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特朗普想出的“新名词”:启动水泵

更新时间:2017-5-17 18:58:36 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Priming the Pump: The Economic Metaphor Trump ‘Came Up With’
特朗普想出的“新名词”:启动水泵

President Trump recently sat for a long interview with The Economist magazine in which he discussed his economic agenda. One exchange was particularly attention-grabbing for those who could remember their high school history, or who paid vague attention to the debates over stimulus during the last recession.

前不久,特朗普总统接受了《经济学人》杂志(The Economist)的一次长采访,讨论了他的经济计划。对于那些还记得高中历史的人,或隐约关注过上次经济衰退期间的刺激政策讨论的人来说,他们的其中一点交流特别引人注意。

Explaining why he seeks tax cuts even if they risk expanding the budget deficit, President Trump said that they might increase the deficit temporarily, but that “we have to prime the pump.”

特朗普在解释为什么要冒着扩大预算赤字的风险争取减税时表示,它们可能会暂时增加赤字,但“我们必须启动水泵”。

“Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?” the president said.

“你听说过这个说法吗,用在这个特定的事情上?”总统问道。

Yes, the interviewer — who, again, is an editor of The Economist — confirmed.

采访者表示听说过,重申一下,他是《经济学人》的编辑。

“Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good.”

“你以前听过有人用这个说法吗?我没听说过。我的意思是,几天前,我想出了这个词,觉得它很好。”

Hoo boy. Let’s unpack this.

老天爷啊。我们来解释一下。

What is Mr. Trump talking about?

特朗普说的是什么?

“Priming the pump” is a common metaphor for using government tax and spending to try to boost the economy into a higher level of functioning.

“启动水泵”是一个常见的比喻,指的是通过政府税收和开支来尝试刺激经济,以实现更高水平的运行。

The origin of the metaphor refers to pumps used to extract water from wells, which were more widespread before most people had indoor plumbing. The basic idea was to pour a bit of water into a mechanism to make it possible to pump water out.

这个比喻起源于从井中取水的泵,在大部分人拥有入户自来水之前,它的使用是很普遍的。基本原理是往这个装置中加一点水,这样才有可能把水抽出来。

The economics metaphor is that the government might increase economic growth by pumping a little extra cash into the system, perhaps by spending money on jobs programs, or, to use Mr. Trump’s preferred policy, cutting taxes. The hope is that the economy then takes off on its own, just as adding a little water to a pump enables water to flow freely.

这个经济学比喻指的是,通过往系统中注入一点额外的现金,政府有可能促进经济增长,比如在就业计划上投入资金,或者使用特朗普更喜欢的政策——减税。这样做是期望之后经济能自己起飞,就好像往泵里加点水,水就能自由流动。

Did he invent the term?

这个术语是他发明的吗?

No. It dates to before Mr. Trump was born. It was in wide use by 1933, when President Roosevelt fought the Great Depression with pump-priming stimulus. For example, a 1933 cartoon assailing the Roosevelt administration’s spending practices was titled “What we need is another pump” and showed a desperate Roosevelt, with billions already spent, pouring more water into a pump, fruitlessly.

不是。它可以追溯到特朗普出生之前。1933年,它得到了广泛使用,当时,罗斯福总统用水泵启动式的经济刺激政策对抗大萧条。例如,1933年的一幅攻击罗斯福政府开支做法的漫画,标题是“我们需要换个泵”。在漫画中,已花费数十亿美元的绝望的罗斯福徒劳无功地往泵里加入更多水。

The term is most closely associated with the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes, who advocated energetic intervention to try to arrest the depression. By the time Mr. Trump was in school in the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely taught in history and economics courses as part of the story of how the United States emerged from the depression.

这个术语与约翰·梅纳德·凯恩斯(John Maynard Keynes)的经济理论关系最密切,他主张为遏制经济萧条而进行强有力的干预。在20世纪50、60年代,也就是特朗普的学生时代,这个术语是美国如何从大萧条中走出来的故事的一部分,在历史和经济学课程上被广泛教授。

The concept was widely discussed again in 2009 and subsequent years in the context of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, which aimed to jolt the United States out of the deep recession. A Nexis search shows the phrase “pump priming” or its variants appeared in 1,073 news articles in major publications in 2009 alone, and they are almost all referring to economics, not water pumps.

