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这位26岁的无名小子戳到了《21世纪资本论》的痛脚?  

2015-04-09 07:44:30|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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这位26岁的无名小子戳到了《21世纪资本论》的痛脚?


Chris Matthews 2015年04月08日


经济学家托马斯?皮凯蒂的质疑大军新增一员,近日一位麻省理工研究生公开向他叫板,提出解释贫富差距急剧扩大现象时,应该充分考虑房地产的作用。

这位26岁的无名小子戳到了《21世纪资本论》的痛脚? - hongbinji - jiji的博客


    皮凯蒂的《21世纪资本论》原本只是一本艰深的理论书籍,近来却屡屡掀起激烈的讨论,这并不常见。

    《21世纪资本论》之所以成为让人意外的畅销书,原因在于其指出了人们的普遍担忧,即富裕国家收入和财富差距正迅速扩大,这样的趋势不利于提高社会凝聚力,也不利于经济增长。这本书产生了一连串影响,有人对理论研究进行了梳理,进而帮助大家理解百年来,甚至更长时间以来收入差距的本质;也有人预计,即使收入和财富差距已处于有史以来最高,未来还将继续扩大。皮凯蒂提出的解决方案是征收全球性资本税或富人税,建立财富再分配制度,以减少贫富差距过大产生的不利影响。

    皮凯蒂的新书大受欢迎以来,已有数十名学术上颇为精进的经济学家和专业的新闻记者从多个角度对其理论提出挑战。最新批评者是26岁的麻省理工研究生马修?荣利。上个月,荣利在布鲁金斯学会发表论文指出,皮凯蒂在分析资本日益增长的重要性时,并未充分考虑贬值的作用。荣利的论文还指出,如果考虑贬值因素的影响,房地产价值的增长就恰好可以解释工薪阶层收入相对比重下降以及资本所有者收入相对比重增长。(此句繁复晦涩,但未找到更好译法,须看下皮凯蒂和荣利对该问题的阐述——曹祯)

    财经媒体纷纷报道了荣利的论文,毕竟一位尚未获得博士学位的经济学者能写出如此水平的评论文章已实属不易。《经济学人》称:“几位知名经济学家认为,这篇文章是迄今为止皮凯蒂遇到的最严肃也是最具实质的批评。”

    赞叹的同时,我们也应该更全面地看待荣利的批评,看其是否具有实践指导意义。皮凯蒂认为,资本主义的本质将使今后贫富差距问题日益严重,最终形成全球性的代代世袭贵族群体。或者,用皮凯蒂自己的话说,一个“永无止境的不平等循环”。荣利并不是第一个质疑该观点的经济学者,在他之前已有不少文章指出,美国的房地产政策正阻碍经济增长,加重社会不平等现象。

    荣利在论文中谈到,爱德华?格莱泽等经济学家一直声称,房地产,或者说地方政府对繁华地区及周边修建住宅的限制,妨碍了经济增长,也降低了经济流动性。具体来说就是,政府限制人们在繁华城市及其周边专属郊区修建住宅后,正在向上流动的社会人群没法自由移居到发展机会更好的地方。

    举例来说,在旧金山、纽约和华盛顿等城市,各行各业正在繁荣发展,但房价也越发让人难以承受。这就导致一方面,近几年在这些城市买房的幸运儿们财富暴涨;另一方面,租房的人们,以及想去大城市谋求更好生活的人们只能眼睁睁看房价飙涨却无能为力。

    房地产在线数据库Zillow的数据显示,房地产市场还通过其他途径加剧贫富差距矛盾。其最新报告显示,有16.9%的美国房主“资不抵债”,也就是说,他们抵押贷款的数额远远超出了房屋本身的价值。尽管比例和前一个季度持平,但Zillow发现,房屋价值越低,房主“资不抵债”的可能性越高。此外,在美国50大城市中,约有一半的城市出现了“资不抵债”房主比例上升的情况,而且这些城市的经济均陷入困境。

    这说明,拥有住房并不是改善财务的好办法。因为在工薪阶层买得起房的地段,房价并不稳定。Zillow的数据显示,在差地段买房会只会导致财务状况更加起伏不定,根本没法稳定下来。再加上房地产泡沫的影响仍未消散,出现这种情况的可能性就更大。

