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2010-08-20 16:02:54|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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But the most original solution was that of President Franklin Roosevelt, soon after his inauguration in 1933. Mr Ahamed resurrects a 59-year-old agricultural economist from Cornell University by the name of George Warren, whose study of long-term trends in commodity prices led him to believe that, since falling prices were associated with depression, recovery ought to be encouraged by rising prices. The president liked the idea and decided to devalue the dollar—despite vigorous opposition from the gold bugs—simply by increasing the gold price. One of his own economic advisers lamented: “This is the end of Western civilisation.” For a number of weeks, the president would consult his advisers over boiled eggs at breakfast and randomly drive up the gold price, beginning at $31.36 an ounce until it settled at $35. By then a recovery was under way.

 

但最有原创性的解决方案是罗斯福总统在1933年就任后不久所实施的。艾哈迈德先生从历史文献中找出了乔治˙华伦,一位五十九岁康乃尔大学的农业经济学家。这位学者从研究长期原物料价格趋势中得到一个结论: 由于大萧条和通货紧缩有关,那么抬高物价应可促进经济复苏。罗斯福认为这意见很好,因而不顾那些黄金癫狂者的强烈反对,决定以抬高黄金价格的方式让美元贬值。他的一位经济幕僚哀叹说,”这是西方文明的末日”。连续几周的时间,这位总统会和他的幕僚共进有水煮蛋的早餐,在饮食之间随意的抬高黄金价格,从每盎司$31.36美元开始,直到最后落在每盎司$35美元。还没完成抬价,经济复苏就已开始。

 

This absorbing study of the first collective of central bankers is provocative, not least because it is still relevant. Mr Ahamed, who was a World Bank economist and now manages investments in America, likens central bankers to Sisyphus. This was the man whom the gods condemned to roll a large stone up a steep hill only for it to roll down again when it reached the peak. These great central bankers were so wedded to a dogma that they were incapable of imagining its failure.

 

这些对第一代央行总裁的研究是引人入胜而又惹人争议的,也不只是因为其内容和今日世界仍息息相关。曾任世银经济学家,而现在在美国以管理投资为业的艾哈迈德先生,将央行总裁比做是薛西佛斯。神话中,薛西佛斯被希腊神祉所诅咒,必须不断将大石推上陡峭的山坡,而到达山顶时却又得任其滚回原地。这些央行的总裁被教条绑住以致于不能想象该教条也有失败的可能。

 

Perhaps this kind of single-mindedness is endemic to central bankers; since the early 1990s the idea of controlling inflation at all costs has been so compelling that central bankers have ignored such unintended consequences as bubbles in the housing and stock markets. But these were big enough, when they burst, to trigger a worldwide slump. Not lords of finance surely; more like high priests.

 

也许这种专一的情结是央行总裁所特有的; 自1990年代初期以来,不计代价控制通胀的这种想法变得凌驾一切,以致于央行总裁忽略了像房市和股市泡沫这种意料之外的后果。但是这些泡沫是大到当其破灭时,可以导致全球的不景气。他们绝对不是金融的主宰,比较像笃信教义的大祭司。

 

 

Culture on television

电视上的艺术

 

The cruellest cut

最粗鲁的裁汰

 

Apr 8th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

 

One of Britain's favourite cultural television shows gets the chop

英国最受欢迎的文化类电视节目之一被裁

 

The South Bank Show: Final Cut. By Melvyn Bragg. Holder & Stoughton; 307 pages; ?20. Buy from Amazon.co.uk

《南岸秀:最终裁汰》Melvyn Bragg著

 

THE “South Bank Show” has for years been almost the only serious regular culture programme on ITV, Britain’s main commercial broadcaster, the intellectual conscience of an increasingly tacky network. Now, after profiling artists of all persuasions for 32 years, it has been axed, and the pretence of intellectual respectability abandoned. In his new book Lord Bragg, the show’s presenter, looks back at 25 of his subjects, weaving excerpts from their interviews into fuller artistic portraits.

