Wednesday, November 26, 2014
17

打造学习型社会

纽约—最发达国家的公民已开始认为他们的经济建立在创新的基础上。但创新成为发达世界经济的一部分已有两个多世纪的历史。事实上,几千年来,直到工业革命前,收入一直处于停滞状态。工业革命后,人均收入开始激增,一年更比一年高,只是时常会受到周期性波动的干扰。

60年前,诺贝尔经济学奖获得者罗伯特·索洛(Robert Solow)指出,收入的提高主要不是来自资本积累,而是来自技术进步——即学习如何将事情做得更好。尽管生产率的提高部分反映了重大发现的影响,但大部分都要归因于渐进的小变革。果真如此的话,就应该将注意力集中在社会如何学习以及如何促进学习上——包括学习如何学习。

一个世纪前,经济学家兼政治学家约瑟夫·熊彼特(Joseph Schumpeter)指出,市场经济的最大好处是其创新能力。他认为,传统上经济学家关注竞争市场,这是个错误;真正重要的是为创造市场而竞争,而不是在市场中竞争。为创造市场而竞争推动了创新。根据这一观点,从长期看,前赴后继的垄断者能带来生活水平的提高。

熊彼特的结论受到了挑战。垄断者和主导且——如微软等——实际上可能抑制创新。除非受到反垄断当局制约,否则它们可能采取反竞争行为以强化垄断力。

此外,市场在决定研究和学习投资水平或方向方面未必有效。私人激励与社会回报并不完美匹配:企业可以从增强器市场实力的创新中获益,使它们能够绕过监管或将本可能流向他人的租引导到自己囊中。

但熊彼特的一个基本洞见是成立的:从长期创新/学习角度看,关注短期效率的传统政策或许并不值得追求。对于发展中国家和新兴市场而言尤其如此。

产业政策——政府干预资源在各部门间的配置或优待某些技术——有助于“婴儿经济体”(infant economy)学习。一些部门(如工业生产部门)的学习可能会胜过其他部门,而学习的好处,包括成功所必须的制度发展——可能溢出到其他经济活动中。

当采取这些政策时,往往会招来批评。人们常说,政府不应该主动去挑选赢家。在这方面,市场的判断要好得多。

但这方面的证据并不如自由市场鼓吹者宣称的那样令人信服。美国私人部门在全球金融危机前几年的配置资本和管理风险水平之低已是众所周知,而研究表明,经济得自政府研究项目的平均回报其实要高于私人部门项目——特别是因为政府投资更偏向重要的基础研究。只要想一想催生了互联网的发展和DNA的发现的研究就能一窥端倪。

但是,除却这些成功不谈,产业政策的要点决非挑选赢家。相反,成功的产业政策要识别具有正外部性的资源——即本部门学习可能给经济的其他部门带来好处的部门。

从学习的角度看待经济政策让我们能用不同的目光审视许多问题。著名经济学家肯尼斯·阿罗(Kenneth Arrow)强调干中学(learning by doing)的重要性。比如,学习产业成长的必要基础的唯一办法是拥有该产业。而这需要有高竞争力的汇率或者某些产业拥有获得信用的特权——这正是许多东亚国家取得巨大成功的发展战略的要点。

婴儿经济体有一个很强大的产业保护理由。此外,金融市场自由化可能破坏一国学习发展所必须的技能组合的能力,即如何配置资源和管理风险。

类似地,知识产权如能得到合理设计,可以成为学习角度看来的双刃剑。它能够强化研究投资激励,但也可能强化保密激励——阻止学习的关键知识的流动并鼓励企业尽可能在集体知识总量中占取最大份额、贡献最小力量。在这一情形中,创新的速度实际上可能受到削弱。

更广地看,许多打着促进当今资源配置效率的冠冕堂皇的口号强加给发展中国家的政策(特别是与新自由主义“华盛顿共识”相关的政策)实际上在阻碍学习,从而导致长期生活水平下降。

几乎所有政府政策——不管有意还是无意,好还是差——都会对学习造成直接和间接的影响。决策者认识到这一影响的发展中国家更有可能弥补让它们与发达国家产生区别的知识差距。与此同时,发达国家有机会缩小一般实践和最佳实践之间的差别,避免长期停滞的危险。

  • Contact us to secure rights

     

  • Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (17)

    Please login or register to post a comment

    1. CommentedLAWRENCE CARSON - CPA

      Civility in politics is a result of Prudence & Governance which mandates "Truth Or Consequence Accountability" in all governmental civil servant rolls and responsibilities.

