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美国经济学家

2008年诺贝尔经济学奖得主。 美國經濟學家及紐約時報的專欄作家,普林斯頓大學經濟系教授,是新凱恩斯主義经济学派代表。1953年出生美國紐約,约翰·F·肯尼迪高中毕业。1974年就讀耶鲁大學,1977年在麻省理工學院取得博士學位,受到经济学家诺德豪斯的注意。畢業後先後於耶鲁大学、麻省理工及史丹福大學任教。2000年起,成為普林斯頓大學經濟系教授。

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2009-08-17 21:01:11|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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                                                                   Rewarding Bad Actors

                                                                          奖励坏角色

                                                                         文炳森 【译】

                                                                   By PAUL KRUGMAN

 

Americans are angry at Wall Street, and rightly so. First the financial industry plunged us into economic crisis, then it was bailed out at taxpayer expense. And now, with the economy still deeply depressed, the industry is paying itself gigantic bonuses. If you aren’t outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.

美国人生华尔街的气,生得有理。首先金融业使我们陷入经济危机中,然后纳税人花钱援助了他们。现在,经济依然极度低迷,这个行业却为自己发放巨额奖金。如果你不愤怒,那么你就是没有注意到了。

But crashing the economy and fleecing the taxpayer aren’t Wall Street’s only sins. Even before the crisis and the bailouts, many financial-industry high-fliers made fortunes through activities that were worthless if not destructive from a social point of view.

但使经济崩溃和敲诈纳税人不是华尔街仅有的恶行。即使在危机和紧急财政援助之前,很多金融业有野心的人仍从一些以社会观点来看,如果还谈不上是具有破坏性,那么(至少是)毫无价值的活动中获利。

And they’re still at it. Consider two recent news stories.

他们现在仍没有停手。来关心一下最近两则新闻故事。

One involves the rise of high-speed trading: some institutions, including Goldman Sachs, have been using superfast computers to get the jump on other investors, buying or selling stocks a tiny fraction of a second before anyone else can react. Profits from high-frequency trading are one reason Goldman is earning record profits and likely to pay record bonuses.

一则牵涉到高速交易[1]:一些包括高盛在内的机构利用超高速电脑抢在其他投资者之前零点几秒,在其他人没来得及反应之前买卖股票。由高频率交易带来的利润是高盛获得创纪录利润收入和可能发放创纪录奖金的一个原因。

On a seemingly different front, Sunday’s Times reported on the case of Andrew J. Hall[2], who leads an arm of Citigroup that speculates on oil and other commodities. His operation has made a lot of money recently, and according to his contract Mr. Hall is owed $100 million.

在另一个似乎完全不同的领域上,星期日的泰晤士报报道了安德鲁·霍尔的案例,他领导花旗集团属下其中一个投机买卖石油和其它商品的机构。他的操作最近赚了很多钱,按照契约霍尔先生能得到一亿美金。

What do these stories have in common?

这些故事有什么共同点?

The politically salient answer, for now at least, is that in both cases we’re looking at huge payouts by firms that were major recipients of federal aid. Citi has received around $45 billion from taxpayers; Goldman has repaid the $10 billion it received in direct aid, but it has benefited enormously both from federal guarantees and from bailouts of other financial institutions. What are taxpayers supposed to think when these welfare cases cut nine-figure paychecks?

在政治层面上显著的答案是,起码在现在,两个案件中支出巨额的公司都是联邦政府援助的主要接受者。花旗从纳税人那里得到约45亿美金;高盛偿还了它收受的直接援助中的100亿美金,但它从联邦政府担保和其它金融机构的紧急援助中得益巨大。当这些援助案件占用了九位数字的支票时,纳税人会怎么想?

But suppose we grant that both Goldman and Mr. Hall are very good at what they do, and might have earned huge profits even without all that aid. Even so, what they do is bad for America.

但是假如我们承认高盛和霍尔先生非常擅长他们所做的事,(假如我们也承认)即使没有任何援助他们也能赚取巨大利润。尽管如此, 他们所做的对美国也不利。

Just to be clear: financial speculation can serve a useful purpose. It’s good, for example, that futures markets provide an incentive to stockpile heating oil before the weather gets cold and stockpile gasoline ahead of the summer driving season.

为了把话讲明白,免生误会:金融投机买卖可以为一个有益的目的服务。举例来说,期货市场能为天气变冷前的民用燃料油库存和夏天驾驶季节前的汽油库存提供激励, 这都是好的一面。

But speculation based on information not available to the public at large is a very different matter. As the U.C.L.A. economist Jack Hirshleifer showed back in 1971, such speculation often combines “private profitability” with “social uselessness.”

但是靠着一般公众无缘获得的信息来做投机买卖则大不相同。就如加州大学洛杉矶分校的经济学家Jack Hirshleifer早在1971年就表明得那样,这种投机活动的结果, 经常是私人大收益加上社会无用性。

It’s hard to imagine a better illustration than high-frequency trading. The stock market is supposed to allocate capital to its most productive uses, for example by helping companies with good ideas raise money. But it’s hard to see how traders who place their orders one-thirtieth of a second faster than anyone else do anything to improve that social function.

