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全球化没能带来我们需要的那种经济秩序

Globalism Failed to Deliver the Economy We Need
全球化没能带来我们需要的那种经济秩序

There is so much general confusion, if not outright dread, about the state of the global economy. The war in Ukraine, gyrating gas prices, skyrocketing mortgage rates, the continued fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the looming prospect of a recession — all of these factors seem to be coalescing into chaos.

对于全球经济的现状,人们即使不是彻底恐惧,至少也普遍存在困惑。乌克兰战争、剧烈波动的汽油价格、飙升的抵押贷款利率、新冠疫情的持续影响以及步步逼近的经济衰退——似乎所有这些因素正在汇聚成一场混乱。

The fear is real. But the chaos is transitory, as it is largely driven by the tumult that attends any transition from an old economic order to a new one. Every economy goes through cycles of expansion and contraction, but the most important indicator within these cycles has less to do with market prices or unemployment rates and more to do with underlying political philosophy.

这样的担忧是有道理的。但混乱只是暂时的,因为它在很大程度上由伴随旧经济秩序向新经济秩序过渡的动荡所推动。每个经济体都会经历扩张和收缩的周期,但在这些周期中,最重要的指标与市场价格或失业率关系不大,关系大的是基本的政治哲学。
 

For roughly half a century, our political economy has been based on the governing concept of neoliberalism — the idea that capital, goods and people should be able to cross borders in search of the most productive and profitable returns. Many people associate it with the trickle-down economics practiced by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher or even the business-friendly economic ideas espoused by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama around financial markets and trade. But the roots of the philosophy go back further.

约半个世纪以来,我们的政治经济学一直以新自由主义的治理概念为基础,即资本、商品和人员应该能够跨越国界,寻找生产力和利润的最高回报。许多人将其与里根和撒切尔推行的涓滴经济学联系在一起,甚至与克林顿和奥巴马在金融市场和贸易领域所倡导的重商经济理念联系在一起。但这种哲学的根源可以追溯到更早的时候。

The term “neoliberalism” was coined in 1938, at a Paris gathering of economists, sociologists, journalists and businessmen who were alarmed by what they viewed as the excessive state control of markets after the Great Depression. For them, the interests of the nation-state and of democracy could pose problems for economic and political stability. The voting public could not be trusted, and thus national interests (or, more particularly, nationalism) should be constrained by international laws and institutions so that markets and society could function properly.

1938年,一群经济学家、社会学家、记者和商人在巴黎的一次聚会上提出了“新自由主义”这个词,在他们看来,大萧条过后国家对市场出现了过度控制,这让他们感到警惕。对他们来说,民族国家和民主的利益可能会给经济和政治稳定带来问题。不能信任有投票权的公众,因此,国家利益(或者更具体地说,民族主义)应该受到国际法和国际机构的限制,以便市场和社会能够正常运作。

Global institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and later organizations like the World Trade Organization — groups that were essentially about connecting global finance, trade and business across borders — were influenced by these neoliberal philosophies. They vigorously advocated the Washington Consensus, a series of economic principles derived from the tent poles of market liberalization and unfettered globalization. These prescriptions generated more growth than ever before; the four years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis were one of the strongest global growth periods of the past half century. But they also created substantial amounts of inequality within nations.

像国际货币基金组织和世界银行这样的全球性机构,以及后来像世界贸易组织这样的组织(这些组织的本质是跨越国界连接全球金融、贸易和商业)都受到了这些新自由主义哲学的影响。它们大力倡导华盛顿共识,也就是从市场自由化和不受约束的全球化衍生出来的一系列经济原则。这些方子造就了超出以往的经济增长;2008年金融危机之前的四年,是过去半个世纪全球经济增长最为强劲的时期之一。但它们也在国家内部导致了大量的不平等。

How? In part because money moves across borders much faster than either goods or people. The “cheap capital for cheap labor” bargain struck between the United States and Asia from the 1980s onward benefited multinational companies and the Chinese state far more than any other entities, academic research shows. The Reagan-Thatcher revolution unleashed global capital by deregulating the financial industry, and global trade was fully unleashed during the Clinton era, with deals like NAFTA and the eventual accession of China into the W.T.O., which tipped the balance of policy interests between domestic job creation and global market integration toward the latter. The idea was that cheaper consumer prices from imported goods would make up for flatter or even falling wages (in real terms for many working people).

怎么会这样?在一定程度上是因为,资金的跨境流动比货物或人员要快得多。学术研究表明,从上世纪80年代开始,美国和亚洲之间达成的“廉价资本换取廉价劳动力”交易,给跨国公司和中国政府带来的好处远超任何其他实体。里根-撒切尔革命通过放松对金融业的管制,释放了全球资本,克林顿时代则充分释放了全球贸易,达成了北美自由贸易协定,中国也最终加入了世贸组织等等,这使得国内创造就业机会和全球市场一体化之间的政策利益平衡向后者倾斜。当时的想法是,进口带来更便宜的消费品将弥补工资的持平甚至下降(对许多劳动人口来说,扣除物价因素之后的工资就是不涨甚至是下降的)。

But they didn’t. Even before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the prices of the things that make us middle class — from housing to education and health care — were rising far faster than wages. That’s still the case, even with recent wage inflation. The sense that the global economy has become too unmoored from national interests has helped fuel the political populism, nationalism and even fascism (in the form of Donald Trump and the MAGA movement) that we are grappling with today. It’s a bitter irony that the very philosophies that were meant to tamp down political extremism did just the opposite when taken too far.

