打赌日本的龟速发展

发自剑桥——从2014年4月起,日本的消费税率将从5%提高到8%,以解决长期以来的高公共债务问题。但这是否会像许多人恐惧的那样导致购买力流失,从而扼杀日本脆弱的经济复苏呢?

这问题是不禁让人想起1997年4月。当时拉里•萨默斯任美国财政部副部长,他一再警告日本政府,一旦其推行上调消费税的计划,那么日本经济将重新陷入衰退。当时我在美国政府工作。随着日本上调消费税日子临近,我问萨默斯,既然日本领导人显然是为政治所迫,那为什么还坚持向他们提出本不需要的建议呢?萨默斯回答说他知道自己无法改变任何人的想法,但他想确保日本官员能在上调行动中意识到自己的错误。不幸的是,他的预测变成了现实。

今天,日本的财政问题跟美国以及其他许多国家类似。经济疲软,但日本央行(BOJ)已无法使货币政策比当前更加宽松了。与此同时,尽管短期内实施了财政刺激,但由于过去留下的巨额债务,日本公共财政的长期前景依然麻烦重重。

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