Economics in One Lesson校译之24. The Assault on Saving (4-3,4)

第24章 抨击储蓄

(接前面部分)

3

The enemies of saving are not through. They begin by drawing a distinction, which is proper enough, between “savings” and “investment.” But then they start to talk as if the two were independent variables and as if it were merely an accident that they should ever equal each other. These writers paint a portentous picture. On the one side are savers automatically, pointlessly, stupidly continuing to save; on the other side are limited “investment opportunities” that cannot absorb this saving. The result, alas, is stagnation. The only solution, they declare, is for the government to expropriate these stupid and harmful savings and to invent its own projects, even if these are only useless ditches or pyramids, to use up the money and provide employment.

抨击储蓄的对手们并没有就此认输。他们起初对“储蓄”和“投资”加以区别,这确实是很恰当的。但是,在作出这种区别之后,他们又把储蓄和投资看作成了两个完全独立的变量,好象这两个变量能够彼此相等纯属偶然。这些经济作者勾勒出一幅奇特的画面。一方面,储蓄者会自动、无缘无故、愚蠢地闷头存钱;另一方面,可以吸收这些储蓄的“投资机会”却非常有限。至于结果,唉——,自然是经济迟滞不前。他们宣称,惟一的解决方法,是由政府出面征用这些愚蠢和有害的储蓄,投资到公共工程上,哪怕拿去搞些毫无用处的沟渠或者金字塔,总之要将钱花掉以扩大就业。

There is so much that is false in this picture and “solution” that we can here point only to some of the main fallacies. Savings can exceed investment only by the amounts that are actually hoarded in cash. Few people nowadays, in a modern industrial community, hoard coins and bills in stockings or under mattresses. To the small extent that this may occur, it has already been reflected in the production plans of business and in the price level. It is not ordinarily even cumulative: dishoarding, as eccentric recluses die and their hoards are discovered and dissipated, probably offsets new hoarding. In fact, the whole amount involved is probably insignificant in its effect on business activity.

以上观点及其“解决方案”包含太多的错误,这里我们只能选其主要错误加以指正。储蓄大于投资的部分,只相当于被真正蓄藏的现金。{footnotes:经济学家就这个问题的分歧,只是定义不同所致。你也可以对储蓄和投资给出相同的定义,那么二者肯定相等。在这里,我选择从货币的角度定义储蓄、从商品的角度定义投资。这个定义与人们对其字面意义的大体相同,但并不完全一致。}但在当今现代化的工业社会中,极少人会把硬币和钞票藏在袜子里面或床垫底下。就算这种可能性极小事情真的发生,它也已经反映在企业的生产计划和价格水平上。它甚至不具备通常的累积效果——行为古怪的隐居者生前蓄藏的现金被人找到,拿出来花光用光,可能就跟新出现的蓄藏现金额度相当。事实上,这方面的总金额都可能对经营活动的影响微不足道。

If money is kept either in savings banks or commercial banks, as we have already seen, the banks are eager to lend and invest it. They cannot afford to have idle funds. The only thing that will cause people generally to try to increase their holdings of cash, or that will cause banks to hold funds idle and lose the interest on them, is, as we have seen, either fear that prices of goods are going to fall or the fear of banks that they will be taking too great a risk with their principal. But this means that signs of a depression have already appeared, and have caused the hoarding, rather than that the hoarding has started the depression.

倘若象我们所看到的那样,人们把钱存入储蓄银行或商业银行,银行会急着把钱借出去或者拿去投资。银行付不起让资金闲置的代价。惟有当人们担心产品的价格下跌、当银行担心投资风险太大时,人们才会增加持有现金,银行让资金闲置。但这种迹象表明经济衰退已经显现,才造成贮存现金的行为,而不是贮存现金的行为引发经济衰退。

Apart from this negligible hoarding of cash, then (and even this exception might be thought of as a direct “investment” in money itself) savings and investment are brought into equilibrium with each other in the same way that the supply of and demand for any commodity are brought into equilibrium. For we may define savings and investment as constituting respectively the supply of and demand for new capital. And just as the supply of and demand for any other commodity are equalized by price, so the supply of and demand for capital are equalized by interest rates. The interest rate is merely the special name for the price of loaned capital. It is a price like any other.

