【The Guardian】Paul Krugman:'I'm sick of being Cassandra.I'd like to win for once'

Paul Krugman:'I'm sick of being Cassandra.I'd like to win for once' もうカッサンドラの預言者やるのはうんざりしている。一度でいいから勝ってみたいですよ

The American economist has a plan to escape the financial crisis, and it doesn't involve austerity measures or deregulating the banks. But will policy-makers, including our coalition government, heed his advice? このアメリカの経済学者は現在の金融危機から抜け出すプランを持っている。そして、それには緊縮政策や銀行の規制緩和は含まれていない。だが、イギリスの連立政権を含む政策立案者らは彼のアドバイスに気を留めるだろうか?

Paul Krugman: 'These are not hard concepts.' Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

By now you will probably have read an awful lot about the financial crisis. Perhaps I've been reading all the wrong stuff, but until now I hadn't managed to find answers to the most puzzling questions. If the crash of 2008 was preceded by an era of unprecedented prosperity, how come most of the people I know weren't earning much?

Deregulation of financial services was supposed to have made us all better off, so why did most of us have to live off credit to keep up? Now that it has all gone wrong, and everyone agrees we're in the worst crisis since the Great Depression, why aren't we following the lessons we learned in the 1930s?
金融サービスの規制緩和が私たち全ての生活を良くするものなら、なんでほとんどの人が生活を維持するためにクレジットカードに頼らないといけないの? いまや全てが上手く行かなくなり、あらゆる人が大恐慌以来、最悪の危機にいることを認めている。どうして我々は1930年代に学んだ教訓に従えなかったのか?

President Obama attempted one of the biggest Keynesian stimulus programmes. Why has it been only minimally effective? Why do most other western leaders still insist the only way out is to tighten our belts and pay off our debts, when that clearly isn't working either? And how come the bankers, credit agencies and bond traders are still treated with cowed reverence – don't frighten the markets! – when they got us into this mess?
These mysteries were beginning to make me feel as if I must be going mad – but since reading Paul Krugman's new book, I fear I'm in danger instead of becoming a bore. It's the sort of book you wish were compulsory reading, and want to quote to anyone who'll listen, because End This Depression Now! provides a comprehensive narrative of how we have ended up doing the opposite of what logic and history tell us we must do to get out of this crisis.
オバマ大統領は最大規模のケインズ流景気刺激プログラムを試みた。どうしてそれは最小限の効果しかなかったのか? なぜほとんどの他の西洋リーダーは、明らかにあらゆる場所で上手く行っていないのに、ベルトを引き締め、借金を返すという方法一つに固執しているのか? 銀行や格付け機関、債権仲介業者が我々をこんな窮地に追い込んだというのに、今でも敬意を持って扱うように強要されている――市場を怯えさせるな!――のはどういうわけか?
これらの謎を考えていると、自分がまるで頭がおかしくなったように感じてくる――だけど、ポール・クルーグマンの新刊を読んでからは、退屈な人間になる危険性のほうを恐れるようになっている。この本は必読になるでしょうし、誰と話すときでも引用したくなるでしょう。なぜなら、『End This Depresson Now! 』には、どのようにして論理的、歴史的に見てこの危機から抜け出すためにやるべきことと逆のことを我々がやってしまったのかを示す包括的な物語が描かれているからだ。

Its author is a Nobel prize-winning economist who writes a column in the New York Times and teaches economics at Princeton University. An authority on John Maynard Keynes, Krugman wrote a book in 1999 called The Return of Depression Economics, largely about the Japanese slump, which drew ominous parallels between Japan's economic strategy and the pre-New Deal policies of the early 30s that turned a recession into catastrophic depression. At the time, unsurprisingly, most western economists weren't bowled over; in thrall to the seemingly endless boom, the Great Depression looked to them to be more or less irrelevant. Krugman's latest book will be much harder to ignore.
その本の著者はニューヨーク・タイムズでコラムを書いているノーベル経済学賞の受賞者で、プリンストン大学で経済学を教えている。ジョン・メイナード・ケインズ研究の権威クルーグマンは1999年に書いた『The Return of Depression Economics』という主に日本を扱った本の中で、日本の経済戦略と景気後退を破滅的な不況に変えた1930年代早期のニュー・ディール政策以前の政策とが薄気味悪いほど一致していることを描き出した。驚くことではないのだが、そのころ、ほとんどの西洋の経済学者はそれに動転したわけではなかった。表面上の終わりなき好景気にとらわれて、大恐慌など多かれ少なかれ彼らには関係ないもののように見えていた。クルーグマンの最新の本を無視するのはずっと難しくなるだろう。

