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约翰·肯尼斯·加尔布雷斯传略  

2009-04-07 14:28:59|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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约翰·肯尼斯·加尔布雷斯传略

 

From the 1950s through the 1970s, John Kenneth Galbraithwas one of the most widely read economists in the United States. One reason is thathe wrote so well, with the ability to turn a clever phrase that made those heargued against look foolish. Galbraiths first majorbook, published in 1952, is American Capitalism: The Concept ofCountervailing Power. In it he argued that giant firms had replaced smallones to the point where the perfectly competitive model no longer applied tomuch of the American economy. But not to worry, he added. The power of largefirms was offset by the countervailing power of large unions, so that consumerswere protected by competing centers of power.

1950年代至1970年代,约翰·肯尼斯·加尔布雷斯,是美国受众面最广泛的经济学家之一。有一个原因,那就是:他能写出很机智的句子来,能让他的对手变成滑稽可笑。加尔布雷斯的第一部重要作品,出版于1952年,题目是《美国资本主义:对抗力的概念》(AmericanCapitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power)。在这本书里,他认为:巨型企业,取代了小型企业,是因为完全竞争模型不再适用于主要的美国经济了。但是,他还说道:大家免着惊!大型企业的力量,正为大型工会的对抗力所均衡,因此,消费者受到了竞争的权力中心的保护。

Galbraith made his biggest splash with his 1958 book, TheAffluent Society, in which he contrasted the affluence of the privatesector with the squalor of the public sector. Many people liked that bookbecause of their view that Galbraith, like Thorstein Veblenbefore him, attacked production that was geared to “conspicuous consumption.”But that is not what Galbraith did. In fact, Galbraith argued that “anadmirable case can still be made” for satisfying even consumer wants that “havebizarre, frivolous, or even immoral origins.” His argument against satisfyingall consumer demands is more subtle. “If the individual’s wants are to beurgent,” he wrote, “they must be original with himself. They cannot be urgent ifthey must be contrived for him. And above all, they must not be contrived bythe process of production by which they are satisfied. ... One cannot defendproduction as satisfying wants if that production creates the wants” (p. 124).

加尔布雷斯1958年的作品《富裕社会》,引起了最大的哄动。在这本书里,他比较了私人部门的富裕和公共部门的穷困。许多人喜欢这本书,就是因为他们认为:加尔布雷斯,与此前的凡勃伦(《有闲阶级论》的作者)一样,攻击了根据花俏假设所建立的生产。但是,这却不是加尔 布雷斯的论点。实际上,加尔布雷斯认为:要满足消费者的需求,甚至是那些有着怪异、轻佻、不道德的起源的需求,也是可以做出一个令人钦佩的情形的。他反对满足所有消费者的需求,这个反驳更加难以索解一些。他写道:如果这个人的需求,是很急迫的,那么,这些需求就源自自身的。如果这些需求是为它设计的,那么,它们就不会那么急迫了。总之,不能从满足需求的角度去做一个生产过程,然后,让这个生产过程来设计需求……我们不能认为,如果这个生产创造了需求,就从生产满足了需求的角度,来为生产辩护。p.124

Friedrich Hayek made the most fundamental criticism of Galbraith’s argument. Hayekconceded that most wants do not originate with the individual. Our innatewants, he wrote, “are probably confined to food, shelter, and sex.” All otherwants we learn from what we see around us. Probably all our aestheticfeelings—our enjoyment of music and literature, for example—are learned. So,wrote Hayek, “to say that a desire is not important because it is not innate isto say that the whole cultural achievement of man is not important.”1

哈耶克对加尔布雷斯的观点进行了批判,更加本质一些。哈耶克认为:许多需求并不来自于自身。他写道,我们天生的需求,可能就只是吃饭、住房和性生活。其他的所有需求,是从周围的环境中学来的。可能,我们所有的美的感受——如喜欢音乐和文学——就是学来的。所以,哈耶克写道:说某 个需求不是天生的,从而这个需求就不重要,这种说法,就相当于在说:人的文化成就,都是不重要的。

Galbraith’s magnum opus is his 1967 book, The NewIndustrial State, in which he argued that the American economy wasdominated by large firms. “The mature corporation,”wrote Galbraith, has “readily at hand the means for controlling the prices atwhich it sells as well as those at which it buys.... Since General Motorsproduces some half of all the automobiles, its designs do not reflect thecurrent mode, but are the current mode. The proper shape of an automobile, formost people, will be what the automobile makers decree the current shape to be”(p. 30).

加尔布雷斯的杰作,是1967年的作品:《新工业国家》。在这本书里,他指出:美国经济为大企业所主宰。加尔布雷斯写道:成熟的企业,完全操控了产品的售价和买价……因为GM生产几近一半的汽车,所以,它的设计并没有反映当前的式样,但是,却成为了当前的式样。对于大多数人来说,一个汽车的所谓好式样,就是汽车商们所确定的当前式样。p.30

The evidence has not been kind to Galbraith’s thesis. Evenour largest firms lose money if they fail to produce a product that consumerswant. The U.S. market share of GM, for example, one of Galbraith’s favoriteexamples of a firm invulnerable to market forces, had fallen from about 50percent when Galbraith wrote the book to less than half that by 2005.

证据似乎对加尔布雷斯的作品不那么友好。即使是最大的企业,如果它们不能生产出消费者想要的产品,那么,它们也会亏损。譬如,加尔布雷斯最喜欢举的那个GM,他说它对于市场力量是刀枪不入,在加尔布雷斯写作此书里,它的市场份额约50%,到2005年时,也下降了一半多。

Galbraith was born in Canadaand moved to the United States in the 1930s. He earned his Ph.D. inagricultural economics at the Universityof California at Berkeley. He was one of the chief price controllersduring World War II as head of the Price Section of the U.S.government’s Office of Price Administration. Unlike almost all othereconomists, Galbraith had defended permanent price controls.In 1943 Galbraith left the government to be on the editorial board of Fortune.After the war he directed the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, whose main findingwas that saturation bombing of Germanyhad not been very effective at slowing down German war production. In 1949 hebecame an economics professor at Harvard, where he had been briefly before thewar. Galbraith was also politically active. He was an adviser to President JohnF. Kennedy, Kennedy’s ambassador to India, and president of Americansfor Democratic Action. He was president of the American Economic Association in1972.

加尔布雷斯生于加拿大,在1930年代,移居到了美国。在加州伯克利得了农业经济学的博士学位。在二战时,他是美国政府的价格管理办公室的价格部的头头,是主要的价格控制者之一。他这个人,基本上与其他的所有经济学,都不一样,他为永久的价格控制辩护。在1943年,加尔布雷斯离开了政府,做了《财富》杂志的社论委员会的头头。战后,他指导了美国策略轰炸研究,这个研究的主要发现是:对德国的饱和轰炸,并没有能很有效地降低德国的战色生产。在1949年,他成为了哈佛的经济学教授,战前,他在哈佛也有短暂任职。加尔布雷斯,还是一个政治活跃分子。他是肯尼迪总统的顾问、肯尼迪政府的印度大使、美国人争取民主的运动的主席。在1972年时,他是美国经济委员会的主席。


Selected Works

1952. American Capitalism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

1952. A Theory of Price Control. Cambridge:Harvard University Press.

1958. The Affluent Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

1967. How to Get out of Viet Nam. New York: New American Library.

1967. The New Industrial State. Boston:Houghton Mifflin.

1981. Life in Our Times. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

 

原文:http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Galbraith.html

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