撇开这种可以忽略的现金贮存不考虑(即使是这种例外情形,也可以视为直接“投资”于货币本身),储蓄和投资会趋于彼此均衡,就像任何商品的供给和需求会趋于均衡那样。我们可以认为储蓄和投资分别构成了新资本的供给和需求。其他任何商品的供给和需求,在价格的作用下会达成均衡,资本的供应和需求也一样,在利率的作用下会达成均衡。利率只是资本借贷价格的特殊名称,它与其他价格没有两样。

This whole subject has been so appallingly confused in recent years by complicated sophistries and disastrous governmental policies based upon them that one almost despairs of getting back to common sense and sanity about it. There is a psychopathic fear of “excessive” interest rates. It is argued that if interest rates are too high it will not be profitable for industry to borrow and invest in new plants and machines. This argument has been so effective that governments everywhere in recent decades have pursued artificial “cheap-money” policies. But the argument, in its concern with increasing the demand for capital, overlooks the effect of these policies on the supply of capital. It is one more example of the fallacy of looking at the effects of a policy only on one group and forgetting the effects on another.

这整个主题,在近年来被复杂的诡辩、被糟烂的政府政策如此过分愚蠢地混淆在一起,让人对人们是不是能够重拾常识和理性感到失望。人们病态地害怕利率“过高”。人们认为如果利率太高,产业界借钱来投资新厂房和机器,会赚不到钱。这种观点极具影响力,近几十年来各国政府都以人为的力量,实施“廉价资金”政策。但是相关的论调只注意了提高资本需求,却忽视这些政策对资本供给的影响。事实上,这不过是顾及了政策对于某一集团的影响而忽略了其他后果这种错误的又一个例子而已。

If interest rates are artificially kept too low in relation to risks, there will be a reduction in both saving and lending. The cheap-money proponents believe that saving goes on automatically, regardless of the interest rate, because the sated rich have nothing else that they can do with their money. They do not stop to tell us at precisely what personal income level a man saves a fixed minimum amount regardless of the rate of interest or the risk at which he can lend it.

如果相对于风险,利率被刻意压得太低,储蓄和借贷都会减少。廉价资金政策的支持者相信,不管利率是高是低,储蓄都会自动进行,因为,富人家的余钱也只有存银行。但他们并没有说清楚,一个人在什么样的收入水平下才有可能固定地存储一笔小量资金,而不考虑当时的利息率水平或者贷款的风险如何。

The fact is that, though the volume of saving of the very rich is doubtless affected much less proportionately than that of the moderately well-off by changes in the interest rate, practically everyone’s saving is affected in some degree. To argue, on the basis of an extreme example, that the volume of real savings would not be reduced by a substantial reduction in the interest rate, is like arguing that the total production of sugar would not be reduced by a substantial fall of its price because the efficient, low-cost producers would still raise as much as before. The argument overlooks the marginal saver, and even, indeed, the great majority of savers.

尽管富豪的储蓄额受利率的影响要比一般富裕的人小得多,但事实上每个人的储蓄额都会受到某种程度的影响。试图证明在一种极端的情况下实质储蓄额不会因为利率大幅下降而减少,这就好比是在说,糖的总产量,不会因为价格大幅下跌而减少,理由是高效率、低成本的生产者会继续生产。这种观点忽略了边际储蓄者,甚至忽略了绝大部分的储蓄者。

The effect of keeping interest rates artificially low, in fact, is eventually the same as that of keeping any other price below the natural market. It increases demand and reduces supply. It increases the demand for capital and reduces the supply of real capital. It creates economic distortions. It is true, no doubt, that an artificial reduction in the interest rate encourages increased borrowing. It tends, in fact, to encourage highly speculative ventures that cannot continue except under the artificial conditions that gave them birth. On the supply side, the artificial reduction of interest rates discourages normal thrift, saving, and investment. It reduces the accumulation of capital. It slows down that increase in productivity, that “economic growth,” that “progressives” profess to be so eager to promote.

将利率人为压低所造成的影响,其实与把商品价格压低到自然市场水平以下所产生的影响相同:需求会增加,供应会减少。压低利率会导致资本的需求增加,而实质资本的供给减少。它会造成经济扭曲。毫无疑问,人为压低利率,就鼓励借贷。而实际上,这倾向于鼓励了高投机风险的经济活动,这种经济活动除非在类似人为造就的低利率条件下是无法存在的。从供给面来说,人为压低利率,会抑制正常的节约、储蓄和投资行为。它会减低资本的累积、放慢了劳动生产率的增速,与阻碍实现那种如此急切想要催生的“经济的增长”与“改良”的许诺。

The money rate can, indeed, be kept artificially low only by continuous new injections of currency or bank credit in place of real savings. This can create the illusion of more capital just as the addition of water can create the illusion of more milk. But it is a policy of continuous inflation. It is obviously a process involving cumulative danger. The money rate will rise and a crisis will develop if the inflation is reversed, or merely brought to a halt, or even continued at a diminished rate.

