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奥巴马计划进一步干预经济

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Obama to Intervene More in Economy

2008年11月20日

From autos to energy to banking, President-elect Barack Obama is promising to intervene in the economy in ways that Washington hasn't tried since the 1970s, favoring some industries and products while hobbling others.

Under his financial policies, banks seeking government assistance would be forced to lend and to halt foreclosures. Automobile companies would be pushed to change their product lines to more advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles. Billions of federal dollars would promote solar, wind and biomass energy, while dirty coal power could be priced out of business.

Mr. Obama, in a video for a climate-change summit Tuesday, pledged to pursue energy policies that would reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050. Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking to a Wall Street Journal conclave of business leaders Tuesday, said the economic crisis facing the country is 'an opportunity to do things you could not do before.'

'You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,' Mr. Emanuel said.

Obama advisers said difficult times necessitate extraordinary measures. 'We are in the midst of a massive reorganization right now in autos but also other areas as well -- finance, information technology. All of this flows into . . . the new green energy economy we are living in, albeit in an embryonic stage,' said former Rep. David Bonior, an Obama economic adviser and proponent of a more interventionist industrial policy in the 1980s. Asked if this was the industrial policy of the incoming Obama administration, he replied: 'The answer is yes.'

Critics and advocates alike see the re-emergence of government economic steering that was in vogue when Japan, South Korea and Germany embraced it three decades ago, then discredited after its key practitioners slipped into deep economic funks. With the upheavals in world capital markets, pure free-market policies are facing more criticism.

Mr. Obama is by no means an activist in the Japanese mold, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign. But as a whole, policies crafted to address distinct problems in the auto, energy and banking sectors are merging into a broader policy that would pick some winners and losers, preserve entire industries and shape consumer choices.

'We're backing into industrial policy in an emergency to correct massive market failures,' said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute who has worked with the president-elect's economic team.

The Bush administration's $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan could be thought of as a state intervention to preserve U.S. dominance in financial services, Mr. Bernstein said. And coming from a conservative Republican administration, the Wall Street rescue plan opened the gates to other economic interventions.

What is changing is the unabashed nature of the coming interventions, after decades of denial, said Fred Block, a sociologist at the University of California at Davis who studies public-private partnerships. Mr. Obama has said future assistance to the banking sector would be tied to a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures. Advisers are pushing for other conditions to ensure tax money going to the banks would be lent out, not put into the vaults to recapitalize the firms.

Mr. Obama has promised to throw a financial lifeline to the auto makers in Detroit, but has said firms taking the money would have to change their product lines to emphasize fuel efficiency. Some advisers have suggested a government representative be put on the boards of directors to ensure product transformation was taking place.

On Tuesday at a governors' conference, Mr. Obama reiterated his intent to cap emissions of greenhouse gases and allow companies to trade permits to emit pollutants like carbon dioxide. Those policies foresee $15 billion a year going to alternative energy sources and nuclear power, while pushing the price of coal up substantially, by forcing coal-fired utilities to purchase the right to burn it.

Left unsaid was the negative impact those policies could have on disfavored industries. In the closing days of the presidential campaign, political opponents of Mr. Obama brought to light a videotape of the Democrat making that downside clear, and circulated it widely in coal-mining swing states such as West Virginia and Ohio. In it, the candidate said that under his policies, 'If somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can -- it's just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.'

Even some Obama allies are queasy about Democratic rescue plans for Detroit. Some Democratic economists say the notion of putting a government-appointed member on the boards of the Big Three could be worse than useless, since it might give the illusion of authority without the actual voting strength to affect corporate decisions. And some arguments for an auto-industry rescue, such as saying the U.S. needs to maintain an auto sector for prestige or national security, smack foes and allies as government intervention to preserve the status quo.

'The reason the U.S. economy was so successful for so long was not because we did things so well. It was because we let people fail,' Mr. Holtz-Eakin said. 'This is dangerous at some very deep level.'

