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Finance and economics财经商业Monetary policy in America美国的货币政策Taper tiger逐渐变弱的老虎The Federal Reserve surprises everyone by changing nothing美国联邦储备委员保持政策不变让人们感到惊奇SHORTLY after the Federal Reserve hinted in May that it might start to ease its monetary stimulus, rich-country bond yields shot up; emerging-market currencies and stockmarkets cratered.在美联储5月暗示可能会退出货币刺激政策后不久,富裕国家的债券收益率飙升,新兴市场货币和股市出现震荡。Was it all for nothing?难道这没有原因吗?On September 18th, at the end of a closely watched meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Feds policy-setting body, chose not to taper.9月18日,在一个被密切关注的会议结束时,美联储的政策制定机构联邦公开市场委员会没有选择退出。Instead, it said it would keep buying 85 billion a month of Treasury and mortgage bonds with newly created money.相反,表示将用新创造的货币继续每月购买85亿的国债和抵押债券。Although the Fed had never actually promised to act in September, all the signals pointed in that direction.虽然美联储从来没有承诺在9月份采取行动,但是所有的信号都指向这个方向。QE would stop, it had said when the latest bout of bond-buying began last September,when the labour-market outlook had improved substantially.去年9月开始的新一轮购买债券时表示,当劳动力市场的前景已经大幅改善时QE会停下来。Since then, the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.3% from 8.1% and private employment has risen by 2.3m, or 2%.从那时起,失业率从8.1%下降至7.3%,私营部门就业增加了2.3或2%。In June Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, said the Fed would probably start to taper by year-end, and stop QE when unemployment hit 7%, which it expected by mid-2014.在6月,美联储主席本?伯南克表示,美联储可能会开始在今年年底如果失业率达到7%就停止量化宽松政策,预计是在2014年中期。So what has now held it back?那么是什么原因导致倒退?First, the pace of job growth has recently flagged; the drop in unemployment has been flattered by the number of people no longer looking for work.首先,就业增长速度最近开始减弱,失业人数的下降是被不再找工作的人数粉饰过的。The labour-market participation rate sank to 63.2% in August, a 35-year low.劳动力市场参与率8月下跌至63.2%,是35年来的新低。Second, fiscal policy continues to work at cross-purposes to monetary policy.其次,财政政策将继续为多个货币政策目的起作用。Higher taxes and spending cuts have subtracted at least a full percentage point from growth this year.更高的税收和削减开至少降低了今年经济增长整整一个百分点。The prospect that spending caps may be lifted when the new fiscal year begins on October 1st has melted away.在10月1日新的财政年度开始时可能会取消出上限的预期已经没有了。With Republicans in Congress and Barack Obama unable to agree on how to fund the government or raise the Treasurys statutory debt ceiling, the risk of a government shutdown loomed large in the minds of Fed officials.随着共和党在国会和奥巴马政府在如何资助或提高财政部的法定债务上限上谈不拢,在美联储的官员看来政府有很大的关闭风险。But the third and most important restraint on the Fed was the unexpected effect on financial markets of a prospective change in monetary stance.但是,对美联储的第三个也是最重要的约束是变动的货币政策对金融市场的意想不到的影响。The central bank had always emphasised that tapering did not mean tightening.央行此前一直强调退出并不意味着紧缩。Provided asset purchases remained above zero, the Feds balance-sheet would keep growing and monetary policy would still be loosening.倘若资产购买仍高于零,美联储的资产负债表将保持增长和货币政策仍然会松动。Separately, the Fed never wavered from its pledge to keep the federal-funds rate near zero at least until unemployment had fallen to 6.5%.另外,美联储从来没有动摇其承诺保持联邦基金利率接近零直到到失业率下降至6.5%。Nonetheless, investors radically repriced their expectations of Fed policy and fled positions predicated on a policy of QE ever after.尽管如此,投资者从根本上重新定价他们对美联储政策的预期,并从量化宽松的政策以后改变了定位。Bond yields have risen by slightly less than a percentage point since May, mortgage rates by slightly more.从五月以来债券收益率上升了约一个百分点,住房抵押贷款利率上涨更高一些。Mr Bernanke fretted that this rapid tightening of financial conditions in recent months could have the effect of slowing growth, a problem that would be exacerbated if conditions tighten further.伯南克担忧最近几个月这种快速紧缩财政的情况会使经济增长放缓问题是继续紧缩会使情况更糟。The euphoric market response to the FOMCs decision this week would seem to vindicate that judgment.