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【AEON】何日君再来:黄金时代的终结

【AEON】何日君再来:黄金时代的终结


人类唯一从历史中学到的教训,就是人类不会从历史中学到任何教训。二战后,西欧、日本、北美等地区的国家经历了经济高速发展、技术日新月异的二十多年的黄金时代。繁荣稳定的日子过久了,高速的经济增长似乎成了理所当然。一旦经济周期结束,生产力增长放缓,过惯了舒服日子的人们就开始觉得苦不堪言。经济压力导致政治倾斜,政策的徒劳又引发经济的进一步恶化。在人类历史的螺旋上升的历程中,也许螺旋重复占据了大部分时光。只是不知多少青春年华,都跟着历史的循环往复作了陪葬。当我们站在又一个历史的风口,没有人知道黄金时代何日能再来。


何日君再来:黄金时代的终结

【AEON】何日君再来:黄金时代的终结

作者:Marc Levinson

译者&笔记:刘小康

校对:泮海伦

推荐:杨雪

策划:刘小康 朱小钊


End of a Golden Age

何日君再来:黄金时代的终结


本文选自 AEON | 取经号原创翻译

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The second half of the 20th century divides neatly in two. The divide did not come with the rise of Ronald Reagan or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not discernible in a particular event, but rather in a shift in the world economy, and the change continues to shape politics and society in much of the world today.

二十世纪下半叶被分为了截然不同的两个时期。划分前后时期的依据,不是里根的崛起、或柏林墙的倒塌等特定的标志性事件,而是蕴含在整个世界经济转折中的。它引发的变革仍在塑造着我们今日世界的政局与社会。


The shift came at the end of 1973. The quarter-century before then, starting around 1948, saw the most remarkable period of economic growth in human history. In the Golden Age between the end of the Second World War and 1973, people in what was then known as the ‘industrialised world’ – Western Europe, North America, and Japan – saw their living standards improve year after year. They looked forward to even greater prosperity for their children. Culturally, the first half of the Golden Age was a time of conformity, dominated by hard work to recover from the disaster of the war. The second half of the age was culturally very different, marked by protest and artistic and political experimentation. Behind that fermentation lay the confidence of people raised in a white-hot economy: if their adventures turned out badly, they knew, they could still find a job.

这场转折肇始于1973年底。在此前的四分之一个世纪里,从1948年起,人类见证了历史上最辉煌的一段经济增长期。二战结束到1973年的这段黄金时期,西欧、北美、日本等“工业化国家”的民众欣喜地发现,自己的生活水平一年胜过一年,于是盼望着子孙后代能有更好的发展。从人文角度看,黄金时代前半期的基调是规整,各国主要忙于努力从战争的创伤中恢复;后半期则完全迥异,以抗议、艺术实验和实验性政策为标志。种种风起云涌的背后,体现的是民众在经济白热化增长中树立起的信心:哪怕冒险失败了,也一定能找回工作。

  

The year 1973 changed everything. High unemployment and a deep recession made experimentation and protest much riskier, effectively putting an end to much of it. A far more conservative age came with the economic changes, shaped by fears of failing and concerns that one’s children might have it worse, not better. Across the industrialised world, politics moved to the Right – a turn that did not avert wage stagnation, the loss of social benefits such as employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance, and the secure, stable employment that had proved instrumental to the rise of a new middle class and which workers had come to take for granted. At the time, an oil crisis took the blame for what seemed to be a sharp but temporary downturn. Only gradually did it become clear that the underlying cause was not costly oil but rather lagging productivity growth – a problem that would defeat a wide variety of government policies put forth to correct it.

