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《经济学人》:奥斯本的第二次预算报告

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Green shoots
继往开来

George Osborne’s second budget was quiet but creditable
奥斯本的第二次预算报告并不高调但做法可靠

SOME people think football is a matter of life and death; on the contrary, Bill Shankly, a legendary coach, once observed, it’s more important than that. Some people billed George Osborne’s budget on March 23rd as a matter of life and death for the government. It wasn’t: the coalition’s big decisions—and big gamble—were taken last year, when the chancellor of the exchequer set out his plan to eliminate Britain’s structural deficit during this parliament. This budget merely restated that commitment. But it also groped towards an answer to an even more important question. As Mr Osborne put it, how can Britain “earn its way in the modern world”? His response, like his plan for the deficit, is broadly right.

有人认为足球比赛乃生死对决;相反,传奇教练Bill Shankly却说,足球赛的意义远不止生死对决这么简单。有人把奥斯本3月23日公布的预算报告看作是决定本届政府存亡大局的关键。这种看法并不对。联合政府的关键性决定——也是赌得最大的一把——在去年财政大臣给出本届政府针对减少英国结构性赤字计划的时候就已成定局。这次的预算报告只是重申了那次的计划,但它也摸索着另外一个更重要的问题的答案。就像奥斯本说的,英国怎么才能“在当今世界赢得机会”呢?他的回答跟他针对减少赤字的计划一样,大致上是正确的。

Britain’s recovery has proved more fragile than Mr Osborne hoped last June, when he announced the fiercest public-spending squeeze in living memory, plus some tax rises to go with the ones bequeathed by Labour. The economy contracted by 0.6% in the last quarter of 2010 and growth in 2011 is projected to be only 1.7%. Meanwhile inflation has risen (to 4.4% in February), pushing up the welfare bill and putting pressure on household incomes. The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee is split on whether to raise interest rates, but it has got more hawkish. Mr Osborne could have softened the effect of a future interest-rate hike by loosening fiscal policy a jot. Yet by not loosening, he has made it more likely that the bank will delay putting up rates—and he has also maintained his deficit-reduction strategy. On balance he did the right thing.

事实证明,英国的经济复苏比奥斯本去年六月所希望的要不堪一击得多。当时他公布了人们记忆中最为大刀阔斧的公共支出紧缩计划,并在沿袭劳工党的税收政策基础上进一步提高了一些税收。英国经济在去年末季下滑了0.6%,而2011年的增长预期仅为1.7%。同时,上涨的通胀(2月份已上升至4.4%)推高了福利费用,并给居民收入施压。英国央行的货币政策委员会就是否调高利率问题立场不一,但整体上更倾向鹰派手腕。假设财政政策放松了一点,奥斯本就可以软化未来利率提升的效应。但他没有放松财政政策,这增加了央行延后调高利率计划的可能性,同时他自身减少赤字的战略也没有受到影响。总的来说他的做法是正确的。

Politically, that strategy is far from old news. Its real-world impact will begin to be felt only in full next month, when a gamut of tax rises, benefit cuts and public-sector pay freezes take effect. This week Mr Osborne announced some measures designed to make the squeeze look fairer, such as a new crackdown on tax evasion. He pinched North Sea oil companies by introducing a “fair-fuel stabiliser”, which will fund a deferral of rises in fuel duty (currently a big gripe in Britain as elsewhere) through an increased levy on oil production, so long as the oil price stays high. Bashing business is never good, but his swipes at the usual targets were relatively harmless.

从政治角度来讲,这种战略可不是什么老生常谈。它的整体现实影响至少要在下个月税率全部上升,福利减少还有公务员停止涨薪开始生效的时候才能被感觉出来。奥斯本本周宣布了一系列措施,比如新一轮的打击逃税行动,力图让停止涨薪显得公平一点儿。他盯住了北海的石油公司,推出“公平燃料稳定措施”。该措施规定,只要油价保持高位,石油生产就征收高税率,在燃料税调高(跟其他国家一样,这是当前英国的民怨所在)之前,这起措施会为政府筹集一定的资金。打击企业的成长一直以来都是错误的做法,但他所打击的常规目标相对来说没有受到什么伤害。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
hinder ['hində]

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adj. 后面的
vt. 阻碍,打扰

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creditable ['kreditəbl]

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adj. 可称誉的,声誉好的,可信的

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projected [prə'dʒektid]

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adj. 投影的,投射 v. 投射(project的过去

 
recovery [ri'kʌvəri]

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n. 恢复,复原,痊愈

 
underlying [.ʌndə'laiiŋ]

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adj. 在下面的,基本的,隐含的

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budget ['bʌdʒit]

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n. 预算
vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算

 
announced [ə'naunst]

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宣布的

 
delay [di'lei]

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v. 耽搁,推迟,延误
n. 耽搁,推迟,延期

 
caricature ['kærikətʃuə]

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n. 讽刺画,漫画,讽刺描述法,笨拙的模仿 v. 画成漫

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trivial ['triviəl]

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adj. 琐碎的,不重要的

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