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2014-06-24    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Finance and Economics; 财经;

Free exchange; 自由交流;

The real wealth of nations; 国富实论;

A new report comes up with a better way to size up wealth

“Wealth is not without its advantages,” John Kenneth Galbraith once wrote, “and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive.” Despite the obvious advantages of wealth, nations do a poor job of keeping count of their own. They may boast about their abundant natural resources, their skilled workforce and their world-class infrastructure. But there is no widely recognised, monetary measure that sums up this stock of natural, human and physical assets.

Economists usually settle instead for GDP. But that is a measure of income, not wealth. It values a flow of goods and services, not a stock of assets. Gauging an economy by its GDP is like judging a company by its quarterly profits, without ever peeking at its balance-sheet. Happily, the United Nations this month published balance-sheets for 20 nations in a report overseen by Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University. They included three kinds of asset: “manufactured”, or physical, capital (machinery, buildings, infrastructure and so on); human capital (the population's education and skills); and natural capital (including land, forests, fossil fuels and minerals).
经济学家总是用国内生产总值(GDP)来解决问题。但是国内生产总值(GDP) 是衡量一个国家收入的指标,并非资本。它体现了商品和服务的流量,而不是资本的存量(经济学白痴,越来越觉得译友说地有道理!)。使用国内生产总值(GDP)衡量一个经济体, 恰如,从不往资产负债表(财务会计上就叫这个)上扫一眼,却以季度盈利来判断一家企业的走向一样。值得庆幸的是,本月联合国在剑桥大学帕萨·达斯古普塔爵士的监督下,发表了20个国 家的资本决算报告,包含“制造”或物质资本(机器,建筑,基础设施等),人力资本(国民的受教育情况和劳动技能),自然资本(土地,森林,化石燃料和矿 产)。

By this gauge, America's wealth amounted to almost $118 trillion in 2008, over ten times its GDP that year. (These amounts are calculated at the prices prevailing in 2000.) Its wealth per person was, however, lower than Japan's, which tops the league on this measure. Judged by GDP, Japan's economy is now smaller than China's. But according to the UN, Japan was almost 2.8 times wealthier than China in 2008 (see charts).

Officials often say that their country's biggest asset is their people. For all of the countries in the report except Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia, this turns out to be true. The UN calculates a population's human capital based on its average years of schooling, the wage its workers can command and the number of years they can expect to work before they retire (or die). Human capital represents 88% of Britain's wealth and 75% of America's. The average Japanese has more human capital than anyone else.
官员们经常说人民是国家最大的财富。除尼日利亚,俄罗斯和沙特阿拉伯外,该报告中的其他国家均证明了此言非虚。根据 一国国民平均受教育年限,工人应得工资和该国国民退休(或去世)前的工作年数,联合国计算出了该国的人力资本。人力资本占英国财富的88%,美国的 75%。而日本人均蕴藏的人力资本比任何其他国家都要高。

Japan is also one of only three countries in the report that did not deplete their natural capital between 1990 and 2008. All of the countries except Russia nonetheless increased their wealth, accumulating enough other assets to offset the erosion of their natural patrimony. In 14 of the 20 countries studied, these increases in wealth outpaced the growth of their population, leaving per-person wealth higher in 2008 than in 1990. Germany, for example, increased its human capital by over 50%. China expanded its “manufactured” capital by an extraordinary 540%.
该报告中,仅有三个国家在1990— 2008年间,没有损耗自然资本,日本也位列其一。尽管如此,除俄罗斯外,其他国家的财富均有增加,因为人力和物质资本的积累抵消了自然资本损耗所带来的损 失。在调研的20个国家中,14个国家的财富增长速度超过人口增速,使得2008年的人均财富高于1990年。比如说,德国的人力资本增长了50%多。中 国的“制造”资本神一样地增长了540%。

By putting a dollar value on everything from bauxite to brainpower, the UN's exercise makes all three kinds of capital comparable and commensurable. It also implies that they are substitutable. A country can lose $100 billion-worth of pastureland, gain $100 billion-worth of skills and be no worse off than before. The framework turns economic policymaking into an “asset-management problem”, says Sir Partha.
联合国评估了从铝土矿到智力资源,一切事物的价值,此次实践使三种资本具备了可比性和 可衡量性,也意味着它们之间可以互相替代。一个国家若失去了价值1000亿美元的牧场,却获得了1000亿美元的技术,那她的状况并不比之前差。帕萨爵士 说:“该框架将经济政策制定转变成资产管理问题。”

