黄永富: 地缘政治风险使拜登刺激计划蒙上了阴影 (刊于CGTN)

原文始发于微信公众号(黄评世经):黄永富: 地缘政治风险使拜登刺激计划蒙上了阴影 (刊于CGTN)

Geopolitical Risks Cloud Biden’s Stimulus

15 May 2021, CGTN


by Yongfu Huang 

中文简析

 

核心观点拜登上台后推出了巨额经济刺激方案,而美国参议院外交关系委员会最近通过了对华关系的《2021年战略竞争法》。本文指出,如果拜登想重振美国经济,他在中国问题上就不应该被充满陈旧意识形态的精英利益集团所劫持,应避免采取对华敌对措施。

 

为了应对新冠疫情造成的经济衰退,美国总统拜登在其上任100天里公布了历史上最雄心勃勃的刺激计划,即大规模联邦政府开支。在每年超过4万亿美元的联邦正常预算基础上,未来十年的额外联邦支出将包括1.9万亿美元的新冠疫情救济方案、2.3万亿美元的绿色能源和基础设施方案,以及1.8万亿美元的美国家庭计划。

试问,拜登的经济刺激方案能否让美国经济走出现在的低利率和低通胀的陷阱,甚至让美国经济在21世纪实现腾飞? 

里根总统在20世纪80年代提出的以降低税收和放松管制为特征的宏观经济政策,一直被认为是实现更快增长和广泛繁荣的最佳方案,并持续了40年。

2007-09年金融危机爆发后,在“量化宽松”的新标签下,美联储增加三倍货币印刷量(新冠疫情期间甚至是四倍),以购买政府债券,通货膨胀依然没有出现。美联储一直发出信号,在通胀率“超过2%”之前,不会加息。

根据凯恩斯的《通论》,在利率不能再低的“流动性陷阱”中,财政政策是拉动经济的最有效方式(因为“乘数”效应)。为了对抗新冠疫情,大多数主流宏观经济学家,包括IMF,都呼吁采取积极的财政政策。

拜登总统的刺激计划代表了宏观经济政策的重大转变。拜登反对非凯恩斯主义观点,即政策制定者只应遵从市场,而是奉行凯恩斯主义方法,重新定义政府在经济运行中的强有力角色,更具体地说,就是通过巨额公共支出和税收以调节总需求。

拜登的刺激方案模仿并综合了其前任的大部分政府主导计划,比如罗斯福在1930年代推行的政府福利政策、艾森豪威尔在20世纪50年代主导的州际公路系统,和肯尼迪在上世纪60年代制定的联邦工业政策。

与前任在2007-2009年金融危机期间的胆怯表现相反,拜登表现得很大胆,甚至有些任性。毫不奇怪,他的巨额刺激计划被批评为“失禁”,其中一半以上是免费发放给个人的。

虽然被压抑的家庭储蓄可以拉动内需,但通货膨胀将上升,创新精神和职业道德将受到损害,因为美国人要么不想工作,要么要求工资上涨(进一步加剧了通货膨胀)。而增税将严重损害经济、惩罚储蓄和降低美国企业在海外的竞争力。

更糟糕的是,拜登史无前例的刺激计划使政府债务达到历史高位,将财政负担转嫁给子孙后代。从1970年开始,美国从平衡预算政策转向预算赤字政策,即支出超过收入的政策。新冠疫情造成了市场恐慌,到2020年底,美国的财政刺激总额高达3万亿美元(约占2019年GDP的14%)。2020年的公共赤字膨胀到了支出的近一半,70年代才10%和80年代才18%。

拜登的刺激计划是一场大赌博。对于不断增长的政府债务,信任危机风险可能是最危险的。当恐慌导致普遍的悲观情绪时,巨变可能会突然而且毫无征兆地出现,投资者风险偏好的转变可能会是压倒性的,最终可能引发政府债务挤兑。

英格兰银行前行长马克.卡尼在其新书《价值》中指出,“信任是维持货币或金融体系稳定的核心”,利己主义超越了其他动机,使世界成为一个更自私和更不安全的地方。

地缘政治冲突是产生风险的潜在领域。最近,美国参议院外交关系委员会通过了对华关系的《2021年战略竞争法》,这一法案将中国定为其战略竞争对手。在没有证据的情况下该法案声称,中国推行的任何发展政策都是“违背美国、其伙伴以及世界其他许多国家的利益和价值观”,这是很荒谬的。虽然该法案的标题表明了要与中国开展“战略竞争”,但实际上并没有任何可以进行合法竞争的建议。相反,该法案包括各种军事或媒体资助,例如,每年3亿美元的资金,用于培训媒体,以报告中国“一带一路”倡议的“负面影响”。

危险隐藏在地缘政治竞争中。挥之不去的地缘政治风险将削弱投资者的信心、引发需求恐慌和银行挤兑,并最终使拜登刺激计划逆转或失效。

如果拜登总统想实现其在21世纪重振美国经济的雄心壮志,他在中国问题上就不应该被充满陈旧意识形态的精英利益集团所劫持,应避免采取对华敌对措施。

Geopolitical risks cloud Biden’s stimulus

黄永富: 地缘政治风险使拜登刺激计划蒙上了阴影 (刊于CGTN)

