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郑风田

公告: 本博客主要关注民生话题,还顺带介绍点国际万象.本人开放博客中所有文字的转载权(标“转”的除外)。任何人想转载我的文字,请各取所需。需要咨询的朋友请联系zft@sohu.com,zft2020@sina.com .,微信公众号:zhengfengtian, 微信号:zft2000 谢谢!--郑风田

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为什么一向喜欢财富的欧美人也开始“仇富”了?  

2009-04-16 15:49:07|  分类: 国际万象 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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郑风田 郎晓娟 中国人民大学

近年来一个热门话题总是说我们中国人“仇富”心态严重。但我们认为对于一般的仇富,尤其是仇视那些钱财来路不正的,其实也没什么。尤其是对于那些发不义之财的人,我们不闻不问才不正常。原来想象中欧美人应该没有“仇富”心态的,美国梦不就是变成富人梦吗?生活在资本主义社会,大部分的欧美人似乎应该崇拜财富才对。但这次的全球金融危机似乎改变了这一传统,让一向喜欢财富的美国人、英国人、法国人也开始对富人说不,也就是欧美人也开始“仇富”了。都仇恨那些人呢?主要是仇恨那些翻手为云覆手为雨的投行、银行界大赚不义之财的人。《经济学人》在4月的一期封面文章中专门暴光欧美人的仇富心理,还专门开专拦讨论为什么仇富的话题。可以想象西方人的仇富情节已经不潜了。

有几个数据令人震惊:1979年,0.1%的美国人的收入是90%的美国人的20倍,到2006年,这个数字增长到77倍;同时,人们也相信,有些富人的巨额财富,是通过利用国家财政金融体系漏洞,从穷人那里巧取豪夺得到的,这就更加令人憎恨了。在这期文章及讨论中,从多个角度来分析为什么连一向喜欢财富的欧美人居然也憎恨起富人来了?《经济学人》总结出富人们的两大罪状:

罪状之一:银行家绑架政府,投机者赚钱,无辜民众买单

 那些投行和基金管理者设计出这么一套规则:有钱赚的时候,他们要抽取佣金分成,没钱赚的时候,他们却不用承担任何责任。更无耻的是,遇到这次经济危机这样大的动荡,尽管很大责任就在这些投机者,却因为他们在经济里占的份额太大太重要,政府还打不得骂不得,还得拿出国家财政资金和纳税人的钱给他们补窟窿,而这帮人呢?这边哭完穷,钱一到手,首先给高层大发奖金还安排豪华度假,难怪让人恨得牙痒痒。

罪状之二:自私自利,对社会有害无益

和微软、Google这些为社会创造巨大价值,同时创业者自己获得财富的“正当富人”们不同,人们眼里,银行家和基金管理者们的财富积累方式太自私自利了,通过投机赚钱,在全世界范围里来回流动操纵,对社会本身没有创造任何价值,普通人也不能从中享受任何收益,银行家们却在这个过程中赚得盆满钵满,这也太不公平了!而且在这个过程中,发达国家经济运转都被越来越多地卷入其中,银行越来越大,大到政府都不敢让它轻易倒闭,只能用纳税人的钱来替他们犯下的错买单。

当然,《经济学人》也试着辩护说:银行家也不全是一无可取的嘛。金融体系的存在,使得对一些产业的投资成本更低,对社会还是有其价值所在的,同时,也有一些银行家,的确为他们的错误付出了代价,像是雷曼兄弟的倒闭,美林的被收购等等。但是,体系漏洞的存在是显而易见的,许多投机者的风险最后被转嫁给了纳税人也是事实,而这正是让大家愤怒的原因。

怎么办?我们该打倒富人吗?

市场机制本身已经针对这些富人们的邪恶行径做出了调整和报复,金融海啸的爆发中,投行倒闭、对冲基金缩水、10万亿美元的财富蒸发,贫富差距有了一定的改善,但仅有市场机制的作用是远远不够的,更为关键的,是政府需要在其中发挥作用。

很容易想到,政府也最爱做的行为大概就是“增税”,可在经济萧条的背景下,增税措施又对经济刺激不利,似乎让政府部门陷入一个两难局面。政府更应该做的,是填补那些让投机者们得以为所欲为的监管漏洞,应该想办法挤出泡沫,改变目前这种不对称的风险承担机制,让银行家们自己为自己的错误承担责任,同时,既然那些大银行接受了财政资金的帮助,也该像个公共事业部门一样,承担起社会责任来,而不是仅仅想着巧取豪夺地赚钱。

总而言之,发不义之财的富人们虽然可恨,但简单地给予打击也于事无补,政府更应该做的,是建立一套更安全公平有效的金融体系和监管体系。

(编译者郑风田为中国人民大学教授;郎晓娟为中国人民大学博士生)

阅读材料:

The rich under attack

Apr 2nd 2009   Economist

From The Economist print editionGoing for the bankers is tempting for politicians—and dangerous for everybody else

STONES thrown through a banker’s windows in Edinburgh, workers “bossnapping” executives in France, retrospective 90% tax rates proposed in Washington, and now a riot in London as G20 leaders arrived for their summit (see article). A sea change in social attitudes that could have profound effects on politics and the world economy is under way.

