20081023/美国政府在兑现《共产党宣言》?

多维社记者纪群编译报导/ 马克思160年前的国有化措施,看起来似乎可以作为那些主张和支持救助华尔街的人的重要动力。

卡尔·马克思在1848年发表的《共产党宣言》中,提出了无产阶级夺取政权后应当实施的10项措施,目的是将所有的生产工具集中在国家即组织成为统治阶级的无产阶级手中。其措施之五,就是“通过拥有国家资本和独享垄断权的国家银行,把信贷集中在国家手里。”

假如马克思今天死而复生,可能会高兴地发现,西方多数的经济学家和金融评论家,其中包括许多赞成自由市场的人,都已经同意他的观点。

marx.jpg
中文版《共产党宣言》。(资料图片)

这是加拿大《国家邮报》(National Post)刊登的马丁·梅西(Martin Masse)一篇题为“救市标志着卡尔·马克思的回归”(Bailout marks Karl Marx’s comeback)的文章的引言。该文章接着指出,事实上,从美国传统基金会的分析师,到华尔街日报的评论家,以及新闻周刊的博客评论中,都宣称赞成中央银行在最近几个月的大规模“流动资金注入”工程,政府接管金融巨头机构,以及目前还停滞不前的7000亿美元纾困方案。而在2001年网络泡沫爆裂之际,也曾有一些相同的声音,要求采取类似的干预措施。

马克思可能会奇怪:“我的这些反自由市场的现代的追随者怎么啦?”。

马丁·梅西这篇文章说,乍一看,任何懂经济学的人都可以看到,目前的这种救市政策包含着一系列错误。它将从居民中征收上来的税金,拿去救活和维持一些私人企业,而这些企业将抽走资本,扼杀就业机会,并使企业生产力更低。增加货币供应量,将资源重新分配给那些债务人和那些做了不明智投资的人,也是一种无形的征税。

那么,为什么市场一有一些低迷,人们就要把自由市场的精彩分析弃诸脑后?

目前提出的干预理由似乎都是围绕着对大萧条重现的恐惧。我们被告知说,如果我们袖手旁观,让金融和投资机构破产,就会有金融市场普遍崩溃的危险,其后的信贷和枯竭将在所有的生产部门带来灾难性的后果。这种见解,伯南克、保尔森和大多数右翼政治和金融机构共同的说法,他们是基于米尔顿·弗里德曼的理论,弗里德曼认为,美联储在1929年的市场崩溃后,没有对金融体系注入足够的资金,结果,等于加剧了大危机。

这听起来够自由主义者的了。此外,作为政府肢体的美联储的错误政策,和糟糕的政府监管应当对危机负责。而迅速反应的紧迫性和保持市场运行的必要性,压倒了对征税的和增加货币供应量导致通货膨胀的担心。这可以与左翼凯恩斯主义的做法形成对比,目前的抒困方案与凯恩斯左派的解决方案意外的类似,尽管对危机的原因有不同的看法。

但是,还有另外一种办法,它是与传统的自由市场原则无法妥协的,这种方法一以惯之地解释了为什么我们不断地进入这些泡沫状况,随后毁灭的原因。这种方法就是马克思主义,《共产党宣言》的措施之五:政府控制资本。

几十年来,奥地利学派经济学家们警告说,基于名义货币的中央银行系统可能带来的一个可怕后果就是,货币,不再基于像金子等任何商品,它的发行可以变得很容易被操纵。其后果,除了其明显的弊端(物价上涨,贬低货币等),宽松的信贷和人为的低利率会向投资者发出错误信号,从而使得经济周期恶化。

不仅是央行不断凭空创造货币,但分散的联邦储备制度可能使得金融机构增加信贷到许多倍数。当货币创造持续进行,金融泡沫开始自吹自胀,初始借款的价格越高,资金的借贷和信用的创造就越活跃、越膨胀,从而导致更多的信贷创造,甚至产生更高的价格。

