The Harsh Lessons of 2009

纽约——如果要为2009年说几句好话,我们顶多能说,情况本来会更糟,2008年下半年我们仿佛在悬崖边徘徊,后来总算没掉下去,而在2010年,世界上大多数国家的情况八成会有所改善。全世界也已经得到了一些宝贵的教训,尽管现在和未来的经济为此付出了巨大的代价——这代价原本未必会这么大,如果我们早点懂得那些道理的话。

第一个教训是,市场不会自动纠正错误。事实上,如果规管不充分,市场倾向于走极端。2009年,我们又一次看清楚,为什么亚当·斯密所谓“看不见的手”常常真的看不见:它根本不存在。银行家对自身利益的追求(贪婪)并未导致社会福利的增进,甚至都没有增进其股东和债权人的利益,更别说那些失去房产的业主、丢掉工作的劳动者、眼看着养老金泡汤的退休者以及为几千亿美元银行救助方案埋单的纳税人的利益了。

社会保障网的初衷是帮助不幸者渡过难关,如今却慷慨地扩大了覆盖面:先是救助商业银行,然后又救助投资银行、保险公司、汽车生产商乃至汽车贷款公司——据说这都是因为,整个金融体系面临崩溃风险。这么多钱从多数人手里转移到少数人手里,这是破天荒第一次。

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