The Fall and Rise of the West

The Western World will ultimately arises from the crisis.


The Fall and Rise of the West

January/February 2013 Roger C. Altman

— Why America and Europe Will Emerge Stronger From the Financial Crisis


Raise the roof: a worker building a home in Joplin, Missouri, May 2012. (Eric Thayer / Courtesy Reuters)

The 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed have had devastating effects on the U.S. economy and millions of American lives. But the U.S. economy will emerge from its trauma stronger and widely restructured. Europe should eventually experience a similar strengthening, although its future is less certain and its recovery will take longer to develop. The United States is much further along because its financial crisis struck three years before Europe’s, in 2008, causing headwinds that have pressured it ever since. It will take another two to three years for these to subside, but after that, U.S. economic growth should outperform expectations. In contrast, Europe is still in the midst of its financial crisis. If historical logic prevails there, it will take four to six years for strong European growth to materialize.

Such strengthening in both regions will occur for one major reason: the crisis years have triggered wide economic restructuring. Sweeping changes in government finances, banking systems, and manufacturing are under way, as are structural reforms in labor markets. All this is proving once again that global capital markets, the most powerful economic force on earth, can effect changes beyond the capacity of normal political processes. And in this case, they can refute all the forecasts of Western economic decline. Indeed, in the years ahead, the United States and Europe could once again become locomotives for global economic growth.

This is not to say that the crises were worth the pain; they most definitely were not. There is palpable suffering on both sides of the Atlantic due to unemployment and government austerity measures. It is tragic that so many people have lost their jobs and will never recover them. And it is socially corrosive that the crises have accentuated existing trends toward greater income inequality. But these events happened, and the subject being addressed here is their long-term impact.

The U.S. economy has been expanding — albeit in fits and starts — since the recession’s trough, in June 2009. Europe, however, is on an entirely different timetable. Unlike those in the United States, Europe’s financial systems did not implode in 2008. There were severe problems in Ireland and the United Kingdom, but capital markets did not revolt against Europe as a whole, and thus there was not a large fiscal or monetary response. It was not until 2012, when the sovereign debt and banking crises hit the continent in full force, that the eurozone confronted problems comparable to those that had afflicted the U.S. economy in 2008–9. As of today, therefore, the eurozone’s GDP is still shrinking, and its recession may not have bottomed out yet. Having experienced its crisis first, the United States now faces a shorter path to recovery. Yet if European countries can restructure their economies to the degree that the United States has, there will be cause for optimism.

The economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have argued that periods of economic recovery after financial crises are slower, longer, and more turbulent than those following recessions induced by the business cycle. The painfully slow recovery in the United States and the sharp economic stress in Europe corroborate this thesis. But history is filled with examples of countries whose economies grew stronger after financial implosions. Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98, South Korea accepted a tough bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, strengthened its financial system, and increased the flexibility of its labor markets; soon thereafter, it enjoyed an economic boom. In Mexico, the economy has performed well ever since the collapse of the peso and the U.S. rescue package of 1994. A similar phenomenon occurred in parts of Latin America following the sovereign debt crises there in the late 1980s. Although these financial crises were far smaller than the 2008 collapse in the United States, they followed the same pattern, with capital markets rejecting the old order — and then inducing major economic restructuring.


Why will the recent crises eventually strengthen the U.S. and European economies? In the United States, a resurgent housing sector, a revolution in energy production, a remodeled banking system, and a more efficient manufacturing industry will fuel a boom. Meanwhile, the reelection of President Barack Obama and the looming “fiscal cliff” have increased the prospects of a grand bargain on deficit reduction and a solution to the country’s debt problem.

First, after suffering a catastrophic collapse, the U.S. housing market is now poised for major, multiyear growth. Historically, when the U.S. housing sector has been pushed down far enough for long enough periods of time, it has eventually rebounded to very high levels. Before the recent crisis, the housing bubble had inflated so much that when it finally burst, the sector truly collapsed. Between 2000 and 2004, an average of 1.4 million single-family homes were built per year, but that number declined to 500,000 after the crisis and remained there until recently. Sales of new homes, which averaged 900,000 per year during the bubble, fell by two-thirds after the bubble popped. And overall residential investment, which accounted for four percent of U.S. GDP from 1980 to 2005, has averaged only 2.5 percent since 2008.

Although the housing collapse meant disaster for millions of homeowners who could not service their mortgages, it also cleared out the abuses and excesses that had plagued the sector for years. As a result, U.S. banks have spent the last few years improving their mortgage-underwriting standards and securitization markets, and household attitudes toward mortgages and home-equity financing have become healthier. Now, the housing sector has finally turned a corner, with a key home price index — the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite — rising by eight percent since March 2012. The levels of relevant supply have fallen sharply (in other words, fewer homes are for sale), mortgage credit is more readily available, and population growth, coupled with a recovery in household-formation rates, is likely to drive high demand — all of which means that house prices are bound to keep growing. These factors are likely to boost total residential investment, which includes new construction and home remodeling, by 15–20 percent over the next five years. This change alone could add one percentage point to annual U.S. GDP growth and as many as four million new jobs to the economy.

Second, new technologies are producing a spectacular turnaround in U.S. oil and gas production. Advanced seismic techniques and innovative approaches to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened energy deposits that were previously unknown or inaccessible. The result has been a dramatic recovery of both the natural gas and the oil industries. In 2012, U.S. natural gas output reached 65 billion cubic feet per day, which is 25 percent higher than it was five years ago and an all-time record. Shale gas accounted for much of this increase. Meanwhile, U.S. oil output has soared. It is estimated that in 2012 alone, the production of oil and other liquid hydrocarbons, such as biofuels, rose by seven percent, to 10.9 million barrels per day. This marks the largest single-year increase since 1951.

Moving forward, the U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that American liquid hydrocarbon production will rise another 500,000 barrels in 2013, and the International Energy Agency projects that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by about 2017. Overall, this energy boom could add three percent to U.S. GDP over the next decade, in addition to as many as three million direct and indirect jobs, almost all of which will pay high wages. The United States could cut its oil imports by one-third, improving its balance-of-payments deficit. Also, the higher natural gas output will reduce the average consumer’s utility bill by almost $1,000 per year, representing a further stimulus to the U.S. economy. And the American public’s hunger for economic recovery and jobs has softened opposition to this energy revolution.

