经济学中,有很多非常有趣的现象,可以解释生活中很多问题。

 

如果你也想掌握一些经济学常识,和别人聊天时,有些谈资,显格调,一起来学学这十大经典经济学常识和现象!

 
10
Paradox of Value
价值悖论
Also known as the Diamond-Water Paradox, the paradox of value is the contradiction that while water is more useful, in terms of survival, than diamonds, diamonds get a higher market price. The argument could be made that diamonds are more rare than water, thus, demand is higher than supply, which means that price will go up. However, consider the fact that less than 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable. Also consider the fact that access to clean drinking water is one of the world’s most pressing problems, every year 2 million people die and half a billion become sick from a lack of drinkable water.
又名“钻石与水悖论”。就人类生存而言,水比钻石更为珍贵,但钻石的市场价格更高,这种反差就构成了价值悖论。产生这一现象的原因可能是钻石更为稀有,需求大于供应,价格上涨。但是,其实地球上的水只有不到1%是可饮用的,同时,世界上每年有200万人因饮用水短缺死亡,5亿人患病。如何为更多人提供清洁饮用水是最紧迫的问题之一。
This paradox can possibly be explained by the Subjective Theory of Value, which says that worth is based on the wants and needs of a society, as opposed to value being inherent to an object. In developed countries, drinkable water in not only abundant, it’s considered a right. Because we do not have to worry about paying for water, this gives us money to pay for things like diamonds, that do not fall out of our faucets. Individuals in developing countries surely place a higher value on clean water.
这个悖论可以通过主观价值论来解释。主观价值论认为,产品价值取决于社会需求,而非作为物体的固有价值。发达国家不仅拥有丰富的饮用水资源,获取足量饮用水更是一种权利。因为我们不用为水费发愁,所以可以购买不能轻易获取的钻石。而对于发展中国家而言,饮用水的价值肯定相对更高。
 
9
Khazzoom–Brookes Postulate
Khazzoom-Brookes假说
This proposal was named after Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes, who argued that increased energy efficiency, paradoxically, tends to lead to increased energy consumption. It was found to be true in the 1990’s. So how is this possible? Wikipedia explains it very effectively:
这一假说是以经济学家Daniel Khazzoom及Leonard Brookes的名字命名的,即能源效率的提高会增加而不是减少能源消费。这一假说于20世纪90年代被证实。那么这是什么原因呢?维基百科对此做出了详细解释:
“Increased energy efficiency can increase energy consumption by three means. Firstly, increased energy efficiency makes the use of energy relatively cheaper, thus encouraging increased use. Secondly, increased energy efficiency leads to increased economic growth, which pulls up energy use in the whole economy. Thirdly, increased efficiency in any one bottleneck resource multiplies the use of all the companion technologies, products and services that were being restrained by it.”
“提高能源效率将通过三种方式增加能源消耗:第一,提高能源效率降低能源使用花费,从而增加能源消耗;第二,提高能源效率推动经济增长,进而拉动整个经济体的能源消耗;第三,任何一种能源资源效率的提高都会极大地推动所有相关技术、产品和服务的使用。“

8
Bounded Rationality
有限理性
Economic theory generally assumes that individuals are completely rational, and as such, make rational decisions. Recent books on behavioral economics, notably Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational have brought forth evidence that people do not make rational decisions at all. Bounded Rationality is the idea that individual decision making is limited by personal information, cognitive limitations, and time constraints.
经济理论一般假设个人是完全理性的,因而会做出理性的决定。最近一系列研究行为经济学的书籍,特别是Dan Ariely的《怪诞行为学》证明了“人们根本不会做出理性决定”的看法。有限理性认为,个人决策会受到个人信息、认知和时间的限制。
The basic idea of economics is that people act in ways to maximize their self-interest. We do things that will increase our “utility”, or happiness. It seems logical that we would make rational decisions in order to accomplish that. Unfortunately, information asymmetry, cognitive biases and other factors conspire to bound our rationality, and people often make choices that lead to outcomes that go against their desires.
经济学的基本思想是人类行为是为了最大限度地获取自身利益。我们所做的事情能够增加我们的“效用”或幸福感。我们为了做到这一点而做出理性决定的观点似乎是合乎逻辑的。不幸的是,信息不对称、认知偏见和其他因素共同限制了我们的理性,导致人们经常做出非理性决策,其结果往往与初衷背道而驰。
 
