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双语:GDP真的不值得关注吗?

2015-06-09    来源:财富网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

双语:GDP真的不值得关注吗?

一本新书把全球经济的问题归咎于GDP统计数据,似乎与GDP相关的一切都是那么功利与不堪。对于经济增长的测算真的不再重要了吗?让我们来看看现实吧。

If you divided up all the wealth and income in the world evenly and, somehow in the process, the global economy remained as efficient as it is today, each person would earn about $10,000 per year and have $34,500 in wealth. In other words, everyone in the world would be in poverty, at least by the U.S. government’s definition of the term.
如果把全世界的财富和收入平均分配,同时全球经济维持如今的效率不变,那么每个人每年的收入将为约1万美元,个人财富为3.45万美元。如果按美国政府对“贫困”的定义,世界上的每个人都将生活在贫困线以下。

This is the sort of basic math you would hope someone would do if he were imagining a global economic revolution. It’s the sort of basic math Dirk Philipsen, economic historian author of the new volume, “The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It,” doesn’t do. And the book–and its readers–suffer greatly for this omission.
这是个很简单的数学问题,任何一个人在勾勒全球经济革命时,或许都应该算算这笔帐。可惜,经济史学家德克•菲利普森在新作《重大的小数据:GDP是怎样统治世界以及我们该如何应对》中,并没有算过这道题。对整部作品及其读者来说,这一疏忽的后果很严重。

Though Philipsen admits that “no system in history” can compete with capitalism in terms of “the amount of wealth and freedom created,” he argues it’s time to leave capitalism behind, or at least transform it so radically so as to leave it unrecognizable.
菲利普森承认,从“创造的财富与自由”这个角度衡量,“历史上没有哪种(经济)系统”能和资本主义体系媲美。但他主张,现在应该开始放弃资本主义,或者大刀阔斧地改造它,让它彻底改头换面。

Philipsen’s argument against our current economic system is a familiar one. He argues that the global economy’s obsession with growth has left people in the rich world overworked and overstressed, focused on material acquisition and career advancement that doesn’t actually make us happy. The poor, meanwhile, spend each day fighting for basic survival, despite the fact that the world “has more than enough material goods to go around.” This claim goes unsubstantiated.
菲利普森反对当前经济体制的观点似曾相识。他认为,全球经济一心追求增长,富裕经济体的民众工作过重、压力过大,一味看重物质获取和职场晋升这些并不会真的让人幸福的事。而在贫困经济体,即便世界上“可供分配的物资已经绰绰有余”,那里的人们每天还在为满足基本生存所需而奋斗。这一论断并未引入实据。

Perhaps most worryingly of all, the author argues, constant economic growth simply isn’t environmentally sustainable. Before long, all this growth is going to lead to so much resource depletion that it will leave future generations much poorer than we are today.
菲利普森在书中指出,也许最让人担心的是,虽然经济不断增长,却无法实现环境可持续性发展。要不了多久,当今模式下的经济增长将导致巨大的资源匮乏,人类的子孙后代会比今天变得更穷。

The above points, while not original, are important for all of us to take seriously. Any capitalist who hopes to see his economic system continue into the future must grapple with the system’s many flaws and help to fix them, even if he doesn’t agree with Philipsen’s diagnoses of the magnitude of capitalism’s defects. The irredeemable flaw of Philipsen’s book is that he conflates his criticism of the capitalist system with one statistic–GDP– that we use to understand the system. He writes:
以上观点尽管并非菲利普森独创,但值得我们所有人重视。即便不认同菲利普森对资本主义诸多缺陷严重性开出的诊断,资本主义者如果希望其经济体系有光明的未来,都必须努力应对系统的许多不足并着手解决问题。但是菲利普森的书也有个无可救药的缺点:在批评资本主义体系时,他将其与一个我们用来理解资本主义系统的统计数据——GDP联系在一起。他在书中这样写道:

Our most important performance measure [GDP] says nothing about whether quality of life is improving, or even if our activities are viable. It only tells us about how much stuff was produced, and how much money has exchanged hands. As a result, cultures around the world promote, quite literally, blind and mindless growth–and increasingly dangerous growth. And they do so largely of what they subjectively want.
“我们现如今最重要的经济表现指标(GDP)完全无法显示生活质量是否得到改善,经济活动是否切实可行。GDP数据只能告诉我们生产了多少东西,有多少资金交易。因此,世界各国在大力推进的实质上都是欠缺考虑的盲目增长,是越来越危险的增长。而且各国如此选择多是出于主观愿望。”

This analysis gets it exactly backwards. Modern economies growth because it happens to be the thing we (mostly) all agree on, not because economists like Simon Kuznets helped invent a way to measure it 70 years ago. That’s because when growth goes well, it is an unalloyed good. We’ve all heard the aphorism, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” While this saying sounds true in its hard-headed realism, it’s actually often not. In fact, productivity growth has created more free lunches than can be counted.It is like a simple machine in physics, a force that enables us to create more with the same amount of effort.
这种分析正好本末倒置。现代经济增长是因为人们碰巧对此一致认同,而不是因为70年前西蒙•库兹涅茨等经济学家创立了一个量化经济增长的方式。而多数人认同的原因在于,经济增长良好绝对是好消息。我们都听说过一句俗语:天下没有免费的午餐。从现实主义角度出发,这话听上去没错,但也不总是如此。事实上,生产率增长创造了数不胜数的免费午餐。用物理学的概念解释,增长就像一部机器,可以用同样的努力获得更多的成果。