 

“南岸秀”作为英国主要的商业广播机构ITV的一档固定节目,多年来一直秉承严肃的文化主题风格。在这么一个日渐俗套的电视网络中,它还留有知识分子的良知。32年来它描绘了持有各种信念的艺术家,现在,ITV将该节目连同它那受人尊敬的知识分子外衣,一并抛弃了。“南岸秀”的主持人Bragg阁下在他的新书中,回顾了他所做的其中25期节目,并力图从那些访谈摘录中编织出更加完整的艺术人像。

 

The “South Bank Show” has been a long-running answer, indeed rebuke, to the hoary old question about the relative merits of John Keats and Bob Dylan. Its ethos has been that quality should be recognised in popular as well as elite culture, an approach that led to it being criticised as at once worthy and trivial. This collection, like the programme’s run, opens with Paul McCartney: “I led with McCartney”, Lord Bragg writes, “because I wanted to show I was serious.” Several of his interlocutors—such as David Puttnam and David Hockney—are of his generation, and like him came from the British provinces to London in the 1960s and 1970s to explore and exploit “a new classless culture, sexy and delighted with itself”.

 

“南岸秀”一直在回答(事实是在非难)约翰济慈和鲍勃迪伦孰优孰劣这个老调的问题。它的一贯主张就是节目品质既要为精英文化所接受,又应该被普罗大众所认知,这也使得人们批评它是“良莠并存”。这本汇编集和节目一样都是从保罗麦卡特尼开始的,“我之所以把麦卡特尼当做头条”Bragg阁下说道,“是因为我想向大家表明我严肃的态度。”他的一些访谈对象——如大卫普特南和大卫霍克尼——与他是同时代人,和他一样在1960和1970年代从英国其他省份来到伦敦,来探索开拓一种“新的性感的自我愉悦的无阶级文化”。

 

Probably the most affecting profiles, however, are of more exotic figures: Luciano Pavarotti (“He gives a good name to ‘simple’ and ‘spoiled’”), Rudolph Nureyev (“one of the most dramatic and unlikely personal journeys in art in the 20th century”), and a twin depiction of Barry Humphries and Dame Edna that brilliantly draws out the co-dependency of comedian and character. The book’s many biographical curiosities—such as the fact that Sir Harold Pinter once worked as a chucker-out at the Astoria ballroom—make it an entertaining volume to dip into. But it also offers some cumulative lessons.

 

最动人的艺术肖像,也许是那些更具异国情调的人:卢西亚诺 帕瓦罗蒂(他给“简单”和“过分”作出了优秀的定义),鲁道夫 纽瑞耶夫(20世纪艺术领域最具有戏剧性和最不可思议的个人历程之一),还有对巴里 汉弗莱斯和埃德娜女爵士几乎相同的描述,精辟地诠释了喜剧演员和戏剧角色之间的互相依存。本书收录了很多令人好奇的人物轶事-例如哈罗德品特先生曾经在阿斯托利亚舞厅当保镖的一段经历-令览阅时意趣盎然。不过它当然也提供了一些经验教训,令人开卷有益。

 

One is about Lord Bragg. In Britain he is the target of much backbiting, often motivated by ill-disguised envy for his success and his sheer industry (he is a prolific writer and radio presenter, among other commitments). Here he comes across as a lucid, supple and valuable analyst of many artistic genres and their varying different potential; he is good on the relative merits of television and film, for example, and on the alchemy of acting. He is a fine reader of faces, and a useful tutor in the craft of interviews: when to press, when to sit back, when to needle and when to leave be.

其中一些就是关于 Bragg阁下的,在英国他是众多谗言攻击的目标,那些诋毁他的人经常毫不掩饰地表现出对他的成功和他所从事的纯粹行业的嫉妒(除了其他工作,他还是一个多产作家和电台主持人)。在这里他看上去似乎是一个思路清晰柔顺的分析者,对不同艺术流派及其变化发展有着颇具价值的看法;他了解电视和电影的相对优势,例如,两者表演方法的各自魔力。他善于察言观色,是访谈技巧方面的大师:有张有驰,亦紧亦松,收放自如。

 

Together his essays offer some intriguing generalisations about the making and methods of artists. The backgrounds of the people Lord Bragg examines are often humble but disciplined; typically they are exposed to art, or encouraged into it, by some fortuitous incident or acquaintance.

 

总体来看,书中文章对艺术家的成功之道和创作方法做出了有趣的概括。Bragg阁下的受访者并非都是身世显赫,但是家教严明;他们因为偶然的机遇与艺术结缘,或是在熟人的鼓励下跨入艺术的殿堂,这样的情况很有代表性。

 

He looks for turning points in lives and careers (Tracey Emin being abused by her ex-lovers during a dance competition; Pavarotti’s mother siding with her son when his father wanted him to find another job). Writing of David Lean, he summarises the pattern as “a very early passion which quickly became an adolescent obsession which became an adult, single-minded struggle to have it realised.”

