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波斯纳《管锥编》(8):何必故弄玄虚地使用术语?  

2009-04-08 19:31:57|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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中文博主按:波斯纳认为完全没有必要使用一些“黑话”来解释常见的经济现象。他的观点,当然是正确的。不过,凯恩斯正是借助这些名词,浓缩了一些经济现象。当然,他还使用这种技巧,让他的对手困窘不堪。在《凯恩斯传》里,就讲了他和怀特谈判“布雷顿森林会议”的故事:“让我们来谈谈货币的粘滞性吧!”大家可以想见怀特当时的表情。哈耶克当年辩论时输给凯恩斯,也多是因为这个原因。多年之后,他回忆说:“我不应该跟他对阵,因为他是一个辩论高手。”(哈耶克的这个故事,我可能是记错了,因为在我写这段文字的时候,我隐约记得是某人说罗宾逊夫人的。有兴趣的人,可以确实地考证一下。)



八、何必故弄玄虚地使用术语?

 

Akerlof and Shiller invoke "fairness" and "moneyillusion" to explain the puzzling behavior of employment and wages in adepression. It may seem obvious that employment would fall in a depression. Butit is not. If demand for a firm's products falls, the firm will have lessrevenue, and therefore it will have to cut its costs, including its laborcosts, to survive. So why not just cut its workers' wages and explain to themwhy? If they stalk off in anger, the employer should have no difficulty inhiring replacements at the lower wage, for in the unsettled conditions of adepression it will be attractive to other workers. Or suppose, as often happensin a depression (and may still happen in our current one), the general pricelevel falls. In a deflation, the same amount of money buys more, because pricesare lower. So one might expect an employer to say to his employees, "Sincethe purchasing power of the dollar has risen, I am going to cut your wage, asotherwise, by receiving the same amount of money when its purchasing power hasincreased, you would be receiving a wage increase, which makes no sense in adepression." (Among the paradoxes of depression is that we want wages tofall, so that producers will have lower costs and will therefore produce moreand so hire more workers. This is not understood by the politicians who arepushing for legal changes that will encourage unionization. They should waituntil we are out of the woods.)

阿克洛夫和希勒借用了“公平”和“货币幻觉”,来解释萧条中的令人困惑的就业行为和工资行为。萧条中就业应该下降,这一点似乎显而易见。但是,事实却非如此。如果某企业生产的产品,需求下降了,那么,企业的收入就会降低,因而它就不得不去削减成本(包括削减劳动力成本),以图存活下去。那么,为什么不只是削减工人工资并向他们解释一下理由呢?如果工人愤然拂袖而去,那么,雇主也不难以更低的工资找到人来坐他的位子,因为,在动荡的萧条形势下,这对其他工人是很有吸引力的。或者,想象一下价格普遍下降的情形,这是萧条中经常发生的事(可能在当前的危机也会发生)。当通缩发生时,同等数量的货币,可以购买更多的东西,这是因为价格也下降了。因此,雇主似乎就可以向雇员们说:“因为货币的购买力上升了,所以,我将削减你们的工资了。否则,当货币购买力上升时,如果你们拿到了同样的钱,就表示你们的工资涨上去了。在经济萧条时,这是不合理的。”(萧条给我们的一个悖论,就是:我们想降工资,这样,生产者就降低了成本,因而也就可以生产更多,因而也就可以雇用更多工从。那些正在鼓励工会化、推动此类法律改变的政治家,对这个道理,是不能理解的。他们应该等一等,等我们脱离了萧条的险境之后,再说这个事。)



Wages do fall in a deflation, but not as far as prices; andemployers do generally prefer to economize on labor costs by laying off workersrather than by reducing their wages. The resistance of workers to having theirwages cut in a deflation, a resistance that in the Great Depression of the1930s produced a sharp rise in real incomes for many workers while others wereon breadlines, is ascribed by Akerlof and Shiller to workers' sense of"fairness"--of their sense of entitlement to their existing wage--andto "money illusion," by which they mean the failure to distinguishbetween the amount of money one receives as a wage (the nominal wage) and thepurchasing power of the wage (the real wage). They also argue that employersdeliberately "overpay" their workers in order to boost morale and loyalty.But this does not explain why nominal wages are not cut during a depression inorder to maintain (not cut) real wages.

通缩的时候,工资确实下降了,但是,却比价格下降得慢;而且,雇主节约成本时,通常倾向于让裁员,而不是降薪。工人们拒绝降薪。在大萧条时,这种拒绝,让许多工人的实际收入上升,而其他的人却挣扎在贫困线上。阿克洛夫和希勒,将这种现象,归结为工人的“公平感”(所谓公平感,即指主张其现有工资的权利感)和“货币幻觉”。他们用这两个词,来说明人们不能分辨“作为工资而得到的货币数量”(名义工资)和工资的购买力(实际工资)。他们还认为,雇主有意“多付工资”给工人,目的是提高士气和忠诚。但是,这种说法,也没有解释清楚“在萧条时期,为什么不削减名义工资,以保持(而非削减)实际工资?”这个问题。

 

There is a simpler explanation for unemployment in depressions,one that dispenses with irrationality. A worker who, rather than being paid aflat wage, is paid a percentage of his firm's income would be unlikely tocomplain when his wage dropped in a depression; he would know that his wage wasvariable, and he would plan his life accordingly. But if paid a fixed wage, heis likely to count on it as a steady source of income. Since depressions arerare and have unpredictable consequences, he will not have been able to protecthimself from the consequences of a depression-induced cut in his wage. He isgoing to be upset to find that he is working as hard or harder but being paidless, and he will not be reassured by being given a lecture on deflation andpurchasing power, because he will not understand or believe it. And whereaswage cuts make the entire work force unhappy, layoffs make just the laid-offworkers unhappy, and since they are no longer on the premises they do notdemoralize the remaining work force by their unhappy presence. The employer,for this and other reasons--such as wanting to economize on benefits andoverhead and induce the remaining workers to work harder lest they be laid offtoo--is likely to prefer laying off workers to cutting wages. (Unemploymentinsurance is a factor as well.)

有一个更简单的解释,可以用来解释萧条时的失业问题,而不必麻烦“无理性”。如果给工人的工资,按企业收入比来支付,而不是使用“统一工资”(flat wage),那么,当工人的工资因萧条而下降时,他好像就不会有什么抱怨了。但是,如果按固定工资支付,他可能就会视之为稳定收入来源。因为萧条不常见,而且,萧条具有不可预知的后果,所以,他就不能保护自己免受萧条引致的降薪的影响。他将悲伤地发现:自己工作很努力或者更努力,但是,薪酬却降低了。这时,跟他讲通缩和购买力的道理,也不能使他宽心,因为这是他理解不了(或无法相信)的事。鉴于降薪会使所有的工人都不开心,而裁员只会让那些下岗人员不开心,而且,因为这些人离了眼前了,所以,也就不会让留下来的人因为下岗者的悲惨境遇而心生沮丧。雇主因为各种各样的原因(如降低福利和日常开支来节俭度日、让留下的人更加努力工作直至他们也被裁掉)而倾向于裁员(而不是降薪)。(失业保险,也是一个因素。)


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