7
Lipstick Effect
口红效应
Economics has many categories for “goods”. “Luxury Goods” are items that people buy more of as their income rises, as opposed to “Necessity Goods” like food and shelter, whose demand is unrelated to income. Examples of luxury goods include fine jewelry, expensive sports cars and designer clothing. The Lipstick Effect is the theory that during an economic calamity, people buy more less costly luxury goods. Instead of buying a fur coat, people will buy expensive lipstick. The idea is that people buy luxury goods even during economic hardships, they will just choose goods that have less of an impact on their funds. Other less expensive luxury goods besides cosmetics include expensive beer and small gadgets.
经济学中有很多 “商品”类别。的特征是,随着人们收入的增加, “奢侈品”购入数量上升,但包括食物和住房在内的 “必需品”的需求与收入无关。奢侈品包括高级珠宝、昂贵跑车和名牌服装。口红效应是指人们在经济萧条期间会购入更多相对廉价的奢侈品,比如不买皮大衣而去购买昂贵的口红。这是因为,即使在经济不景气的情况下,人们依然有购买奢侈品的欲望,所以会选择能够承受的奢侈品。 除化妆品外,其他较便宜的奢侈品包括昂贵的啤酒和小型玩具。
Interesting Fact: After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, lipstick sales doubled.
有趣的事实: 9•11恐怖袭击之后,美国口红销量翻了一番。
 
6
Tragedy of the Commons
公地悲剧
The tragedy of the commons is a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently, deplete a shared resource, even when it is not in anyone’s interest to do so. The best current example of this is fishermen. Nobody owns the earth’s fish populations, indeed, they are a shared resource. Fish are a good that people the world over consume, and as a result, there are multiple fisherman competing for these fish. Each fisherman will try to catch as many fish as possible in order to maximize his profits. However, it is also in the fishermen’s best interest to sustain the fish populations, i.e., leaving enough fish to repopulate, so that down the road, there are still fish to be caught. If each fisherman is concerned with sustainability, and they should be if they don’t want to find new careers in the near future, they theoretically will work to preserve the fish populations. Here is the problem: there is a lack of trust. A fisherman that acts responsibly and limits the amount he catches will be screwed if all the other fisherman do not. The other fisherman get more fish than he does, make more in profits, and will ultimately deplete the fish population anyway. So each fisherman, believing that the others will take more than their sustainable share, will take as many fish as he can, and the world’s fish supplies will deplete, even though no one wants them to.
独立的个体共同将公有资源消耗殆尽,即使这会损害他们自身的利益,这就是公地悲剧。公地悲剧的典型例子是过度捕捞。地球上的鱼类资源不属于任何个体,是全人类的共同资源,也是全世界共同消费的商品,渔民们为了争取更多的鱼类数量展开竞争。每个渔民尽可能地捕捞更多数量的鱼,以实现个人利益最大化。然而,维持鱼类数量不变、留有足够数量的鱼来繁衍生息、保证未来有鱼可捕其实也是渔民的最大利益。如果每个渔民都能考虑到可持续发展,其实如果未来不想改变职业的话他们应该考虑这一点,理论上来说他们应该努力保护鱼类。但主要的问题是渔民之间缺乏信任:如果其他渔民依旧我行我素,那么限制自己捕鱼数量的渔民将无利可图。其他渔民捕捞数量多、盈利多,最终仍会将鱼类资源消耗殆尽。每个渔民都认为其他人会尽可能多地捕鱼,因此每个渔民都在大肆捕捞,久而久之,世界鱼类资源将走向枯竭。尽管这一结局会损害所有人的利益。
 
5
Tragedy of the AntiCommons
反公共地悲剧
The opposite of the above mentioned tragedy of the commons, the anticommons is a situation where too many owners (and bureaucratic red tape) discourages accomplishment of a socially desirable outcome. The classic example is patents. If a product requires multiple components or techniques patented by different people or companies, then it becomes difficult, time consuming and very costly to negotiate with all the owners, and the product may not be produced. This can be a huge loss if the product is in great demand or would have great social benefits. Everybody loses in this situation, the patent holders, the would-be manufacturers and the consumers who would have bought the product.
与上述公地悲剧相反,反公地悲剧是指过多的拥有者(繁文缛节)会阻碍多方利益的实现。典型例子就是专利。如果一件产品由不同的人或公司获得专利的多种组件或技术组成,与各个专利所有者进行协商比较困难、耗时且成本高昂,最终产品可能不能投入生产。若产品需求较大或社会效益良好,不投入生产就是一种损失,专利所有者、生产商及消费者等各方利益都会受到损失。
Interesting fact: A single microchip contains up to 5,000 different patents. No one can create a microchip unless every single patent holder agrees to license their patent.
有趣的事实:单个微芯片包含多达5,000种不同的专利,只有在得到每个专利持有人授权的情况下才能生产微芯片。
 