 

他寻找着艺术家生活和职业的转折点(特雷西 艾明在舞蹈比赛中受到前恋人的辱骂;当帕瓦罗蒂的父亲要他换一份工作时,他的妈妈站在了儿子这一边)。写到大卫里恩时,他这样总结大卫里恩的成功轨迹:“从早期的喜爱很快过渡到青少年时期的狂热,最后转变为成年后一心一意奋力地去实现。”

 

The subjects are mostly less exercised by meaning than by form. And, for many—Eric Clapton, Francis Bacon, Ingmar Bergman, Pinter and others—there is ultimately a sense of mystery and spontaneity; of art coming from elsewhere.

 

“南岸秀”的节目对形式的雕琢大都重于对意义的挖掘。而且很多的艺术家-埃里克 克莱普顿、弗兰西斯 培根、英格玛 伯格曼、品特和其他的一些艺术家-存在着一种终极的神秘感和与生俱来的艺术感觉,他们的艺术天赋好像并非来自这个俗世。

 

Jazz

 

Chasin' the Trane

 

Nov 8th 2007 | From The Economist print edition

 

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound. By Ben Ratliff. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 272 pages; $24. Faber and Faber; £16.99. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

THE vaulting-off point of Ben Ratliff's biography is the belief that John Coltrane, tenor and soprano saxophonist, was not only a towering performer but also the last major figure in the evolution of jazz. Indeed, jazz seemed to lose its way after he died in 1967, aged 40.

 

本?拉特里夫í专记的核心思想是认为高音、次中音萨克斯管演奏者约翰-柯川不仅是杰出的演奏者,同时还是最后一位优秀的爵士革新家。的确,自1967年40岁的约翰去世后,爵士乐似乎就开始迷失了。

 

Mr Ratliff, jazz critic for the New York Times, leaves Coltrane's private life largely alone. For a jazzman, he kicked drugs and drink pretty early and afterwards led a remarkably suburban life. Rather, it is a biography of the Coltrane sound: an urgent, non-vibrato intensity that the saxophonist constantly reinvented—unlike most jazz musicians who professionally settle into a comfortable groove or who reinvent themselves at most once or twice in their lives.

 

《纽约时报》的爵士评论家拉特里夫先生对柯川私人生活的报道有很大保留。作为一名爵士音乐家,柯川很早就戒毒戒酒,后来又过着典型的郊区生活。更正确的说,这是出自柯川一家之言的一部传记:与满足于个人的最佳专业状态或只在生命中至多进行一两次创造的大多数爵士音乐家不同,柯川作为一个萨克斯管演奏者不断创造急切而无颤音的强度。

 

The Coltrane sound, unlike Charlie Parker's, did not spring fully formed on the listening public. Coltrane was something of a late and hesitant starter. He was nearly 30 when an assuredness settled in and he was able to harness his phenomenal technique and mastery of jazz lore to his urgent driven style, soloing in riffles and cascades of scales and arpeggios. The late 1950s were exceptional years for jazz. Though rock-and-roll had not yet swamped it, jazz big bands were no longer commercially viable. The fizz was in small clubs where quartets and quintets played live, and Coltrane was lucky to be hired by two superb bandleaders and teachers, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

 

柯川不像查理*帕克的声音一样在听众中完全定型。柯川有点大器晚成,起步晚且犹豫不决。他开始有信心时已将近30岁了,他能把杰出的表演手法和爵士知识的掌握融为一体,形成音调急促的曲风、短促的独奏、音阶和琶音的层叠。20世纪50年代末是爵士乐的特殊年代。尽管摇滚乐还没有完全侵人,但大型爵士乐队在商业上不再风光了。只活跃在小型俱乐部里的是四重奏和五重奏的实况演奏。柯川很幸运地被两位高超的伴舞乐队指挥和老师雇佣,他们是迈尔斯?戴维斯和赛罗尼斯-蒙克。

 

But for Coltrane, all this was the beginning of the journey, not the end. At first he attempted to cram ever more into the Western harmony of jazz tunes: an ever-denser architecture of chord changes. Before long, even his technique exhausted those possibilities. He began to abandon harmony, turning to modes that seemed to speak of older things: African and native-American history, Eastern spiritual power, universal love. Then even the modes started to go. Many of his audiences lost him as he encouraged younger, more wayward players into his regular group; then his regular musicians went. Asked by a Japanese reporter in 1966 what he wished to be in ten years' time, Coltrane replied simply that he wanted to be a saint.