但1973年起,一切都变了。实验性政策和抗议活动随着高失业率和大萧条风险剧增,都逐渐偃旗息鼓。经济转变中,伴随着人们对失败的恐惧和对后代生活恶化的忧虑,一个更为保守的时代来临了。在各个工业化国家,政治集体转向右倾。但这并未扭转工人薪资停滞、企业应当缴付的养老金和医保缺失等社会福利问题,没能保障曾经天然稳定的雇佣关系,也就没有能够造就新的中产阶级。彼时,经济的短期急剧下行被归咎于石油危机。直到后来,人们才逐渐明白,经济下行的深层次原因并非石油价格飙升,而是生产力增长迟滞。各国政府之后形形色色的针对性政策都没能根本解决这一问题。


The great boom began in the aftermath of the Second World War. The peace treaties of 1945 did not bring prosperity; on the contrary, the post-war world was an economic basket case. Tens of millions of people had been killed, and in some countries a large proportion of productive capacity had been laid to waste. Across Europe and Asia, tens of millions of refugees wandered the roads. Many countries lacked the foreign currency to import food and fuel to keep people alive, much less to buy equipment and raw material for reconstruction. Railroads barely ran; farm tractors stood still for want of fuel. Everywhere, producing enough coal to provide heat through the winter was a challenge. As shoppers mobbed stores seeking basic foodstuffs, much less luxuries such as coffee and cotton underwear, prices soared. Inflation set off waves of strikes in the United States and Canada as workers demanded higher pay to keep up with rising prices. The world’s economic outlook seemed dim. It did not look like the beginning of a golden age.

大繁荣始于二战结束后。但是1945年签订的种种和约并没有使得各国国泰民安。恰恰相反,全球经济在战后一团糟。战争吞噬了上千万人口,同时一些国家生产能力严重闲置,平白浪费。欧亚大陆上,成千上万的难民流离失所,彷徨于路。许多国家外汇空缺,无法进口民众赖以生存的食物和燃料,更不要说购买装备和原料用于战后重建了。没有燃料,铁路两轨空空,罕有列车运行;田边拖拉机静静伫立,无法开动。对各国来说,开采足够熬冬的煤炭几乎是不可能的任务。人们涌入商店争抢基本的口粮,咖啡和棉内衣这样的奢侈物品更是价格飞涨。通胀在美加两国引发了动荡,工人要求加薪以对抗疯涨的物价。全球经济前景一片黯淡,完全不像是黄金时代的序幕。

basket case If someone describes a country or organization as a basket case, they mean that its economy or finances are in a seriously bad state.


As late as 1948, incomes per person in much of Europe and Asia were lower than they had been 10 or even 20 years earlier. But 1948 brought a change for the better. In January, the US military government in Japan announced it would seek to rebuild the economy rather than exacting reparations from a country on the verge of starvation. In April, the US Congress approved the economic aid programme that would be known as the Marshall Plan, providing Western Europe with desperately needed dollars to import machinery, transport equipment, fertiliser and food. In June, the three occupying powers – France, the United Kingdom and the US – rolled out the deutsche mark, a new currency for the western zones of Germany. A new central bank committed to keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady would oversee the deutsche mark.

截至1948年,大多欧亚国家的人均收入水准低于十年甚至二十年前。但就在这一年迎来了转机。一月,驻日美军政府宣布,与其向处于饥荒边缘的日本索求赔偿,他们将寻求重建该国经济。四月,美国国会批准了后来被称为“马歇尔计划”的经济援助计划,向西欧提供亟需的美元以进口器械、运输设备、肥料及食物。六月,占领西德的美英法共同发行了德国马克作为新的货币,新央行将秉持保持低通胀和汇率稳定的原则对马克实施监管。


Postwar chaos gave way to stability, and the war-torn economies began to grow. In many countries, they grew so fast for so long that people began to speak of the ‘economic miracle’ (West Germany), the ‘era of high economic growth’ (Japan) and the 30 glorious years (France). In the English-speaking world, this extraordinary period became known as the Golden Age.

由此,战后动荡让位于稳定发展,饱受战火摧残的经济开始复苏。许多国家的经济增长如此迅猛持久,逐渐有了“经济奇迹”(西德)、“经济高速成长期”(日本)以及“辉煌30年”(法国)的说法。而在英语国家,这样波澜壮阔的一页被称为“黄金时代”。


What was it that made the Golden Age exceptional? Part of the answer is that economies were making up for lost time: after years of depression and wartime austerity, enormous needs for housing, consumer goods, equipment for farms, factories, railroads and electric generating plants stood ready to drive growth. But much more lay behind the Golden Age of economic growth than pent-up demand. Two factors deserve special attention.

