爱思英语编者按:反垄断是禁止垄断和贸易限制的行为。当一个公司的营销呈现垄断或有垄断趋势的时候,国家政府或国际组织的一种干预手段。
 
 The speed of business
商业的速度
Hyperactive, yet passive
被动的亢奋
 
Worries about corporate myopia miss the point. Even in America, business is not dynamic enough
有关企业短视的担忧没有抓住关键所在。就算是在美国,商业也不是活力不再
 
Dec 5th 2015 | From the print edition
 
 
 
IT IS easy to make the case that modern business is too frenetic. This week 10 billion shares of America's 500 largest listed firms will have changed hands in frenzied trading. Their bosses will have been swamped by 750,000 incoming e-mails and a torrent of instant data about customers. In five days these firms will have bought $11 billion of their own shares, not far off what they invested in their businesses. With one eye on their smartphones and the other on their share prices, bosses seem to be the bug-eyed captains of a hyperactive capitalism.
 
举例说明当代商业无比疯狂易如反掌。本周,美国最大的500家上市企业的1000亿股股票必将在疯狂的交易中换手;这些企业的老板将被收件箱中的75000封的电子邮件和一股关于客户的实时数据洪流所淹没;这些企业会在5天内买入价值1100亿美元的自家股票,这同他们当初所投入本钱相差无几。一只眼盯着他们的智能手机、另一只眼盯着自家的股价的老板们一个个双眼圆睁,似乎都成了某种亢奋资本主义的船长。
 
Many bemoan the accelerating pace of business life. Long-term thinking is a luxury, say these critics of capitalism. When managers are not striving to satisfy investors whose allegiance to firms is measured in weeks, they are pumping up share prices in order to maximise their own pay. Executives feel harried, too. Competition is becoming ever more ferocious: if Google or Apple are not plotting your downfall, a startup surely is. Yet such perceptions do not bear close scrutiny. Short-termism is not the menace it seems . And the problem with competition is that it is not fierce enough.
 
众人对商业生活步伐的这种加快叹息不已。这些资本主义的批评者声称,长远打算是一种奢侈。现在的经理,不是在设法满足对企业的忠诚是以周来计算的投资者,就是在推高股价以便让自己的收入最大化。高管们也是不胜纠结。竞争正变得越来越残酷:如果苹果或谷歌没有在想法把你搞垮,某个初创企业肯定在打你的主意。然而,这种观点是经不住推敲的。短视不是它看上去那样具有威胁性,竞争的问题是这种竞争还不够残酷。
 
Myopia: the long view
长远眼光中的短视
 
Start with short-termism. The fear that capitalism is too myopic has a long history. John Maynard Keynes observed that most investors wanted “to beat the gun”. For over 50 years Warren Buffett has made money on the premise that other investors behave like headless chickens. But this drum has seldom been banged more loudly than today. If she wins the White House, Hillary Clinton wants to end the “tyranny” of short-termism. The Bank of England and McKinsey & Co, a consultancy trusted in boardrooms, worry investors cannot see past their noses. The French have legislated to give more voting rights to longer-lasting shareholders. Economists fret that firms' reluctance to invest their profits hurts growth.
 
先说短视。资本主义目光短浅的担忧有着一段很长的历史。凯恩斯曾经指出,大多数投资者都想“抢跑”。50年来,巴菲特始终是在靠着其他投资者的行为如同是被砍掉了头的鸡这个假设在挣钱。但是,这种鼓噪从没有像今天这样响亮。希拉里表示,如果入主白宫,她准备终结短视的“暴政”。英格兰银行以及在董事会会议室中深受信任的咨询机构麦肯锡担心,投资者不可能看到鼻子以外的地方。法国已经通过了授予长期股东更多投票权的立法。经济学家抱怨说,企业对于把利润拿出来进行投资的不情愿会伤及增长。
 
Since the 1990s the clock of business has whirred faster in some ways. Silicon Valley upstarts have unsettled some mature industries. Computers buy and dump shares in the stockmarket within milliseconds. Yet even in America Inc, the home of hyperactive capitalism, “short-termist” is the wrong label.
 
从某种程度上来说,自上世纪90年代以来,商业之钟越转越快。硅谷的新贵撬动了一些成熟的行业。计算机在市场上买卖股票是千分之几秒的事情。然而,即便是在美国——这个亢奋资本主义的总部,“短视”也是错误的标签。
 
Since the crisis of 2008-09 firms' horizons have in fact lengthened. New corporate bonds have an average maturity of 17 years, double the length they had in the 1990s. In 2014 departing chief executives of S&P 500 firms had served for an average of a decade——longer than at any point since 2002 (and longer than most presidents). The average holding period of an S&P 500 share is a pitiful 200 days, but that is double the level of 2009. Constant trading masks the rise of index funds whose holding period, like Mr Buffett's, is “for ever”. Larry Fink, the boss of BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager, asks firms to draw up five-year plans.
 
自2008-09年危机以来,企业的视距实际上是拉长了。新的企业债,平均期限是17年,是上世纪90年代的2倍;在2014年离职的标普500企业的高管,平均任期是10年,比2002年以来任何一年都长(而且比大多数总统都长);标普500股票的平均持有期限,虽说是可怜的200天,却是2009年水平的2倍。频繁的交易掩盖的是持有期限像巴菲特那样是“永远”的指数基金的兴起。世界最大的资产管理人――贝莱德的老板拉里?9?9芬克要求企业制定5年计划。
 
Nor are firms investing less. The same system that is accused of myopia has just financed the $500 billion shale-energy revolution, a boom in experimental biotech companies and the electric-car ambitions of Elon Musk, a maverick entrepreneur. Relative to assets, sales and GDP, American firms' investment has held steady. The mix has shifted from plant and machines to things like software and research and development (R&D), but that is to be expected as equipment costs fall.
 