 

但对于柯川来说,所有的这些都只是爵士之旅的开端而不是终曲。首先他试图融人更多的西方和谐爵士曲调:越来越密集的和音变化的体系结构。不久以后,他的演奏技术无法融合这种可能性。他开始放弃和谐曲调, 转向似乎诉说古老事情的风格:非洲和土著美国人的历史、东方的精神力量和博爱。然后这种风格也逐渐被放弃了。当他鼓励更年轻、更任性的演奏者加人他正规的演奏乐队时,他失去了很多听众。后来他也不再是个正规的音乐家了。当1966年一个日本记者问他10年后想成为什么人时,柯川简单地回答说他想成为一个圣人。

 

And that, in many circles, is what after his death he became. To the cult's adherents, Coltrane's music by the end had ascended to a plane of intensity that was close to godliness, and could not be questioned. A Church of St John Coltrane exists in San Francisco: the founders first claimed that the musician was an incarnation of god, but later demoted him to sainthood.

 

然而经历了那么多辗转波折,他死后将成为什么样呢。对祭礼的信徒来说,柯川的音乐最后已经上升到一种不容置疑的近乎天籁之音。在旧金山有一座圣约翰?柯川教堂:教堂奠基人首先声称音乐家是上帝的化身, 但随后又把他降级为圣人。

 

Mr Ratliff's biography is particularly good in exploring Coltrane's afterlife. Coltrane's musical presence remains so powerful that even today jazz musicians, particularly horn players, are influenced by it—unless they define themselves in sharp contradistinction to it. But Mr Ratliff investigates the charge that, if jazz as an evolutionary folk form died with Coltrane, it was he who killed it: pulling down its harmonic structure, destroying its sense of swing and knocking the pleasure and fun out of it in an ecstasy of self-indulgence. The late Robert Lowell, an American poet, spoke of “the monotony of the sublime”; this could be applied to Coltrane.

 

On the charge of destroying jazz, Mr Ratliff finds Coltrane not guilty. But it is hard to escape a sense, both among those jazz players who followed him out to the wilder edges or those who struggled to bring the idiom back to its earlier harmonic forms, that jazz has been chasing its tail ever since he died. Had Coltrane's life not been cut short, where would his sound have chased next?

 

The financial crisis and the future of regulation

金融危机和监管的未来

 

Blame game

推托搪塞

 

Two influential economists take a potshot at financial policymakers. Why don’t their criticisms add up?

两位著名经济学家猛烈抨击金融政策制定者. 而他们的批判为何不合情理?

 

Mar 18th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

 

 

 

Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy. By Joseph Stiglitz. Norton; 361 pages; $27.95. Allen Lane; £25. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk 

《自由落体:美国、自由市场及全球市场的沉没》 作者:约瑟夫.斯蒂格利茨

 

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. By Simon Johnson and James Kwak. Pantheon, 280 pages; $26.95. Buy from Amazon.com

《13位银行家:华尔街接管和下一次金融崩溃》  西蒙.约翰逊,詹姆斯.夸克 合著

 

JOSEPH STIGLITZ and Simon Johnson have much in common. Both have held high-profile jobs within the economic policymaking establishment (Mr Stiglitz, an American Nobel prize winner, headed the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton and was chief economist at the World Bank. Mr Johnson, who is both British and American, is a former chief economist at the IMF). Both have become outspoken critics of the establishment. During the financial crisis they lambasted the American government’s handling of the bank bail-outs. They argued for nationalising Wall Street’s big banks and condemned the Obama team’s capital injections as a giveaway to powerful financiers that only exacerbated the problem of the too-big-to-fail banks. Both men have now written books laying out their indictments, and offering solutions.

 

约瑟夫.斯蒂格利茨与西蒙约翰逊有许多共同之处。两人都在经济决策机构中担任过引人注目的职位(斯蒂格利茨是一位美国诺贝尔奖得主,曾在比尔.克林顿任内出任经济顾问团主席一职,并担任过世界银行的首席经济学家。 约翰逊持有英美双重国籍,曾任IMF的首席经济学家)。两人不约而同地对金融机构提出了批评。他们在金融危机期间对美国政府的救助银行行动进行了猛烈的抨击,为华尔街大型银行的国有化争论不休,并谴责奥巴马团队将资金当作赠品注入到势力强大的金融家手中,只会使银行大到不能倒闭的问题愈加恶化。如今两人都著书提出他们的控诉,并给出解决办法。

 

In “Freefall”, which came out in January, Mr Stiglitz traces the origins of the crisis to a deregulatory fervour fuelled by the “ideology” of free-market fundamentalism and Wall Street’s political clout. This is an ambitious book, offering an analysis of the failures of academic economics and a call for a more inclusive, less materialistic society. The Great Recession, Mr Stiglitz argues, uncovered fundamental flaws in America’s late 20th-century form of capitalism. Righting them will require wholesale reform both of financial regulation and of the entire global monetary system.