Third, negative publicity aside, the U.S. banking system has been recapitalized and thoroughly restructured since 2008. No one could have reasonably imagined the speed of the improvements in banks’ capital and liquidity ratios that have occurred since then. The largest banks have consistently passed the rigorous stress tests administered by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and, surprisingly, they are well ahead of schedule in meeting their required capital ratios under the Basel III international regulatory framework. Midsize banks are in even better shape. Although the job is not yet finished, these institutions have rapidly rid themselves of their troubled legacy assets, especially mortgage-backed securities. Both large and midsize banks have divested from broad swaths of assets and raised substantial new capital from public and private sources. In many cases, moreover, they have revamped their management teams and boards of directors. In light of these changes, the earlier, acute concerns about the financial stability of U.S. banks have largely dissipated.

In fact, banks are already lending aggressively again to both businesses and consumers. According to the Federal Reserve, outstanding loans to U.S. businesses now total $1.45 trillion, having increased at double-digit rates for each of the past four quarters. This number is still below the 2008 peak, but the gap is closing quickly. In terms of consumer credit, the previous record high was surpassed in 2011, and the total rose by another three to four percent in 2012. All this credit is boosting GDP growth, and the banking sector is likely to expand its loan totals consistently over the next few years.

Fourth, the Great Recession has quietly spurred greater efficiencies in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Unit production costs are down by 11 percent in the United States compared with ten years ago, even as they continue to rise in many other industrialized countries. And the differences between U.S. and Chinese labor costs are narrowing. The U.S. economy has added half a million new manufacturing jobs since 2010, and this growth should persist for a number of years. The transformation of the U.S. manufacturing sector is perhaps best reflected in the auto industry. In 2005, U.S. automakers’ hourly labor costs were 40 percent higher than those of foreign producers that operate plants in the United States. But today, these costs are virtually identical, and the Big Three — Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors — have regained market share in North America.

The resurgence of the housing and energy sectors will also positively affect the manufacturing industry. Given that the outlook for residential construction is so strong — and considering that new homes contain so many manufactured products — further manufacturing job growth is a near certainty. Moreover, decreasing natural gas prices will aid the petrochemical sector and all types of manufacturing that use this fuel.

Finally, although there are no guarantees, the chances that Washington will fix the national debt problem have increased. With Obama citing deficit reduction as the foremost goal of his second term — and with election results that were unfavorable to Republicans, whose anti-tax position now lacks public sanction — the prospects for a decisive deficit-reduction agreement have improved. If this occurs in 2013, it will provide a further boost to business and investor confidence, as well as to overall private investment.


In Europe, there is less evidence, so far, that economies will emerge stronger from the crisis years. This is largely because after a sharp dip in 2008, Europe was recovering until the eurozone’s twin sovereign debt and banking crises struck in 2011. Furthermore, compared with that of the United States, the amount of economic restructuring required in Europe is deeper and harder to achieve. In part, this reflects the sheer complexity of the European Union, which is composed of 27 very different countries. It is also an outgrowth of the inherently inflexible, sclerotic nature of many European economies.

Therefore, the consequences of the European crisis and the question of whether it will truly lead to wide-scale restructuring remain unclear. Nevertheless, it is logical that large and positive changes could emerge, and a few encouraging signs are already visible. The eurozone has been fitfully moving toward fiscal union and banking reform. Across the EU, economies are boosting their productivity and making their exports more competitive, and governments are reining in their public sectors.

There are also precedents within Europe of restructuring and strengthening after major financial crises, such as Sweden’s experience in the 1990s. In that case, a credit and real estate boom coincided with a long period of public-sector expansion and a debt-to-GDP ratio of around 80 percent. Sweden, at the time, was widely considered the model of the European welfare state. In 1992, however, its banking system collapsed and unemployment rose to 12 percent, triggering wide-ranging economic, fiscal, and banking reform. Stockholm raised taxes, deregulated the electricity and telecommunications sectors, and slashed federal spending, including on pensions and unemployment benefits. All these steps improved Swedish competitiveness and boosted GDP growth, which rebounded to four percent two years later, in 1994.

In the eurozone today, governments are making tentative progress. Consider, for a start, the fiscal side, where there has been movement toward instituting a central fiscal authority with meaningful control over budgets and debt on a country-by-country basis. The eurozone members will probably not accord the eventual fiscal union with the legal authority to completely reject national budgets. Still, if it has credibility in financial markets, the fiscal union will possess real power, because its expressions of disapproval could induce punitive reactions from those markets.

Second, the eurozone’s decision to give the European Central Bank supervision over the continent’s largest private banks is also a major step forward. As a result of this move, these banks will finally be regulated in a modern, transparent, and independent fashion — a far cry from the present situation, in which weak local overseers coddle the banks. It also moves the European Central Bank closer to the more powerful and flexible model of the U.S. Federal Reserve. This is an essential change.

To fully repair its banking system, the eurozone needs an entity similar to the United States’ Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, and the recapitalization of Spain’s banks is a first step in that direction. The EU’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is providing Spanish banks with capital conditional on an overall cleanup of their balance sheets. If this approach were adopted throughout Europe, it would ultimately produce a healthier financial system.

Third, some countries in Europe are in the process of improving their structural productivity problems, which were a major, albeit less widely noted, contributor to the crisis. It looks increasingly possible that the least competitive European economies, mainly located along the continent’s southern periphery, will make substantial improvements in productivity. Without local currencies to depreciate, these countries have been cutting costs through internal devaluations, which involve cutting labor inputs. In Greece, Portugal, and Spain — the eurozone countries under the most financial pressure — unit labor costs have fallen significantly since 2010. These countries have also initiated crucial labor-market reforms, such as curbing minimum-wage requirements and eliminating restrictions on hiring, firing, and severance. Ireland’s path is instructive. After the Irish banking system collapsed in 2008, Dublin cut manufacturing costs sharply and boosted productivity. Today, just a few years removed from its crisis, Ireland is again one of the most efficient places in Europe for production.