    这或许会让大家觉得,只要放松房地产监管政策,比如迫使地方政府批准修建更多房屋,取消按揭利息抵扣等推高房价的政策,就能遏制贫富差距不断扩大的趋势。不过,几十年来经济学家一直在说,这些政策不利于经济发展。尽管中产阶层拥护这样的政策,但这不过是饮鸩止渴。

    皮凯蒂建议征收全球性财富税,或许有点不着边际,倒也不算多么荒诞不经。毕竟还有人相信,在居住环境好,交通又便利的郊区,人们会突然同意政府修建多户型经济适用房。

    荣利在论文中还指出,鉴于“有房产的人较多”,不用担心房地产对贫富差距的影响。另一方面,从Zillow的数据来看,我们应当关注各种地段房产的差异性,不能想当然认为房地产的整体重要性上涨会让所有房主受益。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    审校:夏林



    It’s not every week that a dense and esoteric book like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty First Century captures the public’s imagination.

    The surprise bestseller built its success on the general anxiety that income and wealth inequality across the rich world are exploding and that the trend is not good for social cohesion or economic growth. The book has accomplished many things, from codifying research that helps us understand the nature of income inequality over the past hundred years and beyond, to predicting that income and wealth inequality, already at historically high levels, will continue to grow worse. As a solution, Piketty suggests a global tax on capital, or wealth, and the creation of a system to redistribute it to avoid the repercussions of too much inequality.

    Piketty’s success has motivated dozens of enterprising economists and journalists to challenge various aspects of the book. The latest challenge comes from a 26-year-old graduate student at M.I.T., Matthew Rognlie,who published a paper last month with the Brookings Institution that argues that Piketty did not take the effects of depreciation into account enough in his analysis of the growing importance of capital. Rognlie also showed that when you do properly take depreciation into account, the decline in the share of income going to workers versus capital owners can be explained completely by the rise in the value of real estate.

    The business media has covered Rognlie’s paper widely. It makes for good copy when an economist who hasn’t even gotten his PhD writes a paper that, according to The Economist, “several reputable economists regard . . . as the most serious and substantive critique that Mr Piketty’s work has yet faced.”

    At the same time, we should put into perspective the practical implications of Rognlie’s critique. He isn’t the first economist to call into question Piketty’s assertion that the very nature of capitalism will lead wealth inequality to grow much worse than it is now, creating a permanent, dynastic, global aristocracy, or an “endless inegalitarian spiral,” as Piketty himself puts it. Rognlie’s analysis might be better regarded as an addition to a broad body of work suggesting that housing policy in America is holding back growth and exacerbating inequality.

    As Rognlie admits in his paper, economists like Edward Glaeser have been arguing that real estate, namely the restrictions local governments put on building more housing in and around economically vibrant areas, has long been slowing economic growth and hurting economic mobility. Building restrictions in vibrant cities and their nearby, exclusive suburbs prevent upwardly mobile people from relocating to places that offer the most economic opportunity.

    Where industry is booming, in cities like San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., housing is increasingly unaffordable. Those who were lucky enough to buy real estate in these areas in recent years have seen their wealth explode, but renters and others trying to move there, and up the economic ladder, are struggling.

    Meanwhile, recent data from online real estate firm Zillow offers evidence that the real estate market is compounding economic inequality in other ways. Its most recent report showed that the percentage of American homeowners who are underwater, or owe more on their homes than they are worth, stood at 16.9%. Though that rate remained flat from the previous quarter, Zillow found that a homeowner was much more likely to be underwater if their home was in the bottom third of real estate by value. Furthermore, the percentage of homeowners who are underwater increased in almost half of the largest 50 metro areas, the same areas that are strugglig economically.

    As it stands, homeownership is not a great way to climb up the economic ladder. That’s because working class people can often only afford to buy real estate in neighborhoods where home values are volatile. Investing in such homes can make you financially less stable, rather than the opposite. This is what we’re seeing today, as shown by Zillow’s data, and this dynamic has been exacerbated by the lasting effects of the housing bubble.

    This might lead us to believe that we could stem the rising tide of inequality simply by weakening real estate regulations—force localities to allow more building and eliminate policies like the mortgage interest deduction, which drives up the price of housing. Then again, economists have been arguing for decades that such policies are harmful to the economy. And yet the middle class loves them, even if they’re actually broadly harmful.

    Piketty’s suggestions that we enact a broad, global tax on wealth might seem far fetched, but it isn’t more outlandish than believing that homeowners will suddenly welcome affordable multifamily housing in their leafy, conveniently located suburbs.


 

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