He doesn't expect it will be an easy message to sell, though. "As far as I can make out, the serious opposition to the coalition's policy is basically a half-dozen economists, and it looks as if I'm one of them – which is really weird," he laughs, "since I'm not even here." Visiting London last week, he met lots of what he calls Very Serious People: "And there are lots of things these people say that sound very wise and sensible. But it's all upside-down; it's all wrong. Yet the power of their orthodoxy – even when it's failing – is quite awesome."
彼は、それが人々に受け入れられやすいメッセージと考えているわけではない。「私の理解している限り、連立政権の政策に強硬に反対している経済学者は実際6人くらいでしょう、と言うと、まるで私がそのうちの一人みたいですけどね――私はイギリス人ですらないですから」と彼は笑いながら言った。先週、彼はロンドンを訪れてから、彼がVery Serious People(すごくマジメな人々)と呼んでいる多くの人と会っている:「これらの人々が言うことの中にも、すごく賢明で分別あるように聞こえることはたくさんあります。でも、それは全部逆さまです。大間違い。だが、彼らの正統派の力――それが失敗している時でも――には実に驚くべきものがある。」

These Very Serious People present economics as a morality play, in which debt is a sin, and we have all sinned, so now we must all pay the price by tightening our belts together. They tell us the crisis will take a long time to resolve, and must inevitably be painful. All of this, according to Krugman, is the opposite of the truth. Austerity is a self-imposed collective punishment that is not just unnecessary, but won't work. We know what would work – but for complex political and historical reasons that his book explores, we have chosen to forget. "Ending this depression," he writes, "should be, could be, almost incredibly easy. So why aren't we doing it?"
これらVery Serious Peopleは経済学を道徳劇として見る。彼らによると、借金は罪であり、我々は全て罪人であり、それゆえ我々は皆でベルトを引き締めることによって全額借金を返済しなければならないとされる。彼らは危機の解決には長い時間がかかるものであり、痛みは避けられないと言う。クルーグマンによると、これら全てが真実の真反対だ。緊縮財政は不必要なだけでなく、機能するはずもない自作の集団的懲罰だと。我々は何が機能するのか知っている――だが、彼の本で診断されている政治的理由と歴史的理由が複合することにより、我々はそれを忘れてしまうことに選んでしまった。「この不況を終わらせることはほとんど信じられないほど簡単なはずだし、たぶんそうなる。なら、なんでそれをやってないの?」と、彼は書いている。

Krugman offers the example of a babysitting co-op, or circle, in which parents are issued with vouchers they can exchange for babysitting hours. If all of the parents simultaneously decide to save their vouchers, the system will grind to a halt. "My spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If both of us try to slash our spending at the same time, then we are also slashing our incomes, so we don't actually end up saving more." We could issue more vouchers to everyone, to make them feel "richer" and encourage them to spend – which would be the circle's equivalent of quantitative easing. But if everyone is determined to save, the parents will hold on to the extra vouchers, and the circle still won't work. This is what's called a liquidity trap, "and it's essentially where we are now".

The same principles apply to the "paradox of deleverage". Debt in itself is not a terrible thing, he says. "Debt is one person's liability, but another person's asset. So it doesn't impoverish us necessarily. The real danger with debt is what happens if lots of people decide, or are forced, to pay it off at the same time. High debt levels make us vulnerable to a crisis – and this is when you get the self-destructive spiral of debt deflation. If both of us are trying to pay down our debt at the same time, we end up with lower incomes, so the ratio of our debt to our income goes up."

Crucially, Krugman continues, "what's true for an individual is not true for society as a whole". The analogy between a household budget and a national economy is "seductive, because it's very easy for people to relate to", and it makes some sense when we're not in the grip of a macro-economic crisis. "But when we are, then individually rational behaviour adds up to a collectively disastrous result. It ends up that each individual trying to improve his or her position has the collective effect of making everybody worse off. And that's the story of our times."