Fourth, exports in the peripheral countries — which have long labored under large trade deficits with Germany and other northern European states — are regaining their competitiveness. As a result, Italy, Portugal, and Spain now enjoy reduced deficits in both trade and their current accounts, reflecting the lower costs of their exports and a weaker euro. In Greece, despite the severity of that country’s economic fall, the absolute level of exports has returned to pre-crisis levels.

Finally, by beginning to trim their public sectors, eurozone governments are playing an important role in the continent’s economic renewal, as these spending cuts will create more room for the private sector to grow. According to the European Commission, the collective deficit of the 17 members of the eurozone fell to 4.1 percent of GDP in 2011, a significant decrease from the 6.2 percent figure in 2010. Moreover, the broader EU saw its collective deficit cut by one-third in 2011. To be sure, many of the European countries’ deficit-to-GDP ratios remain well above the official target of three percent, and debt actually grew faster than GDP in the eurozone as a whole last year. Still, pressure from financial markets should continue to shrink European public sectors into the future.

Throughout modern history, severe financial crises have caused great pain to vulnerable segments of affected societies, but they have also often strengthened underlying economies. Both of these countervailing phenomena are asserting themselves in the United States today. Europe is inherently more fragile, but initial evidence suggests that the same dynamic is occurring there. If this historical pattern holds true, the United States and Europe could defy conventional wisdom and again lead growth in the world economy.


Broken BRICs

Ruchir Sharma

The most talked-about global economic trend in recent years has been “the rise of the rest,” with Brazil, Russia, India, and China leading the charge. But international economic convergence is a myth. Few countries can sustain unusually fast growth for a decade, and even fewer, for more than that. Now that the boom years are over, the BRICs are crumbling; the international order will change less than expected.


The True Lessons of the Recession

Raghuram G. Rajan

Most experts think the global recession was caused by a collapse in demand — and so, in good Keynesian fashion, they want governments to ramp up spending to compensate. But the West’s recent growth was dependent on borrowing. Going even further into debt now won’t help; instead, countries need to address the underlying flaws in their economies.

Ma the bumbler






Ma the bumbler

Nov 17th 2012 The Economist

WHEN he was first elected in 2008, Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, offered Taiwanese high hopes that the island’s economy would open a new chapter. He promised ground-breaking agreements with China to help end Taiwan’s growing economic marginalisation. At the time, Mr Ma’s image was of a clean technocrat able to rise above the cronyism and infighting of his party, the Kuomintang (KMT). He was a welcome contrast to his fiery and pro-independence predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, now in jail for corruption.

Five years on, and despite being handily re-elected ten months ago, much has changed. In particular, popular satisfaction with Mr Ma has plummeted, to a record low of 13%, according to the TVBS Poll Centre. The country appears to agree on one thing: Mr Ma is an ineffectual bumbler.

Ordinary people do not find their livelihoods improving. Salaries have stagnated for a decade. The most visible impact of more open ties with China, which include a free-trade agreement, has been property speculation in anticipation of a flood of mainland money. Housing in former working-class areas on the edge of Taipei, the capital, now costs up to 40 times the average annual wage of $15,400. The number of families below the poverty line has leapt. Labour activists have taken to pelting the presidential office with eggs.

Exports account for 70% of GDP. So some of Taiwan’s problems are down to the dismal state of rich-world economies. Yet Mr Ma’s leadership is also to blame. He has failed to paint a more hopeful future, with sometimes hard measures needed now. Worse, he frequently tweaks policies in response to opposition or media criticism. It suggests indecisiveness.

Public anger first arose in June, when Mr Ma raised the price of government-subsidised electricity. Few Taiwanese understood why, even though Taiwan’s state-owned power company loses billions. In the face of public outrage, Mr Ma postponed a second round of electricity price rises scheduled for December. They will now take place later next year.

People are also worried that a national pension scheme is on course for bankruptcy in less than two decades. Yet Mr Ma cannot bring himself to raise premiums sharply, because of the temporary unpopularity it risks. When Mr Ma does try to appeal to Taiwanese who make up the island’s broad political centre, it often backfires with his party’s core supporters. Following public grumbles that retired civil servants, teachers and ex-servicemen were a privileged group, the cabinet announced plans to cut more than $300m in year-end bonuses, affecting around 381,000. The trouble was, veterans are among the KMT’s most fervent backers. Now some threaten to take to the streets in protest and deprive the KMT of their votes until the plan is scrapped. Meanwhile, Mr Ma’s clean image has been sullied by the indictment of the cabinet secretary-general for graft.

Cracks are starting to grow in the KMT façade. Recently Sean Lien, a prominent politician, criticised Mr Ma’s economic policies, saying that any politician in office during this time of sluggish growth was at best a “master of a beggar clan”—implying a country of paupers.

But the next election is four years away, and presidential hopefuls will not try to oust or even outshine Mr Ma anytime soon. After all, they will not want to take responsibility for the country’s economic problems. Nothing suggests Mr Ma’s main policies will change (or that they should), but his credibility is draining by the day.




Date here 王吉舟





















管仲让姜小白去“阴里”这个地方铸城,那里独家出产一种美石(类似玉),这种美石是古代周天子制造王室祭祀专用璧的材料,姜小白修了三层城墙、九个城门,把阴里城防工事整的跟铁桶一样。姜小白让玉工在里边制作好石璧存着,石璧做了五种,一尺大小的标注面值一万泉。八寸的标注8000泉。七寸的标注 7000。珪中标注4000。瑗中标注500。为什么做这么多种类呢?因为天下诸侯繁衍了几百年,越来越多,阿猫阿狗都自称是诸侯后裔,都惦着粘粘封号的光,周天子家族萧条,他们可是繁荣的不行。管仲做这么多石壁,就是要把他们一网打尽。




























Is China more legitimate than the West?

The point of author is that the legitimacy of China government is that China is one civilization of one state while the Western country is one nation of many states.

