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诺奖得主保罗·克鲁格曼:美国将如何输掉贸易战?

随着中美贸易战正式打响,美国经济学家、诺贝尔经济学奖得主保罗·克鲁格曼也加入到对特朗普政策的批判中来。7月7日,他在美国《纽约时报》发表文章,题为《如何输掉一场贸易战?(How to Lose a Trade War)》,文章认为特朗普政府毫无策略性地掀起一场贸易战,终将让美国一败涂地。

Trump’s declaration that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” is an instant classic, right up there with Herbert Hoover’s “prosperity is just around the corner.”

特朗普说,“贸易战是好事,取胜不难”,这是典型的赫伯特·胡佛口中的“四处皆繁荣”。

译注:胡佛自1929年到1933年担任美国总统,执政初期,他得意忘形地谈论美国的经济制度如何 “完美无缺”,吹嘘“美国比以往任何国家的历史上都更接近于最后战胜贫困”。实际上,美国经济已经危机四伏,1929年10月资本主义历史上最严重的经济危机率先在美国爆发。

Trump obviously believes that trade is a game in which he who runs the biggest surplus wins, and that America, which imports more than it exports, therefore has the upper hand in any conflict.

特朗普显然相信贸易是一场游戏,他能大获全胜,而进口多于出口的美国在任何冲突中都能占上风。

That’s also why Peter Navarro predicted that nobody would retaliate against Trump’s tariffs. Since that’s actually not how trade works, we’re already facing plenty of retaliation and the strong prospect of escalation.

这也是为什么彼得·纳瓦罗(白宫国家贸易委员会主任)预测说,没人会对特朗普的关税进行报复。可事实上,贸易并不是这么一回事,我们已经面临大量的贸易报复,而这种报复很可能会进一步升级。

But here’s the thing: Trump’s tariffs are badly designed even from the point of view of someone who shares his crude mercantilist view of trade. In fact, the structure of his tariffs so far is designed to inflict maximum damage on the U.S. economy, for minimal gain.

但问题是,即便在同意特朗普贸易观点的人看来,特朗普的关税计划也很糟糕。事实上,迄今为止,特朗普政府设立的关税结构对美国经济造成了最大伤害,收益却微乎其微。

Foreign retaliation, by contrast, is far more sophisticated: unlike Trump, the Chinese and other targets of his trade wrath seem to have a clear idea of what they’re trying to accomplish.

与此相反,外国的报复却高明得多:中国和其他被美国贸易怒火波及的国家,看起来很明确自己的目标为何。

The key point is that the Navarro/Trump view, aside from its fixation on trade balances, also seems to imagine that the world still looks the way it did in the 1960s, when trade was overwhelmingly in final goods like wheat and cars. In that world, putting a tariff on imported cars would cause consumers to switch to domestic cars, adding auto industry jobs, end of story (except for the foreign retaliation.)

现在的重点是,除了紧盯贸易平衡不放以外,纳瓦罗或特朗普似乎还认为世界会和20世纪60年代一样,当时贸易的主要物品是小麦、汽车等最终产品。那时,对进口汽车征税会让消费者转而购买国内汽车,增加汽车制造业岗位,如果没有外国报复,事情便就此结束。

In the modern world economy, however, a large part of trade is in intermediate goods – not cars but car parts. Put a tariff on car parts, and even the first-round effect on jobs is uncertain: maybe domestic parts producers will add workers, but you’ve raised costs and reduced competitiveness for downstream producers, who will shrink their operations.

然而在现代世界经济中,大部分贸易都是半成品,不是汽车,而是汽车零件。对汽车零件征收关税,这对于工作岗位的第一波影响都是不确定的:也许国内的零件制造商会雇佣更多的工人,但却提高了成本,降低了下游生产商的竞争力,为此,下游生产商将会缩减业务。

So in today’s world, smart trade warriors – if such people exist – would focus their tariffs on final goods, so as to avoid raising costs for downstream producers of domestic goods.