是什么造就了黄金时代的斐然成绩?固然,部分原因是人们试图在经济上弥补失却的岁月:在经历了多年的萧条和战时紧缩后,对住房、消费品、农场、工厂、铁路和发电厂设备的巨大需求随时准备推动经济增长。但抛开这些被压抑的需求外,隐藏在黄金时代背后的促成因素还有许多。其中,最值得关注的有两大因素。


First, the expanding welfare state. The Second World War shook up the social structures in all the wealthy countries, fundamentally altering domestic politics, in particular exerting an equalising force. As societies embarked on reconstruction, no one could deny that citizens who had been asked to sacrifice in war were entitled to share in the benefits of peace. In many cases, labour unions became the representatives of working people’s claims to peacetime dividends. Indeed, union membership reached historic highs, and union leaders sat alongside business and government leaders to hammer out social policy. Between 1944 and 1947, one country after another created old-age pension schemes, national health insurance, family allowances, unemployment insurance and more social benefits. These programmes gave average families a sense of security they had never known. Children from poor families could visit the doctor without great expense. The loss of a job or the death of a wage-earner no longer meant destitution.

第一是福利国家的不断增多。第二次世界大战动摇了发达国家的社会结构,以要求平等为主导,从根本上改变了各国国内政治。随着社会的重建,所有人都不得不承认,那些曾在战场上出生入死的公民有权分享和平的胜利果实。工会几乎成了工人在战后和平年代主张权益的代表。可以看到,工会会员人数达到了历史巅峰,工会领导也能和政企干部分庭抗礼、共商政策。44年到47年间,各国接连制定了养老保险、全民医保、生育津贴、失业救济金等各项社会福利政策。这些政策给了普通家庭前所未有的安全感。穷人家的孩子终于可以看得起病。个人失业或家庭顶梁柱倒下也不再意味着陷入贫困


Second, in addition to the growing welfare state, strong productivity growth contributed to rising living standards. Rising productivity – increasing the efficiency with which an economy uses labour, capital and other resources – is the main force that makes an economy grow. Because new technologies and better ways of doing business take time to filter through the economy, productivity improvements are usually slow. But in the postwar years, productivity grew very quickly. A unique combination of circumstances propelled it. In just a few years, millions of people moved from low-productivity farm work – more than 3 million mules still plowed furrows on US farms in 1945 – to construction and factory jobs that used the latest machinery.

除了福利国家不断增多外,第二个原因是,强有力的生产力增长带动了人民生活水平的提高。生产力得以增长,也就意味着经济调用劳动力、资本和其他生产资料的效率得到提高,这是经济增长的主要动力。新技术和优化的商业运作模式需要经受经济的考验,所以生产力的提高往往耗费时日。二战之后的岁月里,生产力增长却十分迅速。这要归功于得天独厚的推动力。1945年,美国广袤的农田上还有三百万头骡子用于拉犁耕地。然而短短几年间,数百万人从生产力低下的田间地头涌入工地、车间,用上了最新式的机器。


In 1940, the average working-age adult in western Europe had less than five years of formal education. As governments invested heavily in high schools and universities after the war, they produced a more educated and literate workforce with the skills to produce far more wealth. Advances in national infrastructure gave direct boosts to national productivity. High-speed motorways enabled truck drivers to carry bigger loads over longer distances at higher speeds, greatly expanding markets for farms and factories. Six rounds of trade negotiations between 1947 and 1967, ultimately involving nearly 50 countries that signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), brought a massive increase in cross-border trade, forcing manufacturers to modernise or give up. Firms moved to take advantage of technological innovations to operate more productively, such as jet aircraft and numerically controlled machinery.

1940年,西欧成年工人的平均受教育时间不足五年。战后,随着政府对高中和高等院校的巨额投入,大批有文化、有素养的劳动队伍被培养出来,他们具备了创造更多财富的技能。基础设施的完善直接提高了国家生产力。高速公路使得卡车长距离高速输送大宗物资成为可能,大大扩张了工农业市场。经过1947年至1967年间的六轮贸易谈判,最终涉及近50个签署国的关税及贸易总协定 (GATT),实现了跨境贸易的大幅增长,迫使制造商向现代化生产转型。企业纷纷采用喷气式飞机和数控机械等技术创新提高生产效率。