Is China more legitimate than the West?

2 November 2012 Last updated at 13:48 ET Martin Jacques

Is China more legitimate than the West [1]

China and the United States are about to choose new leaders via very different methods. But is a candidate voted for by millions a more legitimate choice than one anointed by a select few, asks Martin Jacques.

This week will witness an extraordinary juxtaposition of events. On Tuesday the next American president will be elected. Two days later, the 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party will select the new Chinese president and prime minister.

The contrast could hardly be greater.

Americans in their tens of millions will turn out to vote. In China the process of selection will take place behind closed doors and involve only a relative handful of people.

You are probably thinking, “Ah, America at its best, China at its worst – the absence of democracy. China’s Achilles heel is its governance. This will be China’s downfall.”

I want to argue quite the contrary.

You probably think that the legitimacy and authority of the state, or government, is overwhelmingly a function of democracy, Western-style.

But democracy is only one factor. Nor does democracy in itself guarantee legitimacy.

Think of Italy. It is always voting, but the enduring problem of Italian governance is that its state lacks legitimacy. Half the population don’t really believe in it.

Now let me shock you: the Chinese state enjoys greater legitimacy than any Western state. How come?

In China’s case the source of the state’s legitimacy lies entirely outside the history or experience of Western societies.

In my first talk I explained that China is not primarily a nation-state but a civilisation-state. For the Chinese, what matters is civilisation. For Westerners it is nation. The most important political value in China is the integrity and unity of the civilisation-state.

Given the sheer size and diversity of the country, this is hugely problematic. Between the 1840s and 1949, China was occupied by the colonial powers, divided and fragmented. The Chinese refer to it as their century of humiliation.

They see the state as the embodiment and guardian of Chinese civilisation. Its most important responsibility – bar none – is maintaining the unity of the country. A government that fails to ensure this will fall.

There have been many examples in history. The legitimacy of the Chinese state lies, above all, in its relationship with Chinese civilisation.

But does the Chinese state, you may well ask, really enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of its people?

Take the findings of Tony Saich at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In a series of surveys he found that between 80 and 95% of Chinese people were either relatively or extremely satisfied with central government.

Is China more legitimate than the West [2]
Chinese people say they are happy with their government’s economic record

Or take the highly respected Pew Global Attitudes surveys which found in 2010, for example, that 91% of Chinese respondents thought that the government’s handling of the economy was good (the UK figure, incidentally was 45%).

Such high levels of satisfaction do not mean that China is conflict-free.

On the contrary, there are countless examples of protest action, such as the wave of strikes in Guangdong province for higher wages in 2010 and 2011, and the 150,000 or more so-called mass incidents that take place every year – generally protests by farmers against what they see as the illegal seizure of their land by local authorities in cahoots with property developers.

But these actions do not imply any fundamental dissatisfaction with central government.

If the Chinese state enjoys such support, then why does it display such signs of paranoia? The controls on the press and the internet, the periodic arrest of dissidents, and the rest of it.

Good point. Actually, all Chinese governments have displayed these same symptoms. Why?

Because the country is huge and governance is extremely difficult. They are always anxious, always fearing the unforeseen. Anticipating sources of instability has long been regarded as a fundamental attribute of good governance.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese have a quite different attitude towards government to that universal in the West.

True, our attitude depends in part on where we stand on the political spectrum. If you are on the right, you are likely to believe in less government and more market. If you are on the left, you are likely to be more favourably disposed to the state.

But both left and right share certain basic assumptions. The role of the state should be codified in law, there should be clear limits to its powers, and there are many areas in which the state should not be involved. We believe the state is necessary – but only up to a point.

The Chinese idea of the state could hardly be more different.

The Chinese see the state as a member of the family – the head of the family, in fact

They do not view it from a narrowly utilitarian standpoint, in terms of what it can deliver, let alone as the devil incarnate in the manner of the American Tea Party.

They see the state as an intimate, or, to be more precise, as a member of the family – the head of the family, in fact. The Chinese regard the family as the template for the state. What’s more, they perceive the state not as external to themselves but as an extension or representation of themselves.

The fact that the Chinese state enjoys such an exalted position in society lends it enormous authority, a remarkable ubiquity and great competence.

Take the economy. China’s economic rise – an annual growth rate of 10% for more than 30 years – has been masterminded by the Chinese state.

It is the most remarkable economic transformation the world has seen since the modern era began with Britain’s industrial revolution in the late 18th Century.

Even though China is still a poor developing country, its state, I would argue, is the most competent in the world.

Take infrastructure – the importance of which is belatedly now being recognised in the West. Here, China has no peers. Its high speed rail network is the world’s largest and will soon be greater than the rest of the world’s put together.

And the state’s ubiquity – a large majority of China’s most competitive companies, to this day, are state-owned. Or consider the one-child policy, which still commands great support amongst the population.

The competence of the state is little talked about or really valued in the West, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Indeed, since the early 80s, the debate about the state in Britain has largely been conducted in terms either of what bits should be privatised or how it can be made to mimic the market.

Now, however, we are in a new ball game. With the Western economies in a profound mess and with China’s startling rise, the competence of the state can no longer be ignored. Our model is in crisis. Theirs has been delivering the goods.

As China’s dramatic ascent continues – which it surely will – then China’s strengths will become a growing subject of interest in the West. We will realise that our relationship with them can no longer consist of telling them how they should be like us. A little humility is in order.

One of the most dramatic illustrations of this will be the state. We think of it as their greatest weakness but we will come to realise that it is one of their greatest strengths.

Beyond a point it would be quite impossible for a Western state to be like China’s. It is the product of a different history and a different relationship between state and society. You could never transplant their state into a Western country, and vice versa. But this does not mean that we cannot learn from the Chinese state, just as they have learnt much from us.

China’s rise will have a profound effect on Western debate.

Is China more legitimate than the West [3]
The Chinese economy is set to overtake the US in 2018

In about six years hence, the Chinese economy will overtake the US economy in size. By 2030 it will be very much larger.

The world is increasingly being shaped by China, and if it has looked west for the last two centuries, in future it will look east.