的确可以人为压低资金利率,但只有靠持续不断注入新资金、不断扩张银行信贷,以替代实质储蓄。这么做会制造资本供给增加的假象,就象多掺点水,会让人觉得牛奶更多了一样。但这是一种持续的通货膨胀政策。显然这是一个累积危险的过程。倘若通货膨胀得到了逆转,或者仅仅是被控制住,甚至只是膨胀速度放慢的话,资金利率就会上涨,并爆发经济危机。

It remains to be pointed out that while new injections of currency or bank credit can at first, and temporarily, bring about lower interest rates, persistence in this device must eventually raise interest rates. It does so because new injections of money tend to lower the purchasing power of money. Lenders then come to realize that the money they lend today will buy less a year from now, say, when they get it back. Therefore to the normal interest rate they add a premium to compensate them for this expected loss in their money s purchasing power. This premium can be high, depending on the extent of the expected inflation. Thus the annual interest rate on British treasury bills rose to 14 percent in 1976; Italian government bonds yielded 16 percent in ‘977; and the discount rate of the central bank of Chile soared to 75 percent in 1974. Cheap-money policies, in short, eventually bring about far more violent oscillations in business than those they are designed to remedy or prevent.

还有一点要指出,新注入的货币或银行信贷,虽然能在开始带来短期的利率降低,但持续注水最终将使利率上升。之所以如此,是因为注水会让货币贬值,导致货币的购买力下降。放贷者开始意识到,今天借出去的钱,等到一年后还回来时,能买到的东西会减少。为了弥补这种预期货币购买力的损失,他们会在正常贷款利率上再加上一笔溢价。这个溢价可以很高,它取决于预期的通货膨胀率的高低。由于这个原因,1976年英国国库券的年利率上升到14%;1977年意大利政府公债的盈利率高达16%;1974年智利中央银行的重点贴现率激升到75%。总之,廉价资金政策最终必将造成巨大的经济动荡,这比起它们原本希望纠正或者避免的问题要来得剧烈得多。

If no effort is made to tamper with money rates through inflationary governmental policies, increased savings create their own demand by lowering interest rates in a natural manner. The greater supply of savings seeking investment forces savers to accept lower rates. But lower rates also mean that more enterprises can afford to borrow because their prospective profit on the new machines or plants they buy with the proceeds seems likely to exceed what they have to pay for the borrowed funds.

假如我们并不准备采取通货膨胀性的政府政策去干扰资金利率,那么,当储蓄额增长时,利息率会自然降低,从而以一种自然的方式为增加了的储蓄创造需求。也就是说,更多的储蓄供给要寻求投资机会,就会迫使储蓄者接受较低的利率。同时,较低的利率水平意味着更多的企业贷得起款。因为,贷款购置新机器或厂房带来的的预期利润,更有可能超过必须支付的贷款利息。

4

We come now to the last fallacy about saving with which I intend to deal. This is the frequent assumption that there is a fixed limit to the amount of new capital that can be absorbed, or even that the limit of capital expansion has already been reached. It is incredible that such a view could prevail even among the ignorant, let alone that it could be held by any trained economist. Almost the whole wealth of the modern world, nearly everything that distinguishes it from the preindustrial world of the seventeenth century, consists of its accumulated capital.

现在来看一下我准备讨论的有关储蓄的最后一种谬论。经常有人认为,在吸收新的资本上,存在着一个确切的数量极限。他们甚至假设说,我们已经达到了这个资本扩张的极限。这样的观点能够在那些无知的人们中流行开来已经够让人吃惊了,而训练有素的经济学家居然也能接受它,简直令人匪夷所思。现代社会几乎全部的财富、几乎每一件区别于是17世纪前工业化时代的东西,都是由累积的资本构成的。

This capital is made up in part of many things that might better be called consumers’ durable goods—automobiles, refrigerators, furniture, schools, colleges, churches, libraries, hospitals and above all private homes. Never in the history of the world has there been enough of these. Even if there were enough homes from a purely numerical point of view, qualitative improvements are possible and desirable without definite limit in all but the very best houses.

这种资本一部分是由许多称之为耐用消费品的东西组成,例如汽车、冰箱、家具、学校、学院、教堂、图书馆、医院,以及比它们都更重要的私人住宅。在世界历史上,人类从来没有对这些东西感到满足过。就算住宅的数量够多,但除了那些最好的房屋外,对于居住品质上的改善总是可能的,也是需要的。这种要求从来没有什么限度。

The second part of capital is what we may call capital proper. It consists of the tools of production, including everything from the crudest axe, knife or plow to the finest machine tool, the greatest electric generator or cyclotron, or the most wonderfully equipped factory. Here, too, quantitatively and especially qualitatively, there is no limit to the expansion that is possible and desirable. There will not be a “surplus” of capital until the most backward country is as well equipped technologically as the most advanced, until the most inefficient factory in America is brought abreast of the factory with the latest and finest equipment, and until the most modern tools of production have reached a point where human ingenuity is at a dead end, and can improve them no further. As long as any of these conditions remains unfulfilled, there will be indefinite room for more capital.