这周市场对联邦公开市场委员会决定的积极反应明了这个判断。But it leaves wide open the question of when the Fed will taper.但它留下宽泛的问题,美联储什么时候开始紧缩。The FOMC trimmed its projections for growth this year and next by about a quarter of a percentage point from its June forecast, to 2.2% in 2013 and 3% in 2014.联邦公开市场委员会对今年和明年经济增长四分之一个百分点的6月份的预测进行了修改,2013年增长2.2%,2014年增长3%。It also changed its unemployment projections, which it now expects to hit 7% early in 2014 and 6.5% later that same year.它也改变了失业率的预测,它现在预计2014年上半年将达到7%,和下半年6.5%。Mr Bernanke was at pains this week to stress that the 7% unemployment target for ending QE and 6.5% threshold for raising rates have never been automatic triggers.伯南克本周煞费苦心的强调,达到7%的失业率时退出QE政策和6.5%时提高利率从来没有自动进行。It all depends on what else is happening in the economy.这一切都取决于经济体中发生的其他事情。It is entirely sensible for the Fed not to be slavishly bound by its guidance,对于美联储不会盲目的遵从指导是完全合理的,but that raises questions over how useful such guidance is.但对这种指导有多大用处有人提出了疑问。Most Fed officials expect to raise rates by 2015, for example,大多数美联储官员预计2015年升息,例如,but Mr Bernanke said rates are unlikely to rise if inflation is below its 2% target, which the Feds new projections suggest could be the case until 2016.但伯南克表示如果通胀率低于2%的目标利率不太可能上升,美联储新的预测显示直到2016年才会实行。The start of tapering could conceivably come at the end of October if data reassure the Fed that the economy has brushed off higher bond yields and if a fiscal train wreck has been avoided.如果经济降低债券收益率的数据和财政列车已避免脱轨能够使美联储相信,紧缩计划能够真的在10月底开始。But there are no clear signposts, which will irk investors.但目前还没有明确的标志,这将会使投资者感到恼怒。Their frustration pales next to that of the Fed itself, which has blown its balance-sheet up to 3.6 trillion and held rates at zero since 2008 but achieved underwhelming results in return.美联储本身相形见绌,资产负债表为3.6万亿美元,并从2008年开始维持利率为零,但并没有取得让人满意的回报。On September 17th the federal Census Bureau reported that real household incomes in America, which had fallen by 8% between 2007 and 2011, did not fall further in 2012.联邦人口普查局9月17日报道,在美国2007年和2011年之间家庭实际收入下降了8%,在2012年并没有进一步下跌。That this counts as good news is telling.这算作一个好消息。Income inequality, meanwhile, is worsening on some measures.同时收入不平等使一些措施恶化。Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkeley, reckons the top 10% grabbed its largest share of total incomes since 1917 last year.加州大学伯克利分校的埃马纽埃尔?赛斯估计自1917年以来,去年前10%的人在总的收入份额中占有最大的部分。This is partly due to QE, which has been very good for the stockmarket and thus the wealthy.部分原因是由于量化宽松政策,有利于股市,使某些人更富裕。QE works in part by boosting household wealth and thus spending and jobs, but the effects have not yet filtered through strongly to the wider economy.QE促进家庭财富增加,消费和就业,但效果尚未渗透到更广泛的经济领域。The taps will be open a while longer yet.水龙头在未来的一段时间继续打开。 /201310/259343

Id like to look into your past, and predict the future.我想看看你的过去,预测未来。I bet that the last time you went to the beach, the wind was blowing in off the water.我敢打赌,你最后一次去海滩的时候,海风正从水面吹来。Maybe it was just a pleasant breeze, maybe something a little stronger.或许是令人愉快的微风,也或许是更强一点的风。But it was definitely coming in off the water.但是它的确来自于水面,Whats more, a breeze will be coming in off the water the next time you go to the beach.更重要的是,你下次去海滩的时候微风又会徐徐吹来。How do I know? Easy.我为什么会知道?很简单。Wind is caused by differences in the temperature of air.风是由空气的温差引起的。If you have a lot of hot air in one location and a lot of cold air next to it, the line where they meet will be windy.如果一个地方有大量的热空气,它的旁边又有大量的冷空气,那么冷热空气相交的地方就会形成风。Thats because the hot air is rising and the cold air is rushing in to fill the space left behind. Whoosh!因为热空气上升,冷空气就会迅速冲到热空气留下的位置里并填满整个空间。Now, here we are at the beach.现在我们站在海滩上。What do you notice?你注意到了什么?Well, the sand under your feet retains heat pretty effectively.你脚下的沙子能够有效的保持热量。Once it is hot, it stays hot.