Welcome, then, to the new Chinese paradigm – one that combines a highly competitive, indeed often ferocious market, with a ubiquitous and competent state.

For us in the West this is an entirely new phenomenon. And it will shape our future.

How would you describe the tensions in Tibet and Western China? It would appear that the indigenous populations there don’t seem to want to be part of the Chinese State?

Sean Halliday, Duqm Oman

The time-frame may be lengthy, but history tell us that all totalitarian states eventually fail. Additionally, extensive gaps between rich and poor create social unrest which, in China may be on an epic scale. The Chinese state may implode on itself.

Michael, Kendal UK

Martin’s viewpoint is absolutely spot on. Essdentially, the West is a fragmented units with different lifestyles (nation)held together by representatives of the units to form an entity (the state) legitimated by election of its representatives. Whereas China is a one unit with one lifestyle (a civilisation) held together by an entity (the state) legitimated by selection of its deemed solial leaders accross the civilisation. Legitimacy of the state is not only the Western form but any form that represents the people. I believe that calls for re-assessment of the concept of democracy itself.

Jesse Ofirikyi, London

You cannot really compare the Western & Chinese approaches to modern goverment without looking at how they have evolved hostorically. In most Western countries the autocratic approach to rule (one all-powerful ruler) evolved over several centuries to a democratic approach, although not without a few bumps on the way. As a consequence of this Western citizens are conditioned to the democratic approach, and tend to reject anything that smacks of dictatorship. China however has several thousand years of autocratic rule via the Emperors which was eventually overthrown and replaced by the autocratic and self-sustaining rule of the Chinese Communist Party. Hence Chinese citizens have never had any taste of true democracy; at best what democracy they have been allowed to experience has been carefully cleansed of any possible threat to the ruling hegamony.

Alan Hughes, Alton, Hampshire

Your premise has one great unstated assumption — that the Chinese central government will always get it right (given some of their past mistakes, can you trust this assumption?). It is relatively obvious how to develop an underdeveloped economy as so much infrastructure is required. The real challenge will come when the economy becomes highly sophisticated. Then governments have a much harder time making the right decisions to allocate resources and capital. I would hold out Japan as an example — in the 1970s and up to the 1980s everybody was in awe its industrial policy. And then it stopped working. The smooth assent of China is not guaranteed.

R Piller, Geneva, Switzerland

It is interesting to hear you conceptualise China as a civilisation rather than a nation. Chinese are rightly proud of their state and its rise as a global power but for me it is a country of contradictions. Literacy, opportunity, the hegemony of the Han Chinese, the widening gap between rich and poor (also an issue in western countries) will all be significant issues in the future and the difference between haves and have-nots seems like it may be a problem in a society that is supposed to be communist. I think of China as a teenager struggling to come to grips with its own identity.and its future may not be as clear as some people may think.

Tom, Shanghai, China

I hear that North Korea’s government also enjoys wide support and therefore legitimacy. This article is missing a distinction between “legitimacy” and support from a society that is relatively disenfranchised from the global pool of knowledge.

Victor Duncan, Beijing, China

Thatcher was right – there is no ‘society’

Perhaps the EU needs a “Thatcher” to solve the problem of PIGS.

Thatcher was right – there is no ‘society’

Date here Samuel Brittan

Now that both the obsequies and the ritual condemnations of Margaret Thatcher are over, the time has begun for a more analytical look at her legacy. I am not a bad person to start this off as I was neither a passionate anti-Thatcherite nor regarded by her inner circle as “really one of us”.

A point that has been missed in all the verbiage of recent days is how much her thinking owed to Keith Joseph, the Conservative who helped to put the idea of a genuine free market back on the political agenda.

In saying this I am far from trying to detract from her legacy. On the contrary, she often said: “One day people will realise what they owe to Keith Joseph.” Anyone can confirm this by looking at her Joseph Memorial Lecture of 1996 given to the Centre for Policy Studies. The first part of the lecture, on the connection between a free economy and a free society, and the last part, on the perils of the euro currency project, are still fresh and relevant.

I should like to start with a comment she made that has defined her – it was even raised at her funeral. Some see it as one of the worst things that she said; I regard it as one of the best.

“I think we have been through a period when too many people have been given to understand that when they have a problem it is government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant. I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They are casting their problems on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours. People have got their entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There is no such thing as an entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

Thatcher meant, I believe, that people should first try to solve their own problems and those of their families and friends, and only as a last resort rely on government. The government is simply a mechanism with which people can help each other and force would-be free riders to make a contribution. I interpreted her remarks as an expression of methodological individualism (although I pity any speech writer who sought to persuade her to say those words).

I have tried to explain all this in my book Capitalism With a Human Face. Very briefly it means that the workings of complex wholes must be capable of being expressed in terms of individual components – chemical elements in terms of atoms, atoms in terms of subatomic particles and nations in terms of their citizens. Methodological individualism has been espoused by a long line of empiricist thinkers, some of very different politics to Thatcher.

The classical liberal philosopher Karl Popper, for instance, looked at the abstract concept of war. “What is concrete is the many who are killed, or the men and women in uniform.” The 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume remarked that a nation was a collection of individuals. This doctrine has also been denied by many supposedly eminent philosophers, such as the overrated G.W.F. Hegel, who said: “All the worth which the human being possesses in all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the state.”

Thatcher was well aware that the support she has been accused of withholding from declining industries in the north of the UK would have come not from a mysterious entity known as the state. It would have come from fellow citizens. She may have been right or wrong. But it was not a matter of her personal generosity. Nit-picking political philosophers have said that if she wanted to be a true methodological individualist she would not have added “and there are families” in her famous statement. It was like saying: “There are no forests, only trees and copses.” She was not so stupid as to fail to see this. But she was not teaching a political philosophy class. She was pointing out that aid for the poor, or distressed regions, had to come from somewhere – namely the inhabitants of the country concerned.

