax shelter to avoid the IRS and secondly infrastructure cost and import / export tariff undermine industrial competitiveness . Many foreign nations create FREE ZONES where taxes and tariff and other hindrance to competitive industrial production are eliminated. The only stipulation is that the goods produced in these zones are for export only. This concept could be used in in the USA equally well in Southern Florida , Texas, California etc. The TAX FREE INCENTIVE that these free zones offer, should attract capital held in off shore tax haven as well as solve the " profound competitive challenge " that America suffers.

  8. CommentedRichard Foosion

    >>That is both logical and rational – and thus not something that the US Federal Reserve can offset with unconventional monetary easing.>>

    The conclusion does not at all follow from the premise. For example, if the Fed could induce higher spending, consumers would have more income and more to money to use to pay down debt (on a macro level, spending equals income). Merely increasing inflation to target or higher would reduce the real burden of debt

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