4
Perverse Incentives
不当激励
A perverse incentive is an incentive that has an unintended and undesirable effect which is opposite to the initial interests. A type of unintended consequences, perverse incentives are the result of an honest good intention. A historical example illustrates the problem: 19th century paleontologists traveling to China used to pay peasants for each piece of dinosaur bone that they presented. It was later found the peasants found bones and then smashed them into many pieces, which significantly reduced their scientific value, to get more payments. More modern examples include paying architects and engineers based on project costs, which leads to excessively costly projects as they overspend unnecessarily to make income.
不当激励所导致的结果往往与发起人的初衷背道而驰。不当激励的出发点是良性的,结果是不在预料范围内的。历史上,19世纪古生物学家到达中国后,常常从农民手中按照件数购买恐龙骨。后来他们发现,农民会将自己发现的恐龙骨切割成更多小块,以此换取更多的报酬。但这大大降低了骨头的科学研究价值。在现代社会,由于人们按照项目花费向建筑师及工程师支付酬劳,建筑师及工程师们会增加额外支出以获取更多利益,最终导致项目花费过高。
 
3
Information Asymmetry
信息不对称
Information asymmetry is a prevalent issue in economics. In most sales transactions, the seller has more information than the buyer, and as such has the opportunity to try to pass off low quality or defective products for higher prices. This leads to buyer distrust and the old idiom: Buyer Beware.
信息不对称是经济学中普遍存在的问题。 在大多数商品交易中,卖方所掌握的信息比买方多,因此能够将劣质品或次品以高价出售,从而导致买方对其失去信任。有成语云:“无奸不商”。
Adverse selection is a market process where information asymmetry causes negative results. A good example is health insurance. Insurance companies depend on a mix of clients: they need a certain number of healthy individuals (low-risk) to pay premiums and not use a lot of services so that the premium prices can average out. However, the people most likely to buy health insurance are people who need it because of health problems (high-risk). These people are more costly to the insurance companies because they need more services than a healthy person. The insurance companies do not know every new policy applicants health status (but they certainly do everything in their power to find out as much as they can), and this lack of information requires the companies to raise premiums to mitigate the risk. This increase in premiums causes the healthiest people to cancel their insurance. This leads to a further increase in premium price as the insurance companies now have a riskier group, which leads to the now healthiest people canceling their insurance, continuing the “adverse selection spiral”, until the only people insured are the direly ill. At this point, the premiums paid will not even begin to offset the costs of the sick. In theory, this could lead to the collapse of the health insurance industry, however, this is an unlikely scenario as their risk is diminished by things such as employer offered insurance, which includes a large set of healthy individuals who average out the risk.
逆向选择是信息不对称导致的负面影响。健康保险是最典型的例子。保险公司依赖客户群体生存:他们需要一定数量的健康客户(低风险)来支付保费,并且不需为他们提供服务,以便平衡他人保费。然而,最有可能购买健康保险的人是自身存在健康问题的人(高风险)。对于保险公司而言,这些客户需要更多服务,因而成本更高。但事实上,保险公司并不了解每一位投保人的健康状况(但他们一定尽可能地去了解),这种信息不对称使得保险公司进一步提高保费以减轻风险。但保费增加又导致健康状况最良好的客户取消购买保险,保险公司客户群体的整体健康状况下降,进而导致保费价格进一步上涨,又导致现有客户中健康状况最佳的客户取消保险,形成“逆向选择怪圈”,最终投保人均为患有疾病的客户。此时,保险公司收取的保费甚至不能抵消病人的花费。从理论上来说,健康保险公司可能会因此破产。但实际上,由于其他公司投保客户群中包含许多健康客户,保险公司的破产风险就大大降低了。
Another information asymmetry example is the “Market for Lemons”, a term coined by George Akerlof. The used car market is the classic example of quality uncertainty. A defective used car (“lemon”) is generally the result of untraceable actions, like the owners driving style, maintenance habits and accidents. Because the buyer does not have this information, their best assumption is that the vehicle is of average quality, and therefore will pay only an average fair price. As a result, the owner of a car in great condition (“cherry”), will not be able to get a price high enough to make selling the cherry worthwhile. End result: the owners of good cars will not sell their vehicles in the used-car market. This reduces the quality of cars in the used-car market, this reduces the price buyers will pay, this further reduces the quality of cars sold.
另一个信息不对称的例子是经济学家George Akerlof提出的“柠檬市场”。 二手车市场是质量信息不对称的典型例子。 一辆有缺陷的二手车(“柠檬”)的质量难以考察,因为这需要了解原车主的驾驶风格、保修习惯和是事故记录。买家因为没有这个信息,所以最多只能假设这辆车的质量“还可以”,并按照这种假设来支付相应的价格,而质量较好的汽车(“樱桃”)也无法以合理的价格售出。最终结果就是质量较高的汽车不会在二手车市场上出售。在这种情况下,二手车市场的汽车质量下降,买家的购买价格下降,从而进一步降低了待售汽车质量。
 
