An actor dressed as Santa Claus pretends to retrieve a lost package Carsten Koall/Getty Images

偷走圣诞节的经济学家

雅典—厚着脸皮用经济思想间的冲突来欢迎新年,理念相左的阵营代表会如何看待圣诞礼物?若不嫌轻薄的话,我的答案能够揭露每种经济理论的傲慢和虚无。

新古典学派:他们认为个体秉持算计效用最大化算术,顽固地认为交易完全由效用驱动。新古典派经济学家对于圣诞节礼物这种从根本上毫无效率可言的交换方式是无法理解的。吉尔收到杰克用X美元买的礼物,但这个礼物给他带来的效用不如零售价Y美元(不多于X美元)的商品Y,吉尔被迫接受效用损失,或者作出一宗不划算、通常也不完美的交易:用杰克的礼物换取Y。无论如何,存在净损失。

从这个角度看,唯一有效率的礼物是现金红包。但圣诞节是交换礼物,而不是单向的给予的节日,杰克和吉尔交换红包意义何在呢?如果他们的红包的数额一样,那么交换礼物就毫无意义。如果数额不一样,那么收到数额较少的红包的人就会感到尴尬,给杰克和吉尔的关系造成不可修复的伤害。因此,新古典学派支持吝啬鬼假说:最好的礼物就是没有礼物。

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