      Please Watch --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBeM_ra3u5c

    2. CommentedSubhash Garg

      Dr. Stiglitz, the problem in developing countries is self-serving dictators who put their interest above the country's. I submit that the biggest help developed countries can provide is to block dictators' financial transactions. Only then will columns like yours have any relevance /impact.

    3. CommentedDallas Weaver, Ph.D.

      At the same time learning is becoming the clear dominant factor in economic growth, we have the growth of anti-learning/knowledge social forces both within and outside governments.

      We have anti-vaccine activists dominating the creation epidemics of old diseases. This may be an economic stimulus, but not a beneficial one.

      We have regulatory bureaucracies slowing and preventing learning/knowledge in almost every physical sector of our economy. Much of learning (from basic R&D to product development) requires some experiments and some failure, but in the risk adverse world of government regulation that can't be allowed. From the FDA to the NRC to the local building regulations, learning something truly new is discouraged. In the government regulatory world, we now have the "precautionary" principle saying that any uncertainty or anything not fully understood is not acceptable.

      Meanwhile angel investors, VC, etc. have bypassed some of the old financial restrictions to innovation from the past, while the government bureaucracies have limited the areas of learning and innovation to the "permission-less" sectors of our society. Funding anything requiring long complex permit processes is very difficult, for good reasons.

      The limitations and government restrictions on learning and innovation may be the dominant terms in explaining the difference in economic growth rates between nations. In China, it appears that if you have an idea, you can do it and don't require half a decade of lawyers, regulators, environmental experts, activists, hearings and paperwork before you try. That is why China has cheap solar grade silicon for solar panels after an investor build a $1.5 billion plant in less than 2 yr, after there was a world wide shortage of solar silicon (made from sand, available everywhere). US investors and industry saw the same opportunity, but our regulators slowed the response long enough for the opportunity to close out.

    4. CommentedT Selvakumaran

      We discuss the Stiglitz-Grenwald notion of “Learning Societies in the context of Edmund Phelps’ “Mass Flourishing”:

      [1] First, we need to understand that the fundamental question that Western capitalism is struggling with, during these times of economic crises around the world, is this: "how much should Western capitalism accommodate class-based social organization?" For this, we need to first understand Schumpeter's contribution to economic analysis in its proper context.

      In David Ricardo's characterization of the market economy, the landlord class continues to become affluent indefinitely, while the labor class is permanently held down at the level of Malthusian subsistence. The capitalist-entrepreneur-manager class does obtain large incomes for a time, through identification of profit opportunities in the market, allocation/investment of resources, and supervision of the production/distribution processes.

      In Karl Marx's view, this constantly growing inequality in the distribution of wealth between the landlord, labor and capitalist classes was the root cause of the frequent crises that Western capitalism was subjected to, already in the 19th century. Marx's solution was to abolish private property and profits altogether, in the belief that, for the future, new developments in science and technology would lead to greater wealth creation than would land ownership and the profit motive. Besides, with a labor theory of value that Marx inherited from Ricardo, the precise permanent value of all goods could possibly be ascertained, leaving no role for any uncertainties in the production/distribution processes that need to be compensated for by profits.

      Firm belief in the "Scientific Method" made it possible for Marx to envision a class-less society that could continue to gain affluence and wealth. Schumpeter's great insight was that a very special kind of innovation -- created, fostered and exercised by the managerial class -- was what was missing in the Marxian analysis of economic value. As Schumpeter describes in his book, "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy", Marxists believe that the profit-shares that accrue to capitalist-entrepreneur-managers is nothing but theft.