It was a pity that she was incapable of applying this reductionist thinking to foreign affairs. There are no beings such as Germany, Britain or Argentina – only complex entities composed of individuals. It is reasonable for a British citizen to value a British life more than an Argentine life, but it is unreasonable to put a zero value on the latter. It must be admitted that even if people habitually thought in these terms they might still support death as a necessary evil to avoid territorial losses and the like. But if this translation were always made it might sometimes lead to less nationalist policies. Even Thatcher must have been intuitively aware of this when she wept for 40 minutes at the loss of life when a battleship went down near the Falklands.





2002 汪丁丁

《The Limits of Liberty》(“自由的界限”),这本书的英译序言作者Hartmut Kliemt(现在任职于法兰克福金融与管理学院)指出,一方面参与了关于无政府主义的讨论,另一方面参与了关于正义理论的讨论。也因此,布坎南为这本书拟定的副标题是“在无政府与利维坦之间”。

读者或许首先要求解释“利维坦”与“正义”之间的联系,为什么追求正义的人们可能接受并帮助一个政府成长为庞然大物(利维坦)以致他们的自由最终和他们追求的正义一起被这只利维坦巨兽吃掉?Anthony de Jasay(亚赛)早年是一位匈牙利经济学家和哲学家,与他的匈牙利同胞海撒尼(John Harsanyi)一样,1948年因躲避政治迫害离开匈牙利,从奥地利辗转至澳大利亚。数年后,海撒尼从阿罗(Kenneth Arrow)在斯坦福大学研读他的第二个博士学位,亚赛则辗转至英国并获得牛津大学研究职位。后来,亚赛在巴黎一家银行就职,再后来,他成为独立银行家,在欧洲和美国都有投资。退休后,他继续发表无政府主义论著。1985年他发表《论国家》,引起布坎南的格外关注。2007年,布坎南和一群寻求当代无政府主义理论基础的学者发表文集《良序的无政府》(ordered anarchy),旨在阐释和发挥亚赛的一系列简明但深刻的见解。顺便说一句,他们当中至少一位作者认为亚赛,一位退休银行家,是我们时代最伟大的政治哲学家。我在“自由基金”网站下载了亚赛的或许是最后一部作品,《Justice and Its Surroundings》。这部2002年发表的作品,为读者提供了上述问题的清楚解释。与亚赛一样,或许不那样偏激,布坎南坚持契约论的方法论个人主义思路。他在《自由的界限》开篇提出一个问题:无政府状态可否产生秩序?这样,他便直接参与了罗尔斯和诺齐克的那场辩论。

诚如布坎南本人和Kliemt所言,在布坎南的思想体系里,《自由的界限》(简称“界限”)应被视为他和图洛克(Gordon Tullock)1962年发表的《同意的计算》(简称“计算”)的姊妹篇。在“计算”里,个体的理性选择模型被用来解释关于“公共善”(public goods)的投票规则的选择。在“界限”里,如布坎南在第一章所说,这一模型被用来解释“公共恶”(public bads)的形成。这里所谓“公共恶”,就是借助民众投票同意而形成的“利维坦”。预见可能形成公共的恶,也就是预见自由的界限。那么,制度是如何失败,从而产生了公共的恶呢?这是布坎南写作“界限”时的基本问题意识。



于是,我们可以探讨下一个问题:怎样界定权利?这是一种要严肃对待权利的呼吁(第三章)。布坎南承认,特定社会的文化传统在很大程度上已经界定了每一个人的权利。不过,他在第十章“脚注1”里批评哈耶克盲目尊崇传统。这一批评意味着,布坎南倾向于有更积极的传统革新,例如,他多年来努力推动的“美国宪法重订”会议。现在请读者回忆我开篇提及的亚赛的那一见解:权利源自契约,而不是契约基于权利。对布坎南而言,这仍是一个可质疑的假说。因为,布坎南指出,假如契约各方在一开始没有就任何权利达成共识,怎么可能订立有约束力的契约呢?一个著名的例,是尤士丁尼讨论过的,甲方认定乙方是一名奴隶,则他们之间的契约不能成立。产权经济学家表示反对,因为,奴隶可以怠工,从而奴隶主的理性选择是允许奴隶有更大的自由。看起来,我们有必要拓展契约概念,使能包括“隐契约”的情形。这样,产权之源于契约就符合情理了。类似地,布坎南可以争辩,我们也可以拓展权利概念,使能包括“隐权利”的情形。大致而言,我相信,诺齐克与罗尔斯都有理,因为权利与契约可以相生相用,只要允许概念拓展到包括“隐”情形。当然,隐的情形,不论权利还是契约,迟早都要隐入漫长的文化传统与行为模式当中去了(参阅第四章和第五章),所谓“the status quo”(可译为“既成事实”或“现状”)。在漫长的自然演化史中,最早出现的既成事实(权利),可称为“产权”——财产权利。根据洛克的解释,产权有三类:life(生命),liberty(自由),possessions(财产占有)。我称之为洛克的“广义产权”概念。洛克的产权定义,源于自然法传统。

布坎南在第六章和第七章的讨论,明显地受到他的老师奈特(Frank Knight)的深刻影响。奈特在1942年发表于《伦理学》杂志的文章“科学,哲学,社会过程”(“science,philosophy,and social procedure”《Ethics》vol. 52,no. 3,pp. 253-274),为我们理解“自由的界限”提供了布坎南传承的芝加哥学派政治经济学基础。在奈特看来,“社会过程”(不同于机械的“social process”)是社会重要成员之间的主动对话和达成共识的交互作用过程。共识,这是内在于社会演化的原因。在共识基础上确立的法律、政府、政策、以及个人权利等等,都是这一内在过程的外化,是演化的结果,不是演化的原因。即使在远古,人类社会也必定经历了这样的内在过程,只要有被认为重要的社会成员(母亲,酋长,或勇士)。当然,远古社会过程更可能发生的是在重要社会成员与神之间的对话及他们随后提供的权威阐释。在这一过程中,逐渐形成了“既成事实”,或最初的“律法”。奈特在同一杂志发表的另一篇文章里指出,立法者的基本问题在于:怎样的变法可能使法律在未来的演变更符合群体的长期利益?事实上,一个群体长期而言能够达到何种文明发展水平,几乎完全依赖于这一群体能够容纳多么巨大的个体差异同时不使社会秩序因这些差异而趋于瓦解。对于布坎南而言,民主制度的精要,就是“一人一票”。他开篇明确提出这一假设,并拒绝柏拉图“哲人王”的思路。他指出,任何一群人,基于一人一票的社会过程,不论他们的选择多么低俗或高尚,这是他们的选择,应被视为是正当的。如果全体同意(一致同意)原则的成本太高,一人一票的社会过程可能选择偏离全体同意原则的投票原则,例如,简单多数原则或代议制,那么,我们可以应用布坎南在1960年代提出的“俱乐部理论”,仍是基于个体理性选择的。


