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每日英語跟讀 Ep.K072: Europe’s Bankruptcies Are Plummeting. That May Be a Problem. 歐洲撒錢救企業結果該倒不倒更慘?

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.K072: Europe’s Bankruptcies Are Plummeting. That May Be a Problem.

France and other European countries are spending enormous sums to keep businesses afloat during the worst recession since World War II. But some worry they’ve gone too far; bankruptcies are plunging to levels not seen in decades.

法國和一些其他歐洲國家正投注巨資,讓企業在二戰以來最大經濟衰退期間不致破產。但有些人擔心這些國家做得太過頭,致使破產公司數量大跌至數十年來最低水平。

While the aid has prevented a surge in unemployment, the largesse risks turning swathes of the economy into a kind of twilight zone where firms are swamped with debt they cannot pay off but receiving just enough state aid to stay alive — so-called zombie companies. Unable to invest or innovate, these firms could contribute to what the World Bank recently described as a potential “lost decade” of stagnant economic growth caused by the pandemic.

這些金援確已阻止失業率暴升,如此大肆撒錢卻也冒有風險,可能使經濟中相當部分變成不死不活的衰萎區,企業受困於無力償還的債務,所獲政府援助卻只夠勉強維持生計,成了所謂的殭屍公司。世界銀行日前以「失落的十年」形容疫情可能帶來的經濟成長停滯期,這些殭屍公司無力投資或創新,可能成為導致這種現象的部分原因。

“We need to get off of all of these subsidies at some point — otherwise, we’ll have a zombie economy,” said Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former prime minister of Sweden.

「我們需要適時去除所有補助,否則將迎來殭屍經濟。」智庫「歐洲外交關係協會」共同主席、瑞典前總理畢爾德說。

Bankruptcies fell 40% last year in France and Britain, and were down 25% on average in the European Union. Without government intervention, including billions in state-backed loans and subsidized payrolls, European business failures would have almost doubled last year, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private American organization.

法國和英國的破產企業數目去年下滑40%,歐盟則平均減少25%。根據美國民間組織「全國經濟研究所」的研究,若無政府干預,包括數十億的政府背書貸款和薪資補助,歐洲去年倒閉的企業幾乎會多出一倍。

By contrast, Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in the United States rose in the third quarter to the highest level since the 2010 financial crisis, a trend that is expected to continue in 2021, according to an index compiled by the U.S. law firm Polsinelli.

相對之下,美國去年第三季依破產法第11章聲請破產保護者,卻增至2010年金融危機以來的新高,根據美國波西內利律師事務所彙整的指數,這個趨勢2021年料將持續。

Those statistics are shaping a debate over whether Europe’s strategy of protecting businesses and workers “at all costs” will cement a recovery, or leave economies less competitive and more dependent on government aid when the pandemic recedes.

這些數字正形塑以下論辯:歐洲「不計代價」保護企業和勞工的策略在疫情消退之後,究竟會鞏固經濟復甦,還是讓經濟更缺乏競爭力,且更依賴政府援助。

Analysts say the government programs are already seeding the economy with thousands of inefficient businesses with low productivity, high debt and a high prospect of default once low interest rates normalize.

分析師說,政府的方案已為經濟播下數以千計的無效率企業,這些企業債台高築,且一旦低利率回升至正常水平很可能違約倒債。

An estimated 10% of companies in France were saved from bankruptcy because of government funds, according to Rexecode, a French economic think tank.

法國經濟智庫「法國經濟研究觀察中心」估計,約有10%法國公司因政府資助始未破產。

Letting unviable businesses go under, while painful, will be essential for allowing competitive sectors to thrive, said Jeffrey Franks, the head of the International Monetary Fund’s mission for France.

國際貨幣基金駐法國辦事處主任法蘭克斯說,讓無法存活的企業破產,雖然痛苦,卻是讓有競爭力的區塊得以成長的必要措施。

A wave of bankruptcies “is not something that’s necessarily so bad,” he said. “It’s part of the normal creative destruction process of regenerating economies.”

一波破產潮「未必是太壞的事」,他說。「這是讓經濟再生時,正常的創造性破壞過程的一部分。」

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