      [2] In the Schumpeterian analysis, the creative/innovative contributions made by the managerial class, within corporate environments, needed a different framework than was provided by the free market mechanism of classical economics. To encourage business organizations to obtain the full benefit of this innovation, some allowance for monopolies should be made. In this way, by accommodating an elite class of capitalist-entrepreneur-managers within the class-less Western society, as suggested by Schumpeter, Western capitalism was able to avoid the collapse that the communist economies could not avoid in the 70s and the 80s.

      As Joseph Stiglitz has noted in this article, Robert Solow observed in the 1950s that rising incomes are attributed not so much to capital accumulation. That is, employing more money or better land or more people while following the same methodologies is not what contributes most to economic growth. Instead, the technological progress that happens at the work-place of business organizations, that is achieved by combining the factors of production -- land, labor, capital -- in new and innovative ways to produce more efficiently and to produce new products is, what creates economic wealth.

      Kenneth Arrow’s concept of “Learning by Doing” also emphasizes that workers/employees learning to operate, co-ordinate and produce in the industrial/corporate arena is what causes their compensation to be so much higher than agricultural workers. Thus the settings for the creation of economic value in the situations described by Solow and Arrow actually fit well within the Schumpeter’s concept of innovation at the business/professional workplace. Stiglitz-Greenwald notion of “Learning Societies” thus assumes a special class of workers/employees who would be able to upgrade their economic value because they have more access to learning in these industrial workplaces.

      [3] Ned Phelps’ concept of “Mass Flourishing” derives from historical examples of cultural renaissance that Western societies have gone through, roughly in parallel to the first, second and third industrial revolution. These societies experienced a sustained increase in real wages and productivity that could not be accounted for by just saying they were reaching economies of scale. Phelps ascribes this sustained increase in the standard of living to indigenous innovation. Though it derives largely from quantifiable improvements made at the professional workplace, it is a little bit more general. It takes into consideration flourishing in the general culture, and it is driven by the ascendancy of modern values – vitalism, individualism and self-expression – over traditional values that emphasize societal needs over the individual’s goals.

    5. CommentedROBERT BAESEMANN

      Not long ago, there were no interstate banks. Many states did not allow branch banking. The SEC and the IRS imposed reasonably reliable accounting rules on corporations and other businesses. Publicly traded companies were capitalized using bank loans, commercial paper, the sale of equity in stock markets and the sale of bonds in organized exchange markets for debt. This sort of system seemed to sustain the economy and economic growth for many years. Beginning in 1973, the Chicago Board of Trade formed the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Derivatives and risk management became common terms for what has always seemed to gambling with other peoples money. I might be wrong about this, and if I am please someone give me a source? But I have never seen a shred of evidence that economic growth depended on anything but commercial banks and private equity. The notion that Michael Milken, Jamie Dimon, or Wall Street ever contributed anything to growth or capital formation seems to me to be self serving fatuous propaganda. I = S one way or another with or without Wall Street.

    6. CommentedMarc Laventurier

      Let this be regarded as the slightest and most tardy contribution to the Learning Society:

      DNA was discovered and progressively characterized by European scientists, including Nobelist Albrecht Kossel, through the later 19th and early 20th centuries. Its' double-helical chemical structure was famously discovered by Watson & Crick, aided by the work of others, as is the way with science.

      However, somebody at MIT around 2000 seems to have selected Kary Mullis' development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as the most consequential (in the productive sense that Prof. Stiglitz seems to intend) scientific contribution of the 20th century, given that PCR made practical further work unlocking the power of genetic technology.

    7. CommentedBrett Williams

      I agree that care must be taken to avoid adverse consequences of having too high a level of IP protection in a particular country's circumstances. The IP rules in the WTO allow some latitiude. However, I disagree with the propositions made about protection. Professor Stiglitz emphasizes positive production externalities in this article and in some of his other writing.I have not read anything where he points out that it is a fairly narrow set of circumstances where the optimal policy to address a positive production externality is trade protection - in the sense of import barriers. Nor have I read anything where he acknowledges that the positive production externalities might be accompanied by positive consumption externalities - with the effect that any import barrier implemented to achieve a gain by addressing a positive production policy will also cause a loss as it enlarges the size of the consumption externality.
      The omission of these points does matter because when the story is told without including these important aspects, then it provides ammunition to advocates for developing countries who wish to justify a view that trade liberalization is good for rich countries but not good for poor countries. That is a shame. It leads to enlarged claims for special and differential treatment in WTO negotiations - which leads to no agreement in WTO negotiations. In turn that leads to small countries having to reach an accommodation with a much bigger country in an FTA - which frequently has some disadvantages for the smaller country including the likelihood of excessively heavy obligations in some other area like IP, investment or immigration.

