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十二
8
2015

诺奖得主对祖国的建议–法兰西东东(四)

@旁观组:市场经济来的很晚……很多政策方针在制订时只考虑了行政因素。你在说‘甲’,一定只是因为你在政治上是‘乙’。

法国在很多方面跟天朝类似:中央集权,什么都是食材,甚至包括最近在政坛崛起的排外右派。

且来听听 2014 年的诺奖得主 Jean Tirole 对法国有什么建议。

像 Jean Tirole 或者是法国经济部长 Emmanuel Macron 这样力图推动改革的人,在法国会被怒斥为“自由派(Libéral)”;正如文革中的一句“反革命”,把对方的观点打入十八层地狱,也剥夺了对方说话的权力。

Tirole 称这个“自由派”的标签就是用政治来彻底消灭一个人的观点:“你在说‘甲’,一定只是因为你在政治上是‘乙’。”

以经济学的研究来指导政策制定,这在法国并不受欢迎。部分原因是真正的经济学家在法国受关注度低,也不被世人所理解。“在很多大学里,学生们很早就学习专业知识,而不学任何经济学知识。法国的市场经济来得很晚;很多政策方针在制订时只考虑了行政因素。”

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其他《法兰西东东》

网络中立和网站的节操–法兰西东东(三)

税来谁去–法兰西东东(二)

吃葡萄不吐葡萄籽–法兰西东东(一)

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摘于 2015 年 12 月 4 日金融时报的报道: French lessons from a Nobel Prize winner  

原文链接:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0f3219b2-9945-11e5-95c7-d47aa298f769.html#axzz3tiu3PP3x

Jean Tirole insists on getting me a coffee. He walks me down the corridor to the office coffee machine, makes an espresso and presents it to me in a plastic cup. Later I ask colleagues of his at the Toulouse School of Economics whether this was a PR stunt. No, they say. Tirole — human enough to have choked up during his Nobel acceptance speech last year — is just a very nice guy.

This skinny figure in an unfashionable brown sweater was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics for his work on how to regulate big companies. But in his dingy office in a former tobacco factory, we talked about how to change France — something Tirole has done himself, in miniature, in Toulouse. We spoke a day before the terrorist attacks in Paris changed France. But his ideas for the country apply long term.

Tirole, 62, has an unusual vantage point: almost uniquely among the French elite, he isn’t in central Paris. He asks: “You know the expression ‘monter à Paris’ [broadly, ‘going up to Paris’]? For many people, Paris is what you can best do in your career.” Instead, in 1991, he left his professorship at MIT in Boston for the delightful backwater of Toulouse because his friend, the late economist Jean-Jacques Laffont, persuaded him they could make a French university department world-class. It was a crazy idea. Universities are France’s academic minor league, below the grandes écoles.

Still, Laffont and Tirole thought internationally. Tirole says: “We started teaching in English 20 years ago, when it was illegal.” Laffont died early, in 2004, but Tirole realised their dream. Today, the Toulouse School of Economics is world-class — though, in French reputational terms, that’s still less important than being in Paris. “I think when I got the prize most [French] people had never heard my name,” Tirole says.

Yet he has influence in France. He has long sat on the Council for Economic Analysis (CAE), advising prime ministers of right and left. His great concern: reducing French joblessness, now a record 3.59 million.

In 2003, Tirole and fellow economist Olivier Blanchard proposed a “lay-off tax”. Instead of heavy taxation of salaries, which dissuades companies from hiring workers, they said France should tax companies for sacking people. Tirole also suggested a “single labour contract” to replace the current dual system in which insiders have permanent contracts and outsiders temporary ones. Neither idea flew.

In part, that’s because economists aren’t heard or understood much in France. Tirole explains: “In France, in most universities you specialise very early but you don’t learn any economics. France came to a market economy pretty late, too. If you think about France, a lot of the decisions were administrative.”

Would-be reformers such as Tirole or economy minister Emmanuel Macron get shouted down with the ultimate French insult: “Libéral!” This essentially means “Laissez-faire capitalist”. Tirole explains: “People don’t know what libéral means. The truth is I don’t know economists who are for laissez-faire, so to speak. They may be for more or less regulation.”

Most French debate is conducted in the language of politics, not economics. Tirole says the tag libéral is used to discredit a speaker’s arguments through an appeal to politics: “‘You are saying X because you must be politically Y.’ That allows people to stop thinking.”

But the French urgently need to start thinking.

Tirole sketches France’s looming economic triple whammy. First, government debt is 96 per cent of gross domestic product — a record. “How long can we go on like this, spending so much, with unemployment which keeps rising?” Second, the migrants are coming. “As an economist I think migration is a good thing, but with a small caveat: if you don’t have jobs for them, we’ll get people who will be very unhappy about being in France.” Third, he says, the digital economy will quickly destroy many jobs. He adds, half-jokingly: “Maybe my job won’t exist any more. Maybe all teaching will be done from Cambridge, Mass.”

Yet he remains hopeful about France. “If I’m in France, in a sense that’s because I want to be in France. I still think we have assets. We still have superb human capital, if we can keep those people in France. We still have a good civil service, though it’s way too big. I like our welfare system, schools which are widely available to people, a health system. Those beautiful buildings in Toulouse and this good food are assets, too. It’s quality of life.” He also thinks the economic crisis will push France to reform its job market. After all, crisis prompted reforms in Germany, Sweden, Canada and, recently, even Italy.

But if the far-right leader Marine Le Pen becomes president in 2017, would that ruin his hopes for France? “Yes,” sighs Tirole. “It ruins the country’s image but also the country’s economics. Leaving the euro, nationalising firms, pouring more money into civil-service jobs, and stopping migrants and imports will make markets even more inefficient, will increase the public deficit, and we will lose the discipline of the euro. I don’t want to answer your question. I don’t want to think about it.”

simon.kuper@ft.com; Twitter @KuperSimon

Illustration by Luis Grañena

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