What Is the Invisible Hand?
什么是看不見的手?

There are few concepts in the history of economics that have been misunderstood, and misused, more often than the "invisible hand." For this, we can mostly thank the person who coined this phrase: the 18th-century Scottish e conomist Adam Smith, in his influential books The Theory of Moral Sentiments and (much more importantly) The Wealth of Nations.
在經濟學史上,很少有概念比“看不見的手”更容易被誤解和誤用。為此,我們要感謝創造這個短語的人:18世紀蘇格蘭經濟學家亞當·斯密,他在其頗具影響力的著作《道德情操論》和更為重要的《國富論》中提出了這個詞。

By the time he wrote The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Smith had vastly generalized his conception of the "invisible hand":?
當史密斯于1776年發表《國富論》時,他就廣泛地概括了“看不見的手”的概念:

People who pursue their own selfish ends in the market (charging top prices for their goods, for example, or paying as little as possible to their workers) actually and unknowingly contribute to a larger economic pattern in which everybody benefits, poor as well as rich.“
那些在市場上追求自己私利的人(例如,對他們的商品收取最高價格,或者盡可能少地支付給他們的工人)實際上在不知不覺中促成了一種更大的經濟模式,在這種模式中,無論窮人還是富人都受益?!?/div>

You can probably see where we're going with this. Taken naively, at face value, the "invisible hand" is an all-purpose argument against the regulation of free markets.?
你們可以看到我們要做什么。從表面上看,“看不見的手”是反對監管自由市場的萬能理由。

Is a factory owner underpaying his employees, making them work long hours, and compelling them to live in substandard housing? The "invisible hand" will eventually redress this injustice, as the market corrects itself and the employer has no choice but to provide better wages and benefits, or go out of business.?
工廠老板是否給員工少發了工資,讓他們長時間工作,迫使他們住在不達標的房子里?“看不見的手”最終將糾正這種不公,因為市場會自我糾正,雇主別無選擇,只能提供更好的工資和福利,否則就會破產。

And not only will the invisible hand come to the rescue, but it will do so much more rationally, fairly and efficiently than any "top-down" regulations imposed by government (say, a law mandating time-and-a-half pay for overtime work).
此外,“看不見的手”不僅會出手相救,而且會比政府制定的任何“自上而下”的法規(比如,一項規定加班工資1.5倍的法律)更加理性、公平和高效。

Does the "Invisible Hand" Really Work?
“看不見的手”真的有效嗎?

To answer this question, we have to look at the era in which Adam Smith came up with it.
要回答這個問題,我們必須看看亞當·斯密提出這個問題時所處的時代。

At the time Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, England was on the brink of the greatest economic expansion in the history of the world, the "industrial revolution" that resulted in ?widespread wealth.
亞當?斯密撰寫《國富論》時,英國正處于世界歷史上最大規模經濟擴張的邊緣,即“工業革命”,它帶來了廣泛的財富。

In the 18th and 19th centuries England had some natural advantages not enjoyed by other countries, which also contributed to its economic success. An island nation with a powerful navy, fueled by a Protestant work ethic, with a constitutional monarchy gradually yielding ground to a parliamentary democracy, England existed in a unique set of circumstances, none of which are easily accounted for by "invisible hand" economics. Taken uncharitably, then, Smith's "invisible hand" often seems more like a rationalization for the successes (and failures) of capitalism than a genuine explanation.
在18世紀和19世紀,英國有一些其他國家沒有的自然優勢,這也促進了它經濟上的成功。英國是一個擁有強大海軍的島國,在新教工作道德的推動下,君主立憲制逐漸讓位于議會民主制,英國處于獨特的環境之中,這些環境都不容易被“看不見的手”這一經濟學原理所解釋。如此看來,史密斯的“看不見的手”似乎更像是資本主義成功(和失敗)的合理解釋,而非真正的解釋。

The "Invisible Hand" in the Modern Era
現代的“看不見的手”

Today, there is only one country in the world that has taken the concept of the "invisible hand" and run with it, and that's the United States.?
今天,世界上只有一個國家接受并采用了“看不見的手”的概念,那就是美國。

As Mitt Romney said during his 2012 campaign, "the invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government," and that is one of the basic tenets of the Republican party.?
正如米特?羅姆尼在2012年競選時所說,“市場這只看不見的手總是比政府這只沉重的手走得更快、更好”,這是共和黨的基本原則之一。

For the most extreme conservatives (and some libertarians), any form of regulation is unnatural, since any inequalities in the market can be counted on to sort themselves out, sooner or later. (England, meanwhile, even though it has separated from the European Union, still maintains fairly high levels of regulation.)
對于最極端的保守主義者(以及一些自由主義者)來說,任何形式的監管都是不自然的,因為市場中的任何不平等現象遲早都可以指望自己解決。(與此同時,盡管英國已脫離歐盟,但仍保持著相當高的監管水平。)

But does the "invisible hand" really work in a modern economy? For a telling example, you need look no further than the health-care system. There are many healthy young people in the U.S. who, acting out of sheer self-interest, choose not to purchase health insurance—thus saving themselves hundreds, and possibly thousands, of dollars per month. This results in a higher standard of living for them, but also higher premiums for comparably healthy people who choose to protect themselves with health insurance, and extremely high (and often unaffordable) premiums for elderly and unwell people for whom insurance is literally a matter of life and death.
但“看不見的手”在現代經濟中真的有用嗎?舉一個很好的例子,你只需看看醫療保健系統就可以了。在美國有很多健康的年輕人出于純粹的自身利益,選擇不購買健康保險——這樣每個月可以節省數百甚至數千美元。這會給他們帶來更高的生活水平,同時對于那些選擇用健康保險來保護自己的同樣健康的人來說,保費會更高,對于老年人和身體不好的人來說,保險簡直就是生死攸關的事,保費也極高(而且往往難以承受)。

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(翻譯:雅蘭)