紧缩幻象

发自伦敦——用当前的节俭换取将来的幸福这种主张由来已久——可以追溯到亚当·史密斯(Adam Smith)对“吝啬”大加赞赏的时期。这种主张在“艰难时世”时尤其叫嚣得厉害。1930年,美国总统赫伯特·胡佛(Herbert Hoover)的财政部长安德鲁·梅隆(Andrew Mellon)劝他“清算劳工,清算股票,清算农场主,清算房地产。这样能肃清系统中的腐败……人们可以过上更道德的生活……那些更有雄心的人会从那些能力不足的人们手上接过残局。”

对梅隆门下的“清算主义者”来说,2008年之前的经济充斥着危险的增长——无论是银行业、房地产还是股票——要使经济恢复稳健增长就得将其切除。他们的立场很清晰:国家是条寄生虫,吸食着自由企业的血肉;经济会自然走向充分就业的均衡,如果没有政府误导性举措的妨碍,危机爆发之后就会以相当快的速度实现这一均衡。因此他们激烈反对凯恩斯干预主义。

凯恩斯的离经判道之处在于他否认经济有这种自然恢复的能力——至少短期不会。这在他的名言“长期而言我们都会死亡。”中体现了出来。凯恩斯认为经济可能会陷入长期性的“不充分就业均衡”;在这种情况下,就需要某种外部刺激来使其恢复到更高的就业水平上。

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