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波斯纳《管锥编》(2):阿克洛夫误读了“动物精神”  

2009-04-07 18:53:59|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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中文博主按:看高手之间如何过招!在评述阿克洛夫的用意时,波斯纳引用了凯恩斯的原文及传记作者的解释。也说明了“行为经济学”与“理性经济学”之间的分野。


二、阿克洛夫误读了“动物精神”


Their thesis is that the key to understanding depressions, andthe ups and downs of the economy more generally, is psychology, which they call"animal spirits." They relate this emphasis on psychology to the newfield of economics called "behavioral economics," which rejects the"rational man" model of conventional economic theory in favor of whatits proponents consider a more realistic picture of human motivations andcapacities. Akerlof and Shiller believe that if people were rational, therewould be no depressions; but there are depressions, and so the rational modelmust be inadequate.

他们的哲学命题就是:理解萧条的关键,理解一般性的经济的上下波动,关键就是心理状态,也就是他们所说的“动物精神”。对心理状态的强调,在他们那里,与经济学的新领域“行为经济学”联系了起来。行为经济学,抛弃了传统经济理论的“理性人”模型,而倾向于该理论的支持者们所说的:“对人类动机和能力进行更现实的刻画”。阿克洛夫和希勒相信,如果人是理性人,那么,就不会存在萧条;但是,萧条可是真实发生了的,所以,理性模型一定是不适用的。

 

They want a pedigree, or a sacred text, to lend authority totheir thesis, and they want to champion the liberal Keynes over theconservative Friedman. Hence their appropriation of the term "animalspirits" from a famous passage in The General Theory: "Most,probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences ofwhich will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as a resultof animal spirits--of a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, andnot as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied byquantitative probabilities.... Thus if the animal spirits are dimmed and thespontaneous optimism fades, enterprise will fade and die.... It is our innateurge to activity which makes the wheels go round, our rational selves choosingbetween the alternatives as best we are able, calculating where we can, butoften falling back for our motive on whim or sentiment or chance."

他们想找到一个名门家谱,找一篇圣言,向当局售卖自己的这段理论。他们想让自由的凯恩斯战胜保守的弗里德曼。因此,他们所强占的“动物精神”这个词,就来自《通论》的名段:“可能的情况是,人们许多的积极做事的决定(其结果需要许多时间才会展现出真实的面目),就只能视为源于动物精神——这是一种自发性的渴求,人们渴求着行动,而不是坐以待毙。这样的决定,并不来自于人们的权衡,不是用数量概率乘上了数量利益之后得到的加权平均的结果……因此,如果动物精神暗淡无光,自发性的乐观主义渐渐消磨,企业就会衰败,然后死亡……这就是我们天生的行动渴求,它使得事物向前发展,我们的理性自我,尽自己最大能力地,在两种备选方案中选来选去,计算着能力的指向,但是,常常会退却,因为我们会因某个古怪念头,或某个感情思绪,或某个机会遭遇,而采取行动。”

 

Akerlof and Shiller think that by "animal spirits"Keynes meant "noneconomic motives and irrational behaviors," and theyimply that he wanted government to "countervail the excesses that occurbecause of our animal spirits." This is a misreading. The passage in TheGeneral Theory is not about excesses, and it does not argue that "animalspirits" should be damped down. It is about the danger of paralysis in theface of uncertainty ("if the animal spirits are dimmed and the spontaneousoptimism fades, enterprise will fade and die"). As Keynes's biographerRobert Skidelsky explains, The General Theory argues that "actual outputis normally below 'potential' output; in depressions disastrously so. It isonly in moments of 'excitement' that the economic machine works at full blast.This helps explain why economic progress has been so slow and fitful."

阿克洛夫和希勒认为,凯恩斯所说的“动物精神”,就是指“非经济的动因和非理性的行为”。他们暗示说,凯恩斯希望政府“来对抗因动物精神而产生的无节制”。这一点是误读了。《通论》中的原话,并不是讨论“无节制”的,而且,它也没有说人们应该减弱“动物精神”。它讨论的是人们在面临着不确定性时会产生的“瘫痪危险”。(如果动物精神暗淡无光,自发性的乐观主义渐渐消磨,企业就会衰败,然后死亡)。正像凯恩斯的传记作者Robert Skidelsky解释的那样,《通论》认为:“实际产出,总是低于‘潜在’产出;在萧条时,就更是灾难性地如此。只在‘兴奋’的时刻,经济机器才能全速运行。这可以解释:经济的进步,何以如此地缓慢,如此地抽风。”


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