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《Spin-Free Economics》书摘

BBF注:本文起初只是放在本人转摘集(需翻墙)中的个人书摘,今天才知道网上说此书是“曼昆叔叔给
哈佛大一新生推荐的书目”
之一。不管是不是真的,那就放在这里吧。感兴趣就看看,我没精力做颜色和字体上标记了。再次重申,个人的书摘不能当成是本书的概览,有我的个人摘取倾向在内。比如我没摘录我觉得很简单的,不感兴趣的,早就知道的观点理论等等。所以仅供参考

《Spin-Free <wbr>Economics》书摘《Spin-
Free Economics》
是一本讨论讨论国际上的热点经济问题的书。作者Nariman
Behravesh是经济与金融分析企业IHS全球通视公司的首席经济学家,曾任标准普尔公司首席国际经济学家。

书评可以看这个新华网链接:http://news.xinhuanet.com/book/2009-11/28/content_12554858.htm

有对应的中文版,翻译的如何,俺就不知道了,名字是《这才是经济学:经
济学的误解与真相》
。我看的是英文,用词相当的简单,比那啥《Economist》和《Wall
Street Journal》要易读多了。这里的“易读”指对我这种连经济学入门都谈不上的人而言。所以,有条件的看英文吧。

————————————–
Shortsightedness is a serious affliction that plagues both
politicians and the media (and the public at large).

Seven Big Trends:
  • The rise in living standards has been unprecedented.
  • Free markets have triumphed.
  • Technological advances have rapidly transformed our lives.
  • Developed economies have become "deagriculturalized" and
    "deindustrialized".
  • There has been no shortage of natural resources.
  • Poverty level have fallen, but income inequality has not always
    narrowed.
  • Financial volatility is no longer synonymous with economic
    depression.

One of the remarkable attributes of markets is that they
spring up in the most unlikely places — and often where they are
prohibited.
  • Markets are the best aggregators of information.
  • Markets represent a process of constant trial and error.

Famines, environmental damage, and financial crises: how government
failures have often been more damaging than market failures.

Corporate welfare comes in three flavors: government spending
on subsidies, tax breaks, and protectionism. Each comes with a
large price tag.
The world is a naturally competitive place. Fierce competition
delivers steady improvements in goods and services, ofter at lower
prices.
Governments can play an important role in keeping markets
competitive by enforcing antitrust laws and regulating markets when
necessary.
  • Competition keeps prices low and limits profit margins.
  • In competitive markets, there also is a strong incentive for
    companies to compete by continuously improving quality and
    service.
  • The downward pressure on prices and profit margins forces
    companies to keep improving their efficiency — they have no choice
    if they not to go out of business.
  • As a result, competitive markets are more innovative and enjoy
    stronger productivity growth than markets in which competition is
    weak.
  • Finally, competition reduces the scope for corruption and
    influence peddling, and this can enhance the democratic
    process.

Why are US universities so good, but US primary and secondary
schools so bad? In a word: competition — and the lack
thereof.
The threat posed by large companies has often been exaggerated
and is even less of a problem now than it was a century ago.
Consider the following facts:
  • Monopolists don’t always raise prices.
  • Many industries that were once classified as "natural
    monopolies" have since been privatized and/or deregulated.
  • The market concentration in most U.S. industries has diminished
    over the past century.

The bottom line: What matters is the "contestability" of
markets.

Here are some of the more important ingredients of Asia’s
success.
  • Rising labor-force participation, especially among women.
  • Rising educational attainment.
  • High level of savings and investment.
  • Resource mobility.
  • Globalization.
  • Technology transfer.
  • Low inflation and fiscal prudence.
  • Good (or better) governance.
  • Peace.

Economists typically take a more dynamic view of the world —
one in which a shortage of any raw material will raise its price,
boosting the incentives to develop alternatives or new technologies
and to use the scarce resource more efficiently.
Longer lives, better health, and greater wealth are not
synonymous with happiness, which also depends on love, friendship,
respect, family, social standing, and fun.
Technology and globalization are positive-sum forces (like
love), rather than zero-sum forces (like war).
Low-skilled immigrants do more good than harm.
The benefits of letting in more high-skilled immigrants are
even greater.
We should increase the number of skilled immigrants, rather
than limit them, as we do now.
History shows that immigration is more of a solution than a
problem, and more of a blessing than a curse.
Think outside the box: offshoring helps many US companies —
and, believe it or not, American workers.
Here is an even remarkable statistic: during the 1980s and
1990s, the US population (including immigrants) grew about 25
percent. But the number of employed Americans increased about 40
percent! So, there were plenty of jobs for men and women,
immigrants and natives, legals and illegals.
Stop worrying about the rise of China, India, and other
emerging markets.
from Financial Times:
When politicians suggest that the benefits of globalization go
primarily to low-wage countries, they are playing into people’s
fears. In fact, globalization benefits every country that maximizes
its strategic advantages — and no country has more strategic
advantages than the US. We are blessed with many of the best
universities in the world; an enormous domestic consumer market;
the most cutting-edge technological, medical and scientific
research communities; deep capital markets that offer financing to
businesses of every kind; and a level of freedom, opportunity and
diversity that is unmatched.
Protectionism is little more than pandering to special
interests, cloaked in nationalistic/xenophobic terms.
What should governments do? Protect people, Not jobs!
  • A far better solution is to increase the skills and mobility of
    workers so that they can take advantage of all the new (and
    higher-skill) jobs that are being created.
  • During 1990s, only 1.5 percent of the job losses resulting from
    mass layoffs had anything to do with import competition.