Capitalism, of course, can sometimes be a pernicious force. Economic growth can sometimes come at the cost of environmental degridation or human exploitation rather than innovation. But the solution to these problems is not to stop measuring economic growth, but to create economic incentives, like carbon taxes or laws against child labor, that can address these problems.
当然,资本主义有时也会成为有害的力量。经济增长有时并非创新就能产生,还需要以环境恶化或者榨取劳动者价值为代价。可是,解决这些问题不能依靠停止测算经济增长,而应该推出对症下药的经济激励措施,比如征收碳排放税,或者制定法律禁用童工。

Philipsen compares his effort to wean us off GDP with the revolution in baseball statistics called the “sabermetrics” movement, most famously documented in Michael Lewis’Moneyball. The movement argued that traditional statistics like batting averages and runs batted in didn’t accurately measure the value of a hitter, and that other statistics like on-base percentage and slugging percentage were better gauges. The difference between baseball and the global economy is, however, that in baseball there is a clearly defined goal: score more runs than the other team. A player with a high on-base percentage will, on average, help your team score more runs than a player with a high batting average.
菲力普森致力于戒掉世人的GDP“瘾”。他将其比作棒球数据统计的革命——“棒球记录统计分析”运动,其中最著名的记录出现在美国财经记者迈克尔•刘易斯的畅销商业图书《魔球》中。“棒球记录统计分析”运动的观点认为,击球率、打点这类传统的统计数据不能准确衡量击球员的价值,上垒率和长打率等数据是更好的衡量指标。不过,棒球和全球经济的差别是,棒球有清晰设定的目标:即跑垒得分超过其他队。一般来说,如果某位棒球球员的上垒率高,其帮助本队赢得的跑垒分数会超过击球率高的球员。

But there is no equivalent to “score more runs than the other team” in the global economy. Philipsen writes that, “the basic assumption of this book [is that] the sole object of our efforts should be to sustain and expand human well-being, not simply to promote income or growth.”
与棒球比赛不同,全球经济并没有类似“比其他队跑垒得分高”的衡量标准。菲力普森写道:“本书的基本假设是,人类努力奋斗的唯一目标应该是维持并提升福祉,而不是推动收入或者经济增长。”

But what is well-being? Phillipsen knows what he thinks is well-being. He values things like the equitable distribution of resources, the environment, and direct democracy. But there are other reasonable things to value, like material wealth, self actualization through hard work, and the pride of ownership. Philipsen, who at one point in his book suggests that our descendents will view land ownership the same way we view chattel slavery today, obviously doesn’t think so.
那什么又是人类福祉?菲力普森很清楚自己理解的福祉。他重视公平分配资源、保护环境和直接民主等问题。然而,还有些问题理应得到重视,比如获得物质财富、通过努力工作实现自我价值,或者因为所有权而感到自豪。菲力普森显然不这么认为。他在书中一度暗示,后世子孙对土地所有权的看法会像今天我们看待奴隶制一样。

The governments that track GDP can’t afford to ignore the large portion of the human population who disagree with Philipsen. And people, left or right, like getting richer. More importantly, they want their government to respond when the economy contracts and jobs disappear.
大部分人都不同意菲力普森的观点,监测GDP数据的政府无法对此视而不见。无论左派还是右派,人人都喜欢变得更富有。更重要的是,他们希望,当经济增长收缩,就业岗位减少时,政府能做出响应。

Furthermore, Philipsen himself admits that the economics profession has no lack of alternative indicators for human progress, like the Genuine Progress Indicator, which capture things that GDP misses, including environmental degradation and economic inequality. Nor is there a lack of public attention to these issues. Despite Philipsen’s protestations to the contrary, the Democratic Party here in the U.S.–which has won the majority of votes in five of the six past presidential elections–has made issues like economic inequality and early childhood education major planks in its platform.
此外,菲力普森也承认,经济学领域不乏衡量人类进步的替代指标,比如实际进步指标可以追踪GDP统计中遗漏的领域,包括环境退化和经济不平等。而这些问题也不缺少公众关注。和菲力普森反对的做法截然不同,过去六届美国总统大选期间五次赢得多数票的民主党已将经济不平等、儿童早教等问题当成宣传平台的关注重点。

Capitalism and economic growth are more than a century older than GDP. We invented the statistic, and closely track it, because economic growth is important to most people on the planet. We are not what we measure, but measure what we are.
资本主义和经济增长的概念比GDP早问世100多年。人类发明了GDP这种统计数据并且密切监测,是因为经济增长对大多数人都很重要。衡量方法只是手段,而不是我们的目的。(财富中文网)

omission n. 疏忽,遗漏;省略;冗长

unrecognizable adj. 未被承认的;无法认出的

obsession n. 痴迷;困扰;[内科][心理] 强迫观念

magnitude n. 大小;量级;[地震] 震级

irredeemable adj. 不能赎回的;[金融] 不能兑现的;不可救药的

aphorism n. 格言;警句

degridation n.恶化; 堕落; 潦倒; 毁坏

exploitation n. 开发,开采;利用;广告推销

equitable adj. 公平的,公正的;平衡法的



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