Jonathan Weisman


奥巴马计划进一步干预经济
国当选总统奥巴马(Barack Obama)承诺将以上世纪七十年代以来华盛顿从未采用过的方式对经济进行干预,范围涉及从汽车到能源乃至银行等诸多领域;这些措施在偏向一些行业和产品的同时,也会给其他领域带来冲击。

根据奥巴马的金融政策,寻求政府救助的银行将被迫放贷,并停止进行止赎。汽车厂商必须改进产品线,生产更先进、更节能的汽车。联邦政府还将斥资数十亿美元推广太阳能、风能和生物能,同时逐渐淘汰污染严重的热电厂。

在周二一个气候变化高峰会议的视频讲话中,奥巴马承诺推行积极的能源政策,在2020年将温室气体排放量降低到1990年的水平,到2050年再减少80%。奥巴马的白宫办公厅主任伊曼纽尔(Rahm Emanuel)周二对《华尔街日报》组织的一个商界领袖会议表示,眼下的经济危机也是一个机遇,美国可以尝试此前不可能做的事。

伊曼纽尔说,我们不该错过一场严重危机带来的机遇。

奥巴马的顾问们表示,艰难时期需要非常举措。奥巴马经济顾问、前众议员大卫•邦宁(David Bonior)说,我们正身处一场大规模重组过程中,不仅是汽车行业,还包括金融、信息技术等其他领域。所有这些都有助于......我们着手打造一个绿色能源的新经济,尽管这还处于萌芽阶段。邦宁是上世纪八十年代政府加大干预产业政策的支持者。在被问这是否将是奥巴马政府的产业政策时,邦宁回答道:没错。

批评家和支持者都把这看作是三十年前盛行的政府引导经济的政策重登舞台,当时这一政策受到了日本、韩国和德国的热捧,但在主要实践国陷入深度经济衰退后遭到摒弃。随着目前全球资本市场动荡不安,纯粹自由市场政策目前面临着越来越多的批评声。

麦凯恩(John McCain)竞选阵营经济顾问道格拉斯•霍尔茨•埃金(Douglas Holtz-Eakin)表示,奥巴马绝对不是日本经济模式的拥护者。但总的来说,奥巴马应对汽车、能源和银行业等不同问题所制定的政策正形成他的整体政策立场,他的政策将令不同行业有得有失、保护整体工业产业并影响消费者的选择。

自由派智库经济政策研究所(Economic Policy Institute)的经济学家、参与奥巴马经济团队工作的伯恩斯坦(Jared Bernstein)表示,我们正在重拾紧急情况下的行业政策,纠正大规模市场问题。

伯恩斯坦说,布什政府对华尔街的7,000亿美元救助计划可以被视为意在保持美国在金融服务业主导地位的国家干预行动。这项来自保守的共和党政府的救助计划也为未来其他经济干预举措打开了大门。

加州大学戴维斯分校从事公共-私有领域合作关系研究的社会学家布洛克(Fred Block)表示,在遭否定数十年后,到新一届政府,干预举措原来的直白特点将发生变化。奥巴马表示,未来对银行业的救助可能会附带一个90天的止赎延期偿付期。他的顾问还在争取附带其他条件,确保投入银行的纳税人资金将被用于放贷,而不是被用于这些公司的资本机构重组。

奥巴马承诺要向底特律汽车制造商提供财务援助,但他表示,接受救助的公司必须改进产品线、强调能效。一些顾问建议政府向接受救助的公司董事会派驻代表,确保这些公司进行产品转型。

奥巴马周二在一次州长会议上重申,他计划限制温室气体排放,允许公司交易二氧化碳等排污权。这些政策预示政府每年将投入150亿美元用于替代能源与核能,同时迫使热电厂购买排污权,而这将导致煤炭价格大幅上涨。

同样不能忽视这些政策对不受重视行业的负面影响。在总统大选收官阶段,奥巴马的政治反对者曝光了民主党的一盘录像带,并在西弗吉尼亚和俄亥俄等产煤大州广泛传播,其内容清晰反映了这方面的影响。奥巴马在录像中表示,按照他的政策,如果有人想开热电厂的话,他得做好破产准备,因为他将被迫为电厂排出的大量温室气体支付大笔费用。

即便一些奥巴马的支持者也对民主党的底特律救助计划存有疑问。一些民主党经济学家表示,政府向底特律三巨头董事会派驻代表的想法可能不仅没用而且有害,因为这可能会造成一种权力错觉,这个权力并没有能影响企业决策的实际表决权。而一些认为政府应该救助汽车业的观点(例如美国需要保住汽车业以维护声望和国家安全)则让奥巴马的支持者和反对者都感到政府意在通过干预维持现状的味道。

埃金表示,美国经济能够长久繁荣并不是因为政府干的多出色,而是因为我们允许人们失败。但在某些深度层面上这一点会非常危险。

Jonathan Weisman

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