Between 1951 and 1973, propelled by strong productivity gains, the world economy grew at an annual rate of nearly 5 per cent. The impact on living standards was dramatic. Jobs were just for the asking; in 1966, West Germany’s unemployment rate touched an unprecedented 0.5 per cent. Electricity, indoor plumbing and television sets became common. Stoves burning coal or peat were replaced by central heating systems. Homes grew larger, and tens of millions of families acquired refrigerators and automobiles. The higher living standards did much more than simply bring new material goods. Retirement by 65, or even earlier, became the norm. Life expectancy jumped. Importantly, in Western Europe, North America and Japan, people across society shared in those gains. Prosperity was not limited to the urban elite. Most people began to live better, and they knew it. In the span of a quarter-century, living standards doubled and then, in many countries, doubled again.

51年至73年间,在强劲的生产力增长的推动下,全球经济年均增幅高达5%。人们的生活条件大为改善,工作俯拾皆是。1966年,西德的失业率低至史无前例的0.5%。室内水电布线和电视机都开始走入寻常人家。煤炉被中央采暖取代,住房也日益宽敞。上千万家庭有了冰箱和汽车。生活水准的提升带来的不仅是物质水平的提高,65岁或更早退休成了常态,人口的预期寿命也大幅上升。最关键的是,无论西欧、北美还是日本,社会各级的民众都享受到了经济发展成果。辉煌的经济成就惠及的不限于都市的精英阶层,越来越多的人过上了好日子,而他们自身也意识到了这点。就在这四分之一个世纪的跨度里,人们的生活水平翻了一番;在不少国家,这生活水平还又翻了一番。

  

The good times rolled on so long that people took them for granted. Between 1948 and 1973, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Italy had not a single year of recession. West Germany and Canada did almost as well. Governments and the economists who advised them happily claimed the credit. Careful economic management, they said, had put an end to cyclical ups and downs. Governments possessed more information about citizens and business than ever before, and computers could crunch the data to help policymakers determine the best course of action. In a lecture at Harvard University in 1966, Walter Heller, formerly chief economic adviser to presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson, trumpeted the success of what he called the ‘new economics’. ‘Conceptual advances and quantitative research in economics,’ he declared, ‘are replacing emotion with reason.’

舒服日子过得久了,人们逐渐认为一切都是理所当然。1948至1973年间,澳大利亚、日本、瑞典和意大利从未出现过经济下滑,西德和加拿大也差不到哪去。各国政府和担任顾问的经济学家们居功自傲。他们宣称,政府通过审慎的经济管控,杜绝了经济的周期性涨落。政府掌握了比以往都更为详尽的个人和企业数据,再利用计算机分析,方便决策者们更好地制定政策。沃尔特·海勒(Walter Heller)是肯尼迪政府与约翰逊政府的前首席经济顾问。1966年在哈佛大学的一场讲座上,他鼓吹所谓“新经济学”的成功。他宣称:“经济学的概念进步与定量研究,正逐步以理性取代非理性。”


Wages and investment were private decisions, but Schiller hoped government guidelines would contribute to ‘collective rationality’

人造繁荣不过镜花水月


The most influential proponent of such ideas was Karl Schiller, who became economy minister of West Germany, Europe’s largest economy, in 1966. A former professor at the University of Hamburg, where his students included the future West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, Schiller was a centrist Social Democrat. He stood apart from those on the Left who favoured state ownership of industry, but also from extreme free-market conservatives. His advice called for ‘a synthesis of planning and competition’. Schiller defined his philosophy thus: ‘As much competition as possible, as much planning as necessary.’

卡尔·席勒是这些理论最具影响力的拥趸,他于1966年担任了西德的经济部长。彼时,西德是全欧最大的经济体。席勒是中立派社会民主党人,曾担任过汉堡大学教授。他的学生包括后来的西德总理施密特。他既不同于赞成工业国有化的左派,又不与支持市场绝对自由化的保守派类同。他给出的经济建议是“综合规划与竞争”。他如此定义自己的理论体系:“尽可能多的竞争,尽可能详尽的规划。”

  