 

今年一月出版的《自由落体》一书,斯蒂格利茨将此次危机的根源,归因于被自由市场原教旨主义“意识形态”和华尔街的政治势力鼓动起来的放松管制热情。这是一本雄心勃勃的书,分析了学院经济学派失败的原因,并倡导构建一个更为包容、更少贪图享乐的社会。斯蒂格利茨认为,大衰退揭示出了20世纪末美国资本主义形式的根本缺陷。修正这些缺陷就需要对金融管制和全球货币体系进行全面的革新。

 

As befits a man who won the Nobel prize for his work on asymmetric information, Mr Stiglitz dwells on the market imperfections and misaligned incentives that distorted decisions made by everyone from mortgage originators to credit-rating agencies. His depiction of finance’s failures is not novel, but it is well done.

 

作为一位凭藉其在信息不对称领域的研究而获得诺贝尔奖的学者,斯蒂格利茨在本书中主要研究了市场不完善和误导激励引起的决策扭曲,这种不当激励来自于从原始放贷者到信用评级机构间的各个环节。他对金融业失败的描述并不新颖,却十分到位。

 

Far less convincing are Mr Stiglitz’s sweeping, often vitriolic, criticisms of the “flawed” policy response. These include an attack on the fiscal stimulus where, he says, the Obama team failed to draw on “theory, empirical evidence and common sense” and on the bank rescue plan, which he describes as “among the most costly mistakes of any government at any time”. This blanket condemnation is not supported by the facts and undermines the book’s broader thesis. “Freefall” is, in essence, a call for stronger government to combat all the market failures that Mr Stiglitz sees in modern financial capitalism.

 

斯蒂格利茨笼统而又时常刻薄地批评“不完善的”政策反馈就远非那么令人信服了。这其中就包括对财政刺激方案的攻击,他说奥巴马团队没能成功地利用“理论、经验证据和常识”,并将银行救助计划描述为“美国历届政府所犯过的最昂贵的错误”。这一尖锐的谴责缺乏事实依据,并削弱了该书其他观点的说服力。实际上,《自由落体》就是招唤一个更强大的政府来应对斯蒂格利茨严重现代金融资本主义下的所有市场失灵。

 

Mr Stiglitz argues that finance needs some structural change—the too-big-to-fail banks need to be broken up—and more and better regulation. After he has condemned today’s policymakers so roundly as incompetent and beholden to special interests, that prescription, and the author’s broader faith in government activism, sounds perverse. If policymakers failed as miserably as Mr Stiglitz believes, then he ought to be far more worried about the potential for government failure in the future. That dissonance is a glaring weakness in Mr Stiglitz’s book.

 

斯蒂格利茨认为金融业需要从结构上做出一些改变——那些大到不能倒的银行应该关门——并要有更多更好的制度。他十分粗鲁地指责了如今的政策制定者们,并称他们碌碌无能却蒙特殊利益之惠,却使自己的主张和对政府作为主义广泛的信念听起来难免刺耳。如果政策制定者们像斯蒂格利茨认为的那样悲惨的失败了,那么他更该开始为将来潜在的政府失灵而担忧了。这种自相矛盾正是斯蒂格利茨书中的一处明显的弱点。

 

“13 Bankers”, which Mr Johnson co-wrote with James Kwak, a former McKinsey consultant, makes a narrower point, but has greater historical sweep and is the better read. The authors’ argument, first laid out in the Atlantic a year ago, is that America’s big banks act as an oligarchy, a group that has gained political power because of its economic power and then uses that political power for its own benefit.

 

《13位银行家》由约翰逊和詹姆斯.夸克合著,夸克曾是一位麦肯锡咨询师,该书的观点更为狭隘,但涉及的历史背景更为宽泛也更具可读性。作者的观点是,一年前在美大西洋沿岸,美国的大型银行就扮演起寡头集团的角色,这种集团通过自身的财力来获取政治实力,再利用这一政治实力来为自身利益服务。

 

Unlike oligarchs in emerging economies, Wall Street’s financiers do not use overt bribery or blackmail. Their tools are the soft power of campaign-finance contributions, the revolving door of jobs in government and on Wall Street, and the creation of a culture that equated Wall Street’s gain with America’s gain. But they are no less nefarious. Their power, the authors argue, explains why the Obama team chose the “blank cheque” option for dealing with the financial crisis.

