[2005.05.17] The lucky prime minister 幸运的总理


The lucky prime minister

May 15th 2008 | CANBERRA
From The Economist print edition

Kevin Rudd tries to be a prudent big spender

WHEN he led the Labor Party to victory in November, Kevin Rudd, Australia’s prime minister, boasted that he was a fiscal conservative. So when his government presented its first budget on May 13th, everyone wanted to see if he would remain true to that claim or to his other election promises to splurge cash on education, transport, health and the environment. In the event, Mr Rudd managed to do a bit of both.

Wayne Swan, the Treasurer (finance minister), announced a budget surplus for 2008-09 of almost A$22 billion ($21 billion). At 1.8% of GDP, it is the largest such surplus in almost a decade. Much of this bounty is the result of Australia’s booming minerals trade with China. The Treasury calculates that soaring coal and iron-ore prices have improved Australia’s terms of trade by 40% since 2004; by the end of this year, it says, the improvement will be around 70%. The resulting windfall surpasses even the bonanza of the 1950s, when Australia got rich from soaring wool sales during and after the Korean war.
财长斯万(Wayne Swan)宣布在2008——2009年澳大利亚的财政预算盈余将会接近220亿澳元(210亿美元),占GDP的1.8%,是近10年来最多的一次预算盈余。财政资金充足多半要归功于澳洲对华矿物贸易急速增长的结果。财政部估计,自2004年以来,煤炭和铁矿石价格的飞涨已促使澳大利亚的进出口比价提高了40%; 到今年年末,将会提高了70%左右。这一笔横财甚至要超过澳大利亚在20世纪50年代财源滚滚的时期。朝鲜战争之中和战争结束之后羊毛价格飞涨,澳大利亚趁此机会变得非常富有。

But the latest boom has proved a curse as well as a blessing. It has helped drive inflation to more than 4% over the past year. In a bid to rein in the price rises, Australia’s central bank has raised interest rates eight times in the past three years. On May 9th the bank gave warning that ever-improving terms of trade were putting more upward pressure on prices.

Mr Swan therefore had to make Labor’s first budget in 13 years one that both tamed inflation and boosted the market’s confidence in the new government. By one measure, at least, he succeeded. Rather than spend the latest surplus now, the government plans to park it, together with next year’s forecast surplus (for a total of A$41 billion), in three funds earmarked for upgrading infrastructure, education and health. The idea is to roll out the invested money later, when inflation pressures have eased (and perhaps closer to the next election, due in 2010). The hope is also to avoid the criticism now raining down on the former conservative government that it squandered its windfall gains on tax cuts and other goodies. Stephen Antony, a former Treasure official, says the Howard government behaved like “drunken sailors”.
因此,在工党13年来的首次财政预算中,财长斯万既要遏止通货膨胀,又要增强市场对新政府的信心。斯万的措施中至少有一项做得还算成功。那就是新政府计划把最近的预算盈余资金,与来年的盈余资金一同(共计410亿澳元)划分为三项资金用来在基础设施、教育和卫生上的完善,而非立即将其花费。在通货膨胀压力缓和时 (或许是接近预计在2010举行的大选),政府然后在公开展出投资回报率。前任保守政府在减税和其他迎合选民的举措上挥霍钱财,因而大受批评。人们期待同样的悲剧不要再重新上演。财政部一位前任官员斯蒂芬・安东尼(Stephen Antony)表示当年霍华德政府的所作所为简直如同“醉酒的水手”。

The budget predicts growth will slow next year and that inflation will drop slightly from 4% to 3.25%. But this is still higher than the central bank considers acceptable. Chris Richardson of Access Economics, a Canberra consultancy, worries about a “torrent of money” hitting Australia from fresh minerals deals with China. Mr Swan blames inflation and higher interest rates for unemployment, which is expected to increase to 4.75% next year. Yet the budget also assumes there will be an intake of almost 200,000 immigrants in the year; a record 133,500 will be chosen to meet employers’ demands for more skilled people than they can find at home.
财政预算增长预计在来年将会放缓,通货膨胀率也将轻微地下降,由当前的4%下降到3.25%。不过,这仍然高于中央银行的接受范围。堪培拉Access Economics咨询机构的总监克里斯•理查森(Chris Richardson)表示,同中国在新型矿产交易获取的“钱流”将会对澳大利亚产生深远影响。斯万把通货膨胀和高利率等问题归咎于失业率(预计明年增加到4.75%)的影响。不过,预算方案要求在明年吸收约20万移民,从中选出13.35万国内所缺乏的技术工人来满足雇主的需求。

Mr Rudd claims the budget lays the foundation for the “greatest modernisation of the Australian economy in a long time”. For suburban Australians, heavily in debt from borrowing and spending their way through the good times, the real test will be its impact on inflation. The answer to that is still some months away.



电子邮件地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注