中國走上資本主義 邊際革命之路 – Video interview Ning Wang – How China Became Capitalist, co-author with Ronald Coase Nobel Laureate in Economics

March 29, 2012

Kempton interview Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) re their new book How China Became Capitalist

諾貝爾經濟學獎得主高斯(Ronald Coase, 科斯)今年101歲,他與亞利桑那州立大學(Arizona State University)的Ning Wang合作出版一本花了四年時間研究和撰寫的新書(How China Became Capitalist)(我臨時中譯成為《中國微革 走上資本主義之路》)。我很高興有機會訪問Ning。這裡是我跟Ning的英文訪問。(see note 1 re book’s temp Chinese title)

I had a great interview with Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) to talk about their new book How China Became Capitalist. (Sample Chapter: You can download a free sample book chapter from Palgrave.)

I appreciate very much professor Wang spending over an hour sharing his insight with me about How China Became Capitalist and answering questions I have related to the Chinese economy. The following are edited clips of the video interview. By the way, feel free to share your comments and questions. When I finish reading the book, I plan to arrange another interview with Ning to talk more. And I may be able to incorporate some of the comments/questions into my next interview.

I have edited the interview into 3 clips with a list of questions/themes. Enjoy.

*** Main interview (see below for list of questions/themes)

Main interview (list of questions/themes)

Q1) Can you talk about the Shenzhen stock exchange in mid-90s where it had 300 offices for people to buy or sell stocks when the stock exchange actually had NO official permission to allow for these trades?!

Q2) China is now the world largest producer of Ph.Ds. Yet Qian Xuesen (錢學森), a most respected Chinese scientist asked a sobering question before his death in 2009 and the question is known as the “Qian Puzzle”.

“Why have Chinese universities not produced a single world-class original thinker or innovative scientist since 1949 ?”

Q3) Quoting the book,

“After more than three decades, the Chinese legal system is still far away from where it can “guarantee the equality of all people before the people’s laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law.”” 

This is a tough assessment which I agree with very much. Can you share your thoughts?

Q4) So far I’ve only read parts of the book but I feel more pessimistic of the possibility in seeing China makeing positive changes. I’m feeling more constrained by the history I now know. Can you share your thoughts?

Q5) I love this quote in the book,

“Capitalism with Chinese characteristics is very much like traffic in Chinese cities, chaotic and intimidating for many western tourists. Yet Chinese roads deliver more goods and transport more passengers than those in any other country.

Can you share your thoughts?

*** More in-depth questions

List of more in-depth questions/themes

Q1) China’s “Rule by Law” as opposite to the western practice of “Rule of Law“, that one word (“by” vs “of”) makes the difference of night and day! Can you share your thoughts? (see note 2)

Q2) “Do you see institutional arrangement as something culturally oriented or is base upon universally applicable principles? i.e. if every country is of certain uniqueness or that there exists a ‘one size fits all’ economic system?” [Thanks goes to my economist friend Wallace for this question.]

Q3) What is your and prof. Coase’s main discovery or new understanding gained from the years of research compare to the original understanding in 2008 when you started the research?

Q4) Can you talk about research topics that you and prof. Coase like to see more of? Any interesting puzzles worth further research?

*** Background questions about the book

List of background questions/themes about the book

Q1) Can you talk about the process of writing the book with professor Coase? I understand there was the 2008 Chicago Conference on China’s Market Transformation and then the 2010 Chicago Workshop on the Industrial Structure of Production.

Q2) I understand the book title has a history and may be traced back to 1982! Can you talk about it?

Q3) Given Ning’s Ph.D. wasn’t in Economics, how did he get to write this economics book and meet professor Coase?

How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Ning Wang - published Mar 23, 2012

Notes:

1) The book “How China Became Capitalist” currently does NOT have an official Chinese title. I originally translated “How China Became Capitalist” in a straight forward manner as “中國怎樣變成資本主義國家”. And then I found someone else translated it as “中國如何走向資本主義” which seems ok too. But I just realized that a good name can only come after reading the whole book which I haven’t done yet. I thought of using “中國微革 走上資本主義之路” You see, Marginal Revolution is an important concept in the book but its straight forward translation “邊際革命”  doesn’t quite work for me. I like “微革” for Marginal Revolution but I am also coining a new term here. So I am not happy but settling for “中國走上資本主義 邊際革命之路” for now. If “資本主義” is too sensitive to be used, I am ok with “中國邊際革命之路” or “中國微革之路”.

2) During the writing of this post, I found a link to a book chapter “The Institutional Diffusion of Courts in China: Evidence from Survey Data” (pdf) by Pierre F. Landry, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. This book chapter is one of the chapters in the book “Rule By Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes“. While I haven’t read it, it may be something that is worth reading further.

