Saturday, November 1, 2014
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新全球经济的(相对)赢家

剑桥讯——短期内,世界经济将面临极大的不确定性。欧元区是否能够理清自己的问题,避免出现分裂的结局?美国能否走上一条增长恢复之路?中国能不能找到扭转经济增长放缓的方法?

这些问题的答案将影响全球经济在未来几年内的发展。但是无论眼前的这些挑战如何解决,可以肯定,世界经济正在进入新一轮的长期困难阶段——这可能是二战结束以来最不利于经济增长的一段时期。

无论欧洲和美国如何解决它们当前的困境,它们注定会陷入高负债、低增长率和国内政治争议不休的境地。即使是在欧元保持无损的最好的情况下,欧洲也会因重建受损联盟这一艰巨的任务而停滞不前。而在美国,民主党和共和党之间的意识形态分化也将继续阻碍经济政策的制订。

在几乎所有的发达经济体中,高度的不平等、中产阶段的压力和人口老龄化等问题,再加上失业和财政资源短缺,将激化政治冲突。随着这些老牌民主国家逐渐将重心转向国内,它们在国际上发挥的作用将更小——它们维护多边贸易体系的意愿会减弱,而更倾向于单边应对它们认为会损害自己利益的别国的经济政策。

与此同时,中国、印度和巴西等大型新兴市场也不太可能出来填补这个空缺,因为它们仍极力要捍卫自己的国家主权和留有回旋的余地。因此,未来在经济和其他问题上实现全球合作的可能性将更低。

这就是当前的全球环境,它会削弱各国的潜在增长。可以肯定的是,我们将不会见到像金融危机发生前20年那样的全球增长——尤其是发展中国家的增长。在这种环境下,世界各国的经济表现将出现巨大差异。有些国家受的不利影响会比其他国家更严重。

而表现相对较好的国家一般具有三个共同的特点。首先,它们不会被高额公共债务压垮。其次,它们不会过分依赖于世界经济,它们经济增长的动力来源于国内而非国外。最后,它们会成为健全的民主国家。

将公债保持在中低水平是很重要的,因为债务水平一旦达到GDP的80-90%,将会严重拖累经济的增长。它会钳制财政政策,导致金融体系的严重扭曲,引发有关税收的政治斗争和挑起代价高昂的分配冲突。专注于减少负债的政府不太可能会分身去处理长期结构性改变所需的投资。除了极少数的例外(比如澳大利亚和新西兰),世界绝大多数的发达经济体都属于或即将属于这类高债务水平的国家。

这次许多新兴市场经济体,比如巴西和土耳其,已经成功地控制了公共债务的增长。但它们还未能阻止本国私营经济出现的借贷热潮。由于私人债务可以转变为公共债务,因此事实上,政府债务的低负担也许并不能如这些国家所愿地为它们提供缓冲。

经济增长过度依赖世界市场和全球金融的国家也将处于不利境地。脆弱的世界经济并不眷顾外国巨额净借方(或外国巨额净贷方)。有庞大经常账户赤字的国家(比如土耳其)将受制于忧虑的市场情绪。而那些有大额盈余的国家(比如中国)在控制其“重商主义”政策方面将面临越来越多的压力——包括面临受到报复的威胁。

以依靠出口相比,依靠内需带动增长将会是更可靠的战略。这意味着,国内市场规模较大、中产阶级较富裕的国家将具有重要优势。

最后,民主国家会有更好的表现,因为它们具有独裁政体所没有的制度化的冲突管理机制。像印度这样的民主国家可能有时看起来运转得较为缓慢,而且容易陷入瘫痪境地。但它们为各个社会反对团体提供了协商、合作和互谅互让的舞台,这些反对团体在动荡不安的时期往往发挥着重要作用。

若没有这些制度,分配冲突很容易便演化成抗议、暴动和内乱。这就是为什么印度和南非要比中国和俄国更具优势。受专制式领导者掌控的国家——比如阿根廷和土耳其——也正逐步趋于劣势。

反映新全球经济挑战的严峻程度的一种重要指标就是,极少国家能同时满足这三个要求。的确,本时代在经济上取得最亮眼成绩的国家——尤其是中国——最多也只满足了其中一个要求。未来对所有国家来说都会是个困难的时期。但是相对其他,有些经济体——比如巴西、印度和韩国——将占据更有利的地位。

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  1. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    I think the key to the question the article tries to answer is in the understanding what a global, interdependent world means.
    Can we talk about individual nations, countries succeeding, or losing independently from others in an integral, interdependent system?
    Today we exist in such a tightly interlocked network that our fate is totally tied together.
    The three characteristics mentioned in the article do not work in this system.
    Due to the excessive overproduction/over consumption economic, that fully relies on credit, everybody, individuals and nations alike are already in debt or are heading that way.
    Our finances, economies and other human institutions are so much interdependent, globalization is so deep that there is no country that would not be dependent on world economy, nobody is capable of being independent, sustaining itself today.
    Regarding "democracies" we also learn that western style democracy is also basically serving a small dominant minority, probably in a less obvious way than other governing structures, but still causing the same or even bigger social inequality than other structures inevitably leading to tensions, breaking points within society.
    As many times mentioned these days, we are all sitting on the same boat. Either we all figure out what caused this global crisis and how we all need to change, working together, each element supporting the others and the whole system corresponding to the laws of integral systems, or we are all going to sink deeper into crisis until the intolerable suffering will force us to start changing ourselves.

  2. CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

    This point looks like it could use a little more support. What specifically about recent changes in the global economy makes democracy a critical factor in determining which countries will do relatively better down the road?

    Are distributive conflicts that much more intense? And if so, are democratic processes currently showing good results in curbing these conflicts and civil disorder?

    Are the spaces of discussion that strong democracies provide crucial... in overcoming turbulence and shocks?

    I have a hard time seeing on one hand, countries with democratic traditions using them to overcome the current financial crisis, and also, that same space managing to play a crucial role in recovery from crises. In the South Korean case it seems that the rapid recovery from crisis 15 years ago was done in large part at the expense of principles of consultation and cooperation. I wish nothing more than to be convinced.

  3. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    I disagree with the "three characteristics" hypothesis. Rather the relative winners tomorrow will be those countries that are able to borrow today publicly and privately to fund infrastructure and social investments in tomorrow's international comparative advantages for their countries. These countries will come out of this slow growth period with tremendously strengthened international trade advantages that can power strong domestic growth.

    Today is a time when shrewd countries will place down large investments on tomorrow's opportunities.

    Which countries "see" their opportunities and how they invest in them will be fascinating to watch.

    Yes, countries mired down in high levels of public consumption will wallow around and fall behind. One can guess who they will be. But who will win? Much harder to discern.

      CommentedDaniel Samsic

      Interesting point, I totally agree with Mr. Myers:

      'Today is a time when shrewd countries will place down large investments on tomorrow's opportunities.
      Which countries "see" their opportunities and how they invest in them will be fascinating to watch.'

      By risking a lot of boo-ing from the P-S audience because all the economists have learned in the university the principle of the "big bang for the buck" NOW, not tomorrow or next generation, by contrary, a "sustainable development" (sorry to use this cliché hated by the economists) is based on another principle: "a half buck for the bang now and a half buck tomorrow or next generation".

      The good news is that addressing the long-term "sustainable" problems would actually help to solve the short-term economic problems.
      Indeed... 'Which countries "see" their opportunities and how they invest in them will be fascinating to watch'.
      See:
      http://world-at-a-crossroads.blogspot.ca/

      Thanks.
      ds

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