Most fundamentally, Schiller believed that government should commit itself to maintaining high employment, steady growth and stable prices. And it should do this all while keeping its international account in balance, within the framework of a free-market economy. These four commitments made the corners of what he called the ‘magic square’. In December 1966, when Schiller became economy minister in a new coalition government, the magic square became official policy. Following Schiller’s version of Keynesian economics, his ministry’s experts advised federal and state governments how to adjust their budgets to achieve ‘equilibrium of the entire economy’. The ministry’s advice was based on an elaborate planning exercise that churned out five-year projections. In the spring of 1967, the finance ministry was told to adjust taxes and spending plans to increase business investment while slowing the growth of consumer spending. These moves, Schiller’s economic models promised, would bring economic growth averaging 4 per cent through 1971, along with 0.8 per cent unemployment, 1 per cent annual inflation and a 1 per cent current account surplus.

最根本的是,席勒坚信政府应当致力于保持就业率、维持经济增长以及稳定物价,同时还要在自由市场的框架内兼顾国际收支平衡。这四大信条构成了他所谓“幻方矩阵”的四大根基。1966年十二月,他就任新联合政府的经济部长,这套幻方矩阵正式成了官方政策。根据席勒对凯恩斯经济学的阐释,他的部门专家基于精密的五年计划,建议联邦和州政府调整预算以实现“经济的整体平衡”。1967年春,财政部被要求更改税收和支出计划,以在放缓消费增长的同时提高商业投资。根据席勒的经济理论模型预言,这些举措将会令西德经济直到1971年都平均保持4%的经济增长、0.8%的失业率、1%的年度通胀率以及1%的国际收支经常项目顺差。

译注:幻方(magic square),又称纵横图、数独,是将数字安排在正方形格子中,要求每行、列和对角线上的数字和都相等的方法。特别的,三阶幻方又称九宫图。中国史上记载有河图、洛书。


But in an economy that was overwhelmingly privately run, government alone could not reach perfection. Four or five times a year, Schiller summoned corporate executives, union presidents and the heads of business organisations to a conference room in the ministry. There he described the economic outlook and announced how much wages and investment could rise without compromising his national economic targets. Of course, he would add, wages and investment were private decisions, but he hoped that the government’s guidelines would contribute to ‘collective rationality’. Such careful stage management cemented Schiller’s fame. In 1969, for the first time, the Social Democrats outpolled every other party. The election that year became known as the ‘Schiller election’.

但仅靠政府调控,以私营为主的经济体是无法尽善尽美的。席勒每年有四到五次在经济部约见企业高管、工会主席和商业组织负责人。在会议室里,席勒向他们描述经济前景,并宣称了在不影响国家经济目标的情况下,工资和投资能够提高多少。当然,他会额外强调,虽然工资和投资的决定都是私事,但他希望政府的指导方针有助于“集体理性”。这种滴水不漏的统筹管理巩固了席勒的声望。1969年,社民党的支持率首次跃居第一。当年的选举被称为“席勒大选”。


Schiller insisted that his policies had brought West Germany to ‘a sunny plateau of prosperity’ where inflation and unemployment were permanently vanquished. Year after year, however, the economy failed to perform as he instructed. In July 1972, when Schiller was denied control over the exchange rate, he stormed out of the cabinet and left elected office forever.

席勒坚称,他的政策把西德带到了“阳光灿烂的丰饶高地”,永久杜绝了通胀和失业问题。然而,年复一年,经济并未能按照他的指示运行。1972年七月,当他被剥夺了汇率控制权后,席勒愤离内阁,永远离开了曾被拥戴上的宝座。


Schiller left with the West German economy roaring. Within 18 months, his claim that the government could ensure stable prices, robust growth and jobs for all blew up.

席勒离开的时候,西德经济正一路高歌猛进。但不到一年半,他曾宣称的政府稳定物价、维持经济增速和保持高就业率的职能就全都化为泡影。


The headline event of 1973 was the oil crisis. On 6 October, Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israeli positions, starting the conflict that became known as the Yom Kippur War. By agreeing to slash production and raise the price of oil, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern oil exporters quickly backed the two Arab countries. Shipments to countries that supported Israel, including the US and the Netherlands, were cut off altogether.

