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长期停滞还是自作自受的衰退?

慕尼黑—将近整整八年前,雷曼兄弟公司倒闭将全球经济拖入衰退深渊。银行间市场崩溃,整个工业化世界陷入二战以来最严重的危机。尽管中央银行们维持了极低利率,但危机仍未完全克服。相反,许多经济体,如南欧国家和法国,根本没有触底反弹。而日本更是已经衰退了四分之一个世纪。

一些经济学家认为这是“长期停滞”的证据。长期停滞这一现象由美国经济学家埃尔文·汉森(Alvin Hansen)在1938年提出,他的灵感来自马克思的《利润率下降规律》(Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall)。根据这一观点,由于有利可图的投资项目逐渐耗尽,自然真实利率也持续下降。因此,只有政策利率也降低相等幅度,才有可能稳定经济。

据我对危机前日本、美国和南欧的巨大信用泡沫以及央行在过去几年中所采取的激进政策的观察,我怀疑这一理论的正确性。事实上,我发现很有可能2008年后停滞背后是一个截然不同的机制,我称之为“自作自受的衰退”(self-inflicted malaise)。

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