        CommentedAdrien Fabre

        Too bad you're not making any concrete proposition. Reducing the duration of patents, suppressing the copyright on scientific research, encouraging free software, revealing the patents on vital medicines, opening as much data as possible : many things should be done. What are you proposing so far ?

    8. CommentedWilliam Wallace

      Every time I have occasion to run across this category of solutions, it begs the same conclusions: basic research, unguided by the economy but rather by science, is best financed publicly. The trickle down from basic research is phenomenally beneficial in unexpected ways (hello, internet). From there on, however, very hard to create a model of a learning society that makes practical sense.
      A deeper disquiet arises from the simple debates that inevitably follow such suggestions, mixing social, economic, and nonsense theories based on rationalist fantasies of the past. The left, with mistaken optimism, conjures social solutions that do not take game theory into consideration. The right clings to models based on a radical divorce of the individual from society that does not hold (thus the lack of perceived shared responsibility), ignoring the myriad ways in which all achievement is based incrementally on those that went before.
      No one goes from mute savannah dweller to king of industry without access to our cultural database. When a man places a shiny diamond on a pyramid and claims monumental achievement, he broadcasts his monumental ignorance.

    9. CommentedJonathan Lam

      Gamesmith94134: Creating a Learning Society

      “While some of the productivity increase reflects the impact of dramatic discoveries, much of it has been due to small, incremental changes. And, if that is the case, it makes sense to focus attention on how societies learn, and what can be done to promote learning – including learning how to learn.”
      I have serious doubt in why should Mr. Joseph E. Stiglitz still continue promoting on its “know-how” deserves better compensation or leadership to retribution; in reverse, outcome like copy right to monopolize, or targeting on the institutionalization that ‘Developed countries, meanwhile, have an opportunity to narrow the gap between average and best practices, and to avoid the danger of secular stagnation’ is an understatement of Globalization and institutionalization of industries that oligarchy owned and corporation turned into sovereigns. In creating a learning society, Can he means emerging nations should sit in front of the drawing board to kowtow to TIPP/TPP for all innovations; so, economies will grow accordingly?

      “There is a compelling infant economy argument for industrial protection. Moreover, financial-market liberalization may undermine countries’ ability to learn another set of skills that are essential for development: how to allocate resources and manage risk.”
      I would regrettably say this statement could have been an insult to many including the underdeveloped countries. However, many learned after “Med Club mergers’, “beggar thy neighbors’ and super telecommunications mergers resulted in an inequality created the unbalanced stratified classes that they took an adverse turn to nationalism and freer market system.

      Apparently, Mr. Stiglitz did not learn well the from the Southern Asian economical miracle that Asian labors is another source of capital that can be innovated from farmer to factory workers; and exchange rate was their secondary priority to enter the industry to capitalize their productivity in order to sustain their value of their currencies. Consequently, productivity in China granted them 3.75 trillion foreign reserves. In contrast, the U.S. trade deficit jumped to a two-year high in April. The deficit rose to $47.2 billion in April, up 6.9 percent from an upwardly revised March deficit of $44.2 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. And what can we do if deficit is a bad element in US economical growth? I just cannot ignor to the facts If the learning society Mr. Stiglitz suggested would work refinance or print more……..

      At present, there is a dispute in the chaos in financial world as bank fines soar, U.S. threatened $16 billion BNP penalty. We cannot fathom what the outcome would be; but the G6 of the G7 is under the show now. I think Mr. Obama emphases American, the leadership onward the industrial world; but he forgets to balance his budget book. Does it mean there is a possibility of just G1 only? I would like to say to Mr. Putin that he may not be the only one or the last in defiance.

      Can Mr. Stiglitz teach America to stand on one foot only and keep it balance? I wonder.