在2009年以及之后的几年里,奥巴马政府为让美国摆脱深度衰退而采取的刺激计划,让这个概念再次被广泛提及。Nexis的搜索结果显示,仅在2009年,“启动水泵”或其变体就出现在1073篇主要出版物的新闻报道中,而且几乎都指的是它的经济学喻义,而不是水泵。

In fact, arguably “priming the pump” is now a “dead metaphor,” or a metaphor in which the original evocative meaning is largely lost. Not many people have a home water pump they need to prime anymore, after all. Other dead metaphors include “champing at the bit” (technically a reference to obstreperous horses) or “selling like hot cakes” (an early term for pancakes, which were in high demand in the 19th century).

事实上,可以说“启动水泵”现在已是“死喻”,也就是一个原始意义已基本消失的比喻。毕竟,没多少人家里还有个水泵需要启动。其他已经死亡的隐喻包括“大咬嚼子”(它的本意是指不服管束的马)或“热饼一样抢手”(早期对薄饼的称呼,这种饼在19世纪非常热销)。

Does Trump really think that he invented it?

特朗普真的认为这个术语是他发明的吗?

A more generous reading of the interview with The Economist suggests that perhaps he didn’t literally mean that he came up with the term on his own; he seemed to know that it was a phrase that the editors might have already heard. Still, this fits with a pattern in which the president seems to learn of widely known, widely discussed concepts and view them as novel and revelatory.

纵观《经济学人》的整个采访,你会发现,也许他并不是真的认为是自己想出了这个术语,他似乎知道编辑们可能听说过这个术语。不过,总统似乎经常这样,得知一个广为人知、被广泛讨论过的概念后,把它当做一个新颖的、启发性的东西。

For example, he seemed surprised when the Chinese president explained why his country couldn’t simply coerce North Korea into more agreeable behavior, and he has expressed wonderment that health care policy is complicated.

例如,当中国国家主席解释为什么他的国家不能简单地迫使朝鲜更顺从时,他似乎感到惊讶。他还对医保政策的复杂性表示过意外。

Is now a really good time to be priming the pump?

现在真的是启动水泵的好时候吗?

In Keynesian economic theory, the strategy makes the most sense when there are underutilized economic resources to be tapped, such as during a recession or depression. While the United States economy probably isn’t yet at full capacity, with the unemployment rate at 4.4 percent it does seem to be closing in on full employment. Factories are running closer to full speed, among other evidence that the economy is hardly depressed.

在凯恩斯的经济理论中,该战略的最佳使用情况是当有些未被充分利用的经济资源需要被开发时,比如在经济衰退或萧条期间。虽然现在美国经济很可能还没达到全盛状态,但失业率仅为4.4%,似乎正在走向充分就业。工厂几乎正以全速运转,还有其他一些证据都能表明,经济远没到萧条的地步。

Perhaps workers who have left the labor force could be coaxed back in with faster economic growth, or the right mix of tax and regulatory policies could unleash higher productivity growth. But those are more esoteric arguments than the standard “prime the pump” concept.

也许如果经济增长速度更快,那些离开劳动队伍的工人会被吸引回来,或者,税收和监管政策的合理组合可以促进生产率更快提高。但这些比标准的“启动水泵”概念要深奥得多。

To extend the metaphor, it’s hard to prime a pump when the water is already flowing just fine.

从这个比喻的角度讲,如果水已经流动得很好了,就很难再往水泵里再灌水启动。

Are there any other concepts from Keynesian economics the president might wish to learn about?

凯恩斯经济学中还有什么哪些概念可能是总统希望了解的?

There is one that might hold special interest for him. As Zach Carter of The Huffington Post noted in a tweet, one of the most famous and influential pieces of analysis Keynes offered was a metaphor for how financial markets work.

有一个概念可能会让他特别感兴趣。正如《赫芬顿邮报》(The Huffington Post)的扎克·卡特(Zach Carter)在Twitter上指出的,凯恩斯提出的一个最有名、最有影响力的分析是一个关于金融市场如何运作的比喻。

The stock market, Keynes argued, was much like a hypothetical beauty contest in which readers of a newspaper had not simply to vote for whom they found most beautiful, but to predict whom others would find most beautiful. This in turn would create perverse feedback loops that might lead to winners who aren’t actually the most beautiful.

凯恩斯认为,股票市场很像一个假想的选美大赛,报纸读者不仅要投票给他们眼中最美的人,而且要预测其他人可能会认为谁最美。这反过来会产生不正常的反馈循环,可能会导致获胜者并不是最美丽的。

For a former owner of the Miss Universe pageant, this would seem to be a financial idea that would be easy to remember — or maybe to invent all over again.

对于前世界小姐大赛主办者来说,这似乎是个容易记住的金融概念——也许他还可以再发明一次。

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