无政府状态,即想象中每一个人拥有完全自由的状态,是布坎南政治哲学假设的初始条件。最接近这一状态的政府,被称为“最小政府”,也被认为是“最好的政府”——that government is best which governs least。由相互尊重的自由人组成的社会,被称为“无政府主义乌托邦”。吴稚晖是民国初年一位著名的无政府主义者,据张国焘回忆,吴稚晖曾告诉陈独秀,无政府主义者的革命需要五百年以后才有实现的可能,在那之前,他追随孙中山的国民党。中国早期最著名的无政府主义者,诸如刘师复,常以其品格高尚,得以感召许多青年参加无政府主义运动,他们赞成克鲁泡特金的口号:“无政府,即无强权”。另一方面,中国青年人普遍受到无政府主义理想的道德感召。德里克在其名著《中国革命中的无政府主义》中指出,中国道家和佛家思想传统为中国知识分子接受无政府主义思潮提供了极佳的环境。据此,以及其它更重要的原因,二十世纪中国革命各色各样的领导人,在早期几乎都是无政府主义者。德里克指出:“无政府主义理想对中国社会现实实际上是一种挑战,并触及到了中国政治的核心问题。这或许能够说明,无政府主义在已失去了在中国现实政治中的发言权时,为什么仍拒绝从中国政治中消失的原因。”




古今中外,群众运动几乎不变的特征,是“过激”。我认为,借助Daron Acemoglu(阿西莫格鲁,MIT的明星经济学家)等人2010年提交给应用概率论年鉴的一篇学术论文(“opinion fluctuations”,paper submitted to the Annals of Applied Probability),可以建立一个社会网络模型,为这一现象提供科学解释。让我们假设全部可能的观念,极端的和不极端的,均匀分布在全部人口当中,并且全部人口均匀地嵌入在一个平面网格之内。那么,根据阿西莫格鲁的“观念波动”模型,这一平面网络里的各种观念最终的波动均衡,取决于那些最顽固地坚持自己观念的人,不取决于那些更愿意修正自己观念的人。我们知道,如果一个头脑可能被任何观念占有的概率服从均匀分布,显然,它被一个极端观念占有的时段会比它被一个不极端观念占有的时段长得多。这是因为,“极端”通常意味着“顽固”,或者,如果因为年轻而不如此顽固,就一定意味着从一个极端跳到另一个极端。




就中国目前政治格局,我们不难推测,与多党代议制相比,更可能形成的是执政党内各派魁首之间达成政治妥协的过程。但是,由于以上的分析,这一过程的合理性,要求执政党的最高权力掌握在至少三位领导人而不是如现在这样的两位或一位领导人手中。在理想的政治格局中,由于“合作博弈”理论和“夏波利值”(Shapley value)在政治科学领域广泛运用所取得的成就,我们希望执政党内形成一个多数派和两个享有合法权利的反对派。为实现这一可行方案,执政党的组织部和宣传部,必须分解为党内各派相互独立的组织部和宣传部。当然,执政党只有一个中央局(政治局)。不过,政治局常委名额的分配,即党内各派在政治局常务委员会里获得的代议权,必须能够充分体现“党内代议制”这一宪法思想。



Buying a judge is much useful than buying a system and it is more agile when you get a disturbance.


2013年05月06日 06:30 AM 雅各布•韦斯伯格


亚马逊成立迄今已近20年,美国国会终于开始着手填堵这个漏洞,提出了一项法案,允许各州要求电商向顾客代收税金。预计参议院下周将最终通过这项《市场公平法案》(Marketplace Fairness Act),但围绕法案的辩论,并不是事件中最引人注目之处。事实上,没有什么好辩论的。就连亚马逊也承认,原则上应该让电商和实体商店站在同一起跑线上。事件中最引人注目之处在于,这项法案拖延了这么多年才被提上议事日程。这种拖延显示,美国政治体系妥协和僵化情况之严重,致使其无法及时纠正经济中哪怕是最一目了然的不公平。


随着亚马逊发展壮大,其首席执行官杰夫•贝佐斯(Jeff Bezos)将这种不合理状况视作一种权利,并采用寻租技巧来保护自己的“优势”。他在游说组织身上花了数百万美元,聘请着大批律师,并通过竞选捐款在政界培植盟友。亚马逊弱小的竞争对手很难在法院里证明这种状况不合理。也没有任何消费者支持征税,尽管公共服务的缩水让消费者间接交了税。


在这场不讲道义的游戏中,亚马逊一直得以享受国会共和党议员们的包庇。这些议员们认为,“不征税而履行代表民众的职责”是自由的体现。有原则的保守派信奉,应该维持较低、稳定而公平的税率。相形之下,一名美国共和党人会认为,课税和税款的有效征集,均为政府滥用职权的体现。格罗夫•诺奎斯特(Grover Norquist)将这个理念编写为“反税收誓言书”,该誓言书如今已征集到大多数共和党人的签名。诺奎斯特领导的“支持税改美国人”(Americans for Tax Reform)组织,是反对向网购商品征税的主力。







Date here 张维为(《求是》 评论)















如果说中国概念的“空谈误国”点出了西方模式的某种顽症的话,那么“与时俱进”大概就是中国可以给西方模式开出的药方。其实西方许多有识之士也意识到了这个问题。比利时在经历了540多天无中央政府的危机后,这个西方国家的一批知识分子于2011年11月发表了《千人集团宣言》,对西方民主制度未能 “与时俱进”提出了强烈的批评:“除了民主,现在全世界的革新无处不在。如公司必须不断创新,科学家必须不断跨越学科藩篱,运动员必须不断打破世界纪录,艺术家必须不断推陈出新。但说到社会政治组织形式,我们显然仍满足于19世纪30年代的程序。我们为什么必须死抱着两百年的古董不放手?民主是活着的有机体,民主的形式并非固定不变的,应该随着时代的需要而不断成长。”



Posted for serving as records. No comment. 



