中文 / English
哈佛大学经济学荣誉教授János Kornai祝贺演讲



My Dear Friends, I am sending my greetings to you from far-away Budapest. I deeply regret being unable to attend this significant occasion. My wife Zsuzsa and I would like to express our heartiest congratulations to the two people we are celebrating now, Yingyi Qian and Chenggang Xu, the first recipients of the newly instituted China Economics Prize, the highest award for Chinese economists. It makes me very proud that this special recognition was awarded to my former university students, who have also been close friends of mine ever since. The academic and public merits of the two laureates will no doubt be outlined by others. In this short greeting I prefer to contribute to the description of the award winners’ characters with a few personal reminiscences. Before I start, I shall say some words about earlier events.


In 1981, at the Athens conference of the International Economic Association, I became involved in a disagreement with one of the leading Soviet economists. I asserted that the centrally controlled socialist economy necessarily creates chronic shortages; he rejected my statement and declared that it was only mistakes made by the planners that created shortages here and there. After the lecture an agreeable, sincere-looking Chinese economist came up to me and suggested that we have a little talk together. He introduced himself: he was Jinglian Wu. He was very interested in the Hungarian economic reforms, the introduction of certain elements of market economy. He believed China could learn from this. That was when our friendship started; it has lasted up to this day.


This photo was taken in Beijing almost quarter of a century after our first meeting: we were both happy to see each other again. Our birthdays fall at more or less the same time; it felt good to celebrate together.

 

Professor Wu is one of the most important architects of China’s great economic transformation. He is an ardent believer in market economy and free, enlightened thinking.  He does not preach dogmas learnt from books; instead, he ponders deeply over what real changes are conceivable under the given Chinese political, economic and cultural conditions. He has not appeared very often before the wider public, but it is well-known that he has had an enormous influence on decisions concerning reform and on public thinking. Let me also mention here the name of Xiaomeng Peng, our dear friend, who has been of great assistance to Professor Wu in spreading reform theories and in a variety of other ways, among these by editing the periodical in which numerous studies where progressive ideas are developed have found publishing opportunities. It is proper that I should start my story with an appreciation of Jinglian Wu’s work, because he was one of the first masterd of the two people we are celebrating today. Not in the narrow sense of “the person who taught their first course in microeconomics or econometrics at university”. I use the term ‘master’ here in the much more important sense that it was mainly from him that Chenggang and Yingyi learnt about Chinese realities and about the fundamental issues related to development.


Of the two award-winners I met Yingyi first.  I gave a lecture at Yale, if I remember correctly in the academic year of 1983/1984. At the end of the lecture he came up to me and told me that it was his firm intention to transfer his studies from Yale to Harvard, as he had heard that I was going there and he wanted to learn from me. This aspiration filled me with pleasure: I wanted to teach students just like Yingyi. The next meeting point was Harvard University. I started my work there with a lecture series lasting the whole academic year on the nature of the socialist system. Many well-trained students interested in the functioning of socialism took part in this course, among them Americans, Germans, Latin-Americans and Canadians. Chenggang Xu and Yingyi Qian distinguished themselves especially. From what they said and from our discussions I really felt that they truly understood what I was talking about. It was not purely intellectual and political curiosity that attracted them to this topic: they reflected on the descriptions and analyses in my lectures from within, on the basis of their own experience at home.


As the years went by our friendship developed in various ways. I was shocked to hear about Chenggang’s life. He was an enthusiastic believer in Mao’s ideas as a high-school student, and volunteered to leave the city and work „among tthe people”. He did farm work during day time, and studies poitical economy in the evening. He started to write and circulate  papers. In 1970 he was purged as a „counterrevolutionary”, put under solitary confined and tortured. The purg lasted six years, followed by a pwrioid when he was assigned to various manual jobs. He had a long-long way of learning, leading to postgraduate studies at Tsingshua Univwersity and finally to Harvard. I was overcome with respect when I observed how calmly he talked about what had happened to him, smiling slightly, as was his habit. An Eastern European would have told the story with indignation and anger.


In our Cambridge home we used to sit in front of the TV screen with the Chinese students who were closest to me, watching with excitement what was happening in China.  In our discussions the great questions of life surfaced: what could, what should intellectuals do when events of global historical importance were taking place in their home countries and in the other parts of the socialist world?


For me it was a new challenge to act as adviser to those outstanding Harvard university students in the learning process which culminated in their PhDs. In my own country I was black-listed: from when I received my own degree, in 1956, up to the change of regime in the 90ies I was forbidden to act as the officially recognized adviser of even a single student. Tutoring students like Yingyi and Chenggang offered me all the more intellectual pleasure as a result, especially when working together with such a great scholar as Eric Maskin. It is difficult to imagine a better tutor for young people yearning for professional knowledge: from Eric him they could learn the skills of the economist’s profession, primarily those of theoretical research, and acquire precision and consistency of thought. Eric has a kind, gentle spirit - as future teachers they could also learn from him what a warm, friendly relationship can emerge between a teacher and his pupil. Harvard University turned both award-winners into true scholars. The fact that they were trained in this lively and inspiring intellectual environment is of great importance. I can recollect how the participants at Yingyi’s general examination, including scholars well-known in their professional fields, suddenly became aware that it was no longer the candidate they were questioning, but each other: can the market function in a socialist economy and what was the dispute that had taken place between Oscar Lange and Hayek fifty years earlier?