随着价格的扭曲,不当投资,或者说,在正常的市场条件下不应该的投资,愈来愈多,累积起来。尽管这些隐患正在形成,但是金融机构依然被驱动着,加入到这个疯狂的不负责任的借贷潮中去,因为如果不加入,他们将在竞争对手面前失去市场份额。随着“流动性”的过剩,也有越来越多的增加产量的风险决策在作出,杠杆作用达到了危险的程度。

在这样一个躁狂的期间,每个人似乎都认定,繁荣将继续下去。只有奥地利人警告说,繁荣不可能永远持续下去。正像哈耶克和路德维希冯·米塞斯在1929年大萧条也做过的那样,其追随者在过去几年中已经一再这样做了。

现在,当金字塔开始倒向地面时,应该做些什么时,一系列多米诺骨牌效应在产生,央行在关注通货膨胀失控。很显然,信贷将会萎缩,因为每个人都将急于从有风险的企业和交易中脱身,收回贷款,并把钱放在安全的地方。不当投资将不得不注销,价格将会回落到实际和合理的水平;停留在非生产性囤积的资源将被释放,并移交给真正需要者。只有到那时,资本才会再次用于生产性投资。

弗里德曼货币学派的支持者,他们没有不当投资的概念,也从对繁荣提出任何问题,当然也不能理解为什么它不可避免地导致崩溃。

他们只看到信贷干涸,只会指责联储局没有大规模地注入足够大量的流动资金,来防止崩溃。

但是,中央银行和政府不能把无利可图的投资转变成有利可图。他们不能强迫私人机构在问题如此严重地暴露出来时,还增加贷款。这就是为什么要求联邦把更多的钱扔在这个金融危机问题上,是如此完全错误的。注入流动资金一年多前就开始,但是并没有能够阻止局势变得更糟。这些措施只会延缓市场的调整,将本来的迅速衰退变成一种长期的衰退而已。

与普遍的看法相反,弗里德曼并不反对通货膨胀,而只是主张在正常环境下保持对它的更好地控制。但是弗里德曼对美国政府在大危机时期的表现的批评是错误的,美联储当时并非固执于不干预政策,它多次试图阻止形势的恶化,但信用市场仍然崩溃,其原因是多方面的。这是奥地利学派和芝加哥学派在解释弗里德曼观点上的一个关键差异。

正如哈耶克在1932年写道,为了与大萧作斗争而实行的强迫信贷扩张,只能是一种试图把魔鬼招来制服魔鬼的手段。

马丁·梅西最后写道,芝加哥学派在金融问题上的如此混乱,从而导致其信徒如今支持世界历史上的规模最大的政府支持和控制私人资本政策。他们的主张增强了左派的声音,那些混乱的自由市场主义者并不是在帮助“拯救资本主义”,而是相反,在促进资本主义的毁灭。


Bailout marks Karl Marx’s comeback

Marx’s Proposal Number Five seems to be the leading motivation for those backing the Wall Street bailout

Martin Masse, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In his Communist Manifesto published in 1848, Karl Marx proposed 10 measures to be implemented after the proletariat takes power, with the aim of centralizing all instruments of production in the hands of the state. Proposal Number Five was to bring about the “centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

If he were to rise from the dead today, Marx might be delighted to discover that most economists and financial commentators, including many who claim to favour the free market, agree with him.

Indeed, analysts at the Heritage and Cato Institute, and commentators in the Wall Street Journal and on this very page, have made declarations in favour of the massive “injection of liquidities” engineered by central banks in recent months, the government takeover of giant financial institutions, as well as the still stalled $700-billion bailout package. Some of the same voices were calling for similar interventions following the burst of the dotcom bubble in 2001.

“Whatever happened to the modern followers of my free-market opponents?” Marx would likely wonder.

At first glance, anyone who understands economics can see that there is something wrong with this picture. The taxes that will need to be levied to finance this package may keep some firms alive, but they will siphon off capital, kill jobs and make businesses less productive elsewhere. Increasing the money supply is no different. It is an invisible tax that redistributes resources to debtors and those who made unwise investments.

So why throw this sound free-market analysis overboard as soon as there is some downturn in the markets?

