如果2020只是人类未来危机的预演

e5a682e69e9c2020e58faae698afe4babae7b1bbe69caae69da5e58db1e69cbae79a84e9a284e6bc94 • 如果2020只是人类未来危机的预演 2020, 危机, 新冠病毒

如果2020只是人类未来危机的预演

What if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Just a Trial Run?

01Tooze master1050 • 如果2020只是人类未来危机的预演 2020, 危机, 新冠病毒
MATT CHASE
Almost two years since the novel coronavirus began to circulate through the human population, what lessons have we learned? And what do those lessons portend for future crises?
新型冠状病毒在人群中传播已有近两年时间,我们从中得到了什么教训?这些教训又预示了怎样的未来危机?
The most obvious is the hardest to digest: The world’s decision makers have given us a staggering demonstration of their collective inability to grasp what it would actually mean to govern the deeply globalized and interconnected world they have created. There is only one limited realm in which something like a concerted response has been managed: money and finance. But governments’ and central banks’ success in holding the world’s financial system together is contributing in the long run to inequality and social polarization. If 2020 was a trial run, we should be worried.
最明显的也是最难接受的:全世界的决策者们向我们展示了令人震惊的集体无能。他们无法理解,在他们所创造的这个高度全球化的互联世界中,治理到底意味着什么。只有一个领域拿出了算得上是协调一致的应对办法:货币和金融。但从长远来看,政府和央行对世界金融体系的成功维系,将会助长不平等和社会两极分化。如果2020年是一次预演,我们理应感到担忧。
How did we get here? In a way, the failure was predictable. As instruments of coordination and cooperation, global institutions like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization had proved fragile and toothless long before the pandemic. The explanation for this failure used to be geopolitical antagonism: Power blocs couldn’t come together when they had competing priorities and agendas. It was thus tempting to imagine that some common threat — perhaps an alien invasion — might make a reality of the United Nations.
我们是怎么走到这一步的?某种程度上,这一失败是可预见的。作为协调与合作的载体,联合国、国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)和世界卫生组织(World Health Organization)等全球机构早在疫情暴发前就已被证明是脆弱且无力的。以往对这种失败的解释是地缘政治对立:当优先事项和议程相互冲突时,大国集团就不能团结一致。因此,人们很容易设想某种共同的威胁——或许是一次外星人入侵——可能会使联合国成为真正的现实。
The coronavirus, one might think, was precisely such an invasion. And yet faced with this common threat, cooperation failed. Rather than a concerted shutdown of global aviation, frontiers were closed on the fly; supplies of personal protective equipment were grabbed at airports; haphazard travel bans continue to this day.
人们可能以为,新冠病毒正是这样的入侵。然而,面对这一共同威胁,合作失败了。各国没能协同一致关停全球航空业,而是匆匆忙忙封锁边境;个人防护装备物资在机场被抢走;盲目的旅行禁令一直持续到今日。
With America in the lead, the world was more divided than ever. America’s failure to coordinate a response was no mere sideshow. Like it or not, this continental nation-state, with the world’s largest economy, facing Europe, South America and the Pacific, is constitutive of globalism as we know it. It was a horrible irony that Donald Trump, the first American president to repudiate this, was in the White House when a truly global crisis hit. That encouraged talk of Covid as the first “post-American” crisis. But America will have to diminish a lot more before we can count it out. What 2020 showed, in fact, was that America’s dysfunctions are the world’s problem.
世界比以往任何时候都更加分裂,美国便是最为分裂的国家之一。这个国家没能拿出一个统一的应对,已经成为一个关键问题。不管你喜欢与否,这个大陆民族国家是面向欧洲、南美洲和太平洋的世界最大经济体,是我们所知的全球主义的基本组成部分。特别讽刺的一点在于,当真正的全球危机来袭,第一位否认这一点的美国总统唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)正在主政白宫。这促使人们将新冠疫情称为第一场“后美国时代”的危机。但要真正给美国判负出局,它还得经历更多衰败。事实上,2020年表明,美国机能失调是世界的问题。
Vaccines are a case in point. The development of Covid vaccines was a collective triumph of researchers, governments and businesses around the world. Mr. Trump’s Operation Warp Speed was the most successful of all. But that program was defined by the needs of the United States — not the world. Scandalously, the United States under Mr. Trump did not even join the United Nations’ Covax initiative. Even after vaccine rollout began in earnest in 2021, the United States continued to hoard doses.