但事实并非如此。即使在疫情和乌克兰战争之前,从住房到教育和医疗保健这些使我们成为中产阶级的东西,价格的上涨速度就已经远远快过工资的上涨。这一点即使在最近工资上涨的情况下也没有改变。全球经济与国家利益脱钩的感觉助长了我们今天正在努力应对的政治民粹主义、民族主义甚至法西斯主义(以特朗普和MAGA运动的形式呈现)。具有强烈讽刺意味的是,原本旨在打击政治极端主义的哲学,如果走得太远,就会导致适得其反的后果。

The neoliberal philosophy is tapped out not only in the United States but also abroad — witness the backlash in Britain to Prime Minister Liz Truss’s ill-fated experimentation with trickle-down tax cuts. Offshoring to multiple countries was supposed to make manufacturing more productive and business more efficient. But many of those supposed efficiencies collapsed with any sort of global stress, from pandemics to tsunamis, port backups and other unforeseen events.

新自由主义哲学不仅在美国遭到唾弃,在国外也是如此——看看英国对特拉斯首相命运多舛的涓滴减税试验的强烈反对。将业务外包到多个国家本应提高制造业的生产力和商业效率。但是,从疫情到海啸,从港口拥堵和其他不可预见的事件,任何形式的全球压力都会导致所谓的效率崩溃。

And complex supply chains resulted in any number of production disasters well before the global crises of the past few years; think about the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, in which a factory making clothes for various global brands (which had no idea about downstream risk in their supply chains) collapsed and killed over 1,100 people. Meanwhile, free trade itself, which was supposed to foster peace between nations, became a system to be gamed by mercantilist nations and state-run autocracies, resulting in deep political divides at home and abroad.

在过去几年的全球危机之前,复杂的供应链就已经导致了许多生产灾难;想想2013年孟加拉国拉纳广场的灾难吧。当时,一家为多个全球品牌生产服装的工厂倒塌,导致1100多人死亡(这些工厂对其供应链中的下游风险一无所知)。与此同时,本应促进国家间和平的自由贸易本身,却成为一个被重商主义国家和政府专政玩弄的系统,导致国内外严重的政治分歧。

Fortunately, the pendulum of the political economy eventually swings back, and philosophies that have outlived their usefulness give way to new ones. Seismic shifts in the socioeconomic agenda are rare and transformative. We are going through such a shift now. The world is beginning to reset — not to the “normal” of conventional neoliberal economic models but to a new normal. There is a rethink going on in policy circles, business and academia about what the right balance is between global and local.

幸运的是,政治经济学的钟摆最终会摆动回来,已经过时的哲学会让位于新的哲学。社会经济议程的巨变是罕见的,而且是变革性的。我们现在正在经历这样的转变。世界正开始重置——不再是传统新自由主义经济模式下的“常态”,而是重置到一种新常态。政策界、商界和学术界正在重新思考,如何在全球和本地之间取得正确的平衡。

Trade policy is shifting to better consider labor and environmental standards, with an understanding that cheap isn’t always cheap if products are degrading the environment or being made with a child’s tiny hands. There’s also a rethink of trade in digital services to account for privacy and liberal values. (Do we really want our personal data handed over to big tech or big surveillance states like China?) Supply chains are shortening not only because of geopolitics but also because of new technologies (such as decentralized farming and 3-D printing) that are making it possible to hub production and consumption closer to home.

贸易政策正在转向更优先考虑劳动力和环境标准,因为人们认识到,如果产品对环境造成破坏,或者是使用童工的小手制造,那么便宜就不总是那么合算。人们也在重新思考数字服务贸易,把隐私和自由价值观也考虑进去。(我们真的愿意把自己的个人数据交给大型科技公司或中国这样的监控大国吗?)供应链的缩短不仅是因为地缘政治,还因为新技术(如分散耕作和3D打印)使得生产和消费的枢纽离家更近。

So what now? How can we make sure that economic globalization doesn’t again run too far ahead of national politics? And how can we fix things in a way that doesn’t result in 1930s-style protectionism or a false fit of nostalgia for a bygone era?

那么现在怎么办?我们如何才能确保经济全球化不会再次远远超前于国家政治?我们如何才能在解决问题的同时,避免出现上世纪30年代式的保护主义或对逝去时代的虚假怀旧?

We don’t yet have a new unified field theory for the postneoliberal world. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to question the old philosophy. One of the most persistent neoliberal myths was that the world was flat and national interests would play second fiddle to global markets. The past several years have laid waste to that idea. It’s up to those who care about liberal democracy to craft a new system that better balances local and global interests.

对于这个后新自由主义世界,我们还没有一个新的统一场理论。但这并不意味着我们不应该继续质疑旧的哲学。新自由主义最持久的神话之一是:世界是平的,国家利益将排在全球市场之后。在过去几年里,这种想法已经化为泡影。现在应该由那些关心自由民主的人们来制定一个新的制度,以便更好地平衡地方和全球利益。
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