1973年,石油危机成了头等大事。10月6日,埃叙联军袭击以色列据点,挑起了“赎罪日战争”。沙特阿拉伯、伊拉克、伊朗和其他中东石油出口国迅速支持了这两个阿拉伯国家,一致协定减产石油并提高油价,还切断了对美国、荷兰等支持以色列的国家的油运。


Oil-importing countries responded in dramatic fashion. Western European countries lowered speed limits and rationed diesel supplies. From Italy to Norway, driving was banned on four consecutive Sundays in order to save fuel. The Japanese government shut down factories and told citizens to turn out the pilot lights on their water heaters. US truck drivers blocked highways to protest high fuel prices, and motorists queued for hours to top off their gasoline tanks. In a televised address, the US President Richard Nixon warned Americans: ‘We are heading toward the most acute shortages of energy since the Second World War.’

各石油进口国反应激烈。西方国家降低了限速,对柴油实行限量配给。从南部的意大利到北端的挪威,为了节省燃料,连续四个星期天禁止车辆上路。日本政府则关闭了部分工厂,并告诫市民关闭热水器的指示灯。美国的卡车司机封堵了高速公路抗议高油价,人们花费数小时排着长队加油。尼克松总统在电视讲话中警告美国民众:“我们正面临二战以来最严峻的能源短缺。”

fashion  / ˈfæʃn; ˋfæʃən/ n manner or way of doing sth 样子; 方式

address  / əˈdres; US ˈædres; ˋædrɛs/ n  speech made to an audience 演说; 演讲


Faced with higher petroleum prices, economic growth in 1974 collapsed. Around the world, inflation soared. When oil prices receded, the world economy failed to bounce back. Double-digit inflation dramatically undermined workers’ wage gains. From 1973 to 1979, average income per worker grew only half as fast as it had before 1973. Help-wanted signs vanished as unemployment rose. The economic experts, only recently so confident that their rational mathematical analysis had brought permanent prosperity, were flummoxed. Stable economic growth had given way to violent gyrations.

终于,在高昂的油价面前,持续多年的经济增长在1974年戛然而止,全球经济迅速通胀。等到石油价格回落,全球经济却未能顺利反弹。两位数的通货膨胀严重抵消了工人的工资增长。从1973到1979年,工人人均收入增幅仅有1973年前的一半。招工广告消声匿迹,失业率也随之上扬。经济专家直到最近才确信他们的理性的数学分析带来了持久的繁荣,但当年他们只有困惑不解,眼看着经济形势由稳定增长变为剧烈波动。


The underlying problem, it turned out, was not expensive petroleum but slow productivity growth. Through the 1960s and early ’70s, across the wealthy world, productivity had risen a strong 5 per cent a year. After 1973, the trend shifted clearly downward. Through the rest of the 20th century, productivity growth in the wealthy economies averaged less than 2 per cent a year. Diminished productivity growth translated directly into sluggish economic growth. The days when people could feel their living standards rising from one year to the next were over. As the good times failed to return, voters turned their fury on political leaders. In fact, there was little any Western politician could do to put their economies back on their previous tracks.

事实证明,世界经济衰退的根本问题不是昂贵的石油,而是缓慢的生产力增长。在发达国家,强劲的年均5%的生产力增幅贯穿了整个六十年代和七十年代初期。然而1973年后,境况便急转直下。在20世纪之后的岁月里,发达国家的年均生产力增幅始终徘徊在2%以下。生产力增长低迷直接导致了经济增长停滞,生活水准年年高的好日子一去不返。随着好景不再,选民们只有将一腔怒火撒向政治领导人。事实上,任何西方政治家都无法让经济重回正轨。


To give a short-term boost to an underperforming economy, central banks and governments have a variety of tools they can use. They can lower interest rates to make it cheaper to buy a car or build a factory. They can lower taxes to give consumers more money to spend. They can increase government spending to pump more cash into the economy. They can change regulations to make it easier for banks to lend money. But when it comes to an economy’s long-term growth potential, productivity is vital. It matters more than anything else – and productivity growth after the early 1970s was simply slower than before.