疫苗就是个很好的例子。新冠疫苗的开发是世界各地研究人员、政府和企业的集体胜利。特朗普的“曲速行动”(Operation Warp Speed)是其中最成功的。但这个计划是围绕着美国——而非世界——的需求打造的。令人愤慨的是,在特朗普的领导下,美国甚至没有加入联合国的“2019冠状病毒病疫苗实施计划”(COVAX)。即便在2021年疫苗开始正式推广后,美国仍在囤积
The failure to develop a global vaccination program is not just dismaying. It ought also to be profoundly puzzling: It defies the self-interests of the richest countries in the world. Booster shots aside, the greater the volume of infection, the greater the risk of variants even more dangerous than Delta.
未能实现一个全球疫苗接种计划不仅是令人沮丧的,也应该让人深感困惑:这违背了全世界那些最富有国家的自身利益。抛开加强针不算,感染人数越多,出现比德尔塔(Delta)还危险的变种毒株的风险也越高。
And the greater the economic damage, too. In July, the I.M.F. estimated that an investment of $50 billion in a comprehensive campaign for vaccination and other virus control efforts would generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025 — a ratio of 180 to 1. What investment could hope to yield a higher rate of return? And yet none of the members of the Group of 20 have stepped up, not Europe, not the United States, not even China. Billions of people will be forced to wait until 2023 to receive even their first shot.
经济损失也会更加严重。国际货币基金组织7月估计,如果在疫苗接种和其它病毒防控方面投入500亿美元,到2025年,全球产出将额外增加约9万亿美元——产出投入比为180:1。还有什么投资的回报率能比这更高?然而20国集团没有任何成员国采取行动,欧洲没有,美国没有,甚至中国也没有。数十亿人将被迫等到2023年才能打上第一针疫苗。
This failure is all the more glaring for another lesson that the pandemic revealed: Budget constraints don’t seem to exist; money is a mere technicality. The hard limits of financial sustainability, policed, we used to think, by ferocious bond markets, were blurred by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2020, they were erased.
这样的失败更凸显了疫情揭示的另一个教训:预算似乎是不存在约束的;金钱不过是个技术问题。2008年的金融危机模糊了金融可持续性的硬性限制,我们过去一直以为这种可持续性由激荡的债券市场控制。而在2020年,这些限制都被抹去了。
Governments around the world issued debt as not seen since World War II, and yet interest rates plunged. As the private sector shut down, the public sector expanded. As government deficits grew, the monetary system responded elastically. Government spending made up for the loss of private incomes and spending.
世界各国政府发行了人们自“二战”以来都未见过的大量债券,利率却大幅下跌。随着私营部门的封锁,公共部门实现了扩张。随着政府赤字的增加,货币体系反应剧烈。政府支出弥补了个人收入和消费的减少。
This balancing of public and private spending works best if all countries are doing it simultaneously. This was one area where there was an alignment of national policies. In Europe, there was even a dramatic new phase of cooperation, with the launching of a 750 billion-euro recovery program funded, for the first time, by borrowing by Brussels rather than the European Union’s member states. Providing a supportive frame for this global expansion was Mr. Trump’s United States with its own gigantic fiscal and monetary expansion.
这种平衡公共和私人支出的做法,在各国统一行动时效果最佳。这也是国家政策唯一存在共进退的领域。在欧洲,甚至出现了一个引人注目的合作新阶段:一项7500亿欧元的复苏计划启动,资金首次由布鲁塞尔而不是欧盟成员国提供。为这种全球扩张提供了一种支持性框架的是特朗普领导下的美国,它本身就进行了庞大的财政和货币扩张。
This was a surprise. Before 2020 there were conversations in the halls of the I.M.F. about whether a nationalist president and the flat-earthers in Congress would permit the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to play a leading role in a global financial crisis. Hank Paulson, George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary in 2008, refused to endorse Mr. Trump for just this reason. But when it came to it, Mr. Trump’s instincts all pushed in the right direction, at least on economic policy. If ever there was a president who took naturally to the idea of “fiat money,” it was Donald Trump. So long as his name was on the checks, more was better.
