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Donald Trump’s declaration that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” will surely go down in the history books as a classic utterance — but not in a good way. Instead it will go alongside Dick Cheney’s prediction, on the eve of the Iraq war, that “we will, in fact, be welcomed as liberators.” That is, it will be used to illustrate the arrogance and ignorance that so often drives crucial policy decisions.
唐纳德·特朗普宣称“贸易战是好事,很容易赢”,这个经典言论肯定会被载入史册——但不是流芳千古那种。相反,它类似于迪克·切尼(Dick Cheney)在伊拉克战争前夕的预测,“事实上,我们会以解放者的身份受到欢迎。”也就是说,它会被用来说明,推动着关键决策的,往往是怎样一种傲慢与无知。
For the reality is that Trump isn’t winning his trade wars. True, his tariffs have hurt China and other foreign economies. But they’ve hurt America too; economists at the New York Fed estimate that the average household will end up paying more than $1,000 a year in higher prices.
因为现实是,特朗普并没有赢得贸易战。诚然,他的关税损害了中国和其他国家的经济。但它们也伤害了美国;纽联储(New York Fed)的经济学家估计,最终,物价上涨将让每户家庭平均每年多支付逾1000美元
And there’s no hint that the tariffs are achieving Trump’s presumed goal, which is to pressure other countries into making significant policy changes.
而且没有迹象表明这些关税正在实现特朗普假定的目标,即迫使其他国家做出重大政策改变。
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What, after all, is a trade war? Neither economists nor historians use the term for situations in which a country imposes tariffs for domestic political reasons, as the United States routinely did until the 1930s. No, it’s only a “trade war” if the goal of the tariffs is coercion — imposing pain on other countries to force them to change their policies in our favor.
到底什么是贸易战?经济学家和历史学家都不会用这个词来描述一个国家出于国内政治原因征收关税的情况,在1930年代以前,美国是经常这么做的。只有当关税的目标是胁迫——给其他国家带来痛苦,迫使它们转而实行对我们有利的政策——这时才可以叫做“贸易战”。
And while the pain is real, the coercion just isn’t happening.
虽然痛苦是真切的,但胁迫的效果始终就是出不来。
All the tariffs Trump imposed on Canada and Mexico in an attempt to force a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement led to a new agreement so similar to the old one that you need a magnifying glass to see the differences. (And the new one may not even make it through Congress.)
特朗普对加拿大和墨西哥征收的所有关税,都是为了迫使它们重新谈判《北美自由贸易协定》(North American Free Trade Agreement),最终导致了一项与旧协定极为相似的新协定,得用放大镜才能看出其中的差异。(而且新法案甚至可能无法在国会通过。)
And at the recent G20 summit, Trump agreed to a pause in the China trade war, holding off on new tariffs, in return, as far as we can tell, for some vaguely conciliatory language.
在最近的20国集团峰会上,特朗普同意暂停和中国的贸易战,暂缓征收新关税。据我们所知,作为回报,中方发表了一些模糊的和解言论
But why are Trump’s trade wars failing? Mexico is a small economy next to a giant, so you might think — Trump almost certainly did think — that it would be easy to browbeat. China is an economic superpower in its own right, but it sells far more to us than it buys in return, which you might imagine makes it vulnerable to U.S. pressure. So why can’t Trump impose his economic will?
但是特朗普的贸易战为什么会失败呢?墨西哥是一个经济大国旁边的小经济体,所以你可能认为——特朗普几乎肯定是这么认为的——它很容易被吓倒。中国本身是一个经济超级大国,但它向我们出售的商品,远远多于向我们购买的商品,这可能会让它容易受到美国的压力。那么,为什么特朗普不能把他的经济意愿强加给它呢?
There are, I’d argue, three reasons.
我认为有三个原因。
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First, belief that we can easily win trade wars reflects the same kind of solipsism that has so disastrously warped our Iran policy. Too many Americans in positions of power seem unable to grasp the reality that we’re not the only country with a distinctive culture, history and identity, proud of our independence and extremely unwilling to make concessions that feel like giving in to foreign bullies. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” isn’t a uniquely American sentiment.