At these moments someone has to start spending – and, Krugman argues, it is the government. But we're endlessly being told by the coalition that it has to pay off its debts because servicing the interest is ruinous, and the bond markets will destroy us unless we're seen to be tackling the deficit.
"Well, now. We know that advanced economies with stable governments that borrow in their own currency are capable of running up very high levels of debt without crisis. And we know it, actually, best of all from the history of the UK – which spent much of the 20th century, including the 30s, with debt levels much higher than it has now."

But what about bond markets? Invoked as global bogeymen, we're warned that they punish governments who fail to cut spending – even if cuts don't reduce the deficit. I've never understood why the markets should care how and when we reduce the deficit, as long as we can pay our way. According to Krugman, they don't.
だが、国債市場に関してはどうか? それは国際的なオバケになっていて、その連中が支出の削減に失敗した政府――その支出の削減が財政赤字を減らさなくても――に罰を与えると警告を受けている。我々には金利を支払う能力があるのに、どうして国債市場の人々が我々と一緒になって、財政赤字を減らす時期や手法について心配しないといけないのか私にはまったく分からない。クルーグマンによると、彼らはそんな心配をしてないと言う。

"That's the interesting thing. The actual verdict of the markets, for countries that have their own currencies, has been that they don't really care at all in terms of what you're doing in short-run policy." Likewise, the danger of being downgraded by a credit rating agency has been wildly overstated. "We saw it in Japan in 2002; they had the downgrade, and nothing happened. Which led us to predict that would happen for the US," whose credit rating was downgraded by one agency last year. "And it was exactly right. Nothing happened."

A breadline in the US in 1930. According to Krugman, our governments have failed to learn the lessons of the Great Depression. Photograph: American Stock Archive/Getty Images

Thus far, Krugman has essentially restated the case for Keynesianism. "And these are not hard concepts, actually. It's not hard to get it across to an audience. But it doesn't seem to play in the political sphere." What's fascinating is his historical analysis of why policy-makers, who once understood these principles, collectively decided to forget them.
In the years following the Great Depression, governments imposed regulatory rules upon the banking system to ensure that we could never again become indebted enough to make us vulnerable to a crisis. "But if it's been a long time since the last major economic crisis, people get careless about debt; they forget the risks. Bankers go to politicians and say: 'We don't need these pesky regulations,' and the politicians say: 'You're right – nothing bad has happened for a while.'"

That process began in earnest in 1980, under President Reagan. One by one the regulations on banking were lifted, until "we lost the safeguards, and it meant there was an increasingly wild and woolly financial system willing to lend lots of money". Politicians were in part persuaded to deregulate by the argument that it would make us all richer. And to this day, "there's this very widespread belief that there was, in fact, a great acceleration in growth. But this really isn't hard. You sit down for a minute with the national account statistics, and you see it ain't so."

If we divide the period between the second world war and 2008 into two halves, "the first half is a really dramatic improvement to living standards, and the second half is not." It was certainly dramatic for the top 0.01%, who saw a seven-fold increase in income; in 2006, for example, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers in America earned $14bn, three times the combined salaries of New York City's 80,000 school teachers. But between 1980 and the crash, the median US household income went up by only roughly 20%. "So it's a total disconnect."

Why would economists claim ordinary people were getting much richer if they weren't? "The answer, I think, has to be that you need to ask: 'Well who are the people who say these things hanging out with? What is their social circle?' And if you're a finance professor at the University of Chicago, the people that you're likely to meet from the alleged real world are going to be people from Wall Street – for whom the past 30 years have, in fact, been wonderful. If you're a mover and shaker in the UK, you're probably hanging out with people from the City. I think that is the story of the disconnect."
なぜ経済学者は、実際にはそうじゃないのに、普通の人々がずっと豊かになっていると主張するのか? 「その答えは、あなたが尋ねないといけないことです:こういったことを主張している人々はどんな人と親しくしているのか? 彼らはどんな社会サークルに属しているのか? そして、あなたがシカゴ大学のファイナンスの教授なら、不確かな現実世界の中から出会うことになるのはウォール街の人々になるでしょう――実際、過去30年間は彼らにとって素晴らしいものだったんですから。もしあなたがイギリスの有力者なら、親しくするのはおそらくシティの人々になるでしょう。私は、それがその現実との乖離を物語っていると思う。

But the influence of the top 0.01%'s mindboggling wealth didn't stop at finance professors. Their mansions and yachts and luxury lifestyles created "expenditure cascades", whereby, "if you're a little bit down the income distribution from there, you're going to feel some compulsion to match some of that too. And then, in turn, the people below you can feel some compulsion too."

