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Why don’t poorer countries just print more money? – Clementine, age 12, London, UK

伦敦12岁的Clementine提问,为什么贫穷的国家不直接印更多的钱呢?

Thanks for the question, Clementine. When a whole country tries to get richer by printing more money, it rarely works. Because if everyone has more money, prices go up instead. And people find they need more and more money to buy the same amount of goods.

谢谢你的提问,Clementine。当一个国家试图通过印刷更多的钱而变得更富有时,它很少起作用。因为如果每个人都有更多的钱,价格就会上涨。人们发现他们需要越来越多的钱来购买同样数量的商品。



This happened recently in Zimbabwe, in Africa, and in Venezuela, in South America, when these countries printed more money to try to make their economies grow.

这种事情最近在非洲的津巴布韦和南美洲的委内瑞拉已经发生了,这些国家印制了更多的钱,试图使经济增长。

As the printing presses sped up, prices rose faster, until these countries started to suffer from something called “hyperinflation”. That’s when prices rise by an amazing amount in a year.

随着印刷机的加速,价格上涨得更快,直到这些国家开始遭受所谓的“恶性通货膨胀”。那是一年内物价上涨幅度惊人的时候。

When Zimbabwe was hit by hyperinflation, in 2008, prices rose as much as 231,000,000% in a single year. Imagine, a sweet which cost one Zimbabwe dollar before the inflation would have cost 231m Zimbabwean dollars a year later.

当津巴布韦在2008年受到恶性通货膨胀的打击时,价格在一年内上涨了多达2.31亿%。试想一下,在通胀发生之前,一块糖需要一个津巴布韦元,一年后就要花掉2.31亿津巴布韦元。

This amount of paper would probably be worth more than the banknotes printed on it.

这张纸可能比印在纸上的钞票更值钱。



(说明:中间那张钱是100万亿)

Rising prices

物价上涨

To get richer, a country has to make and sell more things – whether goods or services. This makes it safe to print more money, so that people can buy those extra things.

为了变得更富有,一个国家必须制造和销售更多的东西-无论是商品还是服务。这使得印刷更多的钱是安全的,这样人们就可以购买那些额外的东西。

If a country prints more money without making more things, then prices just go up. For example, think of those special vintage Star Wars toys from the 1970s, which can be worth a lot of money.

如果一个国家印更多的钱而不生产更多的东西,那么价格就会上涨。举个例子,想想上世纪70年代那些特别的老式星球大战玩具,它们可以值很多钱。

No one is making any more of these models. So even if everyone gets more money to spend, it won’t mean that more people can afford to buy them. The sellers will just put the price up.

没有人再制造这些模型了。因此,即使每个人都有更多的钱可以花,但这并不意味着更多的人可以买得起。卖家只会抬高价格。



Venezuela tried to protect its people from hyperinflation by passing laws to keep a low price on things people need most, like food and medicines. But that just meant that the shops and pharmacies ran out of those things.

委内瑞拉试图通过法律来保护人民免受恶性通货膨胀的影响,以使人们最需要的东西(如食品和药品)的价格保持在较低的水平。但这只是意味着商店和药店的这些东西都会卖光。



(说明:委内瑞拉一家超市的空货架。)

The dismal science

沉闷的科学

But it’s not true that a country can never get richer by printing money. This can happen, if it doesn’t have enough money to start with. If there’s a shortage of money, businesses can’t sell enough, or pay all their workers. People can’t even borrow money from banks, because they don’t have enough either.

但是,一个国家不可能通过印钞票而变得更富有的观点是不正确的。如果它没有足够的钱来开始,通过印钱致富是可能的。如果资金短缺,企业就无法销售足够的产品,也不能支付所有工人的工资。人们甚至不能向银行借钱,因为他们也没有足够的钱。



Author
Alan Shipman
Lecturer in Economics, The Open University

作者
Alan Shipman
开放大学经济学讲师