A country like Saudi Arabia, for example, depleted its stock of fossil fuels by $37 billion between 1990 and 2008, while adding to its stock of school-leavers and university graduates (its human capital grew by almost $1 trillion). In some richer countries, however, investments in human capital appear to have hit diminishing returns, the report argues. Perhaps governments should redirect their investment into natural capital instead, restocking their forests rather than their libraries.
比如,沙特阿拉伯,在1990——2008年间,虽然损耗了 370亿美元的化石燃料,但高中和大学毕业生的人数大大增加(人力资本增长了近1万亿美元)。报告指出,在一些更富裕的国家,人力资本的投资收益却日渐萎 缩,也许这部分国家应再度投资自然资产,重新“武装”森林,而不是图书馆。

The idea that natural assets are substitutable makes some environmentalists (including some contributors to the report) nervous. Many of the services the environment provides, like clean water and air, are irreplaceable necessities, they point out. In theory, however, the undoubted value of these natural treasures should be reflected in their price, which should rise steeply as they become more scarce. A good asset manager will then husband them carefully, knowing that it will take an ever-increasing amount of human or physical capital to make up for further losses of the natural kind.
“自 然资产可替代论”让一些环保主义者(包括参与报告的人)不由捏一把冷汗。他们指出,自然所给予人类的供养,如洁净的水和空气是无法替代的必需品。然而,理 论上,这些自然财富不容置疑的价值应该通过价格体现出来,而价格会随着它们的稀缺而水涨船高。一位资深的资产管理人会谨慎使用这些资产,因为他知道自然资 本的空洞将变本加厉地吸取人力资本或物质资本。

In practice, however, natural assets are often hard to price well or at all. As a consequence, the UN report has to steer clear of assets like clean air that cannot be directly owned, bought or sold. It confines itself to resources like gas, nickel and timber, for which market prices exist. But even these market prices may not reflect a commodity's true social value. Beekeeping is one example beloved by economic theorists. Bees create honey, which can be sold on the market. But they also pollinate nearby apple trees, a useful service that is not purchased or priced.
但是,实际上,我们很难或根本无法给自然资产标上合适的价格。联 合国的报告中避开了像洁净空气这样无法直接拥有和买卖的自然资产,而只计算可以用市场价表示的自然资产,如天然气,镍和木材。即便如此,也许市场价无法反映出商品 真正的社会价值。经济理论家爱以“养蜂”为例,蜜蜂酿下可以在市场上兜售的蜂蜜,但它们也为周边的苹果树授粉,而这个有益的举动却不能被出售,也无法标 价。

No one is more aware of these limitations than the report's authors. Their estimates are illustrative, not definitive, says Sir Partha. The calculations are inevitably crude, just as the first guesstimates of GDP were crude over 70 years ago. He hopes more economists will do the hard but valuable work of pricing the seemingly priceless. The profession does not really reward this work, says Sir Partha. But some economists do it anyway. Taylor Ricketts of the University of Vermont and his co-authors have even calculated the value of pollination, showing that one Costa Rican coffee-grower benefited by $62,000 a year from the feral honey bees in two nearby patches of forest.
没有谁比该报告的作者更清楚它的局限性。帕特爵士说:“他们的估算是对现有资本的补充性解释,并不是最 佳版本。”报告的结果不免有不准确的地方,正如70多年前人们第一次约摸着估算GDP(国内生产总值)一样。他希望更多经济学家能做出艰苦且有价值的工 作,为世界的无价资产标价。帕特爵士还说:“这项工作在业界并非真地有利可图。”不管怎样,还有经济学家为此奉献着,佛蒙特大学的泰勒·立克次和他的合著 者们甚至计算出了蜜蜂授粉的价值。结果显示,哥斯达黎加两小片树林中的野蜜蜂就能为一位咖啡种植主带来62000美元的利润。

Now that economists have shown that such wealth can be measured, they must decide what it should be called. In his earlier academic work Sir Partha calls it “comprehensive wealth”. The UN report dubs it “inclusive wealth”. If the notion catches on, neither name may be needed. “Pretty soon,” says Sir Partha, “we ought to drop both adjectives and just call it wealth'.”
既然经济学家已经证明自然财富可以计算,那他们必须为它取个名字。在其早前的学术专著中帕特爵士曾称它为“全部财 富”。联合国的报告中则叫它“天地财富”。一旦这个概念流行开来,这两个名称都可能被淘汰,“很快”,帕特爵士说,“我们应把形容词都去掉,就叫它“财 富”!”

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