 

不同与新兴经济中的垄断寡头,华尔街的金融家们不会采用公开的贿赂和敲诈手段,他们的工具是些软实力,如为竞选资金捐款,轮流在政府和华尔街任职,以及制造出一种把华尔街利益等同于美国利益的文化。但二者同样邪恶。作者认为,他们的力量解释了为什么奥巴马团队会选用“空头支票”来应对金融危机。

 

To ensure the safety of the financial system and America’s democracy these behemoths must be broken up. The authors would like to limit the assets of any financial institution to 4% of GDP and those of each investment bank to 2%. That would mean dismantling six monster banks.

 

为了确保金融体系的安全和美国的民主,就必须打倒这些庞然巨兽。作者建议把任何一家金融机构的资产占GDP比重都限制在4%以下,投资银行则是2%以下。这将意味着六家巨型银行面临着被肢解。

 

Suspicion of a financial oligarchy is a recurrent theme in America. From the fights between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the “Bank of the United States” to Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era refashioning of finance, America has oscillated between admiration for and fear of bankers; between welcoming financial consolidation and preferring fragmentation. Messrs Johnson and Kwak deftly summarise this history before moving on to their description of how modern Wall Street—the most powerful and concentrated financial sector in the country’s history—both created the financial crisis and ensured a bail-out for its own benefit.

 

金融寡头怀疑论是美国反复出现的话题。从托马斯.杰佛逊和亚历山大.汉密尔顿的“合众国银行”之争,到富兰克林.罗斯福在大萧条时期的财政复兴计划,美国对银行家的态度也在崇拜和恐惧间摇摆不定;踌躇于选择金融业的瓦全还是玉碎之间。约翰逊与夸克二君娴熟地总结完这段历史之后,开始讲述现代华尔街——这个国家历史上最有权势、也最集权的金融部门——不但制造了金融危机,而且还保证利用政府救助使自己获利。

 

Like most conspiracy stories, “13 Bankers” contains a kernel of truth. Wall Street’s intellectual and political clout is considerable, and financial firms make far bigger campaign donations than any other industry in America, resulting in an unusual cosiness between financiers and Washington’s policy elite. That doubtless influenced the financial deregulation that preceded the crisis, helped shape the response and is plainly influencing post-crisis efforts at regulatory reform.

 

与多数阴谋故事一样,《13位银行家》也蕴含真相。华尔街的知识分子和政治势力是可想而知的,并且金融企业对竞选的捐赠数额要远远高于美国的其他所有行业,这使得金融家和华盛顿的政治精英们之间的关系异乎寻常的亲密。这无疑导致了危机前对金融业放松了管制,有助于危机应对措施的形成,并明显地干预了危机过后法规上的改革。

 

But, like many conspiracy theories, “13 Bankers” goes too far. It ignores evidence and arguments that do not suit its thesis. The Obama administration’s decision not to nationalise the banks is presented as prima facie evidence of the oligarchs’ power. The notion that there could also be some downsides to a wholesale government takeover of America’s big banks is given short shrift.

 

但是,和众多阴谋论一样,《13位银行家》也过于离经叛道了。书中对那些与其理论不符的事实和论据视而不见。奥巴马政府实施银行非国有化的决策被当成是寡头权力的初步证据。而对于政府大范围接管美国的大型银行可能会带来的负面影响则通通避而不谈。

 

The authors argue that the banks’ oligarchic power stems from the size and concentration of American finance. No mention is made of the fact that America’s banking system is both less concentrated and smaller in relation to the economy than those of many other industrialised countries. Or that some of the most effective bank lobbying, for instance against a new consumer watchdog for financial products, has been by small community banks rather than Wall Street behemoths.

 

两位作者认为银行寡头权力的根源在于美国金融业的规模和集权。却不提实际上美国的银行体系与其它工业大国相比,其与经济的关系在集权和规模上都远远不及。还有那些影响力最大的银行游说团——如反对为金融产品设立新的消费者权益监督者——来自于小型银行团体,而非华尔街的巨鳄们。

 

A broader perspective would have led to more nuanced conclusions. The origins of America’s financial “oligarchy”, for instance, might have more to do with campaign-finance rules and political appointees than banks’ size. The faith that Messrs Johnson and Kwak put in merely capping the size of banks is misplaced. The trouble is that such nuanced arguments would spoil the tale of villainy in “13 Bankers”. Their absence results in a book that is too crude to be convincing.

