Worries are growing about the long-term effects of the bail-out
Germany’s famed kurzarbeitergeld programme , which funnels government cash to workers whose hours are cut by employers, is the “gold standard” of furlough schemes, reckons the imf. It has been widely imitated across Europe by governments seeking to protect jobs and incomes from the full ravages of covid-19 lockdowns. In Germany, under relaxed criteria introduced in March that were extended to nearly 7m workers, it has limited the rise in unemployment to around 600,000 and kept consumer spending buoyant.
国际国币基金认为，德国著名的 kurzarbeitergeld 计划是休假计划的黄金标准。该计划中，政府用现金去补助哪些被雇佣者缩短工时的人。该计划被欧洲各国纷纷效仿，各国政府都在寻找保护工作和收入不被疫情封锁摧毁的方法。在德国，今年三月份放松了标准之后，失业人数飙升到了700万，之前的数字是60万且能保持强劲的消费。
The extraordinary rescue package assembled by Angela Merkel’s government, which also included bridging loans to firms and a suspension of fiscal rules to allow stimulus spending, was broadly endorsed by Germany’s economic establishment. It has fuelled a more robust recovery than elsewhere in Europe. But two recent decisions have seen that consensus start to fray. The first was an extension of Kurzarbeitergeld payments to 24 months. The second was a further moratorium on Germany’s strict requirement for overly indebted companies to declare bankruptcy.
德国 Angela Merkel 政府制定了一揽子的特殊营救计划，包括向企业提供过渡性贷款以及暂停财政规划以允许刺激消费，这得到了德国经济部门的广泛支持。这已经推动了一个比欧洲其它地区更为粗狂的经济恢复。但最近的两项决定，让这种公式开始出现分歧。第一个是延长 Kurzarbeitergeld 计划的时间至24个月。第二个就是进一步暂停，德国对负债严重公司宣布破产的严格要求
Such blanket measures, fear some, could spawn vast numbers of “zombie” firms kept alive by a drip-feed of state aid, hindering the redeployment of capital and labour to more productive uses .“Kurzarbeitergeld could tie workers to companies that have no future,” said Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank, on September 2nd. Christian Sewing, the ceo of Deutsche Bank, warned that one in every six German firms risked zombification. The oecd raised similar concerns this week.
这样一揽子的措施，一定程度上，能够让许多“僵尸”公司依靠政府救济苟延残喘，阻碍了资本和劳动力向更多产方向重新分配。“Kurzarbeitergeld 计划，会让工人和没有前途的公司绑定在一起”，德国央行的老总 Jens Weidmann 在9月2日如是说到。德意志银行CEO Christian Sewing 警告道，有六分之一的德国公司面临僵尸化的风险。经济合作与发展组织这周也表示出了同样的担心。
In fact there are two dangers. One is that the state props up firms that would have struggled even without the pandemic. The decision to extend Kurzarbeitergeld was not necessarily wrong but taken too early, reckons Andreas Peichl, an economist at the Ifo institute in Munich. He would have preferred changing tax rules to allow companies to offset current losses against prepandemic profits.
事实上，存在两种危险。一种是国家救济了哪些即便没有疫情也在苦苦挣扎的公司。慕尼黑经济研究所的Andreas Peichl 认为，Kurzarbeitergeld 计划并不一定是错的，而是执行的太早了。他之前更倾向于改变税收政策，允许公司用目前的亏损抵消未来的盈利。
The second risk is that covid-19 causes structural change in economies. A travel agency or music-promotion company that was thriving before the pandemic and now surviving on state support may struggle afterwards if consumer habits shift permanently. But it is too early to know.
A related issue is that state help may encourage some companies—especially in Germany’s crucial car industry, which has disproportionately relied on Kurzarbeitergeld—to postpone some hard choices about their business models. Germany is unusual among rich countries in having focused solely on short-term emergency measures, notes Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Allianz, an insurer, rather than long-term recovery measures like retraining, tax reform or investment. Germany’s well-capitalised firms may actually be at less risk of zombification than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe. But they have not yet been offered much of a guide to the future.
一个相关的问题是，国家的帮助可能会鼓励一些公司（特别是高度依赖 Kurzarbeitergeld 计划的 德国关键汽车行业），让他们推迟了对商业模式做出艰难选择。保险公司 Allianz 的首席经济学家 Ludovic Subran 指出，德国与其它富裕国家不同，它只关注短期经济措施，而不关注长期的经济恢复措施，比如重新培训、税收改革、和投资等。事实上，与欧洲其它国家的同行相比，德国资本充裕的企业面临僵尸化的风险更小。但是对于未来他们还没有得到很多的引导。
One reason for that may be next year’s election, at which Mrs Merkel will stand down after 16 years in office. Even before the virus struck, some economists had begun to chafe against Germany’s low-deficit, low-investment orthodoxy, especially the currently suspended “debt brake”, which constrains borrowing. Mr Scholz, who is running to succeed Mrs Merkel, says the debt brake should return in 2022, but others in his Social Democratic Party disagree. The Greens, likely to join the next government, will hope to exploit the state’s sudden conversion to activism to press their case for long-term public investment. Conversely, whoever leads Mrs Merkel’s conservatives into the election may push for a return to fiscal restraint and smaller government. Germany’s short-term measures may have long-term consequences.