资本的第二部分就是我们所谓严格意义上的资本。它由生产工具组成,包括从最原始的斧头、刀,或者耕犁,到最精密的机床、最大的发电机或粒子回旋加速器,或者设备最先进的工厂。在这方面,可以扩增和想要扩增的数量,尤其是品质,也同样没有上限。在可预见的未来不会有“过剩”的资本,除非最落后国家的技术装备赶上最先进国家;除非美国效率最差的工厂赶上设备最新、最好的工厂;除非最现代化的生产工具,已经达到人类智力的极限,再也无法改进。只要以上任何一种条件尚不具备,经济中就必然有更多资本的用武之地。

But how can the additional capital be “absorbed”? How can it be “paid for”? If it is set aside and saved, it will absorb itself and pay for itself. For producers invest in new capital goods—that is, they buy new and better and more ingenious tools — because these tools reduce costs of production. They either bring into existence goods that completely unaided hand labor could not bring into existence at all (and this now includes most of the goods around us—books, typewriters, automobiles, locomotives, suspension bridges); or they increase enormously the quantities in which these can be produced; or (and this is merely saying these things in a different way) they reduce unit costs of production. And as there is no assignable limit to the extent to which unit costs of production can be reduced—until everything can be produced at no cost at all—there is no assignable limit to the amount of new capital that can be absorbed.

然而,如何才能“吸纳”新增资本呢?如何实现其“偿付”呢?如果能将资本储蓄起来,它会自行吸纳和自行偿付。生产者会投资于新的资本财货(也就是购买更好、更精巧的新工具),因为这些工具能够降低生产成本;这些工具做得出纯靠手工根本做不出来的产品(包括我们身边的大部分用品,例如书籍、打字机、汽车、火车机车、吊桥);或者,这些工具能够大幅提高产量;或者(换种方式来说),这些工具能够降低单位生产成本。而且,就像单位生产成本可以降低到什么程度并没有极限(除非每样东西都是零成本生产),可以吸纳的新资本数量,也没有极限。

The steady reduction of unit costs of production by the addition of new capital does either one of two things, or both. It reduces the costs of goods to consumers, and it increases the wages of the labor that uses the new equipment because it increases the productive power of that labor. Thus a new machine benefits both the people who work on it directly and the great body of consumers. In the case of consumers we may say either that it supplies them with more and better goods for the same money, or, what is the same thing, that it increases their real incomes. In the case of the workers who use the new machines it increases their real wages in a double way by increasing their money wages as well. A typical illustration is the automobile business. The American automobile industry pays the highest wages in the world, and among the very highest even in America. Yet (until about 1960) American motorcar makers could undersell the rest of the world, because their unit cost was lower. And the secret was that the capital used in making American automobiles was greater per worker and per car than anywhere else in the world.

由于新增资本使得单位生产成本稳定下降,它可以在两个方面单独或者一起发挥作用:即减低消费者购买商品的成本,或者提高使用新设备获得增产能力的劳工领得的工资。因此,新机器对直接使用它们的人,以及广大的消费者,都有好处。对消费者来说,同样的钱,能买到更多、更好的产品。或者说这些东西提高了他们的实质收入。对使用新机器的劳工来说,除了货币工资增加,实质工资也增加了。汽车业是个典型的例子。美国的汽车工业的工资是全世界同行中最高的,甚至在美国的各行各业中也排在工薪族之最。然而(直到1960年),美国的汽车制造商仍能以比世界其他各国更低的价格出售其产品,因为其单位成本更低。其秘诀在于美国生产汽车时,每位劳工和每辆汽车所使用的资本量比其他国家都多得多。

And yet there are people who think we have reached the end of this process, and still others who think that even if we haven’t, the world is foolish to go on saving and adding to its stock of capital.

不过,仍有一些人认为我们已经走到了这一资本累进进程的尽头,{footnotes:对这个谬论统计意义上的反驳,参看特伯格《经济成熟的歪理》。加尔布雷思学派(Galbraithians)用近似的理论继续驳斥“长期停滞论者”。}也还有另外一些人认为,即使我们目前还没有走到头,但这样继续储蓄和不断增加资本积累无论如何也是愚蠢的。

It should not be difficult to decide, after our analysis, with whom the real folly lies.

在作了这些分析之后,应该不难辨别那种做法才是愚蠢的

(It is true that the U. S. has been losing its world economic leadership in recent years, but because of our own anticapitalist governmental policies, not because of “economic maturity.”)

(确实,近些年来美国已经失去了全球经济的领导地位,但原因出在美国政府本身的反资本主义政策,而不是因为所谓的“经济成熟”。)

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