一旦它变热了,它就会维持热度。Not so for ocean water, which is much harder to heat.可是海水却很难变热。Think of how cold the water feels when you step into it off a hot beach.想想当你从水中踏入炙热的沙滩时,会发现海水是多么的寒冷啊!This distinction is true of land and sea in general.总的来说,这就是陆地和海洋的真实区别。On a sunny, summer day, the land gets hotter, and stays hotter, than the sea.阳光明媚的日子,陆地比海洋要热很多,That means the air over the beach will be hotter than the air over the water.那意味着海滩上空的空气将会比水面上空的空气热,And that means the air will be rising over the beach.也就是说海滩上的热气将会上升。As the hot beach air rises up, the relatively cooler air over the water moves in to take its place.随着海滩上空热空气的上升,水面上相对寒冷的空气就会流动过来代替热空气的位置。The result? A sunny day in summer creates its own breeze.结果是什么呢?在夏天一个阳光灿烂的日子里有微风吹过。 201401/272696

Science and technology科学技术Climate change气候变化Bell weather呈钟形曲线变化的天气A statistical analysis shows how things really are heating up一项统计分析显示出天气究竟是如何变热的ARE heatwaves more common than they used to be?热浪来袭真的比以前更加频繁了吗?That is the question addressed by James Hansen and his colleagues in a paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.詹姆斯汉森与他的同事试图在《美国国家科学院院报》上发表的一篇新文章中回答这一问题。Their conclusion is that they are—and the data they draw on do not even include the current scorcher that is drying up much of North America and threatening its harvest.他们得出的结论是,情况的确如此,而且得出这一结论的依据这还不包括最近北美的酷热天气。现在那里的大部分地区已经干旱无比,当地农作物的收成也因此受到了威胁。The teams method of presentation, however, has caused a stir among those who feel that scientific papers should be dispassionate in their delivery of the evidence.然而,詹姆斯汉森与他的同事所采用的展示方案却在一群人中引起了骚动。这些人认为科技论文在表述据时应客观公正,For the paper, interesting though the evidence it delivers is, is far from dispassionate.但有意思的是,该文章在表述据时却远未做到不偏不倚。Dr Hansen, who is head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a branch of NASA that is based in New York, is a polemicist of the risks of man-made global warming.总部在纽约的戈达德太空研究所是美国国家航空航天局的一个分部门,该研究所的负责人汉森士能言善辩,他声称人为因素导致的全球变暖将给人类带来危害。Despite his job running a government laboratory, he has managed to get himself arrested on three occasions for protesting against those he thinks are causing such climate change.尽管汉森士主管政府实验室,他却参加过抗议活动,以此来反对那些他认为将造成此类气候变化的行为,而他也因此如愿被警察逮捕过三次。He clearly states in the papers introduction that he was looking for a way of conveying his fears to a sceptical public.汉森士在他的文章序言中明确指出,他正在寻找一种方法,以此让那些对他的观点持怀疑态度的公众体会到他的焦虑。Some of that scepticism is connected with the fact that although changes in the climate will inevitably result in changes in the weather, ascribing any given event—such as a local heatwave—to climate change is impossible.尽管气候变化将不可避免地导致天气变化,但不能将所有特定事件都归因于气候变化,而公众的怀疑态度中有一部分就与这一事实有关。Dr Hansen has therefore tried to go beyond the study of individual causes by demonstrating that what was once unusual is now common.因此,汉森士通过论过去人们眼中的异常天气如今已是十分常见,试图使他的研究不仅仅局限于个别原因。Longer, hotter summers夏天愈加漫长炎热了To do so, he and his colleagues took 60 years worth of data from the Goddard Institutes surface air-temperature analysis.为此,汉森士与其同事从戈达德研究所收集了60年地表气温分析数据。This analysis divides the planets surface into cells 250km across and records the average temperature in each cell.这些分析材料将地球表面分成了一个个宽250公里的区块,并记录了每个区域内的平均温度。The researchers broke their data into six decade-long blocks and compared those blocks statistical properties.研究者将这些数据按十年一组分成了六个时间段,并对这些时间段内的统计特性进行了比较。They looked in particular at the three months which constitute summer in the northern hemisphere.研究者特别关注了北半球夏季三个月的温度。First, they created a reference value for each cell.首先,他们计算出了1951年至1980年每一个区块夏季三个月的平均温度,This was its average temperature over those three months from 1951-80.并将这些数据作为每个区块的参考值。Then they calculated how much the temperature in each cell deviated from the cells reference value in any given summer.接着,研究者又计算在任意指定的夏季内每个区块内的温度分别与各自的参考值存在多少偏差。