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波斯纳《管锥编》(3):“动物精神”析微  

2009-04-07 19:35:59|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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中文博主按:波斯纳娓娓道来,如数家珍,亲切自然。绝妙文章,真是值得一读再读。



三、“动物精神”析微

Keynes picked up from the American economist Frank Knight thedistinction between calculable risk, the sort of thing on which insurancepremiums are based, and uncertainty in the sense of a risk that cannot bequantified. (Keynes had published a treatise on probability theory in 1921.)The fact that businessmen would venture to invest at all in the face ofuncertainty was a puzzle, and the explanation, Keynes argued, lay in emotion.You would have to be high-spirited--say, like Columbus--to embark on a costly, uncertainventure. In other words: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

在可计算的风险(这种风险,是保险费率的计算基础)与不能计算的风险所表示的“不确定性”之间存在区别,这是美国经济学家弗兰克·奈特提出的,凯恩斯继承了他的衣钵。(凯恩斯在1921年时,发表了一篇讨论“概率论”的论文。)在面对不确定性时,商人们斗胆投资,这个事情,是一个难题。凯恩斯认为,答案就在于“情绪”。你可能不得不勇敢起来,去从事一个代价高昂、不确定性的冒险,就像哥伦布一样。换言之:不入虎穴,焉得虎子。

 

What happens in a depression, and makes it a psychologicalevent as well as an economic and political one, is that the economicenvironment becomes so uncertain that people freeze. Not only are businessmenafraid to invest, but consumers are afraid to spend; instead they hoard cash.Right now our banks, dubiously solvent and harassed by an angry Congress, arehoarding. Consumers are hoarding, too; the savings rate has shot up, and theincreased savings are taking safe and rather inert forms--CDs, money marketaccounts, government securities, even currency and gold--that do not stimulateinvestment. Until animal spirits revive, the economy will not recover.

萧条中发生了什么?是什么使得它成为了一种心理事件,成为了一个经济事件、政治事件?那就是:经济环境变得如此的不确定,以至人们像全部冻住了一样。不仅是商人害怕投资,消费者也害怕消费;代之而起的,就是他们把钱全藏起来了。就在现在,我们的银行也疑似资不抵债了,愤怒的国会给它套上了笼头,于是,它们也开始藏钱了。消费者也在藏钱;储蓄率直线上升。增加的储蓄,全都采取了安全的、甚至是惰性的形式——CDs、货币市场账户、政府债券、甚至是现金和黄金——这就无法刺激投资了。除非动物精神复活,经济是不会复苏。

 

Keynes thought that if government put the unemployed to work,their animal spirits would rise, along with those of the contractors who hiredthe unemployed to perform the government's contracts. Even more important,people who were still employed but afraid they would soon be unemployed wouldregain confidence if unemployment fell and the threat to their own jobs thusreceded. Feeling more confident about their future, they would begin to spend,and business would begin to invest. The vicious cycle of falling consumption,production, and employment would turn into a virtuous cycle of risingconsumption, production, and employment. Keynes worried about stock marketspeculation, because he thought that speculators based their decisions onguesses about the psychology of other investors rather than on which companieshad the best prospects and therefore should attract new investment. But he didnot relate speculation to an excess of animal spirits.

凯恩斯认为,如果政府让失业者去工作,他们的动物精神就会奋起。那些雇佣失业者去实施政府合约的承包商们的动物精神,也会奋起。尤为重要地,如果失业降低了,还在就业但却害怕很快就会失业的人们,就会重获信心,那些岗位威胁,因此也就退却了。人们对未来倍感信心之后,就会开始支出,商家也开始投资。消费下降、生产下降、就业下降的恶性循环,就会转变成消费上升、生产上升、就业上升的良性循环。凯恩斯担心股市投机,因为他认为:投机者的决策,是基于对其他投资者的心理状态的猜测,而不是根据“公司有更好的前景,因而应该会吸引新投资”而做出的。但是,他并没有将投机与“动物精神的无节制”联系起来。

Akerlof and Shiller believe that the key to understandingdepressions lies in motives or behaviors that they regard as non-rational orirrational. They list "confidence," "fairness," "moneyillusion," the temptation to "corruption, " and susceptibilityto "stories" and treat all of these as manifestations of "animalspirits." Only "confidence" comes within shouting distance ofKeynes's understanding of animal spirits. But Akerlof and Shiller give it anegative charge that is alien to Keynes.

阿克洛夫和希勒相信,理解萧条的关键,在于他们所说的“非理性”或“无理性”的动机或行为。在说明“动物精神”时,他们列举了“信心”、“公平”、“货币幻觉”、“腐败”诱惑和甘受“忽悠”,并认为这些都是“动物精神”的表现。只有“信心”与凯恩斯理解的动物精神,还有一点点相近。但是,阿克洛夫和希勒,却指责“信心”具有消极性,这一点又与凯恩斯背道而驰。


 

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