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2009-04-13 09:46:54|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Powerful ideas

Born in 1953, Krugman grew up in the New York suburbs, earning an undergraduatedegree from Yale and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT). Although initially drawn to history, he soon embraced economics because,as he has put it, while history could answer the how and when, economics couldanswer the why.


A 1978 conversation with his teacher Rudi Dornbusch sparkeda decision to work on increasing returns—the notion that a firm's unit costsdecrease as its scale of production increases—marking a defining moment in hiscareer. At Boston's Logan Airporta few months later, the eureka moment came when he cracked the mathematicalproblem of incorporating increasing returns and imperfect competition intotrade models. In the summer of 1979, he presented his results at the SummerInstitute of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research. "It was thehappiest 90 minutes of my life," he tells F&D. He knew he hadwowed his demanding peers.


Krugman believes that this breakthrough is his biggestachievement. The idea of increasing returns has been around in economics atleast since Adam Smith, as has the inference that competition and internationaltrade are affected by it: in particular, increasing returns are incompatiblewith the assumption of perfect competition that forms a basis of traditionaltrade theory. Krugman was one of the first economists to incorporate increasingreturns and imperfect competition explicitly in trade models (he notes thatthese ideas were developed simultaneously but independently by two otherresearchers, Victor Norman and Kelvin Lancaster). This move represented aradical departure. Indeed, it was so radical that one of his early papers wasrejected by the top journals, but Bhagwati, playing editor as deus ex machina,published it in the Journal of International Economics despite theverdict of two very negative referees.

克鲁格曼相信,这个突破,就是他最大的成就。最少自亚当·斯密以来,收益递增的思想,就一直缠绕着经济学,而且,它还推证说:它影响着竞争和国际贸易:特别地,收益递增与作为国际贸易理论基础的完全竞争假设是不相容的。克鲁格曼是第一位将收益递增和不完全竞争清楚地融入到贸易模型中的经济学家(他注意到,这些思想同时且独立地为两位其他研究人员研究了出来:维克多·诺曼和兰卡斯特。)这个进步,代表着一个彻底的背离。实际上,它太彻底了,以至于在他的早期,有一篇文被顶级杂志拒了。但是,巴克沃蒂,却是程咬金(deux ex machine)式的编辑,虽然有两个很不利的评语,但是,他还是把它发表在《国际经济学杂志》上。

Krugman's increasing returns papers were powerful partlybecause they explained a simple but uncomfortable fact about internationaltrade: in the postwar period, a large and increasing share of trade occurrednot between rich and poor countries but among the rich, and involved countriesimporting and exporting similar goods like cars, machines, and cereals, theso-called phenomenon of two-way trade. Such trade between countries withsimilar endowments is difficult to reconcile with traditional trade theory. Butincreasing returns showed that countries could specialize in differentvarieties of goods, leading countries to simultaneously export and importdifferent varieties of similar goods.


From the confines of positive economics ("whatis"), the theory of increasing returns was developed and extended intonormative ("what ought to be") terrain by Krugman (along withHelpman, Barbara Spencer, James Brander, and others) as the strategic tradetheory. This extension led to controversial policy conclusions that appeared tosupport government intervention, contributing to perceptions of a certainschizophrenia in Krugman's position on free trade (see Box 2).



Box 2
free trader or a protectionist?


It is hard to argue with the perception that Krugman is conflicted on trade policy. His work on strategic trade theory suggested novel and controversial policy conclusions against free trade, which, he now concedes, he was tempted early on to exploit in an effort to showcase the theory. In his 1987 article "Is Free Trade Passé?" he pronounced that free trade had "irretrievably lost its innocence" and that "it can never be asserted as the policy that economic theory tells us is always right."


But the very individuals of whom he was so dismissive—Robert Reich, Lester Thurow, and Robert Kuttner—aggressively peddled the interventionist policies legitimized by his work, especially vis-à-vis Japan in the late 1980s, in ways that he thought misguided. Any satisfaction in seeing his work informing the policy debate was replaced by outrage at the appropriation of his ideas by these "policy entrepreneurs" (whom he has described as "intellectually dishonest self-proclaimed experts who tell politicians what they want to hear"). Krugman promptly changed tack and summoned all the (very good) arguments against his earlier views. The result was Pop Internationalism, Krugman's tribute to free trade, arising as much from his desire to bury the policy entrepreneurs as to praise David Ricardo's great idea. But these days, even while disavowing overtly protectionist positions, Krugman's columns can sometimes have a protectionist tenor that disconcerts his purist colleagues.

但是,他看不起的那些人,像Robert Reith, Lester Thurow, Robert Kuttner,却激进地鼓吹他所证明了干预主义政策,特别是对1980年代晚期的日本,但是,他们的鼓吹方法,他却认为是误导性的。他并不喜欢看到他的作品所探究的政策辩护,相反,他对那些“兜售政策的商人”(policy entrepreneurs)喜欢他的思想反而愤怒万分(他说那些人是“知识上不老实,自封的专家,净挑着说政治家喜欢的话”)。克鲁格曼马上就改变了策略,并且,召回了所有(非常好的)观点,来反对他早期的观点。结果就是他的文章《推进国际主义》(pop internationalism),克鲁格曼赞美自由贸易,他既想埋葬那些“政策商人”,又想赞美李嘉图的伟大思想。但是,这些天里,就在他公开抛弃保护主义立场的时候,克鲁格曼的专栏有时还有保护主义的论调,这让他的那些保持正统的同事们心生不安。


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