There were early warning signs, such as the savings and loans crisis of the late 80s, that should have alerted politicians to the dangers of financial deregulation, moral hazard and subsequent spiralling debt. But by then Wall Street's influence over policy-makers had rendered them deaf to alarm bells – in part because bankers were financing so many politicians' campaigns. Krugman quotes Upton Sinclair's famous observation: "It's difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it" – but more than that, he suspects the sheer glamour of wealthy bankers had a powerful influence over politicians.

"My impression is that old style captains of industry can be rather boring. I'm not sure how much thrill there is in hanging out with someone like that. But Wall Street people are in fact very smart; they're funny, they're not company men who work their way up the chain. They're impressive."

Even Obama is not immune to their charms, says Krugman. Early into the administration he met the president and his economics team, "and it was just clear that rumpled professors with beards just didn't come across as being so impressive. Yeah," he chuckles. "I had that definite sense." But even many of the rumpled professors had been seduced by the promise of a new world economic order, in which Keynesianism was not just redundant but faintly ridiculous.

By 1970, Krugman writes, "discussion of investor irrationality, of bubbles, of destructive speculation had virtually disappeared from academic discourse. The field was dominated by the 'efficient-markets hypothesis'," which persuaded economists that: "We should put the capital development of the nation in the hands of what Keynes called a 'casino'." The death of Keynesianism was "triumphantly" announced, largely by Republican economists whose work had become "infected by partisanship and political orientation". Now, as they are faced with the catastrophic collapse of their theories, Krugman thinks political bias and professional pride are what's stopping them admitting they were wrong.

Those economists cite the woefully limited impact of Obama's almost $800bn stimulus package as proof that they are still right. According to Krugman, the only thing wrong was it wasn't enough. Almost half went on tax cuts, and most of the remaining $500bn went on unemployment benefits, food stamps and so on. "Actual infrastructure spending – that's more like just $100bn. So if your image of the stimulus programme is: 'We're going out there and building lots of bridges' – that never happened."

In an economy that produces $15tn worth of goods and services each year, $500m "is just not a big number". Back in 2009, Krugman had warned: "By going with a half-baked stimulus, you're going to discredit the idea of stimulus without saving the economy." And that, he sighs, "is exactly what happened. Unfortunately it was one of those predictions that I wish I'd been wrong about. But it was dead on."

Since the crash Krugman has become the undisputed Cassandra of academia, but he jokes: "I'm kind of sick of being Cassandra. I'd like to actually win for once, instead of being vindicated by the disaster coming – as predicted. I'd like to see my arguments about preventing the disaster taken into account instead."

The likelihood of that is a fascinating question. Krugman is not the most clubbable of fellows. In person he's quite offhand, an odd mixture of shy and intensely self-assured, and with his stocky build and salt-and-pepper beard he conveys the impression of a very clever badger, burrowing away in the undergrowth of economic detail, ready to give quite a sharp bite if you get in his way. His public criticisms of the Obama administration have upset many Democrats in the US, while his more vociferous criticisms of George Bush used to earn him death threats from angry rightwingers.

I hope none of that gets in the way of his argument. What we need to do, Krugman says, is simple: ditch austerity, kickstart the economy with ambitious government spending, and bring down the deficit when we're back above water again. Most importantly of all, we need to do it now.
"Five years of very high unemployment do vastly more than five times as much damage as one year of high unemployment. To say: 'Yes, it's painful, but time does heal these things … " He breaks off and sighs in despair. "Well, no. Time may not heal it."





まとめ【【The Guardian】Paul】

Paul Krugman:'I'm sick of being Cassandra.I'd like to win for once' もうカッサンドラの預言者やるの



easy message to sell

"easy message to sell"ですが、直訳すると「売るのが容易なメッセージ」で、「人々に受け入れられやすいメッセージ」くらいの意味かと思います。

Re: easy message to sell