That done, they plotted a series of curves, one for each decade, that showed how frequently each deviant value occurred.这一步完成后,他们以十年为单位绘制了六条曲线,这些曲线显示出了每一个偏差值发生的频率。Since small deviations are common and large ones are rare, the result of plotting data in this way is a curve shaped somewhat like the cross-section of a bell.由于小的偏差时有发生,而大的偏差则较为少见,因此用这一方法对数据进行描绘,得出的曲线形状就像一个钟的横截面。Such distributions can be modelled by a mathematical function known as the normal distribution—or bell curve.这样的分布状态可以用数学上的一个函数来表示,即正态分布,又称钟形曲线。Whether based on data or a mathematical ideal, such a curve always has two parameters.无论是基于数据还是理想数学模型,钟形曲线都有两个参数。These are its mean and its standard deviation, which measures how wide the bell is.一个是平均值,另一个是它的标准差。The standard deviation is calculated from all of the individual deviations of the data points.标准差可以通过计算所有数值的方差(再开方)得到。To see what was going on, Dr Hansen superimposed the actual curves for each decade from the fifties to the noughties on a normal distribution, which acted as a reference curve.为了弄清气候变化,汉森士以正态分布曲线为参照曲线,将其与六十年中每十年一条的实际曲线相叠加。To make all the curves comparable, he expressed the values of the actual deviations as fractions of a standard deviation, and their frequencies as proportions of their total number.为了使所有这些曲线具有可比性,汉森士将实际偏差值用其与所属样本标准差的比例来衡量,用数据发生偏差数与数据总数的比例表述其频率。As the chart shows, there are two trends.如图所示,钟形曲线表现出了两种趋势。First, the peaks of the data-based curves move right, over time, with respect to the reference curve. In other words, the average temperature is rising.第一,对照参考曲线,随着时间的推移,这种数据型曲线的峰值会向右移,也就是说地球上的平均温度在上升。Second, more recent curves are flatter.第二,时间距离现在越近,曲线越矮胖,A flatter curve means a bigger standard deviation and a wider sp of results.这也就意味着标准差越大,温度数据分布越广。If the mean of each curve were the same, such flattening would imply both more cold periods and more hot ones.如果每一条曲线的平均值相同,那么这种平滑过程也就意味着地球上的寒冷期和炎热期的出现次数都会增加。But because the mean is rising, the effect at the cold end of the curves is diminished, while that at the hot end is enhanced.但由于这些曲线的平均值在增加,因此地球上寒冷期的出现次数会减少,而炎热期的出现次数则会增加。The upshot is more hot periods of local weather.最终导致的结果就是各地出现炎热天气的次数越来越多。Moreover, the bell-curve method makes it possible to say just how much more hot weather there is.此外,有了钟形曲线,人们还能判断炎热天气的出现频率比过去增加了多少。Dr Hansen defined extreme conditions as those occurring more than three standard deviations from the mean of his reference curve.汉森士下了定义:如果在他的参考曲线中某一数值偏离其平均值达到或超过三个标准差,那么这就是极端天气。In that curve, this would be an eighth of a percent at each end, which is more or less the value in the curve for 1951-61.在参考曲线中,左右两端数据中偏离均值超过三个标准差的极端数据应该恰好分别为0.125%,而1951至1961年这一时间段的极端数据分布情况大致上也符合这一特征。Nowadays, though, extreme conditions can be found at any given time in about 8% of the world.但现在世界上约有8%的地区在特定时间内都有极端天气的出现。Local weather patterns do, of course, have local causes. To that extent, they are accidental.当然,各地天气模式的出现的确包含着地方性的原因。在这种程度上说,它们的发生是具有偶然性的。But Dr Hansens analysis suggests that claims there is more hot weather around than there used to be have substance, too.但汉森士的分析表明,各地的炎热天气的确比以往多这种说法也是有依据的。Nothing in his analysis speaks of the cause of that substance. That is deliberate.但他的分析并没有涉及到这种依据的来源,而这也是汉森士有意为之。As he says in the paper, he wants the data to speak for themselves—though he is personally convinced that the cause is human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.正如他在文章中所说,他希望数据能说明问题—尽管他本人相信气候变暖是因为人类排放二氧化碳等温室气体造成的。But as the ed States bakes in what may turn out to be a record heatwave, he hopes he might now persuade those for whom global warming is, as it were, on the back burner, to agree that it is real, and to think about the consequences.但现在,一股或许是有史以来最猛烈的热浪正在炙烤着美国。他希望他现在能够说那些跟过去一样搁置考虑全球变暖问题的人,使他们认同全球变暖现象的确存在并考虑其后果。 /201402/276030

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