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经济学人双语:契约理论获诺奖 无趣理论背后的真相

2016-12-07    来源:经济学人    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Finance and economics: Free exchange: Hard bargains
财经:自由交换:艰苦的讨价还价

Two economists win the Nobel prize for their work on the theory of contracts.
两位经济学家因其对于契约理论的研究获得诺贝尔奖。

Economics can seem a rather bloodless science.
经济学可能看起来是一门了无生气的科学。

In its simplest models, prices elegantly balance supply and demand, magically directing individuals' pursuit of their own self-interest towards the greater good.
在其最简单的模型中,价格微秒地平衡了供求,把个人对于自身利益的追求魔术般地引向更大的好处。

In the real world, humans often undermine the greater good by grabbing whatever goodies their position allows them.
在现实世界中,人类经常是通过攫取地位许给他们的甜头来突出更大的好处。

The best economic theorizing grapples with this reality, and brings us closer to understanding the role of power relationships in human interactions.
经济学最好的理论化行为研究这种现实,并让我们更接近于理解权力关系在人类交往中的角色。

This year's Nobel prize for economic sciences—awarded to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom—celebrates their study of economic power, and the tricky business of harnessing it to useful economic ends.
奖给奥利弗·哈特和本格特·霍尔姆斯特罗姆的今年的诺贝尔经济学奖表彰的是他们关于经济权力的研究以及把将其运用于有用的经济目的的棘手之事。

Behind the dull-sounding “contract theory” for which the two were recognised lies an important truth: that when people want to work together, individual self-interest must be kept under control.
在两人因之而得到承认的听上去无趣的 “契约理论” 背后存在着一个重要的真相:当人们想要一块工作时,个人的自身利益必须处于被控制之下。

For a chef and a restaurant-owner to work together productively, for example, the owner must promise not to use the power he has to change the locks in order to deny the chef his share of future profit.
例如,对于想要一起高效工作的厨师和餐馆所有者来说,所有者必须承诺不会为了否认厨师的未来利润份额而使用他手中的权力换锁。

Mr Hart, a British economist working at Harvard University, tackled power dynamics while seeking to explain the existence of firms—a question which has troubled economists since the work of the late Ronald Coase, another Nobelist, starting in the 1930s.
在哈佛大学工作的英国经济学家哈特,在处理了权力动力学的同时还试图解释企业的存在,这一问题,已故的另一位诺奖得主罗纳德·科斯于上世纪30年代开始研究,一直困扰着经济学家们。

Firms provide some advantage over dealing with others through exchanges of cash for services in the open market, but economists have struggled to pinpoint what that advantage is.
企业在开放市场用金钱交换服务与其他人做生意时提供了某种优势,而经济学家们试图指出那个优势是什么。

The difficulty in writing contracts that cover all future situations seems to be crucial.
订立囊括未来情况的契约的困难似乎很关键。

Agreeing beforehand how any hypothetical future windfall or loss ought to be shared can be impossible.
事先就任何假设中的未来盈利或损失应当如何分享达成一致应该是不可能的。

Yet the uncertainty of working without such a complete contract could be big enough to prevent potentially profitable partnerships from forming.
然而,没有了一份如此全面的契约,工作的不确定性可能大得足以阻止潜在盈利伙伴关系的形成。

In work with Sanford Grossman, (an economist who might plausibly have shared the prize) , Mr Hart reasoned that firms solve this problem by clever use of the bargaining power bestowed by the ownership and control of key assets, such as machines or intellectual property.
在与桑福德·格罗斯曼 (一位本应合理地分享今年诺奖的经济学家) 的合作中,哈特断定,企业是通过对所有权以及机器和知识产权等关键资产的控制权所赐予的议价权的灵活运用来解决这一问题的。

Instead of fussing over how to divide up the spoils in every possible future, in other words, workers agree to sell their labour to a firm that owns the machinery or technology they use, in the knowledge that ownership gives the firm the power to hoover up a disproportionate share of the profits.
换言之,在知道所有权赋予企业得到不成比例的利润份额的权力的前提下,工人会同意将其劳动出售给拥有他们所使用的机器或技术的企业,而不是为了如何在每一种可能的未来中分配战利品而瞎操心。

This power comes with costs as well as benefits, which help shape how big companies become and exactly what they do.
这种权力除了带来利润之外,还带来有助于形成公司规模和具体业务的成本。

In other work, Mr Hart noted that workers and managers who look after equipment can make decisions to improve its productivity (like maintaining the machinery and investing in training) .
在另外的研究中,哈特指出,维护设备的工人和管理人员能够做出提高生产效率的决定 (如维护设备和投资于再培训)。

But just how much time and energy they spend on such efforts depends on what share of future profits they can expect.
但是,他们会把多少精力用于此类努力则取决于他们所能期盼的未来利润份额。



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