 

放宽眼界方能得出更细致的结论(欲穷千里目,更上一层楼)。比如,美国金融“寡头”也许更多的是跟竞选筹款规则和政治任命有关,而非银行的规模。约翰逊和夸克二君只将责任推在银行规模之上,似乎是张冠李戴了。问题是这些敏感的论点会破坏《13位银行家》中苦心经营的邪恶故事。但他们的疏漏也使得本书太过粗略而难以服众。

 

University education in America

美国大学教育

 

Professionalising the professor

教授的专业化

 

The difficulties of an American doctoral student

美国博士研究生的困境

 

Feb 25th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

 

The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University. By Louis Menand. Norton; 174 pages; $24.95 and ?17.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

《市场竞争理念: 美国大学的改革和抵制》。作者:路易斯.莫南德、诺顿;174页;24.95美元或17.99英镑。Amazon.com,Amazon.co.uk 网站有售

 

THIS subtle and intelligent little book should be read by every student thinking of applying to take a doctorate. They may then decide to go elsewhere. For something curious has been happening in American universities, and Louis Menand, a professor of English at Harvard University, captures it deftly.

 

每一个想申请获得博士学位的学生都应该读一读这本构思巧妙、充满智慧的小册子。然后,他们可能会决定去其他国家攻读博士。因为美国大学正悄悄发生着一些不寻常的事情,而这些,被哈佛大学英语教授路易斯·莫南德敏锐地捕捉到了。

 

His concern is mainly with the humanities: literature, languages, philosophy and so on. These are disciplines that are going out of style: 22% of American college graduates now major in business compared with only 2% in history and 4% in English. However, many leading American universities want their undergraduates to have a grounding in the basic canon of ideas that every educated person should possess. But most find it difficult to agree on what a “general education” should look like. At Harvard, Mr Menand notes, “The great books are read because they have been read”—they form a sort of social glue.

 

他担忧的主要是人文方面的,如文学、语言、哲学等等学科。这些学科正走向没落:如今22%的美国大学毕业生主修的是商业,相比之下,只有2%的主修历史,4%的主修英语。然而,许多美国一流大学希望能教给他们的本科生一些基本的做人原则,同时也是每个受过教育的人应该具备的基本做人原则。 但“通识教育”应该是什么样子的,大多数人很难达成一致意见。在哈佛,莫南德先生指出,“之所以让学生读这些伟大的著作,是因為我们以前一直就这么做"--這些書似乎成为了一种圈内共识。

 

One reason why it is hard to design and teach such courses is that they cut across the insistence by top American universities that liberal-arts education and professional education should be kept separate, taught in different schools. Many students experience both varieties. Although more than half of Harvard undergraduates end up in law, medicine or business, future doctors and lawyers must study a non-specialist liberal-arts degree before embarking on a professional qualification.

 

人文课程之所以难以设计和教授,是因为这些课程违背了(忽视了?)美国顶尖大学的一贯原则,那就是:文科教育和职业教育应该彼此分离,由不同的学院负责授课。许多学生两种教育都接受过。 尽管有超过半数的哈佛本科生最终主修法律、医学或者商业,然而这些未来的医生和律师在开始专业资格学习之前必须先学习一门非专业的文科学位课程。

 

Besides professionalising the professions by this separation, top American universities have professionalised the professor. The growth in public money for academic research has speeded the process: federal research grants rose fourfold between 1960 and 1990, but faculty teaching hours fell by half as research took its toll. Professionalism has turned the acquisition of a doctorate into a prerequisite for a successful academic career: as late as 1969 a third of American professors did not possess one. But the key idea behind professionalisation, argues Mr Menand, is that “the knowledge and skills needed for a particular specialisation are transmissible but not transferable.” So disciplines acquire a monopoly not just over the production of knowledge, but also over the production of the producers of knowledge.

