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2008年诺贝尔经济学奖得主。 美國經濟學家及紐約時報的專欄作家,普林斯頓大學經濟系教授,是新凱恩斯主義经济学派代表。1953年出生美國紐約,约翰·F·肯尼迪高中毕业。1974年就讀耶鲁大學,1977年在麻省理工學院取得博士學位,受到经济学家诺德豪斯的注意。畢業後先後於耶鲁大学、麻省理工及史丹福大學任教。2000年起,成為普林斯頓大學經濟系教授。

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美国如沸蛙(1)  

2009-08-05 20:34:54|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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                                                                      Boiling the Frog1

                                                                         Yuer [译]


 

Is America on its way to becoming a boiled frog?

 

如今的美国就是一只被煮的青蛙?


I’m referring, of course, to the proverbial frog that, placed in a pot of cold water that is gradually heated, never realizes the danger it’s in and is boiled alive. Real frogs will, in fact, jump out of the pot — but never mind. The hypothetical boiled frog is a useful metaphor for a very real problem: the difficulty of responding to disasters that creep up on you a bit at a time.

 

当然,这里说的是谚语中的青蛙。那只放在一锅冷水中慢慢加热的青蛙,对自己所处的危险境地没有丝毫察觉,直到被活活煮死。当然,现实中,青蛙会从锅里跳出来,倒不必担心。假设中的这只被煮的青蛙之说,是一种对现实问题的精彩隐喻,比喻我们要应对悄然来临的灾难着实困难


And creeping disasters are what we mostly face these days.

 

我所说的“悄然来临的灾难”,正是近日困扰我们最多的问题。

 

I started thinking about boiled frogs recently as I watched the depressing state of debate over both economic and environmental policy. These are both areas in which there is a substantial lag before policy actions have their full effect — a year or more in the case of the economy, decades in the case of the planet — yet in which it’s very hard to get people to do what it takes to head off a catastrophe foretold.

 

最近,关于经济与环境政策的沉闷争论不绝于耳,这让我开始联想到被煮的青蛙。他们的共同之处在于,从政策实施到真正出现效果之间都有一个漫长的过程 ——对经济而言,需要一年或更多的时间,对地球环境而言则需要几十年的时间——在这个不见效果的过程中,要说服人民采取恰当的行动,躲避眼前的灾难却显得非常困难。

 

And right now, both the economic and the environmental frogs are sitting still while the water gets hotter.

 

现在,经济及环境这两只青蛙都静坐在越来越热的煮锅里。

 

Start with economics: last winter the economy was in acute crisis, with a replay of the Great Depression seeming all too possible. And there was a fairly strong policy response in the form of the Obama stimulus plan, even if that plan wasn’t as strong as some of us thought it should have been.

 

我们先说经济这只蛙。去年冬天,经济处于严峻危机之中,大有重演大萧条之势。后来,有了奥巴马的经济刺激方案,成为比较有力的政策应对,不过,在我们一些人看来,这个方案的力度仍显不够。

 

At this point, however, the acute crisis has given way to a much more insidious threat. Most economic forecasters now expect gross domestic product to start growing soon, if it hasn’t already. But all the signs point to a “jobless recovery”: on average, forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believe that the unemployment rate will keep rising into next year, and that it will be as high at the end of 2010 as it is now.

 

可是, 此时此刻, 当初严峻的危机, 已经让位给一种更加隐蔽得多的威胁。现在,大多数经济预测者们估计,假如国民生产总值现在还没有增长,则很快就会开始增长。但是,所有的迹象都指向一个“无就业增长的复苏”:根据华尔街报对经济预测者的调查,平均而言,大家都认为失业率会持续上升到明年但到2010年末,总失业率将与目前持平。

 

Now, it’s bad enough to be jobless for a few weeks; it’s much worse being unemployed for months or years. Yet that’s exactly what will happen to millions of Americans if the average forecast is right — which means that many of the unemployed will lose their savings, their homes and more.

 

现在,失业几周就已经糟糕透顶,那么数月、数年找不到工作,情况一定会更加恶劣。然而,如果普遍预测没错的话,这种情况却是数百万美国人必须面对的现实,它意味着许多失业者将痛失积蓄、房子甚至更多的东西。

 

To head off this outcome — and remember, this isn’t what economic Cassandras are saying; it’s the forecasting consensus — we’d need to get another round of fiscal stimulus under way very soon. But neither Congress nor, alas, the Obama administration is showing any inclination to act. Now that the free fall is over, all sense of urgency seems to have vanished.

 

为了阻止悲剧发生——切记,这并不是经济凶事预言家的危言耸听,是经济预测家的共识——要防止出现这种后果——我们急需进行新一轮的经济刺激计划。但是,国会与奥巴马政府都没有表现出采取任何行动的迹象。既然现在自由落体运动已经到底,所有的紧迫感都已消失殆尽。

 


注释
1.本文为《纽约时报》7月12日专栏文章。

编辑手记:

*对文中的一处误译进行了修改。at this point句。(Eugene, 8月6日)
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