      May the Buddha bless you?

    10. Portrait of Michael Heller

      CommentedMichael Heller

      On Stiglitz vs Schumpeter:

      In his introduction to the most recent edition of Schumpeter’s ‘Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy’ (2010) Joseph Stiglitz attempted a demolition job on Schumpeter’s explanation of capitalist crises. It is telling that in that introduction Stiglitz wrote about the difficulties of “translating” Schumpeter. Yet Schumpeter wrote in excellent plain English. So what is the problem?

      Stiglitz supplies misleading hatchet ‘translations’ of Schumpeter’s central message because Stiglitz apparently requires great names like ‘Schumpeter’ to give pseudo-credibility to the specious socialist interpretation of the financial crisis of 2008/9. Yet Schumpeter was consistent and unrelenting in exposing the many silly guises of socialism. Schumpeter spotted pranksters like Stiglitz a mile off.

      The Stiglitz edition of Schumpeter’s ‘Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy’ conveniently omits several of Schumpeter’s own ‘Prefaces’ in which he responds with self-confessed “amusement” to various misinterpretations of his monopoly argument by the less competent economists. They “thunder on”, he said, but they leave out the qualifications, and “to leave out the necessary qualifications is not to present the whole truth”. There is much much more to Schumpeter’s arguments about competition and monopoly than Stiglitz is willing to let on.

      The real content of Schumpeter’s “long-run” innovation perspective, which Stiglitz pretends to praise, is fundamentally the opposite of the one Stiglitz advances here. It is a complicated theory of long-run capitalist cycles with their indispensable evolutionary ups and downs. No one except Stiglitz would have the temerity to infer and foist upon the unsuspecting public the erroneous idea Schumpeter supported industrial policy. Schumpeter thought industrial policy a terrible idea !! Schumpeter did have a theory of ‘learning’, but it was closer to the Washington Consensus than to the Beijing Consensus.

      Anyone familiar with the true evolutionary Schumpeterian view of dynamic economic learning could offer countless counter-blasts to the hot air in this article. A pithy paragraph from Schumpeter’s introduction to his own ‘Business Cycles’ (the book which outlines his theory of long-run innovation in ways apparently unrecognisable or untranslatable to Stiglitz) will suffice.

      “It is important to keep in mind that what we know from experience is not the working of capitalism as such, but of a distorted capitalism which is covered with the scars of past injuries inflicted on its organism. The very fundamentals of the industrial organisms of all nations have been politically shaped. Everywhere we find industries which would not exist at all but for protection, subsidies, and other political stimuli, and others which are overgrown or otherwise in an unhealthy state because of them. Such industries are assets of doubtful value, in any case a source of weakness and often the immediate cause of breakdowns or depressive symptoms. This type of economic waste and maladjustment may well be more important than any other.”

      That’s the real Schumpeter speaking. Too subtle for some?

      http://michaelgheller.blogspot.com
      Heller Economic History Entertainments

        CommentedTim Chambers

        Does someone pay you to be a troll or do just do it for amusement? I am sure it doesn't occur to you the the distortions Schumpeter wrote about are what led us to the impure form of capitalism and markets that we have today, polluted as they have have been for the last century and a half by corporations and crony government. If it weren't for corporations demanding ever bigger markets for themselves, so that they could continue to grow ever larger we would have the purer form of capitalism you don't realise you seek, the form in which firms are small and privately owned and markets were more localised, and monopolies did not exist. The whole structure of laws and regulations, under which we live today, was instituted to foster the growth of large corporations.

    11. CommentedDallas Weaver, Ph.D.

      I am not convinced by the arguments presented. Yes, the future and economic growth is tied to innovation and Schumpeters observation that the successful are usually only a few percent superior or more innovative than those that fail and preventing failure will prevent success and innovation (as we have done with our sugar industry).

      However, assuming that some super bright government staffers are wise enough to make allocation decisions may be asking way too much of people and organizations. The internet wasn't invented by DARPA to be the INTERNET we know and love today, but to be a scientific communication system that was robust to disruption with no thought of Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. It wasn't even designed with enough address space or built in security, with these features being add-ons along with a robust DNS system allowing users to type in project-syndicate.org instead of a bunch of numbers.