The rationale for intervening always seems to centre on the fear of reliving the Great Depression. If we let too many institutions fail because of insolvency, we are being told, there is a risk of a general collapse of financial markets, with the subsequent drying up of credit and the catastrophic effects this would have on all sectors of production. This opinion, shared by Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson and most of the right-wing political and financial establishments, is based on Milton Friedman’s thesis that the Fed aggravated the Depression by not pumping enough money into the financial system following the market crash of 1929.

It sounds libertarian enough. The misguided policies of the Fed, a government creature, and bad government regulation are held responsible for the crisis. The need to respond to this emergency and keep markets running overrides concerns about taxing and inflating the money supply. This is supposed to contrast with the left-wing Keynesian approach, whose solutions are strangely very similar despite a different view of the causes.

But there is another approach that doesn’t compromise with free-market principles and coherently explains why we constantly get into these bubble situations followed by a crash. It is centered on Marx’s Proposal Number Five: government control of capital.

For decades, Austrian School economists have warned against the dire consequences of having a central banking system based on fiat money, money that is not grounded on any commodity like gold and can easily be manipulated. In addition to its obvious disadvantages (price inflation, debasement of the currency, etc.), easy credit and artificially low interest rates send wrong signals to investors and exacerbate business cycles.

Not only is the central bank constantly creating money out of thin air, but the fractional reserve system allows financial institutions to increase credit many times over. When money creation is sustained, a financial bubble begins to feed on itself, higher prices allowing the owners of inflated titles to spend and borrow more, leading to more credit creation and to even higher prices.

As prices get distorted, malinvestments, or investments that should not have been made under normal market conditions, accumulate. Despite this, financial institutions have an incentive to join this frenzy of irresponsible lending, or else they will lose market shares to competitors. With “liquidities” in overabundance, more and more risky decisions are made to increase yields and leveraging reaches dangerous levels.

During that manic phase, everybody seems to believe that the boom will go on. Only the Austrians warn that it cannot last forever, as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises did before the 1929 crash, and as their followers have done for the past several years.

Now, what should be done when that pyramidal scheme starts crashing to the floor, because of a series of cascading failures or concern from the central bank that inflation is getting out of control? It’s obvious that credit will shrink, because everyone will want to get out of risky businesses, to call back loans and to put their money in safe places. Malinvestments have to be liquidated; prices have to come down to realistic levels; and resources stuck in unproductive uses have to be freed and moved to sectors that have real demand. Only then will capital again become available for productive investments.

Friedmanites, who have no conception of malinvestments and never raise any issue with the boom, also cannot understand why it inevitably leads to a crash. They only see the drying up of credit and blame the Fed for not injecting massive enough amounts of liquidities to prevent it.

But central banks and governments cannot transform unprofitable investments into profitable ones. They cannot force institutions to increase lending when they are so exposed. This is why calls for throwing more money at the problem are so totally misguided. Injections of liquidities started more than a year ago and have had no effect in preventing the situation from getting worse. Such measures can only delay the market correction and turn what should be a quick recession into a prolonged one.

Friedman– who, contrary to popular perception, was not a foe of monetary inflation, but simply wanted to keep it under better control in normal circumstances — was wrong about the Fed not intervening during the Depression. It tried repeatedly to inflate but credit still went down for various reasons. This is a key difference in interpretation between the Austrian and Chicago schools.

As Friedrich Hayek wrote in 1932, “Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion. … To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about …”

The confusion of Chicago school economics on monetary issues is so profound as to lead its adherents today to support the largest government grab of private capital in world history. By adding their voices to those on the left, these confused free-marketeers are not helping to “save capitalism”, but contributing to its destruction. – Martin Masse is publisher of the libertarian webzine Le Quebecois Libre and a former advisor to Industry minister Maxime Bernier.

http://www.financialpost.com/story.html?id=849277
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2008/09/29/bailout-marks-karl-marx-s-comeback.aspx

Correction
National Post
Published: Saturday, October 04, 2008

Scholars at the Cato Institute in Washington have not supported the U. S. government’s US$700-billion financial bailout plan. The wording of a sentence in Martin Masse’s Sept. 30 commentary, “Karl’s Comeback,” mistakenly implied otherwise. The National Post apologizes for the error.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=859568

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