瘋子海耶克(Hayek is a nut)

Brad DeLong提到市場經濟/新自由主義教父Hayek的一點逸事:

Hayek came to Cambridge in January 1931 to give a one-lecture version of his theory to the Marshall Society before starting on his LSE lectures. His exposition was greeted with complete silence. Keynes was in London, but Richard Kahn, who was in the audience, felt he had to break the ice. ‘Is it your view’, he asked Hayek, ‘that if I went out tomorrow and bought a new overcoat, that would increase unemployment?’ ‘Yes,’ replied Hayek, turning to a blackboard full of triangles, ‘but it would take a very long mathematical argument to explain why.

–Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes: The Economist as Saviour, 1994, p. 456. [Quoted from Kahn, The Making of Keynes’s General Theory, p. 182.]

凱恩斯學派教父Paul Samuelson曰:

For my money more to the point was Richard Kahn’s simple oral 1932 statement: “If Hayek believes that the spending of newly-printed currency on employment and consumption will worsen our current terrible depression, then Hayek is a nut."

Hayek是個瘋子,至少他在這個問題上是。如果買大衣的決定會導致失業,那經濟、商業活動是用來幹什麽的?製造失業?當然,Hayek可以回答說他所說的是大蕭條時「不合理」(unwarranted)的決定,但是「合理」的定義是什麽?從總需求的角度上看,把財富交給市民,讓他們去選購大衣跟政府直接補貼成衣業的唯一不同是市民能獲得對他們有價值的大衣,而兩者都能達到同一效果——保障成衣業的就業。

Hayek的論點只有在長期中有可能。當政府不再提供廉價貨幣時,市民面對更高的交易成本而去選購比大衣有更大邊際效用的商品時(等於政府不再補貼成衣業),成衣業將萎縮,因此出現失業。是的,從長期來説,我們都已經死了。在經濟衰退時,我們要想辦法阻止衰退持續下去,而不是考慮我們的行爲是不是符合平常的經濟原則。再説,衰退的定義是什麽?請看Barry Eichengreen與Kevin O’Rourke:衰退是現實生産力相對於潛在生産能力的減少(Okun gap),生産減少是因爲總需求減少,總需求減少是因爲財富減少,並不是口味改變。換句話說,本來購買大衣的人,因爲財富/貨幣的減少,現在不購買大衣了。因此,政府印刷並提供廉價貨幣的目的是要總需求恢復到原來的水平,當經濟與就業恢復到一定水平,政府將不用再提供廉價貨幣。從長期來説失業是到底如何出現呢?說到底那只是自由經濟教條主義的宗教信仰,經不起現實考驗。但當位高權重者都相信這種教條,瘋子的想法會被他們設法變爲現實。Krugman:

When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

當潮流相信瘋子時,瘋子以其位營造瘋子潮流,世界將是瘋子們的天堂,所以我們有今天的嚴重經濟蕭條。G-20等於是一群猴子把玩經濟的核按鈕;他們所迷信的財政緊縮措施只會加重失業與生産力倒退。他們坐享高薪厚職,擁有優於常人的履歷,不愁出路,而老百姓只好靜待雙底衰退(double dip recession)的到來,中年失業人士更可能這輩子也不會再找到工作。 這真是一個非常公平的世界。

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