Good policies to help displaced workers should have two key
elements:

  1. They should address the insecurities of workers who are facing
    possible lay-offs as a result of technology and globalization,
    and
  2. They should neither limit labor mobility and flexibility nor
    slow the evolution of the economy to higher-skilled and
    higher-value-added industries.

Adjustment assistance should have the primary goals of
improving labor mobility and increasing the ease with which workers
can make the transition from jobs that are being destroyed by
technology and globalization to the vast number of new jobs that
are being created by those same forces.
Trade, Not Aid, is the best way to help the world’s
poor.
  • None of the rich countries of the world has reached that
    position because of aid and debt forgiveness. They became rich
    through being successful market economies.

There is a role for effective, targeted aid programs that
complement and reinforce the beneficial impact of trade:
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Technology transfer

Free trade is much more powerful than aid as a way of boosting
growth and reducing poverty in the world’s poorest countries.
Moreover, the goal of rich countries’ aid programs should be to
help poor countries grow rapidly, so that they don’t need aid
anymore!

In the area of economics, the single biggest challenge for
governments is to know how much or how little intervention is
needed — in other words, to balance the social benefits of market
interference against the social costs.
by Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Yergin and his coauthor Joseph
Stanislaw:
  • What will be the new role of government? After all, there is no
    market without a government to define the rules and context. The
    state accepts the discipline of the market; government moves away
    from being producer, controller and intervener, and becomes the
    referee, setting the rules of the game to ensure competition and
    opportunity.

These good and bad experiences point to some necessary
preconditions for the success of privatization.
  • Privatization provides the largest efficiency gains and cost
    savings when it is undertaken in a locally or globally competitive
    market.
  • To ensure a competitive environment, governments should
    deregulate the affected markets, lower barriers to entry, and
    remove or reduce import protection.
  • The gains from privatization can be undermined if other
    externalities and spillovers, such as pollution, play a big role in
    the industries involved.

Finally, the gains from privatization should be widely
dispersed.

While no panacea, well-executed privatizations have been very
beneficial for consumers and for the overall efficiency and
productivity of the economy. The trick is knowing what to privatize
and how. Pure public goods, such as national defense, public
safety, and clean air, can’t be privatized. Mixed public-private
goods, such as airports, bridges, toll roads, and postal services,
can be — if the privatization is done well.
Education and health care are, in fact, a blend of private and
public goods. In very simple terms, more market forces are needed
on the supply side of both, while continued government involvement
is required on the demand side. In other words, both health care
and education will benefit from more competition.
More money does not necessarily translate into better
performance.
Competition is as beneficial in education as it is in other
parts of the economy.
Vouchers help the poor as much as, if not more than, the
rich.
Consumption inequality is much less than income inequality,
and has actually decreased in recent years.

The best antidote for poverty is growth; the best antidote for
inequality is equal access to education and jobs.

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. — by
Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize Winner economist)

Legitimate national security concerns aside, it does seem illogical
for rich countries to buy Middle eastern oil and Chinese goods with
few qualms, while at the same time refusing to allow those same
countries to buy the assets of the rich countries in return. This
is especially true since sovereign wealth funds have, to date, been
a source of stability in global financial markets.

Financial stability is hard to achieve. In fact, financial crises
may be the price that must be paid for financial innovation. It is
far more important to insulate that economy from financial
instability. On this score, there is room for modest optimism, and
no need to fix what isn’t broken.

Nine economic lessons for a polarized world:

  • Embrace and trust markets.
  • Remove distortions to economic incentives.
  • Reduce the concentration of economic and market power and the
    potential for theft from the public.
  • Adopt growth-friendly policies.
  • Accelerate economic integration with the rest of the
    world.
  • Focus government programs on areas where they can be most
    beneficial, and assist free-market forces without interfering with
    them.
  • Help the disadvantaged, without hurting the rest.
  • Develop macroeconomic policies that reduce economic uncertainty
    and volatility.
  • Encourage the development of innovative financial markets that
    help growth, while reducing the risk of boom-bust cycles.

Markets really do work — if we let them and (when needed) help
them.
————————————–

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