A view of the Goldman Sachs headquarters in London Jastin Tallis/Getty Images

经济增长已不再足够

马德里—世界发达经济体的宏观经济数据孤立起来看会让人难以费解。但若对它们进行集体分析,那么这些数据揭示了一个麻烦的事实:如果财富产生和分配的方式不发生变化,近几年来席卷世界的政治“抽风”只会更加严重。

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以工资和就业为例。在美国和许多欧洲国家,平均工资停滞不前,尽管从GDP和就业增长角度看,大部分经济体已经从2008年金融危机中复苏。

此外,就业的增长并未让工资占国民总收入之比下降的趋势有所放缓乃至逆转。相反,大部分2008年危机后所创造的财富都流向了富人。这也许可以解释大部分发达经济体消费水平低迷的现象,以及为何极端宽松的货币政策也无法提高通胀

就业表现也表现得有些反常。在发生就业创造的地方,并没有遵循历史路径。比如,大部分就业增长发生在高技能或低技能岗位,而没有发生在中等技能岗位。许多曾经跻身西方中产阶级的人,现在属于中低阶层或低收入阶层,他们的生活面临着比从前更大的经济不确定性。

生产率增长也变得极化。据经合组织数据,在过去十年中,“前沿企业”——定义为生产率增长最高的5%的企业——它们的生产率提高了三分之一多,而其他私人部门企业,则生产率几乎没有任何提高。换句话说,更少的公司贡献了更多的效率增长,但相对来说,这些好处没有扩散到整个经济中。

这些趋势为何发生尚不清楚,但新科技和相关网络效应显然是部分原因。

在宏观层面,美国总生产率自20世纪70年代初以来提高了250%以上,但时薪保持停滞。这意味着生产率增长不但只集中于少数几类企业,并且与市场劳动力收入脱了钩。这一现象的根本性后果是工资不再扮演过去几十年中所起到的核心再分配角色。简言之,资本生产率的增加不再转化为更高的中位收入,这不符合作为自由经济基础的社会契约

如今,显而易见世界上许多经济体正在经历某种结构性变化,并且,这一变化导致了“就业岗位-生产率-收入”分配三角发生倾斜。这一范式的变化导致了西方中产阶级的式微,以及朝不保夕阶级(precariat)的出现,这个新的社会经济阶级不但包括那些找不到工作的人,也包括那些从事非正式、非全职或无保障的工作的人。

大量证据表明,西方的经济不安全感与反精英情绪、政治激进化和攻击少数群体有关。如果不考虑这些经济症候对美国和欧洲普通工人的影响,就无法解释最近民粹主义兴起的现象。

要理解为何会发生偏离预期的经济轨道的情况,只需要看看科技对就业的影响便知。先进技术,特别是先进计算和机器人技术,让生产率的提高不引起工资相应增长。相反,生产率提高所创造出来的新财富,更多地流入了这些技术的所有者的腰包。

相当成熟的常规岗位被自动化,这促使劳动力市场发生极化。剩下的要么是难以自动化但对技能的要求很低甚至根本没有的任务,要么是难以自动化的对技能的要求很高的任务。后一类岗位在数量上要远远少于前一类,而它们又碰巧正属于利用科技的影响超越直接竞争对手并扩张进入新市场的前沿企业。

这就引出了现时代的核心问题:领导人如何解决迅速的科技变化所造成的外部性,从而确保经济和政治的可持续性?换句话说,我们如何构建数字时代的新社会契约?

诊断容易治疗难。比如,你无法知道旧经济处方是否能够扭转当前趋势。推行“结构性改革”和设计完全以提高生产率为目标的狭隘的宏观经济政策可能迫使西方工人与科技进行更大程度的竞争,加剧不确定性。也许我们当前的经济安排只能产生总体增长,但大部分人的生活水平反而会下降。

关于解决方案的争论才刚刚开始。降低经济不平等性需要教育和税收改革,让税收负担决定性地从劳动力转移到资本。西方国家还需要建立新的再分配机制以补充工资在经济中越来越次要的角色。

数据表明这些改革势在必行。如果西方领导人想要遏制并最终平息各自国家所发生的经济抽风,就必须以打造新的包容性增长模式来应对,除此之外别无他法。

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