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美国经济“好到不真实”?美联储主席说现在是“非常时期”

Lucas Luaresen 2018年10月17日

美联储主席称,美国经济正处在“历史上难得一见的稳定低通胀和极低失业率并存的时期”。

如果你相信“希望你生活在有意思的时代”这句话是个诅咒,那你可得当心了。

美联储主席杰罗姆·鲍威尔在10月2日称,美国经济正处在“历史上难得一见的稳定低通胀和极低失业率并存的时期,这充分说明我们仍然处于非常时期。”

鲍威尔在美国全国商业经济学家协会于波士顿举办的会议上解释了当前数据的形成原因,其他经济学家认为低于4%的失业率和将近2%的通胀率共存的罕见情形还将持续两三年。

美联储一直致力于将失业率维持在略低于4.5%,将通胀率维持在略低于2%的水平。这是个微妙的平衡:如果失业率低到一定程度,工资会上涨,从而导致通胀。美联储使用的一项工具是调节美国政府债券的利率。利率越高,银行进行借款的费用就越高,当银行把这些花费转移到企业和个人借贷者身上时,就充当了经济总刹车的角色。

鲍威尔在今年2月从珍妮特·耶伦的手中接过美联储主席一职,当时许多人都评论称,他延续了“建立共识”的风格。耶伦掌管时,美联储于去年逐步加息,鲍威尔接管后,采用了同样的做法。

有批评者提出,失业率和通胀之间的实际健康比率可能并非如此。鲍威尔在演讲中表达了对所谓菲利普斯曲线的支持,菲利普斯曲线描述了失业率和通胀率之间的关系,但又说曲线的形状可能会因为自然充分就业率的改变而发生变化。他还指出,9月末联邦公开市场委员会会后,一名记者问他当前的环境是不是“好到不真实”了——他说这是个合情合理的问题。

鲍威尔还指出,最近联邦减税和增加开支的做法会导致政府在出现下次经济衰退时没有什么回旋余地。美联储控制不了这些。

“我们现在正处于一个周期的顶点,”鲍威尔说,“而且是时候整理一下我们的财政机构了。”(财富中文网)

译者:Agatha

If you believe the legend that “may you live in interesting times” is a curse, hold onto your hat.

On October 2nd, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the U.S. economy’s “historically rare pairing of steady, low inflation and very low unemployment is testament to the fact that we remain in extraordinary times.”

Speaking at a meeting of the National Association of Business Economists in Boston, Powell explained why and other economists have concluded that the rare combination of sub-4% unemployment and near-2% inflation might last another couple of years.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has historically sought to keep unemployment below about 4.5% and inflation near 2%. It’s a delicate balance: when unemployment drops low enough, wages tend to rise, which can cause inflation. One of the Fed’s tools is setting the interest rates it pays for U.S. government bonds. The higher those rates, the costlier it becomes for banks to borrow and they pass those costs to commercial and private borrowers, acting as a general brake on the economy.

Powell took over the chair from Janet Yellen in February in what many commentators called a continuation of a consensus-building style. The Fed raised rates little by little last year under Yellen and has continued to do so under Powell.

Some critics have raised the possibility that the actual healthy ratio between unemployment and inflation is different. In his speech, Powell defended the so-called Phillips curve, which describes that ratio, but said that it was possible that the shape of the curve could change as the natural full employment rate changed. He also noted that after the late September Federal Open Market Committee meeting, a reporter asked him if the current environment was “too good to be true”—a query he called “a reasonable question.”

Powell also noted that the recent federal tax cuts and spending boosts will leave the government less maneuvering room whenever the next recession hits. The Fed does not control those.

“This is the top of the cycle,” Powell said, “and it’s a good time to be working on putting our fiscal house in order.”

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