很难想象一个比高频率交易更好的实例了。股票市场应该把资金分配到它的最有成效的用途上,例如帮助有好主意的公司融资。但很难理解商人们比其他人快三十分之一秒去下订单对提高那些社会功能有何帮助。

What about Mr. Hall? The Times report suggests that he makes money mainly by outsmarting other investors, rather than by directing resources to where they’re needed. Again, it’s hard to see the social value of what he does.

霍尔先生怎么样呢?泰晤士报的报道暗示,他能赚钱与其说是靠把资源引到那些急需之处, 不如更主要地说, 是靠在才智上胜过其他投资者。他所做的事情很难看出有何社会价值, 这又是一个例子。

And there’s a good case that such activities are actually harmful. For example, high-frequency trading probably degrades the stock market’s function, because it’s a kind of tax on investors who lack access to those superfast computers — which means that the money Goldman spends on those computers has a negative effect on national wealth. As the great Stanford economist Kenneth Arrow put it in 1973, speculation based on private information imposes a “double social loss”: it uses up resources and undermines markets.

有一个合适的案例说明这些活动确实有害。举例说,高频率交易可能降低股票市场的功能,因为这是对缺乏超高速电脑的投资者征收的一种税,这表示高盛花在这些电脑上的钱对国家财富有负面效果。就如伟大的史丹福大学经济学家Kenneth Arrow在1973年所说的,基于私人信息的投机活动催生了“双重的社会损失”:它用光了资源和侵蚀了市场。

Now, you might be tempted to dismiss destructive speculation as a minor issue — and 30 years ago you would have been right. Since then, however, high finance — securities and commodity trading, as opposed to run-of-the-mill banking — has become a vastly more important part of our economy, increasing its share of G.D.P. by a factor of six. And soaring incomes in the financial industry have played a large role in sharply rising income inequality.

现在,你可能想辩驳这些破坏性投机活动只是小问题——30年前你可能是对的。但是,自此而后,作为非寻常的银行业务的巨额融资——有价证券和商品交易——已经变成了我们的经济中极重要的一部分,增加到(以往)占G.D.P.的份额的六倍了。金融业中丰厚的收入在急剧上升的收入不平等中起了巨大作用。

What should be done? Last week the House passed a bill setting rules for pay packages at a wide range of financial institutions. That would be a step in the right direction. But it really should be accompanied by much broader regulation of financial practices — and, I would argue, by higher tax rates on supersized incomes.

那应该做什么呢?上星期众议院通过了一个议案,对大范围内的金融机构的薪酬设立规定。那也许是正确的一步。但它真的应该同时伴随着对金融业务更广泛的管制——还有,我坚决主张对超高收入征收更高的税率。

Unfortunately, the House measure is opposed by the Obama administration, which still seems to operate on the principle that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.

可惜,奥巴马的内阁反对众议院的措施,看起来他们仍然以对华尔街好就是对美国好的法则来行事。

Neither the administration, nor our political system in general, is ready to face up to the fact that we’ve become a society in which the big bucks go to bad actors, a society that lavishly rewards those who make us poorer.

无论是政府,还是我们的整个政治制度都没有准备好去面对这个事实,我们的社会已经变成了一个大笔资金流向不良的参与者和重金奖赏那些使我们更加贫穷的人的社会。


[1] 所指的是纽约时报的文章“Stock Traders Find Speed Pays, in Milliseconds”所报导的内容。该文章的导言翻译如下:It is the hot new thing on Wall Street, a way for a handful of traders to master the stock market, peek at investors’ orders and, critics say, even subtly manipulate share prices. 这是华尔街的热点,少数交易员偷窥投资者的订单来控制股市,有评论指,甚至操控股价。

[2] 所指的是纽约时报的文章“$100 Million Payday Poses Problem for Pay Czar”所报导的内容。该文章的导言翻译如下:In a few weeks, the Treasury Department’s czar of executive pay will have to answer this $100 million question: Should Andrew J. Hall get his bonus? 几个星期之后, 财政部的高层将会回答这个价值一亿美元的问题:安德鲁·霍尔应该得到他的奖金吗?

 

 

 

 

翻译点评:

遵命详评, 过苛之处望谅.

1) Americans are angry at Wall Street, and rightly so. 原译:美国人生华尔街的气,确实如此。

评论: rightly so 是(生气)生的有理, 生的对头。

2)Even before the crisis and the bailouts, many financial-industry high-fliers made fortunes through activities that were worthless if not destructive from a social point of view. 原译:即使在危机和紧急财政援助之前,很多金融业有野心的人仍从一些以社会观点来看要么毫无价值,要么具有破坏性的活动中获利。

评论:activities that were worthless if not destructive from a social point of view. 以社会观点来看,如果还谈不上是具有破坏性, 那么(至少是)毫无价值的活动。

3)Profits from high-frequency trading are one reason Goldman is earning record profits and likely to pay record bonuses. 原译:由高频率交易带来的利润是高盛获得创纪录利润收入和可能发放创纪录奖金的其中一个原因。

重译:由高频率交易带来的利润是高盛获得创纪录利润收入和可能发放创纪录奖金的一个原因。(其中---删去)

4)On a seemingly different front, Sunday’s Times reported on the case of Andrew J. Hall 原译:在看似无关的另一面,星期日的泰晤士报报道了安德鲁•霍尔的案件

评论:On a seemingly different front, 在另一个似乎完全不同的领域上, (不是无关, 而是不同, 不同还是可能有关)

Case 未必已经升到法律层面的“案件”, 说“案例” 会不会更好些?