The rich are certainly not the only targets in the current populist backlash. Frightened by the downturn, people are furious with politicians, central bankers and immigrants. But a rising wave of anger is directed against the new “malefactors of great wealth”. Today’s villains are a larger and more global bunch than the handful of American robber barons Teddy Roosevelt denounced a century ago; and most of them are bankers and fund managers, rather than owners of trusts and railroads. Yet the themes are similar to those at the end of that previous gilded age: rising inequality—the top 0.1% of Americans earned 20 times the income of the bottom 90% in 1979 and 77 times in 2006—and a sense that the greedy rich have cheated decent working people of their rightful share of the pie.

Some of this cheating has been of an old familiar sort: building Ponzi schemes and bribing politicians to secure favourable deals. There are greyer areas, in which the rich hide their cash in tax havens and get tax law written to their advantage—witness the indefensible treatment of private-equity profits. But what makes the rich’s behaviour so galling for many critics is that their two greatest crimes were committed in broad daylight, as they were part of the system itself.

The two great cheats

The first charge is that the rich created a new form of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose capitalism. Traders and fund managers got huge rewards for speculating with other people’s money, but when they failed the parent company, the client and ultimately the taxpayer had to pay the bill. Monetary policy contributed to this asymmetry of risk: when markets faltered central banks usually rescued them by cutting interest rates.

The second charge is that the bankers and fund managers were not doing anything useful. Unlike the “deserving” rich entrepreneurs who set up Microsoft and Google, the “undeserving” traders and brokers just shuffled money around the system to nobody’s profit but their own. The faster the money went round, the larger the financial sector loomed in the rich countries’ economies. At its peak it contributed 41% of domestic American corporate profits, more than double the rate two decades ago. As finance grew, the banks got ever bigger—too big to fail, eventually, so when they tottered taxpayers had to prop them up. Far from epitomising capitalism, the undeserving rich undermined it: it was socialism for the wealthy.

These two charges run together, but the second has much less justification. Enormous though the cost of bailing out the banks has been, there is nothing inherently undeserving about finance; even in their flawed state, more liquid markets have brought huge benefits to the rest of the economy. The lower cost of capital has made it easier for industry to invest, innovate and protect itself against interest and exchange-rate risk. Trying to single out financiers from entrepreneurs is a fool’s errand: you will end up hurting both.

The heads-I-win charge is not entirely proven, either: some of the people who ran banks did lose when they went bust. Yet even a newspaper as inherently pro-business as this one has to admit that there was something rotten in finance: the basic capitalist bargain, under which genuine risktakers are allowed to garner huge rewards, seems a poor one if taxpayers are landed with a huge bill for it all. Hence the anger.

A time for correction and brown paper bags

Periods of excess, when inequality has grown, tend to be followed by eras of reform: Roosevelt bust the trusts and shortly afterwards Congress moved towards introducing a federal income tax. Part of the genius of capitalism is its ability to adjust to disruption from within and attacks from without.

Indeed, the system is already beginning to correct itself. As our special report this week points out, the rich are not as rich as they were: some $10 trillion, around a quarter of the wealthy’s assets, has been lost. Inequality will decline. Investment banks and hedge funds are shrinking; private-equity groups are struggling to finance takeovers. Having discovered how volatile markets can be, banks will be less keen on trading in the future. There is even a correction going on in conspicuous consumption: Net-a-porter, a pricey website, offers to deliver designer outfits to its customers in brown paper bags.

The market’s self-correction will not be enough, however. Higher taxes will eventually be inevitable, since so many governments have lurched heavily into deficit. But politicians must tread carefully. Tax rises right away would be a rotten idea, since for the moment fiscal stimulus is needed. And even when governments raise the money, they should first get rid of deductions and reverse unmeritocratic measures (such as George Bush’s repeal of America’s death tax) rather than jacking up income-tax rates to punitive levels. Squeeze the rich until the pips squeak, and the juice goes out of the economy.

As for heads-I-win capitalism, the problem of asymmetric risk should shrink, because the rule changes needed to make the financial system safer will also remove unwarranted profits. Contra-cyclical capital requirements, forcing banks to build more reserves during good times, will leave them less cash to splurge on bonuses. Many of the sweetest sources of profit sprang up in the cracks between regulatory systems; governments are now filling in these gaps. If central banks focus on asset markets when they rise as well as when they fall, they will remove much of the froth. Treat a bank that becomes too big to fail like a utility, and it will make less money.

Curbing the excesses of wealth, then, will be a side effect of regulations designed to make capitalism work better. Such measures will not provide the lyrics to revolutionary anthems, but they are going to be better than going after the wealthy. The rich are an easy target. But when you try to bash them, you usually end up punching yourself in the nose.

 

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