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“法律、管制與經濟增長”專欄

December 31, 2010

My friend started a new column, here is a link to the first entry of “法律、管制與經濟增長”專欄. Check it out.


豉油雞、炸薯條、經濟學

November 8, 2009

早前讀完老友Wallace 的文章 “加拿大存在「反分工」現象“,終於等到現在才找到時間回應一吓。

Wallace

“[*** < ] 假設要求閣下以一己之力,由無變有地製造一罐汽水,所花的時間與精力恐怕難以想象。[ > ***] 實情是一罐汽水在市場上購買只所費無幾—分工所發揮的效率可算大矣!

[… *** < ] 由於僱用工人成本偏高,因此不少本地人從小培養了十八般武藝,木工、電工、園藝甚至修理汽車都有板有眼。[ > ***] 可是從增加社會整體生產力的角度來看,這種「反分工」現象則弊多於利。加拿大要增強分工效應,深化勞工市場自由度乃重要一步。鼓吹分工之餘,我們不忘謙卑看待自己的建樹,並認真尊重別人的貢獻。始終相信「工作收入不同 生命價值相等」,你同意嗎?”

 

“豉油雞”與”炸薯條”

老友Wallace作為一位經濟學家,他的分析會向錢看是在所難免。很多人話,”To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”。所以對一個經濟學家,把事情跟金錢拉上關係,也不是太奇怪。

我自己有時喜歡下廚,”豉油雞“與”炸薯條“是我愛吃及煮得好吃的東西,誇口的話,可以叫做煮得好過很多本地餐廳了。豉油雞自己做用的材料連電可能較街買的便宜一點,炸薯條則可能還要較街買的貴了一點。加上自己的時間的話,則買一定便宜得多了。

但是貴/便宜,錢的多小就是一切嗎?

以我自己為例,下廚是種樂趣,另外自己煮東西用料可以健健康康,不會用萬年油或味精等食材。自己一手一腳照顧打理的花園,見花草樹木漂亮的話是件樂事,更可以跟朋友講講心得,誇口吹牛一吓,也是樂事一件。

請不要誤會,我當然知道亦明白錢財的重要,但我相信有時”十八般武藝,木工、電工、園藝甚至修理汽車都有板有眼”應算是件好事。對加拿大人的”十八般武藝”磕上「反分工」的帽子,Wallace兄似乎重手了一點。

有時食物或木工、電工、園藝等等工作,不一定是只為了”結果”。有時”過程”可能一樣或更加重要。

有時間的話,我會試試寫篇關於Flow(心流)的文章。心理學家Mihály Csíkszentmihályi教授舉了些值得令人深思的好例子。其中一個案例談及一名工人花時間改進了自己的工廠生產工序,縮減了差不多十秒鐘時間,雖然不是件工,不會有人工加,亦不會加快生產線的速度,但已經令這位工人自得其樂了。

雖然世上有很多東西可以轉化為錢,但如果每事都從錢財和經濟學出發,生活和生命似乎可能會悶了一點,簡單化了一點。


信報網站: Institutions Matter: Oliver E Williamson’s and Elinor Ostrom’s Contribution to Economics

October 14, 2009

My friend Dr. Gary M. C. Shiu wrote an interesting article in the HKEJ about the two 2009 Nobel Economists. “Institutions Matter: Oliver E Williamson’s and Elinor Ostrom’s Contribution to Economics“. Enjoy.

Here is a brief excerpt from “Institutions Matter” (emphasis added),

[Williamson’s] work on merger argues that efficiency gains through cost savings from such transaction might completely offset efficiency losses as the market becomes less competitive after firms merge. Indeed, economists are so impressed by Williamson’s efficiency defense of mergers that they refer to the trade-off involved (costs savings against weakened competition) as the “Williamsonian Trade-off”. It is not difficult to sense the influence of Williamson’s work in this matter when the first Merger Guidelines of the Department of Justice appeared in 1968. Williamson once worked as the Assistant Attorney General at the US Government’s Department of Justice.

[…] A piece of common resource would be utilized in wasteful ways when individuals with access to it have an incentive to extract value from it in the quickest way possible for fear that others get ahead of them. [the “Tragedy of the Commons”] The tragedy lies in that if everybody shares similar expectations, the value of the resource would be dissipated in a sub-optimal manner. Backed by a large number of case studies and well-calibrated experiments, Ostrom’s major contribution in addressing the commons problem is to show how, in the situation described by Hardin, individuals with access to the common property within a community would have incentives to devise usage rules to prevent such wasteful dissipation. Such usage rules are an example of how institutions guide individual interactions towards a better societal outcome.


今年諾貝爾獎明顯忽視了張五常的原創貢獻

October 13, 2009

我的朋友薛兆丰博士寫了篇好文章”今年诺奖明显忽视了张五常的原创贡献“,值得一讀。