这是在意料之外的。在2020年之前,国际货币基金组织的大厅里曾有过这样的讨论:一位民族主义总统和国会里的“地平说”支持者是否会允许美联储和财政部在全球金融危机中发挥主导作用。2008年任乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)政府财政部长的汉克·保尔森(Hank Paulson)就是因为这个原因拒绝支持特朗普。但事情到了那一步的时候,特朗普的直觉都是朝着正确方向推进的,至少在经济政策上是这样。如果说有哪位总统很自然地接受了“法定货币”的概念,那就是唐纳德·特朗普。只要支票上有他的名字,就多多益善。
It helped that the response was led by professional central bankers. Global finance is a world with a clear hierarchy, with the Fed at the top, followed by the European Central Bank, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England. But it is also a close-knit community with a shared mental map. Central bankers trade in electronic money that can be created at the tap of a keyboard. Creating it does not “cost” anything and does not require approval from elected legislatures. After 2008, tools like quantitative easing — the large-scale purchase of assets — were well oiled.
由专业的中央银行家牵头的应对措施也有所帮助。全球金融是一个等级分明的世界,美联储高高在上,其次是欧洲中央银行(European Central Bank)、中国人民银行、日本银行(Bank of Japan)和英格兰银行(Bank of England)。但它也是一个紧密联系的社区,拥有一个共同的思维地图。中央银行家交易的电子货币只需敲击键盘即可产生。创建它不“花费”任何东西,也不需要获得民选立法机构的批准。2008年之后,像量化宽松(大规模购买资产)这样的工具已经驾轻就熟。
The world discovered that John Maynard Keynes was right when he declared during World War II that “anything we can actually do, we can afford.” The sheer scale of the action was intoxicating. Among the left wing of the Democratic Party, it generated excitement: If money was a mere technicality, what else could be done? Action on social justice, climate change, the Green New Deal, all seemed within reach.
世界发现,当约翰·梅纳德·凯恩斯(John Maynard Keynes)在“二战”期间宣称“凡是我们实际上能做到的事情,我们都能负担得起”时,他是对的。这一行动的规模之大令人陶醉。民主党左翼对此感到兴奋:如果金钱只是一个技术问题,我们还能做什么?社会公正、气候变化、绿色新政等方面的行动似乎都触手可及。
But there were three interrelated problems.
但有三个相互关联的问题。
First, the sense that government action had been liberated from the tyranny of finance was illusory. The interventions triggered in March 2020 were not free acts of creative political will. The central bankers were not buying government debt to help finance lockdown life-support checks. They were acting to rescue financial markets from melting down. “Too big to fail” has become a systemic imperative.
首先,认为政府行动已从金融暴政中解放出来的感觉是虚幻的。2020年3月触发的干预行动并非具有创造性政治意愿的自由行动。中央银行家们并没有购买政府债券,以提供资金,帮助封锁期间的生命维持机制。他们的行动是为了拯救金融市场免于崩溃。“大到不能倒”已成为系统的当务之急。
That meant, second, that the interventions were double-edged. Propping up the Treasury market enabled government spending on furlough schemes and paycheck protection plans to be funded in the normal way, by borrowing. But government IOUs are fuel for private speculation. When liquidity is flushed indiscriminately into the financial system, it inflates bubbles, generating new risks and outsize gains for those with substantial portfolios. Nowhere was this polarizing effect more pronounced than in the United States. While tens of millions struggled through the crisis, trillions of dollars piled up in the balance sheets of the wealthy.
其次,这意味着这些干预措施是一把双刃剑。对国债市场的支撑使政府在强制无薪休假和工资保护计划上的支出能够以正常的方式(通过借贷)获得资金。但政府的欠条助长了私人投机问题。当流动性不分青红皂白地涌入金融体系时,它就会催生泡沫,给那些拥有大量投资组合的人带来新的风险和超额收益。这种两极分化效应在美国最为明显。在数千万人挣扎着度过危机的同时,富人们的资产负债表上积累了数万亿美元。
Finally, the digital money creation was the easy bit. Keynes’s bon mot has a sting in its tail: We can afford anything we can actually do. The problem is agreeing on what to do and how to do it. In giving us a glimpse of financial freedom, 2020 also robbed us of pretenses and excuses. If we are not doing a global vaccine plan, it is not for lack of funds. It is because indifference, or selfish calculation — vaccinate America first — or real technical obstacles prevent us from “actually” doing it.
最后,创造数字货币是件容易的事。凯恩斯的妙语背后是一个煞风景的结局:我们能负担得起我们“实际上”能做的任何事情。问题在于就做什么和如何做达成一致。在让我们瞥见财务自由的同时,2020年也剥夺了我们的伪装和借口。如果我们没有制定一项全球疫苗计划,那并不是因为缺乏资金,而是因为冷漠,或者自私的算计——先给美国接种疫苗——又或是真正的技术障碍阻止我们“实际上”去做这件事。
It turns out that budget constraints, in all their artificiality, had spared us from facing the all-too-limited willingness and capacity for collective action. Now if you hear someone arguing that we cannot afford to bring billions of people out of poverty or we cannot afford to transition the energy system away from fossil fuels, we know how to respond: Either you are invoking technological obstacles, in which case we need a suitably scaled, Warp Speed-style program to overcome them, or it is simply a matter of priorities. There are other things you would rather do.
