Friday, July 25, 2014
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space
6

自由贸易的迷信者

发自剑桥——最近我受邀到两位哈佛同事的全球化课程中客串嘉宾。“我必须警告你。”其中一位事先提醒我说:“这帮学生都是全球化的强烈拥护者。”他曾在第一堂课请在座学生在自由贸易和进口限制之间做出选择,结果有超过90%赞成前者。而且还是在尚未开始教授比较优势的神奇效应之前。

我们知道在真实调查中用同样的问题询问那些具有代表性的样本——而非哈佛学生——会得到一个截然不同的结果。在美国,限制贸易的反对者与支持者之比为2:1。但哈佛学生的答案不会令人感觉特别意外。因为那些拥有更高技术及更好教育的人往往比蓝领工人更加倾向于支持自由贸易。而或许这些哈佛学早已对自己的前(钱)途有所预期,并以此作出了决定。

又或者,他们其实并不明白贸易是如何运作的。毕竟,当我和他们见面的时候,我特意换了另一种形式来询问同样的问题,并强调贸易所可能产生的分配效应。结果支持公平贸易的共识彻底消失无踪,甚至比我预想的还要迅速。

一开场,我先询问了大家是否同意我以一个特别神奇的实验。我选了尼古拉斯和约翰作为志愿者,然后告诉他们,我有办法令尼古拉斯帐户里的200美元消失——变!——同时让约翰的帐户增加300美元,社会工程的伟业可以令这个班级作为一个整体额外增加100美元的价值。那么他们会允许我来玩这个小把戏吗?

结果坚决同意的只占很小一部分,许多人犹豫不定,甚至有更多的人反对实施这个转变。

很显然学生们都难以容忍这种大幅收入再分配的形式,即使在整个经济蛋糕被做大了的情况下。我接着问,为何他们中的大多数人又近乎本能地拥护自由贸易,而自由贸易其实也会导致一种类似的——事实上甚至更大幅度的——由输家到赢家的财富重新分配。学生们看上去都被震住了。

我接着说,让我们假设尼古拉斯和约翰两个人都开了一家相互竞争的小公司。约翰工作更努力,更多地进行储蓄投资,并生产出更好的产品,于是他不但比尼古拉斯多300美元,而且把后者的公司挤出市场并导致其损失200美元。那么又有多少学生赞成这一转变?这次绝大部分都投了赞成票——事实上只有尼古拉斯一个人不同意!

我紧接着提出了另一个与国际贸易直接相关的假设。如果约翰是通过从德国进口高质量产品的方式把尼古拉斯挤出市场?或是将业务流程外包到劳工权益尚未完善的中国?又或是在印尼雇佣童工?这次对转变的赞同度则随着上述选项依次递减。

此外科技革新也会像贸易一样导致某一部分人处于更加弱势的地位,你们对此是什么态度?对此只有很少的学生愿意遏制科技的发展。对几乎所有人来说,为了保住蜡烛工匠的工作而禁止生产电灯泡简直是一个愚蠢的想法。

因此学生们反对的不一定是再分配,只是反对某些特定形式的再分配而已。跟我们大多数人一样,他们都关注程序的公正性。

如果要对再分配的结果作出判断的话,我们就必须知道产生这种结果的客观环境。我们不会对比尔·盖茨或者沃伦·巴菲特的巨额财富愤愤不平,即便他们的某些对手日子一直都不好过,这大概是因为他们及其竞争者们都依据同样的基本法则进行运作,也面对着极为相似的机遇和挑战。

但如果盖茨和巴菲特不是依靠自己的才智和努力,而是通过诈骗、违反劳动法,破坏环境或者利用国外政府的补贴来致富的话,我们的想法也会截然不同。如果我们无法容忍那些通过违反国内普遍遵守的道德准则而实现的再分配的话,又凭什么能因为其涉及了跨国交易而心安理得呢?

同样,当我们预期再分配效应会在长期内实现均等,所有人都将因此最终获益之时,我们将很可能不会在意收入的转移。这也是为何我们相信即便科技会对某些人带来短期的负面相应,却依然愿意促进其发展的关键原因。而另一方面当贸易不断地冲击着同样的一群人——低教育程度蓝领工人——我们又会对全球化感到忧心忡忡。

但许多经济学家却对这些明显区别充耳不闻。他们总倾向于把对全球化的烦恼归因于那些愚蠢自私的贸易保护主义动机或者无知,而不知道其中最要紧的其实是道德问题。由于无法意识到国际贸易有时——当然不是常常——会导致一些我们在国内无法接受的再分配后果,这些经济学家也无法恰当地介入公众讨论。而既然在道德方面都站不住脚,他们又如何能为贸易大力辩护呢?