为了重振萧条的经济,央行和政府本有一箩筐的工具可以采用:可以通过降息减低购车或建厂成本;可以通过减税刺激消费;可以扩大政府开支,为经济注入更多现金;还可以更改监管条例,便于银行放贷。但就经济的长期增长潜力而言,生产力才是第一位的。抛开生产力,其他都是空谈。然而70年代早期过后,生产力增长就尽显颓势。


Turning innovative ideas into economically valuable products and services can involve years of trial and error

罗马不是一天建成的


The reasons behind slowed productivity growth had nothing to do with any government’s economic policy. The historic move of rural peoples to the cities, around the world, could not be repeated. Once masses of peasant farmers and sharecroppers had shifted into more productive work in the cities, it was done. The great flow of previously unemployed women into the labour force was over. In the 1960s, building thousands of miles of superhighways brought massive economic benefits. But once those roads were open to traffic, adding lanes or exit ramps was far less consequential. In rich countries, literacy had risen to almost universal levels. After that historic jump, the effects of additional small increases in average education were comparatively slight. If higher productivity growth were to be regained, it would have to come from developing technological innovations and new approaches to business, and putting them to use in ways that allowed the business sector to operate more effectively.

生产力增长放缓的原因与任何政府的经济政策都毫无牵涉。全球农村人口向城市迁移的历史性一幕再不可能重现。大量的小农、佃农一旦进入城市从事生产力更高的工作,进程就结束了。过去大批家庭主妇涌入劳动力市场的趋势已经结束。在六十年代,修建上千英里的超高速公路创造了显著的经济效益。但这些道路一旦建成通车,增添车道或出口坡道等工程带来的效益就大打折扣了。在发达国家,识字率已经上升到一个相当高的水平。在这历史性的飞跃之后,大众教育水平的小幅提高影响也就相对有限。要让生产力恢复快速增长,就必须发展技术创新和新商业模式,并付诸合理运用使经济更为有效地运作。


When it comes to influencing innovation, governments have power. Grants for scientific research and education, and policies that make it easy for new firms to grow, can speed the development of new ideas. But what matters for productivity is not the number of innovations, but the rate at which innovations affect the economy – something almost totally beyond the ability of governments to control. Turning innovative ideas into economically valuable products and services can involve years of trial and error. Many of the basic technologies behind mobile telephones were developed in the 1960s and ’70s, but mobile phones came into widespread use only in the 1990s. Often, a new technology is phased in only over time as old buildings and equipment are phased out. Moreover, for reasons no one fully understands, productivity growth and innovation seem to move in long cycles. In the US, for example, between the 1920s and 1973, innovation brought strong productivity growth. Between 1973 and 1995, it brought much less. The years between 1995 and 2003 saw high productivity gains, and then again considerably less thereafter.

政府无疑具备足够的能力去引导创新。对科研和教育拨款,对初创企业制定宽松政策便于其成长,都可以加速创新思维的发展。但对生产力起关键作用的并非创新的数量,而是创新对经济起效的速率。这几乎彻底超出了政府所能调控的范围。将创意转化为具有经济价值的产品或服务,往往需要耗费数载反复试验。常用移动电话的基础技术早在六七十年代就被开发出来,然而直到九十年代手机才开始普及。新技术通常只能随着旧建筑老设备淘汰,才能逐步扩展实施。此外,由于无法彻底探明的缘由,生产力增长和创新似乎以某种长周期的模式运行。比如在美国,二十年代到七三年间,创新发明带动了生产力迅猛增长;而在1973年到1995年里,创新所带动的生产力增长就有限得多。1995年至2003年间,生产力再次大幅提高,此后又大幅下降。

phase / feɪz; fez/ v [Tn esp passive 尤用於被动语态] plan or carry out sth in stages 按阶段计画或进行某事


When the surge in productivity following the Second World War tailed off, people around the globe felt the pain. At the time, it appeared that a few countries – France and Italy for a few years in the late 1970s, Japan in the second half of the ’80s – had discovered formulas allowing them to defy the downward global productivity trend. But their economies revived only briefly before productivity growth waned. Jobs soon became scarce again, and improvements in living standards came more slowly. The poor productivity growth of the late 1990s was not due to taxes, regulations or other government policies in any particular country, but to global trends. No country escaped them.