      Remember, brilliant planners in France had a huge head start with their Minitel system back when we were playing with slow dial up modems and acoustical couplers. Meanwhile, Japan with all their brilliant scientists and planners spent billions to take over the microprocessor market with their 5th generation project, while Europe spent billions to subsidize the next generation of memory chips only to have that market taken by Korea and the US.

      Noting that "Private incentives are not well aligned with social returns" seems to imply that public service staffers and agencies are well aligned with social returns when in reality, if those social returns would result in the decrease in the agencies or staffers jobs or power their incentives are not aligned with social returns. The examples of private sector misalignments often require government assistance such as preventing competition, blocking disruptive innovation with regulations, rent seeking with franchises, etc.

      How many government agencies have been given tasks and objectives that would result in their demise as an agency have succeeded in that task? The Manhattan Project (A bomb) was the only obvious one and going to the moon which resulted in a huge NASA budget cut (the bureaucracy learned the real incentives from the moon landing and has never done anything again on time or on budget) is another. The DEA failure to solve the addiction problem is a prime example with our prison systems total failure at recidivism reduction. Even our school system, public health and parks have perverse incentives that budget increases often depend upon failure, as we observe our parks being closed by spending money on guards when the budgets are challenged (how to do the most damage to the citizens per dollar of budget cut is an art form in government agencies -- aka the Washington Monument defense).

      Private incentives may be much better aligned with social returns that public incentives in real government organizations.

      Basic research is another issue and should be heavily government funded as the results have little appropriability, in most cases. There is often well over 10 years between a basic discovery and any cash flow from that discovery. In the late 60's we had "guns and butter" by LBJ with a corollary of killing R&D in the material sciences (all major National Labs hit at 50% type levels), then a decade later we have a national commission wondering why Japan was way ahead of the US in material sciences (the basic research they did was published in Japanese). Of course the Commission only looked back a few years and suggested protectionist measures and more education of a new crop of scientists, meanwhile people like me moved into other areas. I moved into aquaculture and biology only to have aquaculture killed by the regulators and activists in the US, while it is rapidly exponentially growing around the world.

    12. CommentedPaul Daley

      It's good to emphasize how big a role imitation plays in development and economics more generally. Allowing Imitation ensures ease of entry and more vibrant competition in markets. But learning through imitation does impact the rewards that might otherwise be available only by learning through experimentation. The trick is to balance the two types of learning by providing property rights for the results of experimentation, but not monopoly rights. Compulsory licensing rules might do the trick, or the government might want to use its powers of eminent domain, if and when monopolies develop.

      On the issue of industrial protection, the question might really revolve around how structured the protective environment would have to be. Ideally, one would want a situation that worked like an apprenticeship with a fixed date for graduation. A playground where the local elite could just play at business wouldn't do anyone any good.

    13. CommentedLanre Rotimi

      It appears to me that the focus is more on the problem than the Solution. How can Local Governments, State Governments, National Governments Build Bridge between Lessons Learning and Lessons Forgetting? Why is it the case that Universities and tertiary Institutions in Developed and Developing Countries Research do not contribute much towards achieving increasing convergence between National and Global Development Cooperation Goals and Targets Intention and Reality? Can Lessons Learning not help tackle Distress in Local Governments, State Governments and National Governments in US and World? Given Evidence that Washington Consensus Policies Actually Increase Poverty, What can be Done to Avoid this in the future? Glad to have Practical Answers to these Questions.....

    14. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

      One of the important observations in the report by the Majority Staff of the Joint Economic Committee as attached in the article by Stiglitz is that basic research as percentage of the GDP has plateaued at 0.3-0.5% of the GDP, which is largely funded by Federal Government. Further inquiry into this aspect would reveal that more funding alone may not solve the problem, the pipeline of talent around basic research has also dried up, so it would take time before this changes to make fruitful contributions in the likes of the DNA, Internet, etc.

      There is fundamentally something very wrong that Society has chosen as attributes of success otherwise why would it be that in our youth we knew that the best talents were meant for basic research in Physics or Maths, but now it is a different matter where the talent is headed.

    Featured