100 U.S. dollar banknotes. /Getty

Editor’s note: Huang Yongfu is an economic affairs commentator. After completing his Ph.D., he began his career at the University of Cambridge and then moved on to the UN system. He is an author of many papers and books on economics. His current interests lie in global development and Sino-U.S. links, especially trade, financial and technological issues. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

To deal with the downturn wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Joe Biden, in his first 100 days, unveiled the most ambitious left-wing agenda in history in terms of a massive expansion of the federal government and unsustainable spending increases. His new federal spending for the next decade includes a $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief package, $2.3-trillion green energy and infrastructure bills, and $1.8-trillion American Families Plan, on top of the regular federal budget of more than $4 trillion a year.

Can Biden’s economic stimulus break the U.S. economy out of the low-rate and low-inflation trap, and even get the U.S. economy to take off in the 21st century?

The macroeconomic policymaking characterized by lower taxes plus deregulation, laid out by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and which lasted for four decades, has been regarded as the best formula for faster growth and broadly shared prosperity.

In the wake of the 2007-09 crisis, under the new label of “quantitative easing,” the Federal Reserve has printed the most common measure of money by a factor of three, even by quadruple, amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 to buy government bonds. Inflation is yet to appear. The Fed has kept signaling not to raise interest rates until inflation is “on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.”

According to John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory, in a liquidity trap when interest rates can go no lower, fiscal policy is the most effective way to boost the economy because of its sizeable “multiplier” effect. To fight COVID-19, most mainstream macroeconomists inclusive of the IMF have called for aggressive fiscal policies.

President Biden’s economic proposals represent a major shift in macroeconomic policymaking. Opposing the non-Keynesian view that policymakers should just defer to markets, the Biden administration is pursuing a Keynesian approach to redefine a muscular government role in shaping the economy, more specifically by fine-tuning aggregate demand via huge public spending and taxation.

Biden’s stimulus emulates and combines most of his predecessors’ government-directed programs, such as the modern government-funded social safety net created by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, the interstate highway system initiated by Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, and the federal industrial policy set up by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.

Contrary to his predecessors’ timidity during the 2007-2009 crisis, Biden is being bold, and letting rip somewhat. It’s no surprise that his huge stimulus has been rightly criticized as “incontinent,” with well over half of it free handouts to individuals.

While pent-up household savings could result in consumer demand rising and more general inflation, innovation and work ethic would be compromised where Americans are rewarded for either not working or wage increases that add to inflation. The confiscatory tax increases would seriously damage the economy, by punishing savings and making U.S. businesses less competitive abroad.

黄永富: 地缘政治风险使拜登刺激计划蒙上了阴影 (刊于CGTN)

Graphics: Biden’s infrastructure plan. /CGTN

Worse still, Biden’s unprecedented stimulus features historic levels of government debt, billing the fiscal difference to future generations. From 1970 onward, the U.S. has shifted from a balanced-budget policy to a budget-deficit policy in the sense of spending more than current revenue as a matter of routine. As COVID-­19 panicked markets, by the end of 2020, total fiscal stimulus has already amounted to almost $3 trillion (about 14 percent of GDP in 2019). The public deficit in 2020 ballooned to nearly half of spending, mainly due to the pandemic, from 10 percent in the 1970s and 18 percent in the 1980s.

Biden’s stimulus is a big gamble. The risk of confidence crises could be most dangerous for the growing public debt. When a self-fulfilling panic causes prevalent pessimism, the change can come suddenly and without warning, and shifts in investors’ risk appetite can be overwhelming. The subsequent confidence crises can provoke runs on the growing government debt.

In his new book entitled “Value(s),” Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England, points out that “trust is central to maintaining the stability of a currency or a financial system” and self-interest crowds out other motivations, making the world a potentially more selfish and less resilient place to live.

One potential area of risk could emerge from the geopolitical conflict. Recently, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed the “Strategic Competition Act of 2021,” a legislative blueprint that frames China as its strategic competitor. It claims without evidence that whatever development policies pursued by China are “contrary to the interests and values of the United States, its partners, and much of the rest of the world,” which is ridiculous. While its title implies a policy of “strategic competition” with China, the bill doesn’t actually propose anything that would legitimately advance competition. Instead, it includes various military or media financing, for example, an annual $300 million to fund and train media that reports on the “negative impact” of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Perils lurk as soon as geopolitical competition bites. Lingering geopolitical risks will sap the confidence of investors, ignite demand fears and bank runs, and eventually alter the pitch of Biden’s stimulus.

To fulfill his ambition to reinvigorate the U.S. economy in the 21st century, President Biden shouldn’t be hijacked by elite interests with a dilapidated ideology when it comes to China.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)

黄永富: 地缘政治风险使拜登刺激计划蒙上了阴影 (刊于CGTN)

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