2011-08-17 11:25:29 思维



2)越南:部分西沙群岛,部分老山。1965年,为了支援越南的抗美战争,周恩来和越南总理范文同签署协议,将我国北部湾里的白龙尾岛(越南称夜莺岛),出借给越南政府,让其在上面修建雷达基地,作为预警轰炸河内的美国飞机。这个岛屿,至今越南没有归还。北部湾是个圆形的,世界少有的辽阔的大海湾。白龙尾岛就是这个圆心,有了它,简直可以轻易控制整个北部湾。自古就是中国领土。最近北部湾划界,白龙尾岛已经划到了越南海域内。看来要回来也难了。 1999年12月30日,签订《中国和越南陆地边界条约》,云南老山和广西法卡山划归越南。

3)蒙古及周围:“中蒙友好协议” 蒙古独立,部分周边土地被俄国吞并。1945年8月14日,中国新任外交部长王世杰与苏联外交人民委员莫洛托夫在莫斯科签署了《中苏友好同盟条约》。这是日本宣布投降前一天,王世杰声明在日本战败后,如外蒙古公投证实蒙古人民独立之愿望,中国政府承认外蒙独立。1945年10月,外蒙古举行公投。1946年1月,根据投票结果,中国政府承认了外蒙独立。由于1950年2月14日,中国的共产党政府与苏联签订了《中苏友好同盟互助条约》。中国的国民党政府在1945年8月与苏联签订的《中苏友好同盟条约》因当事方苏联一方违约而终止,所以,后来退居台湾的国民党政府仍然坚持“外蒙古是中国不可分割的一部份”。1949年10月,中华人民共和国与蒙古人民共和国建立了外交关系,1961年10月,蒙古加入了联合国。1962年12月26日,中蒙两国签订了边界条约。2000年12月3日,外电报导说,蒙古国的大呼拉尔日前讨论了一项提议,提出把蒙古并入中国,成为中国的一部份,以及蒙古与中国建立联邦国家。在二十一世纪,蒙古是否会与中国合并或组成联邦国家,完全取决于中蒙两国人民的意愿,从国际法上说,中国已无权要求收复外蒙的土地。

4)朝鲜:部分长白山和天池的一半。1962年,金日成以长白山是自己在日本殖民朝鲜时打游击的地方,希望中国能了解朝鲜人民对此地的革命感情,将长白山划给朝鲜。当时毛泽东反苏,在共产国际里很孤立,为争取朝鲜成为反苏盟友,同意把长白山的一角(有说是1/2,另个说法是53% )和八个山峰中的三个划给了朝鲜,这就是1962年中朝边界协议的来源。


远在英国人知道珠穆朗玛峰之前,中国已经对她作了勘察和测量。比英国人早了一百四十年,清代的三名官员,在绘制西藏地图时,就把珠穆朗玛峰载入了铜版的《皇舆全览图》。“舆”指广阔的土地,《易经。说卦》曰,“坤为地,为大舆”。 “皇舆”就是皇家的土地,“舆图”就是地图,在古文里常作“疆土”。但《辞海》不能明着告诉读者,我们打倒了皇帝,顺带也卖了他的家当。后来中国和巴基斯坦谈判边界问题时,巴基斯坦援引珠穆朗玛峰的先例,把喀喇昆仑山的主峰乔戈里峰(即西方登山界所称的K2,海拔8611米,世界第二高峰)割走了一半。






北洋军阀政府也没有放弃索回被帝俄侵占领土的权利。在中华民国历史上,1912年到1928年,北洋军阀的各个派系先后控制着北京政府。1916年至1928年间就有三十八届内阁。《中苏解决悬案大纲协定》是在“贿选总统”曹锟时期的北京政府与苏联政府签订的。苏联谈判代表是代理外交人民委员卡拉汉,中国的谈判代表是中俄交涉督办王正廷。王正廷主张先解决中苏两国间的“悬案”,然后承认苏联。卡拉汉则表示,在中国未承认苏联前,不能正式谈判。1924年3月16日后,北京政府撤销了王正廷职务和“中俄交涉督办公署”,由外交总长顾维钧直接与卡拉汉交涉和会谈,1924年5月21日正式签署了《中苏解决悬案大纲协定》。《中苏解决悬案大纲协定》是中俄、中苏两国间在十九世纪后半叶签订了一系列“不平等条约”后的一个“平等条约”。协定规定在签字后一个月内,双方举行会议,并在这一会议中“将中国政府与前帝俄政府所订一切条约概行废止,根据相互平等原则及苏俄两次对华宣言的精神,重新订约”。协定规定,“苏联废除帝俄政府与第三国订立的妨碍中国主权及利益的一切条约与协定,双方声明以后任何一方均不订立有损对方主权和利益的协定。” 根据国际法原则,《中俄瑷珲条约》、《中俄北京条约》等依靠武力或武力威胁强加中国的,并因此侵占了中国150万平方公里的条约,中国有权不承认,有权要求废除。1924年《中苏解决县案大纲协定》签订后几个月,“贿选总统”曹锟在军阀混战中倒台,接着段祺瑞任“临时执政”,一年半后,北伐战争爆发。中苏两国边界的“悬案”实际上并未解决,这与苏联不遵守《中苏解决悬案大纲协定》有关,与中国局势不断变动有关。



“Running for political office was the hardest thing I have ever done,” Whitman tells Businessweek. “When things seem challenging here, I go back to that.”

An interesting point in this article. There seems to be some translation misunderstandings in the some chinese posts of this report. But still thoughtful.