企业的投资也没有在减少。得到了短视骂名的这套体系刚刚给页岩刚刚资助了价值是5000亿美元的页岩能源革命、实验性生物技术公司的一次大发展和特立独行的企业家埃隆•马斯克的电动汽车野心。相对于资产、销售额和GDP,美国企业的投资始终保持稳定。融合已从植物+机器转向了软件+研发等,但是,这是设备成本下降之后意料之中的事情。
 
Economists grumble that listed firms are not investing their record profits, particularly since low interest rates mean that the cost of capital is cheap. But were companies to reinvest the cash they spend on buy-backs, their capital spending and R&D costs would rise to 15% of sales, way above the 25-year average of 9%. Few bosses would opt for such a splurge just because rates are low, especially if they are low as a result of economic worries. It is natural for mature firms to return cash to investors through dividends and buy-backs. And firms can invest too much as well as too little. China's idle factories and steel mills, absolved of duty to make a profit, are nothing to emulate.
 
经济学家抱怨说,现在的上市企业没有把他们创纪录的利润用于投资,尤其是在低利率就意味着资本成本低廉的情况下。但是,如果企业把他们花在回购上的现金用于再投资,他们的资本支出和研发成本就会升至销售额的15%,这会高25年来平均水平高出9%。很少有老板会单单因为利率低就做出如此大手大脚的选择,尤其是在利率低是因为经济令人担忧的情况下。对于成熟的企业来说,通过分红和回购把现金返还给投资者是自然的。再者,企业的投资可多可少。
 
That still leaves American businesses, and many of their rich-world peers, with a problem. If firms are sitting on cash, it can lead to a deficit in overall demand in the economy. Even if they return their surplus profits to shareholders, that may not boost demand if those shareholders are already rich and lengthenedthe extra money. Macroeconomic policies to boost demand will help. But competition can also make a difference by reducing outsize profits and spurring firms to invest more. Here there is cause to fret.
 
这仍然留给美国商界以及其他富裕国家的大多数商界人士一个难题。倘若企业坐拥大把现金,这可能会造成经济体总需求的疲软。在股东早已赚得盆满钵满并且把多余的钱藏起来的情况下,就算企业把多余的利润返还给他们,可能也无法提振需求。这时,为了刺激需求,宏观经济政策将派上用场。但是,竞争也可以通过降低额外利润并刺激企业加大投资的方式发挥作用。这才是应该抱怨的所在。
 
The boom in Silicon Valley gives an impression of a golden age of dynamism―in some industries, such as taxis, startups are indeed causing revolutions. Overall, however, American capitalism is more sluggish than it was. Small firms are being started at the slowest rate since the 1970s. Young firms' weight has shrunk, measured by their number and share of employment. The labour market has become less dynamic.
 
硅谷的繁荣给人们的印象是,这是一个活力四射的黄金时代——在出租车等行业,创业企业的确在引发革命。但是,总的来说,美式资本主义比以前懒了。小企业正在以上世纪70年代以来最慢的速度被创建起来。年轻的企业。无论是数量还是在就业中所占的比重,都在萎缩。劳动力市场已经变得活力不再。
 
Most industries are getting cosier. Of the 13 sectors in America (excluding farming), ten were more concentrated in 2007 than in 1997. Since Lehman Brothers folded in 2008, American firms have done $11 trillion of deals——worth 46% of their market value——whose main aim has been to increase market share and pricing power. Airlines, cable TV, telecoms, food and health care have all become less competitive. Giant tech firms with high market shares are making huge profits——tech firms together have 41% of all the cash held by non-financial firms.
 
大多数行业都在越变越舒适。在(除农业之外的)美国的13个部门中,有10个部门的2007年的集中度超过了1997年。自雷曼兄弟在2008年倒闭以来,美国企业做成了价值1.1万亿美元——占他们市场价值46%——的以提高市场份额和增强定价能力为主要目标的交易。航空、有线电视、电信、食品和医疗保健等行业都变不再那么有竞争性。市场份额巨大的科技巨头正在创造巨额的利润——科技企业总共持有非金融企业所持的全部现金的41%。
 
Long-term paranoid
目光长远强迫症
 
The answer is twofold. First, remove the barriers to the creation of small firms. Nearly 30% of American occupations now require licences——tourist guides in Nevada need 733 days of training, for example. Some 22% of small firms complain that red tape is their biggest problem; many have trouble getting credit. Both issues loom even larger in Europe. Second, be vigilant about oligopolies: so far America's antitrust regulator has blocked only a handful of the large deals proposed since 2008, although it is now scrutinising combinations such as Office Depot and Staples. Rather than trying to stipulate the horizon over which investors and firms should think, governments should promote competition. That is the best way to harness capitalism's hyperactive energy in the service of growth.
 
答案是双重的。一方面,移除针对创建小企业的各种障碍。如今,美国将近30%的就业岗位需要证书。例如,在内华达州,导游岗位需要733天培训。大约22%的小企业抱怨说,繁琐的手续是最大的问题;许多企业都存在贷款难问题。这两个问题在欧洲更为突出。另一方面,警惕垄断:截至目前,美国反垄断监管机构仅阻止了2008年以来拟议中的大型交易中的一小部分,尽管他们目前正在对诸如史泰博与欧迪办公之类的合并进行审查。对政府来说,与其设法替投资者和企业设定应有的视野,不如提倡竞争。这是驾驭无比亢奋的资本主义能量并使之服务于增长的最佳途径。