当全球化偶尔引发一个与再分配效应的合法化相关的棘手问题时,我们不应不假思索地用限制贸易来作为回应。对此还有许多利弊需要艰难权衡,包括全球化可能对其他地方的人们造成比美国本国受害者更严重的财富剥夺。

但民主国家应该对此有一个更恰当的讨论,并以此做出有意识且更加深思熟虑的决定。而那种仅仅因为全球化做大了蛋糕就对其迷恋不已的做法,则必将在长期之内腐蚀全球化本身的其合法性。

Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space
Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (6)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. CommentedBorko Handjiski

    I don't see why the term "procedural fairness" should be included in the debate on globalization, i.e. trade liberalization, at least not by those who support globalization. First, 90% of trade which is subject to restrictions (import duties) does not relate to products which can be described as "being produced in a procedural unfair manner". So, the discussion on trade liberalization should not be narrowed down to whether blood diamonds should be allowed to trade freely or not.

    If this terms were to be put on the table, countries like the U.S. and Western Europe have the least right to use it. Why? Because there was no procedural fairness in the depletion of natural and human resources (slavery) from what are today developing parts of the world which allowed these countries to make a leap in development using the power of the gun.

    Finally, who defines what is procedural fairness? Does the U.S. define how many hours Chinese workers should work or does China? Should the EU to Indonesia what to do with its environment? I don't think so, given that Indonesia's contribution to environmental pollution and change would be marginal to the contribution of the developed world. If Chinese workers want to work 12 hours a day, it is their right. If one disagrees, then France -- that is, the EU -- should impose restrictions on trade with the U.S. because U.S. workers spend much more time at work than what is allowed under French law.

    The reasons for free global trade are same as the reasons for not imposing trade restrictions among U.S. or EU states: trade increases the pie and makes everyone better off in the long run. Keeping to this simple argument should be enough.

  2. CommentedSoren Dayton

    Of course, this isn't what happens. What happens is that the state prevents John from making $300. That's the objection. That is morally wrong and politically unsustainable.

  3. CommentedJonathan Lam

    Gamesmith94134: why fair trade?

    After the effects of “barbed-wire barriers to imports” suggested by the businessmen and union members in US or the developed nations, they should understand the nature of their present financial crisis that they lost their competitiveness by a wide margin in the global term, and eliminate the choice for its people from affordability to growth because monopoly can level off its local innovation as well. Why can’t its industries be more effective or efficient to cut cost or lower price even after they met their competitions?

    Recently in China, I saw the railways imported from US, built in China in the 20s, they are still running. It was the top of technology for US, and we have the football team name Pittsburg Steelers----one of my favorite team. When the piece of the Oakland Bridge cracked, we must import it from China since we lost our competitiveness and effectiveness to pricing to the steel industry to China.
    Pittsburg Steelers turned into an icon for American Football and industry of its own, subsequently, the township and its steel worker union had made the bureaucrats proud of the steel industry that even Americans cannot afford; but, they can complain the economists outsourcing the industries for profitability. I am not prudential in protectionism since I am not sure why people do not throw stone inside the glass house; but the greenhouse effect for labor is costly, and the consequence of protectionism is anemic to growth in all terms of all imports or exports due to the loss of local innovations or the profitability under the labor cost that industries compete both fair and unfair competitions including anti-dumping or tariffs.

    In the recent years after we reckon the deficits wrecked the developed nations, and the surpluses prospers the emerging market nations. Many suggested the zero sum fair trade that many developed nations are dumping their technologies like green industries with high prices to the emerging nations in order to create its equilibrium; however, the resistance is high since its benefits to its consumers are minimal. Therefore, I would expect the bases of its consumers must be expanded first that the low-earning labors in these nations must achieve its sustainable living standard to be benefited to the technology transfers; then, the level of consumerism should meet its need in order to create the chain reaction of the supply and demand. Perhaps, they also need education to gain control systematically through the structural developments based on the foundation of necessity and affordability. Otherwise, the ClubMed syndrome will repeat to spread throughout the emerging market nations too; and, it was how the PIIGS got affected since 92’ that tourism did not help them to produce much to the bases of consumers, instead, they were subdued by the corruption and deficits as well.

    “Mark Sidwell argues that FAIRTRADE keeps uncompetitive farmers on the land, holding back diversification and mechanization. According to Sidwell, the FAIRTRADE scheme turns developing countries into low-profit, labor-intensive agrarian ghettos, denying future generations the chance of a better life.”