二次大战后,每当生产力的激增放缓,各国民众都不得不共克时艰。上世纪,七十年代末的法国和意大利、八十年代后期的日本,都似乎发现了一些模式,让自身能够对抗全球生产力下降的趋势。但它们的经济复苏在生产力增速放缓的大环境下只能是昙花一现。工作岗位转眼又变得稀缺,生活水准的提升也日趋缓慢。九十年代末期的生产力增长低迷并不是由于税收、法规等某些政策导致的,而是全球趋势,没有国家能独善其身。


Unlike the innovations of the 1950s and ’60s, which were welcomed widely, those of the late 20th century had costly side effects. While information technology, communications and freight transportation became cheaper and more reliable, giant industrial complexes became dinosaurs as work could be distributed widely to take advantage of labour supplies, transportation facilities or government subsidies. Workers whose jobs were relocated found that their years of experience and training were of little value in other industries, and communities that lost major employers fell into decay. Meanwhile, the welfare state on which they had come to rely began to deteriorate, its financial underpinnings stressed due to the slow growth of tax revenue in economies that were no longer buoyant. The widespread sharing in the mid-century boom was not repeated in the productivity gains at the end of the century, which accumulated at the top of the income scale.

与上世纪五六十年代广受欢迎的创新不同,20世纪晚期的创新具有代价高昂的副作用。当信息技术、通信、运费都变得廉价亲民且更加可靠,庞大的工业综合体成了垄断的巨兽,它们可以将工作机会广泛分配,以获取劳动力供应、运输设施或政府补贴的优势。被分派新岗位的工人发现,他们多年的经验和培训在其他行业几乎没有价值。一旦没有大企业提供就业岗位,社区也会陷入衰退。与此同时,由于经济繁荣不再,税收增长缓慢,财政遭受压力,民众赖以生存的福利国家开始恶化。上世纪中叶社会各阶层共享经济成果的盛况也不会再来。在上世纪末,生产力增长创造的财富主要都聚集在了高收入阶层

scale / skeɪl; skel/ n [C] system of grading people or things according to how big, important, rich, etc, they are 等级; 级别: a scale of wages, taxation 工资、税率的等级


For much of the world, the Golden Age brought extraordinary prosperity. But it also brought unrealistic expectations about what governments can do to assure full employment, steady economic growth and rising living standards. These expectations still shape political life today. Between 1979 and 1982, citizens in one country after another threw out the leaders who stood for the welfare state and voted in a wave of more Right-wing politicians – Margaret Thatcher, Reagan, Helmut Kohl, Yasuhiro Nakasone and many others – who promised to tame big government and let market forces, lower tax rates and deregulation bring the good times back. Today, nearly 40 years on, voters are again turning to the Right, hoping that populist leaders will know how to make slow-growing economies great again.

对世上许多国家来说,黄金时代带来了非凡的繁荣。但它也带来了不切实际的期望,即政府可以采取措施确保充分就业、经济稳定增长和生活水平不断提高。这些期望仍然影响着今天的政治生活。79年到82年间,各国民众纷纷抛弃了主张福利国家政策的领袖,转而选出了一大波右翼政客:英国的撒切尔、美国的里根、西德的赫尔穆特·科尔、日本的中曾根康弘等等。这批政客都信誓旦旦要约束大政府,让市场力量、低税率和宽松管制重现昔日时光。如今,近40年过去了,选民们再次转投右翼,寄望于民粹领导人能带领增长缓慢的经济体实现伟大复兴。



More than a generation ago, the free-market policies of Thatcher and Reagan proved no more successful at improving productivity and raising economic growth than the policies they supplanted. There is no reason to think that the populists of our day will do much better. The Golden Age was wonderful while it lasted, but it cannot be repeated. If there were a surefire method for coaxing extraordinary performance from mature economies, it likely would have been discovered a long time ago.

然而就在近半个世纪前,撒切尔与里根的新自由主义市场经济政策早被证明,并不比被他们取代的政策更能成功提高生产力、促进经济增长。所以没有理由认为,我们这个时代的民粹主义者能够做得更好。黄金时代固然引人回味,却绝不可能重现。能让成熟经济体重振雄风的良方秘药假如存在,早就该被发现了。


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【AEON】何日君再来:黄金时代的终结


<原文地址:https://aeon.co/essays/how-economic-boom-times-in-the-west-came-to-an-end>



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