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哪些垄断是不应该反对的?  

2009-05-13 15:51:43|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Coming Soon: More Active Antitrust Policy

积极的反垄断政策,势难阻挡!


美女同事[译]

 


In an old post, How do the right and left differ?,I wrote, "The right sees competition as a pervasive feature of theeconomy and market power as typically limited both in magnitude andduration. The left sees large corporations with substantial degrees ofmonopoly power that need to be checked by active antitrust policy."

在一篇旧文中,“左派与右派区别何在?”,我曾写到,“右派将竞争视为经济的普遍特征,市场力总是受到了限制,无论在严重程度上还是在持续时间上。左派则认为,那些具有高度垄断权力的大公司,应当由积极的反垄断政策来加以遏制。”

 

There is a good example of this regularity at work right now. An article in today's NY Times tells us,

现在,这种规律又在上演。这里有个好例子,今天的纽约时报上的文章告诉我们,

 

PresidentObama’s top antitrust official this week plans to restore an aggressiveenforcement policy against corporations that use their market dominanceto elbow out competitors or to keep them from gaining market share. Thenew enforcement policy would reverse the Bush administration’sapproach, which strongly favored defendants against antitrust claims.It would restore a policy that led to the landmark antitrust lawsuitsagainst Microsoft and Intel in the 1990s.

本周,奥巴马总统的反垄断的高级官员,打算恢复一项激进的执行政策,以反对企业使用其市场支配力,排挤其他竞争者,或者阻止它们获得市场份额。新的执行政策将取消布什政府的做法,这些做法对反垄断索赔中的被告极其有利。这项即将恢复的政策,曾导致了一项针对微软和英特尔的反垄断诉讼案件,这是发生在1990年代的具有里程碑式的事件。

Thisis precisely what worries me. In my judgment, the Microsoft case was apolicy error, and I fear that a more activist antitrust policy willmean more errors of this sort.

这正是让我担忧的地方。就我的判断,微软案件是一个政策上的错误。我担心,更多的激进的反垄断政策,将导致更多的类似的错误。

Here is what I wrote about the Microsoft case back in the February 16, 1998 issue of Fortune magazine:

下面这篇文章是我写的,与微软案件有关,发表于1998216版的《财富》杂志上。

Bob Dole vs. Microsoft (Go, Microsoft!)

Amidthe armies of experts on law, economics, and technology who have beendrawn into the battle over Microsoft's future, Bob Dole is a bit likeWaldo in the Sunday comics: out of place and easy to miss. But theformer Senator's small role in the Microsoft case is nonethelesssignificant. It speaks volumes about what's wrong with the government'scrusade against the software maker.

由法律、经济与技术组成的专家,卷入了对微软未来的论战。在这个团队中,Bob Dole有点象星期天连环画页中的瓦尔多(12世纪的法国宗教领袖,瓦尔多教派的创建者,于1184年被逐出教会--美女同事注):有些格格不入,又毫不起眼。但是这位前参议员在微软案件中扮演的小角色,却无疑具有重大的意义。他长篇大论地陈述了,政府对软件商的讨伐,是何等的错误。

NowI have nothing against Bob Dole--but he is no computer scientist. Noris he a specialist in the economics of industrial organization.Microsoft's rivals have recruited Dole as a foot soldier in their fightagainst the software giant simply for his political clout.

如今,我对Bob Dole本人可没有什么看法――但是,他不是一位计算机专家,也不是产业组织的经济学专家。微软的对手之所以找来Dole,让他在这场对抗软件巨头的战场上,充当一名步卒,仅仅是由于他的政治影响力。

Thestruggle centers on what Microsoft should be allowed to do with itsimmensely popular Windows operating system. The Justice Department doesnot trust market forces to limit Microsoft's hegemony. The government'slawyers claim that Microsoft is illegally attempting to expand itsmarket power by bundling Windows with its Internet browser.