 

除了这种细分专业的专业化,美国顶尖大学还对教授也实行了专业化。对学术研究公共资金投入的增长,加快了这一进程:联邦政府的研究拨款在1960至1990年间增长了4倍,但是教授们授课的课时却因花太多时间在研究上而减少一半。专业化已经使得获得博士学位成为了学术生涯成功的先决条件——直到1969年,三分之一的美国教授仍然没有博士学位。但是专业化背后的关键理念,莫南德先生认为,是“具体专业化所需知识和技能可以传授,但不可转让。”因此,不仅通过创造知识可以形成学科垄断,而且通过培养知识分子同样也可以形成学科垄断。

 

No disciplines have seized on professionalism with as much enthusiasm as the humanities. You can, Mr Menand points out, become a lawyer in three years and a medical doctor in four. But the median time—median!—to a doctoral degree in the humanities is nine years. (Advertising note to American students: you can get a perfectly good PhD at a top British university in under four years.) Not surprisingly, up to half of all doctoral students in English drop out before getting their degrees.

 

没有哪门专业化学科像人文学科这样,需要倾注如此多的热情。莫南德先生指出,你成为一名律师需要三年时间,成为一名医生需要四年。但是,在人文学科领域获得博士学位的平均时间 ——平均!——为九年。(打个广告提醒美国学生:你在英国顶尖大学获得一个完美的哲学博士学位不会超过四年。) 高达一半的英语博士生在获得学位之前辍学就毫不奇怪了。

 

Equally unsurprisingly, only about half end up with the jobs they entered graduate school to get: tenured professorships. There are simply too few posts. This is partly because universities continue to churn out ever more PhDs. But fewer students want to study humanities subjects: English departments awarded more bachelor’s degrees in 1970-71 than they did 20 years later. Fewer students require fewer teachers. So, at the end of a decade of thesis-writing, many humanities students leave the profession to do something for which they have not been trained.

 

因此最终只有约一半的人能进入研究生院,获得终身教授的工作同样也就不奇怪了。职位实在是太少了。部分原因是由于大学总是不断的粗制滥造出更多的哲学博士。但是,越来越少的学生愿意学习人文学科:1970至1971年间英语系获得学士学位的学生比20年以后获得学士学位的学生还多。学生越少,对老师的需求也就越少。因此,在结束了十年的论文写作之后,许多学文的学生放弃了他们的专业,去从事专业不对口的工作。

 

The key to reforming higher education, concludes Mr Menand, is to alter the way in which “the producers of knowledge are produced”. Otherwise, academics will continue to think dangerously alike, increasingly detached from the societies which they study, investigate and criticise. “Academic inquiry, at least in some fields, may need to become less exclusionary and more holistic.” Yet quite how that happens, Mr Menand does not say. In reality, baby and bathwater may go out together. Public exasperation with academic introversion may lead to a loss of some independence, the most precious right of academics in a free society.

 

莫南德先生总结道,改革高等教育的关键在于改变过去培养知识分子的方式。否则,学者们还会继续这样危险的思考下去,愈加脱离他们所研究、调查与批评的社会。“学术调查,至少在某些领域,可能需要少一点排斥,多一些全面。” 然而,如何落实这一点,莫南德先生没有说。事实上,婴儿和洗澡水可能会被一起倒掉。公众对学术内向的恼怒,可能会导致其丧失一些独立性,而这正是自由社会学者最宝贵的权利。

 

Foreign aid

国际援助

 

Trap or treat

陷阱?良策?

 

Dec 17th 2009

From The Economist print edition

 

 

Aid packages

 

The Aid Trap. By Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan. Columbia University Press; 198 pages; $22.95 and £15.95. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

 

INTO a crowded field of books about the problems with development aid comes a slim new volume by Glenn Hubbard, who was the head of President George Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, and William Duggan, a colleague at Columbia Business School, where Mr Hubbard is now dean. Like many others, the two academics are disappointed by the failure of the existing system of aid to foster economic development in poor countries. But rather than advocating getting rid of the system altogether, they propose reorienting it to concentrate on promoting private businesses in poor countries. This, they argue, has been the key to economic development in countries that have grown fast, but it is only rarely the principal focus of development aid.

 

发展援助方面的书籍可谓浩如烟海,而近日这个庞大的家族又迎来的一册薄薄的新成员。作者之一Glenn Hubbard曾任George Bush经济顾问委员主席,现为哥伦比亚大学商学院院长,而另一位作者William Duggan则是他现在的同事。和众多同行一样,这两位学者也对当今援助体系未能促进贫困国家经济发展大感失望。但他们并不提倡彻底废除这个体系,而是建议将其重新定位,改为侧重促进这些国家私有经济的发展。两位作者认为有些国家经济之所以能腾飞,这就是关键所在,但发展援助体系却很少把此当做重点。

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