2
The Cobra Effect
眼镜蛇效应
This is when the solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse. The term ‘Cobra effect’ comes from an anecdote from colonial India. The British government wanted to decrease the population of venomous cobra snakes, so they offered a reward for every dead snake. However, the Indians began to breed cobras for the income. When the government realized what was going on, the reward was canceled, and the breeders set the snakes free. The snakes consequently multiplied, and increased the cobra population. The term is now used to illustrate the origins of wrong stimulation in politics and economic policy. Unfortunately, some of the crises facing our world are the result of honest attempts to solve problems.
眼镜蛇效应指的是针对某问题的解决方案反而使该问题恶化。“眼镜蛇效应”一词来自殖民时期印度的一则逸闻:英国政府想减少有毒眼镜蛇蛇的数量,因而颁布法令说每打死一条眼镜蛇都可以获得赏金。然而印度人为了赏金反而开始养殖眼镜蛇。当英国政府意识到这种情况而取消赏金后,养殖蛇的人把蛇都放了;放出去的蛇继而大量繁殖,结果眼镜蛇种群数量反而上升。现今该术语用于形容政治和经济政策下错误的刺激机制。很不幸的是,当今世界面临的一些问题,正来源于为解决问题而作出的正当尝试。
 
1
The Samaritans Dilemma
撒玛利亚人困境
This is the idea that giving charity reduces an individual’s incentive to help themselves. When given assistance, the recipient has two choices: use the aid to improve their situation, or come to rely on the aid to survive. Obviously, good Samaritans give assistance in the hopes of the former, that the recipient will use the aid to improve their situation. For example, when a country gives financial aid to another country who has experienced a natural disaster, we assume that the money will go to helping the victims, cleaning, rebuilding, etc. Arguers against charity often bring up this dilemma, claiming that beneficiaries of such aid lose incentive to work or become productive members of society. This can be seen in action when people who want to give a dollar or two to a homeless person do not, because they are afraid the person will buy booze with it. A “transfer of wealth” of a couple of dollars from someone who can spare the dollars to someone who will use the dollars to improve their situation is a wonderful arrangement. However, if the recipient of the dollars is not going to use the money for a noble purpose, and instead is going to buy illicit drugs with them, it is a less desirable arrangement, and most charitable people would decline to give the dollars. Here’s the problem: it is hard to know how the person you are giving the dollars to will use the funds, so people might instead opt to not give to any homeless people. Now the individuals who would have used the money to improve their situations suffer.
撒玛利亚人困境认为,对他人提供帮助都会降低受助人自我奋斗的动力。弱势群体在接受帮助的情况下有两种选择:利用援助来改善现况,或依靠援助来生存。好心的撒马利亚人当然希望受助人利用援助来改善他们的处境。例如,当一国向遭受自然灾害的另一国提供财政援助时,我们一般认为这笔钱将用于帮助受害者、清理灾祸现场、灾后重建等工作。反慈善者经常引用这一经济问题,认为受助人在接受援助之后会失去努力工作及提升自我的动力。日常生活中也可以看到类似的现象。行人想要施舍给流浪汉一两美元,但想到流浪汉可能用这些钱去买酒,最终没有伸出援手。这种 “财富转移”的接受者若能利用援助改善生活,那么这便是一项成功的转移。但是,如果接受者利用援助购买毒品而非改善生活,这项财富转移并不符合赠与人的意图,进而拒绝施以援助。总的来说,施助人很难知道受助人将如何使用援助资金,因而选择不伸出援手。这样一来,真正会利用援助来改善生活的弱势群体失去援助,苦不堪言。