Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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美国大幻象

纽黑文—1998年9月,在亚洲金融危机最危险的时候,时任美联储主席格林斯潘的立场很简单:在步履蹒跚的世界中,美国无法成为繁荣的绿洲。时至今日,格林斯潘的观点比当时还要正确。

诚然,美国经济在过去三年中已经走上了疲软复苏的轨道。但很多人都认为,无论如何至少在复苏,在发达世界步履蹒跚的环境下,美国称得上坚韧之源。与2008—2009年的大衰退不同,如今,人们普遍希望美国有能力成为中流砥柱,为世界提供支持,战胜欧元危机。

让我们深思一番。2009年一季度,美国经济在战后最严重的衰退中触底,此后,出口在此轮反弹中贡献了足足41%。这就对了:在经历了历史上最大的消费狂欢后,美国消费者再也无力回天,美国经济需要大量依靠外国市场过活。现如今外国市场麻烦重重,美国可能很快也无法独善其身。

亚洲、拉美和欧洲加起来要占美国过去3年出口导向增长势头的83%。(美国商务部所做的地区和国家贸易统计并不进行季节调整,以下比较均以2009年一季度至2012年一季度可比季节比较为基础。)

毫不奇怪,亚洲在其中首屈一指,贡献了美国过去三年出口增加量的33%。其中最大的需求源是贡献了15个百分点的大中华区。不消说,中国的日渐减速——即使是我相信最有可能出现的软着陆情形——正在威胁美国最大的出口复兴源。其他以亚洲为首的美国出口动力——特别是韩国、日本和中国台湾,它们本身都是出口导向经济,且严重依赖减速中的中国——也在受到影响。

拉美是美国出口复兴的第二大源头,贡献了美国过去三年中对外销售的28%。巴西和墨西哥加起来贡献了出口增长的19个百分点。这两个国家的增长均在显著放缓,特别是巴西。但是,由于墨西哥生产和美国消费(目前复燃势头重现)之间存在紧密联系,其经济的任何反弹都不会长久。

最后,欧洲(占美国过去三年累计出口增长的21%)的状况可谓悲惨。在欧洲问题上,美国商务部的统计数字在描绘动力源方面的效能要差一些,因为只有部分国家的数字被公布了。我们所知道的是,英国、德国和法国——即所谓的核心国——加起来只贡献了美国2009年初至今总出口增长的3.5%,其中贡献最大的是英国。这表明美国的欧洲出口增量集中于所谓的外围国。显然,这是一个严重的问题。

做预测总是有风险的,但不少“假定”情景有助于我们一窥世界第一大经济体的前途。2009年二季度以来,美国年化真实GDP增长率平均为2.4%。其中大约40%由出口贡献,这意味着美国经济的其他部分增长率只有区区1.4%。

如果美国出口持平,即没有增长,且其他条件保持不变(相当大胆的假设),总体真实GDP将趋向1.4%。不管用什么标准衡量,这样的增长率都不可不谓疲软——可能造成失业增加和消费信心的进一步受损。

另一个情形是出口温和下降,在四个季度的时期内真实出口下降5%。在该情形下,真实GDP增长将滑到1%的“失速速度”临界值之下,美国经济随时都有可能再现衰退。作为参考,5%出口下降的假设与2008—2009年期间所发生的真实出口猛降13.6%一比只能算小巫见大巫。这样说来,这一“假定”倒称得上对外部需求疲软导致的下行风险的谨慎乐观的估计了。

所有这些都体现了日趋相互依赖的世界所带来的一大显而易见却被忽视的影响。欧元危机是一次严重冲击,正在全世界制造连锁反应。欧洲是出口导向的中国最大的外部需求源;中国不好,以中国为中心的其他亚洲国家就不会好;而从这里出发,反应环还将延伸到日渐依赖出口的美国经济。最近的就业和零售数字的疲软状况显示,这一反馈环已经发生了作用。

1998年格里斯潘发出警告时,出口只占美国GDP的10.5%。如今,随着后危机时代的美国将宝押在出口导向复苏,这一比重上升为历史最高的14%。当前的全球减速与20世纪90年代末不同,与三四年前破坏性更大的冲击也不同(或至少还没有趋同的迹象)。但绝不能认为当下的全球减速对美国或其他任何国家不重要。

在全球化的时代,没有人能充当独善其身的旁观者。在面临全球经济出现又一次重大冲击的情况下,没有哪个国家可以称为繁荣的绿洲。美国的增长幻象便是重要一课。

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  1. Commentedsrinivasan gopalan