争论的焦点在于,由于Windows操作系统的广泛使用,应该允许微软就此做些什么呢?司法部不相信市场的力量,可以抑制微软的霸权。政府的律师称,微软企图通过捆绑Windows与网络浏览器,扩张它的市场力。

Isit bad for consumers when a company bundles products together? Myfather bought a primitive car air conditioner and installed it himselfin our 1962 Buick. Now, cars and air conditioners are routinely soldtogether--and consumers are better served. A three-piece suit, aham-and-cheese sandwich, and a semester at Harvard are all made ofcomponents that could be sold separately. Not even the most zealousJustice Department lawyer would try to break up these products.

如果一家公司将产品捆绑出售,对于消费者来说是件坏事吗?1962年,我的父亲,买了一台简陋的汽车空调器,安装在我们的别克车上。如今,汽车与空调器总是惯常地一起出售――而且,消费者因此得到了更好的服务。三件套的西装,火腿奶酪三明治,以及哈佛的一个学期,通通都是组合产品,它们都可以分开销售。甚至,连最热心的司法部律师,也不愿意把这些产品分拆开来。

Whena company (Microsoft) has a monopoly over a valuable product (Windows),it appears to have consumers over a barrel, forcing them to buysomething they don't want. But why would it? A monopolist does not gainby bundling its valuable good with an undesirable one. The best way fora monopolist to profit is to provide precisely the product thatconsumers want and then charge the highest price it can get.

当一家公司(微软)对其有价值的产品(Windows),拥有一种垄断力,似乎会让消费者陷入困境,被迫购买那些不想要的东西。但是,果真如此吗?如果垄断企业,将有价值的产品与不太受欢迎的产品绑在一起,它并不会有所获益。一个垄断企业要赚取利润,最好的办法是,提供消费者真正需要的产品,然后要一个尽可能高的价格。

Althoughthe consumers-over-a-barrel theory doesn't work, economic theoristshave concocted more elaborate stories of how bundling may be adverse.They argue that a monopolist could deter potential competitors bybundling disparate products. For instance, if Microsoft can makeapplications such as the browser part of its operating system, othersoftware firms might have less incentive to develop new and betterapplications. But these theories offer little guidance to those makingpolicy. If bundling is often beneficial but sometimes not, policymakersneed to be able to tell which is which before they start regulating howcompanies market their products. They can't.

虽然,这个理论(致使消费者陷于困境)行不通,经济学的理论家又编造了更为详细的说辞,解释捆绑销售是如何有害。他们认为,垄断厂商,通过捆绑完全不同的产品,可以吓退潜在的竞争者。譬如,如果微软将浏览器这样的应用软件做成操作系统的一部分,其他的软件厂商就会缺少动机、开发更新更好的软件。但是,这些理论对于政策制定者,没有多少指导可言。如果捆绑常常是有利的,只是偶尔不太好,政策制定者需要做的,就是:在开始监管公司如何销售产品前,弄清情况。可是,他们又无法弄清楚。

Thisbrings us back to Dole. When Microsoft's rivals hired him to lobby,they exposed their cynicism. They are betting the legal system willdecide Microsoft's future based not only on economic principles butalso on popular perception. What could be better in the court of publicopinion than siccing a respected friend of business on the world'srichest man?

这又将我们带回到Dole。微软的对手请他进行游说,展示了犬儒主义的一面。他们确信,法律体系在决定微软未来的时候,不仅会基于经济原理,还会基于流行的看法。在一个公众意见的法庭上,一个值得尊敬的商业上的朋友,去挑战世界首富,有什么比这更好呢?

Usingantitrust laws to regulate business practices like bundling is notlikely to benefit consumers. Even if the world's smartest economistsdid the regulating, they would often get things wrong. And given therealities of how policy is actually made inside the Beltway, things aremore likely to go wrong than right.

使用反垄断法律,监管诸如捆绑这样的商业行为,不太可能对消费者有利。即使世界上最聪明的经济学家来进行监管,他们也经常会犯错。考虑到这样的事实,政策实际上是由政治权贵们一手包办的,那就可能错得更离谱了。

Whatcompany will dominate the software industry in the next century? Idon't know, and neither does anyone else. I hope it is the company withthe best programmers. I fear it may be the company with the bestlawyers.

下一个世纪,什么样的公司将主导软件业?我不知道,其他人也不知道。我希望,这个公司有最好的程序员。然而,我担心,这个公司有的只是最好的律师。

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