事实证明,尽管预算限制是人为的,但它使我们免于面对过于有限的集体行动意愿和能力。现在,如果你听到有人争辩说,我们负担不起让数十亿人脱贫的费用,或者我们负担不起将能源系统从化石燃料转向其他能源的费用,我们就知道该如何应对了:要么你是在援引技术障碍——在这种情况下,我们需要一个规模适当的、“曲速行动”式的项目来克服它们——要么这只是一个优先级问题,你更愿意去做其他事情。
The challenges won’t go away, and they won’t get smaller. The coronavirus was a shock, but a pandemic was long predicted. There is every reason to think that this one will not be a one-off. Whether the disease originated in zoonotic mutation or in a lab, there is more and worse where it came from. And it is not just viruses that we have to worry about, but also the mounting destabilization of the climate, collapsing biodiversity, large-scale desertification and pollution across the globe.
挑战不会消失,也不会变小。新冠病毒带来了震荡,但人们早就预料到会有一场大流行。有充分的理由认为这不会是最后一次。无论这种疾病起源于人畜共患突变还是实验室,它会越来越多,且起源方式也会更糟糕。我们不仅要担心病毒,还要担心全球气候的日益不稳定、生物多样性的崩溃、大规模的荒漠化和污染。
Looking back before 2020, it seemed that 2008 was the beginning of a new era of successive and interconnected disruptions, such as the global financial crisis, Mr. Trump’s election, and the trade and tech war with China. It all had a familiar ring to it. Great-power competition, nationalism and banking crises all harked back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Then came 2020. It has given us a glimpse of something radically new: the old tensions of politics, finance and geopolitics intersecting with a natural shock on a global scale.
回顾2020年以前,似乎2008年是一个新时代的开始,颠覆连续到来,并且相互关联,如全球金融危机、特朗普的大选和与中国的贸易和技术战争。这一切都并不陌生。大国竞争、民族主义和银行业危机都可以追溯到19世纪和20世纪。然后2020年来了。它让我们瞥见了一些全新的东西:旧有的政治、金融和地缘政治的紧张局势与全球范围内的自然冲击相交在一起。
The Biden administration declares that “America is back.” But to what is it returning? As recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate, President Biden is determined to clear the decks, brutally if necessary. As far as the Pentagon is concerned, at the top of the agenda is great-power competition with China — a 19th century writ large. But what of the interconnected global crises of the 21st century that cannot be attributed to a national antagonist? For those, the one model that we have is central bank financial market intervention — a form of crisis-fighting based on technical networks, rooted in existing hierarchies of power and backed by powerful self-interest. It is conservative, ad hoc and lacking in explicit political legitimacy. It tends to reinforce existing hierarchy and privilege.
拜登政府宣布“美国回来了”。但它回到的是什么?正如最近在阿富汗发生的事件所表明的那样,拜登总统决心扫清障碍,必要时可以毫不留情。对五角大楼而言,议程的首要任务是与中国的大国竞争——这是19世纪的一件大事。但21世纪那些相互关联的、不能归咎于国家竞争的全球危机又如何呢?对于那些危机来说,我们拥有的一个模型是央行金融市场干预——一种基于技术网络的危机对抗形式,植根于现有的权力等级并以强大的自身利益为后盾。它是保守的、临时的,缺乏明确的政治合法性。它倾向于强化现有的等级制度和特权。
The challenge for a progressive globalism fit for the next decades is both to multiply those crisis-fighting networks — into the fields of medical research and vaccine development, renewable energy and so on — and to make them more democratic, transparent and egalitarian.
未来几十年更适用的是渐进式全球主义,它面临的挑战是将这些抗击危机的网络扩大到医学研究和疫苗开发、可再生能源等领域,并使它们更加民主、透明和平等。

Adam Tooze是哥伦比亚大学经济历史学家,他即将出版新书《停摆:新冠如何撼动全球经济》(Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy),本文就是从这本书改编而来。他也撰写通讯Chartbook newsletter.。欢迎在Twitter上关注他 @adam_tooze

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