    If internalization of production and services of skilled people helped and are still helping fire America's export Juggernaut, the reasons for its internal restiveness about the problems plaguing the American economy could not be answered with any justification. The free trade bastion which has been the major prop for the erstwhile GATT and its next avatar the WTO at least in its first decade since its advent in 1995 is now a reluctant supporter of the WTO. This is borne out in not sealing a deal to the long-delayed Doha Round of trade talks set off in November 2011As long as this is not recognized and remedied before long, the problems plaguing the developed countries would only persist and worsen further. The global community in general and the United States in particular can no longer afford to keep themselves off from the virtues and the attendant gains of multilateral cooperation in their own enlightened self-interest. It is the lack of perspicacious vision to evolve a collective solution to the global common problems that has been the sole factor in the current shambles in which many advanced countries find themselves with the emerging economies in tow! It is time international cooperation is made feasible in an inter-connected universe where globalization and liberalization had gone too far to effect any unilateral remedy by any one country, however puissant it may be! G.Srinivasan. New Delhi

  2. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    I cannot quite agree that exports alone hold the key to the future as we need to look at the quality of this export, how intensive it is in the labor component is also equally important. What we see today is an export of capital, which is fueled by an enormous amount of liquidity in the system.

    The soaring bond prices and near zero yields is as much a reflection of liquidity preference as lack of credible investment option that has a clear future; the range of uncertainty is no way diminished by the flow of money, in fact it is adding to it. But treasury bonds are a different story. Even if I assume that a bulk of the preference for treasury bonds stems from those who want to create insurance for its currency, we have seen actually that these currencies have been depreciating, like the Yuan or the Rupee. This leads one to the stunning inference that America has become the chief exporter of capital to the external world for buying labor (both skilled and unskilled) at the cheapest possible cost. The acceleration of this activity (export of capital and import of labor) effectively boils down to heightened unemployment within the national territory and a downward wage spiral, which is also the very reason why inflation is tamed at its best.

    By higher capital export that is used in cheaper labor imports, we do not see how America will progress. We are adding to labor surplus.

    Procyon Mukherjee

      CommentedJim Nail

      Completely agree, Procyon. Export composition is key. I still maintain that we should focus on net exports rather than on exports per se, anyway. There must be a middle ground that allows global companies to seek low costs, while still allowing broad-based US manufacturing to exist.

      CommentedWilliam Hampton

      I agree. You hit the nail on the head. I would hope that it back fires and these cheap labor sources start becoming serious competitors to our corporations. At least maybe this could cause the reduction of soaring prices. I that unlike labor, big money seems to be unionized, I doubt this will happen.

  3. CommentedWilliam Hampton

    I have a question. If an American company manufacturing from China sells their products to Germany are those products considered exports of American products or Chinese products? How do these products made in China by American companies help the American economy as much as products made in the USA? Where are the materials from and produced that are used to make products made in China by American companies? etc, etc, etc. I do not see any economists talking about this, and how it is affecting this country. It seems to me there should be a distinction between those products made in China and ones actual made in America. Maybe it is not important or I am not reading enough.

      Commentedpeter fairley

      reply to Will Hampton. quote: "the monthly figures for the trade deficit are significantly overstated, says a Federal Reserve Bank economist(1999).

      The U.S. Census Bureau, which is responsible for trade data, says that a major component of the trade deficit called the merchandise trade deficit overstates the gap between imports and exports of goods.

      The Census believes that merchandise exports are probably understated by 3 percent to 7 percent, but possibly as much as 10 percent.
      Since there is no evidence of similar errors in import data, Census estimates the merchandise trade deficit was overstated by as much as 34 percent in 1997.
      Until the Census began basing figures on exports to Canada on that country's import data, in 1990, it was estimated that exports to Canada were understated by as much as 20 percent.

      A major reason the data are flawed is because Census bases merchandise trade figures on the paperwork importers and exporters file with the U.S. Customs Service -- but exporters are not required to file paperwork for shipments valued at less than $2,500. Instead, Census relies on a survey to estimate the fraction of total trade in these small shipments; but the most recent survey was conducted almost 10 years ago.

      Since then, the market share of small shipments has changed relative to large ones, due to such things as the boom in inexpensive air cargo services; but the magnitude of the shift is unknown.

      Source: Joseph A. Ritter, "An Overstated Headline," National Economic Trends, July 199, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
      http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=11444

      CommentedKevin Lim

      No simple answer. Here is a primer

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_of_origin

      A simple example. If I imported unpainted toy trains into USA from China, and painted/packaged them in USA, its unlikely any body would be willing to certify them made in the USA. Where it gets tricky is where the components are split up and from all over. Say I get thet train wheels from a supplier in Brazil, the chasis from China, and the electronics from Germany, and I assemble them altogether in a plant here in USA. Whether I can label it made in the USA (or China, Germany, Brazil) depends on what are the tariff classifications of the components and the finished product under the Harmonised System.

      It can get pretty complex and its a fertile ground for litigation as manufacturers try to squeeze into a domestic origin for tariff purposes.

      Sounds confusing? It is.

  4. CommentedManmohan Manu

    Good article . I work for McGladrey and there's a guide on exporting on the website ( http://bit.ly/HdWo1R ) with insights from surveys and industry experts .

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