因此,在如今的世界上,聪明的贸易保护者——如果真有这样的人的话——会将征税对象集中于制成品,以避免导致本国产品的下游生产者成本增加。

True, this would amount to a more or less direct tax on consumers; but if you’re afraid to impose any burden on consumers, you really shouldn’t be getting into a trade war in the first place.

没错,这会让消费者或多或少承担更多的直接税,但如果担心给消费者增加负担,特朗普一开始就不该打贸易战。

But almost none of the Trump tariffs are on consumer goods. Chad Bown and colleagues have a remarkable chart showing the distribution of the Trump China tariffs: an amazing 95 percent are either on intermediate goods or on capital goods like machinery that are also used in domestic production:

特朗普的关税几乎不针对消费品。查德·波恩和他的同事做了张很好的图表,可以看出,高达95%的对华征税商品为半成品和包括机械在内的生产资料(即资本品,指一切协助生产其他商品或服务的物品),而这些资本品国内生产也需要用到。

Is there a strategy here? It’s hard to see one. There’s certainly no hint that the tariffs were designed to pressure China into accepting U.S. demands, since nobody can even figure out what, exactly, Trump wants from China in the first place.

这算什么战略?很难看出来。实在看不出这种关税结构能迫使中国接受美国的要求,其实从一开始也没人知道特朗普究竟想从中国得到什么东西。

China’s retaliation looks very different. It doesn’t completely eschew tariffs on intermediate goods, but it’s mostly on final goods. And it’s also driven by a clear political strategy of hurting Trump voters; the Chinese, unlike the Trumpies, know what they’re trying to accomplish:

中国的报复就很不一样了,没有对半成品征收关税,而主要针对最终产品,且目标主要在打击特朗普支持者。与特朗普及其幕僚不同,中国人知道自己的目标。

What about others? Canada’s picture is complicated by its direct response to aluminum and steel tariffs, but those industries aside it, too, is following a far more sophisticated strategy than the U.S.:

其他国家呢?加拿大情况比较复杂,它对钢铝关税做出了直接反应,但除了这些产业,加拿大的应对策略也比美国更精明。

Except for steel and aluminum, Canada’s retaliation seemingly attempts to avoid messing up its engagement in North American supply chains. In broad terms, Canada is not targeting imports of American capital equipment or intermediate inputs, focusing instead on final goods.

除了钢铝,加拿大的报复试图避免搞乱北美供应链。广义上说,加拿大没有针对从美国进口的生产设备或半成品征税,而是将矛头对准了最终商品。

And like China, Canada is clearly trying to inflict maximum political damage.

与中国一样,加拿大显然意在给美国造成最大的政治打击。

Trade wars aren’t good or easy to win even if you know what you’re trying to accomplish and have a clear strategy for getting there. What’s notable about the Trump tariffs, however, is that they’re so self-destructive.

贸易战可不是什么好事,就算你知道自己的目标,并且有清晰的策略去实现,也不容易取胜,更何况特朗普的关税政策是自毁性的。

And we can already see hints of the economic fallout. From the Fed’s most recent minutes:

我们已经能看出贸易战对经济的影响了。美联储最新的公告显示:

“[M]any District contacts expressed concern about the possible adverse effects of tariffs and other proposed trade restrictions, both domestically and abroad, on future investment activity; contacts in some Districts indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy. Contacts in the steel and aluminum industries expected higher prices as a result of the tariffs on these products but had not planned any new investments to increase capacity.”

“许多分行担忧,关税和其他国内外贸易限制措施可能对未来投资行为产生负面影响。某些分行表示,贸易政策的不确定性已经让资本开支计划缩减或推迟。钢铝行业人士预计,对这些产品征收关税会让价格升高,但他们没有投资增产的计划。”

So Trump and company don’t actually have a plan to win this trade war. They may, however, have stumbled onto a strategy that will lose it even more decisively than one might have expected.

因此,特朗普和他的幕僚实际上并没有打赢贸易战的计划,倒是可能随便制定了一个策略,这个策略将导致美国比预想中更彻底地一败涂地。

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