首先,认为我们能够轻易赢得贸易战的想法,反映了一种唯我独尊,我们的伊朗政策也是受这种心态影响而严重扭曲。太多掌权的美国人似乎无法理解这样一个事实:我们并不是唯一一个拥有独特文化、历史和身份的国家,不仅有我们才会为自己的独立感到自豪,而且极不愿意做出让人感觉像是屈服于外国欺凌的让步。“宁花百万于国防,不交一分作进贡”并不是美国独有的观念。
In particular, the idea that China of all nations will agree to a deal that looks like a humiliating capitulation to America is just crazy.
尤其是,那么多国家里,偏偏认为中国会同意一项显得在向美国屈辱投降的协议,简直是疯了。
Second, Trump’s “tariff men” are living in the past, out of touch with the realities of the modern economy. They talk nostalgically about the policies of William McKinley. But back then the question, “Where was this thing made?” generally had a simple answer. These days, almost every manufactured good is the product of a global value chain that crosses multiple national borders.
其次,特朗普的“关税员”都生活在过去,与现代经济的现实脱节。他们充满怀念地谈论威廉·麦金利(William McKinley)的政策。但在当时,如果问起“这个东西是哪里制造的?”一般都会得到简单的回答。如今,几乎每一种制成品都是跨越多个国家边界的全球价值链产物。
This raises the stakes: U.S. business was hysterical at the prospect of disrupting Nafta, because so much of its production relies on Mexican inputs. It also scrambles the effects of tariffs: when you tax goods assembled in China but with many of the components from Korea or Japan, assembly doesn’t shift to America, it just moves to other Asian countries like Vietnam.
这增加了风险:《北美自由贸易协定》遭颠覆的前景令美国商业陷入狂乱,因为它的生产很大程度上依赖于墨西哥的投入。这还扰乱了关税的影响:如果对在中国组装的商品征税,但其中许多零部件来自韩国或日本,那么组装并不会转移到美国,而是转移到越南等其他亚洲国家。
Finally, Trump’s trade war is unpopular — in fact, it polls remarkably poorly — and so is he.
最后,特朗普的贸易战不受欢迎——事实上,它的民调结果相当糟糕——他本人也是。
This leaves him politically vulnerable to foreign retaliation. China may not buy as much from America as it sells, but its agricultural market is crucial to farm-state voters Trump desperately needs to hold on to. So Trump’s vision of an easy trade victory is turning into a political war of attrition that he, personally, is probably less able to sustain than China’s leadership, even though China’s economy is feeling the pain.
这使得他在政治上容易受到外国报复。中国从美国进口的商品可能没有向美国出口的多,但中国的农产品市场对特朗普迫切需要抓住的农业州选民至关重要。因此,特朗普轻松赢得贸易胜利的愿景正在转变为一场消耗战,就他个人而言,对这场消耗战的忍耐力可能不如中国领导层,尽管中国经济正在感受痛苦。
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So how will this end? Trade wars almost never have clear victors, but they often leave long-lasting scars on the world economy. The light-truck tariffs America imposed in 1964 in an unsuccessful effort to force Europe to buy our frozen chickens are still in place, 55 years later.
那么,这将如何结束呢?贸易战几乎从来没有明确的胜利者,但它们往往给世界经济留下长期的伤痕。1964年,美国对轻型卡车征收关税,试图迫使欧洲购买我们的冷冻鸡肉,但没有成功。55年后,这一关税依然有效
Trump’s trade wars are vastly bigger than the trade wars of the past, but they’ll probably have the same result. No doubt Trump will try to spin some trivial foreign concessions as a great victory, but the actual result will just be to make everyone poorer. At the same time, Trump’s casual trashing of past trade agreements has badly damaged American credibility, and weakened the international rule of law.
特朗普的贸易战比过去的贸易战规模大得多,但它们可能会产生同样的结果。毫无疑问,特朗普将试图把一些微不足道的外国让步夸大成伟大的胜利,但实际结果只会让所有人更加贫穷。与此同时,特朗普对过去贸易协定的随意抨击严重损害了美国的信誉,削弱了国际法治。
Oh, and did I mention that McKinley’s tariffs were deeply unpopular, even at the time? In fact, in his final speech on the subject, McKinley offered what sounds like a direct response to — and rejection of — Trumpism, declaring that “commercial wars are unprofitable,” and calling for “good will and friendly trade relations.”
哦,我有没有提过,麦金利的关税非常不受欢迎,即使是在当时?事实上,在关于这个问题的最后一次演讲中,麦金利的话似乎是对特朗普主义的直接回应乃至否定。他宣称“商业战争是无利可图的”,并呼吁建立“善意和友好的贸易关系”。