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垄断的新时代

纽约—200年来,关于什么决定了收入分配——以及经济如何运行——的问题,有两大思想流派。其一滥觞于亚当·斯密和十九世纪自由主义经济学家,关注焦点是竞争市场。其二认识到斯密式的自由主义导致了财富和收入的迅速集中,将出发点放在了无限制的市场导致垄断的思想上。了解这两大流派很重要,因为我们关于政府政策和现存不平等性的观点取决于我们认为其中哪个流派能更好地描述现实。

对十九世纪自由主义者及其追随者来说,因为市场是竞争性的,所以个体的回报与他们的社会贡献——用经济学家的话说,就是“边际产品”——有关。资本家因为储蓄而不是消费而获得回报——用我的牛津大学德鲁蒙德(Drummond)政治经济学讲席教授前辈拿骚·西尼尔(Nassau Senior)的话说,是因为他们的节制(abstinence)。因此,收入差异被归因于个人所拥有的“资产”——人力和金融资本。因此,不平等性学者将焦点集中在资产的分配上,包括它们如何在代际间传递。

第二个思想流派以“权力”为起点——包括实施垄断控制或在劳动力市场上对工人的威权。这一领域的学者将焦点集中在是什么导致了权力,权力如何维持和强化,以及可能阻止市场竞争的其他因素。对源于信息不对称的剥削的研究工作便是一个重要的例子。

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