    In assuring the outcome of the FAIRTRADE can be the coming generation, we must develop the appropriate system or superstructure for monitoring the process in opening the commodity markets for those developing countries. Perhaps, in order to stretch the safety net for the poor farmers or labor, I think the organizing the groups in common interest may use the cooperative system that the group of small farmers can bundle up in their corps or commodities to set their corporation to market their goods. However, I would recommend the Development Bank of the United Nations as the free agent for Fair Trade which these developments can be invested in the open markets, and the organized grower or producers can grow into corporations with co-operatives; since some of the developments may have involved with international financial system and assisted in the market system during the transactions. Also, there must be a representative for the grower and producer like Africa Union, ASEAN or EU to represent and ensure the normalcy of its productivity and transparency on the transaction of these commodities.

    “That justification will not convince economists, who prefer a dryer sort of reasoning. But it is not out of place to remind ourselves that economists and bureaucrats need not always have things their own way.”

    Finally, if we must open the bases for new consumers, we must give the poor farmer and labors a chance to taste the FAIR TRADE and move away from poverty, we must stop the monopoly and give free trade a chance; then these new consumers can save us from the present financial crisis. If we accept the fact that we do need to trade honestly and share generously among nations and countries of people; there must be a system to protect the coming generation of grower and producer and a superstructure of networks to assure everyone is applying at will.

    May the Buddha bless you?

  4. CommentedPavlos Papageorgiou

    I don't agree that objections are limited to procedural fairness. In other words, I think some outcomes are objectionable even if they are the emergent result of fair processes. For example many people in the software industry did believe that Microsoft's near-monopoly status was a problem. The issue was not that it denied income to would-be competitors of Microsoft but that it caused the market to produce less good computers than it does now under competition from Apple and others.

    Regarding world trate, I think it is urgent to see distributional effects not from the side of importers and income but from the side of exporters and goods. Suppose a village in Africa contains a farmer and a craftswoman. Under protected conditions, they trade at very low prices and sustain each other. Under free trade, the farmer trades with the west, which absorbs all his output, and the craftswoman is redundant and starves. Literally.

    Where is the discussion on the supply-side effects of free trade? There should be a guiding principle that trade that connects vastly unequal economic networks with each other is a problem, just as connecting electrical circuits at very different voltage will dissipate energy and damage them. Tariffs should be applied not on imports but on exports, to ensure local supply or else redistribute the gains so that the worse-off can find alternative supply.

  5. Portrait of Kristy Mayer

    CommentedKristy Mayer

    You asked people to think about whether or not we should restrict trade. A more useful question is if and how we can both increase opportunities for international trade and ensure better distributional outcomes. For example, the United States’ trade preferences for developing countries are conditional on a variety of policy reforms in those countries – adopting international labor standards, moving toward a market-based economy, fighting corruption, etc. – and greater preferences generally come with more extensive conditions. Trade adjustment assistance is another, domestically focused, example. Do you think these and other, similar trade agreement provisions succeed at achieving both goals? If not, are there other models that may avoid restricting trade but also mitigate the trade’s distributional effects? It would behoove the United States, and other nations, to work hard to find an effective and palatable alternative to the binary restrict-or-don’t-restrict-trade decision.

      Portrait of Dylan Matthews

      CommentedDylan Matthews

      Kristy's point is a good one. Rodrik is quite right that the economic benefits of trade are unevenly distributed, and that the policy regime favored by the United States in recent years has done little to counteract the resulting increase in inequality. But it does not follow that trade liberalization is bad policy. It may follow that trade liberalization *without redistributive programs* to spread the gains more evenly is bad policy, but that is a different thing altogether. Most Scandinavian countries have arrived at regimes with very few trade restrictions but massively redistributive tax and social welfare systems, which avoid most of the maladies of trade that Rodrik identifies without sacrificing the gains.

  6. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    The developed world unfortunately is the biggest blind alley to protectionism when it comes to furthering free trade in agriculture and farm products, that leave billions in the under-developed and the developing world under-nourished simply because the subsidies that are doled out to protect the rich farmers come in the way of free trade to happen. This asymmetry is striking that the majority of the world’s poor would have gained as their reliance on farm products as source of income is one over-riding measure that is stunted by the veiled interference of an unfair policy that do not allow trade to happen although there is comparative advantage existing; John Rawl’s 'veiled ignorance' in this case seems to further the self-interests of a whopping minority.

    Procyon Mukherjee

Featured