5)But suppose we grant that both Goldman and Mr. Hall are very good at what they do, and might have earned huge profits even without all that aid. Even so, what they do is bad for America. 原译:但是假如我们承认高盛和霍尔先生非常擅长他们所做的事的话,那么即使没有任何援助他们也能赚取巨大利润。虽然如此,他们所做的对美国也不利。

评论: “那么即使没有任何援助他们也能赚取巨大利润”不能用“那么”, 因为“即使没有任何援助他们也能赚取巨大利润”也仍然是条件, 而不是结果。

重译:但是假如我们承认高盛和霍尔先生非常擅长他们所做的事,(假如我们也承认)即使没有任何援助他们也能赚取巨大利润。尽管如此, 他们所做的对美国也不利。

6)Just to be clear: financial speculation can serve a useful purpose. It’s good, for example, that futures markets provide an incentive to stockpile heating oil before the weather gets cold and stockpile gasoline ahead of the summer driving season.原译: 要清楚:金融投机买卖可以为一个有益的目的服务。那是好的,举例来说,期货市场能为天气变冷前的民用燃料油库存和夏天驾驶季节前的汽油库存提供激励。

评论:“要清楚”---谁要清楚? 是要让读者清楚, 还是作者自己要清楚? 这里当然是作者自己要清楚, 以免读者误会。 Just to be clear是“为把话讲的更明白计”

重译:为了把话讲明白,免生误会:金融投机买卖可以为一个有益的目的服务。举例来说,期货市场能为天气变冷前的民用燃料油库存和夏天驾驶季节前的汽油库存提供激励, 这都是好的一面。

7)But speculation based on information not available to the public at large is a very different matter. As the U.C.L.A. economist Jack Hirshleifer showed back in 1971, such speculation often combines “private profitability” with “social uselessness.” 原译:但基于信息而非一般公众可得到的投机买卖则大不相同。就如加州大学洛杉矶分校的经济学家Jack Hirshleifer 表明早在1971年,这种投机活动经常结合了私人收益和社会无用性。

评论: not available to the public at large 是修饰information. 另外, back in 1971 是修饰showed, 不是投机活动。

重译:但是靠着一般公众无缘获得的信息来做投机买卖则大不相同。就如加州大学洛杉矶分校的经济学家Jack Hirshleifer早在1971年就表明得那样,这种投机活动的结果, 经常是私人大收益加上社会无用性。

8)But it’s hard to see how traders who place their orders one-thirtieth of a second faster than anyone else do anything to improve that social function.原译:但很难理解商人们比其他人快十三分之一秒去下订单对提高那些社会功能有何帮助。

评论: one-thirtieth 是三十分之一秒。 一开头说过零点几秒, 恐怕还太多一点。

9)What about Mr. Hall? The Times report suggests that he makes money mainly by outsmarting other investors, rather than by directing resources to where they’re needed. Again, it’s hard to see the social value of what he does.原译:霍尔先生怎么样呢?泰晤士报的报道暗示他赚钱主要是靠比其他投资者更有聪明才智,而不是把资源用于那些他们需要的地方。此外,很难看见他所做的事情有何社会价值。

评论: again 不是此外, 而是“再一次”。

重译:霍尔先生怎么样呢?泰晤士报的报道暗示,他能赚钱与其说是靠把资源引到那些急需之处, 不如更主要地说, 是靠在才智上胜过其他投资者。他所做的事情很难看出有何社会价值, 这又是一个例子。

10)Since then, however, high finance — securities and commodity trading, as opposed to run-of-the-mill banking — has become a vastly more important part of our economy, increasing its share of G.D.P. by a factor of six. 原译:但是,自此而后,作为非寻常的银行业务的巨额融资——有价证券和商品交易——已经变成了我们的经济中极重要的一部分,增加到占G.D.P.的百分之六了。

评论: by a factor of six 是增加到6倍。

11)What should be done? Last week the House passed a bill setting rules for pay packages at a wide range of financial institutions. 原译:那应该做什么呢?上星期白宫通过了一个议案,对大范围内的金融机构的薪酬设立规定。

评论: House = House of the Representatives, not, White House. 白宫不立法, 只是行政。

12)Neither the *****istration, nor our political system in general, is ready to face up to the fact that we’ve become a society in which the big bucks go to bad actors, a society that lavishly rewards those who make us poorer. 原译: 无论是政府,还是大体上我们的政治系统都没有准备好去面对这个事实,我们的社会已经变成了一个大笔资金流向坏蛋和重金奖赏那些使我们更加贫穷的人的社会。

评论: our political system in general 是我们的整个政治制度,

Bad actors 是坏演员, 不良的参与者。

点评者:Eugene Chen

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