The Economist 词汇解析(13)

By admin in bet体育在线网址手机版 on 2019年2月3日


本期原文选自The Economist 2016-9-24的Leaders板块The low-rate
world,释义来自加州洛杉矶分校高阶七版、搜狗百科等资源。如果你也在攻读The Economist,欢迎订阅我的文集The


The low-rate world

They do not naturally crave the limelight【1】. But for the past
decade the attention on central bankers has been
unblinking【2】—and increasingly hostile. During the financial
crisis the Federal Reserve and other central banks were hailed for
their actions: by slashing rates and printing money to buy bonds, they
stopped a shock from becoming a depression. Now their signature
policy, of keeping interest rates low or even negative, is at the
centre of the biggest macroeconomic debate in a generation.


【1】limelight 公众瞩目标主导,本意是石灰光(灯)


【2】unblinking 心向往之地;blink 眨眼,闪烁


The central bankers say that ultra-loose monetary policy【3】
remains essential to prop up still-weak economies and hit their
inflation targets. The Bank of Japan (BoJ) this week promised to keep
ten-year government bond【4】 yields around zero. On September
21st the Federal Reserve put off a rate rise yet again. In the wake
the Brexit vote, the Bank of England has cut its main
policy rate【6】 to 0.25%, the lowest in its 300-year history.


【3】ultra-loose monetary policy 超宽松货币政策


【4】government bond 政党债券,政党公债


【5】in the wake of 在……之后


【6】policy rate 政策利率


Come Yellen and high water

But a growing chorus of critics frets about【7】 the effects of
the low-rate world—a topsy-turvy【8】 place where savers are
charged a fee, where the yields on a large fraction of rich-world
government debt come with a minus sign, and where central banks matter
more than markets in deciding how capital is allocated. Politicians
have waded in【9】. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential
nominee, has accused Janet Yellen, the Fed’s chairman, of keeping
rates low for political reasons. Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance
minister, blames the European Central Bank for the rise of Alternative
for Germany, a right-wing party.


【7】fret about 担忧,焦虑


【8】topsy-turvy 颠倒混乱


【9】wade in/wade in sth 强行插手;wade涉水


This is a debate on which both sides get a lot wrong. It is too simple
to say that central bankers are causing the low-rate world; they are
also reacting to it. Real long-term interest rates have been declining
for decades, driven by fundamental factors such as ageing populations
and the integration of savings-rich China into the world economy (see
article). Nor have they been reckless【10】. In most of the rich
world inflation is below the official target. Indeed, in some ways
central banks have not been bold enough. Only now, for example, has
the BoJ explicitly pledged to overshoot【11】 its 2% inflation
target. The Fed still seems anxious to push up rates as soon as it

【10】reckless 鲁莽的,无所顾忌的

【11】overshoot 超过,突破

Yet the evidence is mounting that the distortions caused by the
low-rate world are growing even as the gains are diminishing. The
pension-plan deficits of companies and local governments have
ballooned【12】 because it costs more to honour【13】
future pension promises when interest rates fall (see article). Banks,
which normally make money from the difference between short-term and
long-term rates, struggle when rates are flat or negative. That
impairs their ability to make loans even to the creditworthy.
Unendingly low rates have skewed financial markets, ensuring a big
sell-off【14】 if rates were suddenly to rise. The longer this
goes on, the greater the perils that accumulate.

【12】balloon 激增,膨胀;名词本意是气球

【13】honour 信守(承诺)

【14】sell-off 抛售

To live safely in a low-rate world, it is time to move beyond a
reliance on central banks. Structural reforms to increase underlying
growth rates have a vital role. But their effects materialise only
slowly and economies need succour now. The most urgent priority is to
enlist【15】 fiscal policy. The main tool for fighting
recessions has to shift from central banks to governments.

【15】enlist sth (in sth) 谋取(帮助)

To anyone who remembers the 1960s and 1970s, that idea will seem both
familiar and worrying. Back then governments took it for granted that
it was their responsibility to pep up【16】 demand. The problem
was that politicians were good at cutting taxes and increasing
spending to boost the economy, but hopeless at reversing course when
such a boost was no longer needed. Fiscal stimulus became synonymous
with an ever-bigger state. The task today is to find a form of fiscal
policy that can revive the economy in the bad times without
entrenching government in the good.

【16】pep up demand 提振必要

That means going beyond the standard response to calls for more public
spending: namely, infrastructure investment. To be clear, spending on
productive infrastructure is a good thing. Much of the rich world
could do with new toll roads, railways and airports, and it will never
be cheaper to build them. To manage the risk of
white-elephant【17】 projects, private-sector partners should be
involved from the start. Pension and insurance funds are desperate for
long-lasting assets that will generate the steady income they have
promised to retirees. Specialist pension funds can advise on a
project’s merits, with one eye on【18】 eventually buying the
assets in question.


【18】with one eye on sth;have one eye/half eye on sth

But infrastructure spending is not the best way to prop up weak
demand. Ambitious capital projects cannot be turned on and off to
fine-tune the economy. They are a nightmare to plan, take ages to
deliver and risk becoming bogged down【19】 in politics. To be
effective as a countercyclical tool, fiscal policy must mimic the best
features of modern-day monetary policy, whereby independent central
banks can act immediately to loosen or tighten as circumstances

【19】bog sth/sb down (in sth) 使陷入烂泥,阻碍

Small-government Keynesianism【20】

Politicians will not—and should not—hand over big budget decisions to
technocrats. Yet there are ways to make fiscal policy less politicised
and more responsive. Independent fiscal councils, like Britain’s
Office for Budget Responsibility, can help depoliticise
public-spending decisions, but they do nothing to speed up fiscal
action. For that, more automaticity is needed, binding some spending
to changes in the economic cycle. The duration and generosity of
unemployment benefits could be linked to the overall joblessness rate
in the economy, for example. Sales taxes, income-tax deductions or
tax-free allowances on saving could similarly vary in line with the
state of the economy, using the unemployment rate as the


【21】lodestar 北极星,辅导原则

All this may seem unlikely to happen. Central banks have had to take
on so much responsibility since the financial crisis because
politicians have so far failed to shoulder theirs. But each new twist
on ultra-loose monetary policy has less power and more drawbacks. When
the next downturn【22】 comes, this kind of fiscal ammunition will be
desperately needed. Only a small share of public spending needs to be
affected for fiscal policy to be an effective recession-fighting
weapon. Rather than blaming central bankers for the low-rate world, it
is time for governments to help them.

【22】downturn 衰退


attention on central bankers has been
up still-weak economies),仍需利用超宽松货币政策(ultra-loose monetary
policy)。日本银行本周许诺将十年期当局公债收益率(government bond
yields)保持在零左右。U.K.脱欧公投之后(in the wake
of critics)担心(fret
future pension
up demand)。法学家们擅长通过减税和伸张支出的不二法门提振经济(boost the
one eye
taxes)、所得税减免(income-tax deductions)或存款免税额(tax-free
allowances on
central bankers for),而应支援她们。



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