When in later years my lecture series, repeated many times and frequently revised, took shape in the form of the book entitled ‘Socialist System’, many of my students, both those from Budapest and those whom I taught at Harvard, cooperated as research assistants. I am grateful to Chenggang and Yingyi for helping me even at that time to understand the processes taking place in China. They have continued to do so up to this day.


From the moment they received their PhDs and left, we were far apart, in terms of geographical distance.  They both found places at prestigious institutions: Yingyi first at Stanford, then at Berkeley University, Chenggang in London, at the London School of Economics. As their former teacher, I was proud of this fine beginning to their careers. In spite of the geographical distance, our friendship and intellectual relationship remained intact. During my second Chinese visit Yingyi took the trouble to come to Beijing from far-away California to help us. Although we had an official interpreter, at one point Yingyi took over the job of translating, saying that it was not being done precisely enough: he speaks three languages fluently, Chinese, English and ‘Kornai-language’.


This picture was taken during the trip in 1999 that I have just mentioned. Yingyi not only accompanied us to serious professional discussions, but introduced us to Beijing’s cultural delights as well.


A career in the West would have been open to both Yingyi and Chenggang. Still, they decided to return to China. This is a fine example of genuine love for one’s country. Patriotism – not expressed by nationalistic slogans, but by deeds. They contribute to the improvement of their fellow citizens’ lives by spreading modern knowledge and rigorous, critical thinking as teachers, as authors of studies and books, and as organizers of university education.


Let me add that it was not only these two former students of mine, who once studied at Harvard University, that returned to their native land. This photo was taken later, at a Hong Kong conference: former students of mine lined up next to each other. Chenggang Xu, Yijian Wang, Yingyi Qian and David Daokui Li, (and Chong-en Bai, who does not appear in the picture) all chose the same path: to return to China. They were all full professors at prestigious universities.


I am talking about two individuals, each with his own, different, academic and personal characteristics. However, these traits go well with mutual appreciation. They already formed a personal friendship during their years at Harvard. There are significant overlaps in their professional interests; sometimes they worked together as co-authors.   


They were both inspired by the theory of the soft budget constraint syndrome; indeed, Yingyi chose this as one of the topics of his PhD thesis, using and further developing Dewatripont and Maskin’s model of mathematical game theory. It was a great success: it was published in one of the most prestigious economic journals, the American Economic Review. He, like Chenggang, returned to this topic repeatedly. For me it was especially instructive when Chenggang convincingly outlined the role this syndrome plays in the capitalist system as well, pointing out that this was also one of the main explanatory factors of the overheating in the economy that led up to stagnation in the Japanese economy and later to the American and world-wide great depression. Not only the two of them, but other Chinese economists also successfully applied the basic ideas of the theory of soft budget constraint to the description and analysis of the Chinese situation, and within this to the functioning of state-owned companies and the financial sector. When state bodies fail again and again to enforce the observation of credit agreements, when irresponsibly provided bails-outs become frequent, then financial discipline slackens and the efficiency of production decreases.


Turning to another theme, I have learnt a great deal from those works in which Yingyi and Chenggang investigate the system prevailing in China comprehensively. I would like to pick out two examples.


I was strongly affected by Yingyi’s study ‘How Reform Worked in China’, which was published in 2003 in the volume edited by Dani Rodrik, an outstanding piece of scholarship: balanced, and thoroughly researched analysis of the first developments of the gradual progress of China towards a market economy.


Also, I consider as a work of high importance Chenggang’s ‘The Fundamental Institutions of China’s Reforms and Development’, which appeared in 2011 in what is perhaps the most prestigious and influential publication: the Journal of Economic Literature. In twenty years this was the first study in JEL to deal with China. 


The photo shows a conversation with Chenggang at a conference in Helsinki. By this time I had read the first drafts of his JEL study, and we had exchanged letters several times. We talked about how important it is to approach the comprehensive description of a country’s institutions not as a narrowly focused economist, but as a social scientist who integrates the perspectives of economics, political science and political philosophy with those of sociology and historiography. Whoever considers only China’s economic statistical data and fails to think through the whole context cannot understand the country. For example, he does not analyze what the political structure of the system is actually like, what is going on in the world of ideology, and how the social distribution of power, wealth, income and knowledge develops.


China has developed enormously in the last decades. GDP per capita, measured in US Dollars has multiplied 26 times between 1980 and 2015. However, Chinese and foreign experts have seen quite clearly for some time that this stormy momentum cannot be sustained for long. Tensions of various kinds have emerged in the economy and in society.


A greeting composed for this festive occasion is not the proper place to analyze the problems of China: there are other forums for that purpose. What do belong here, to this beautiful and serious celebration, are a few words on the responsibility of the academic intelligentsia. Economists can delve into a hundred topics which focus exclusively on the question of how to increase economic efficiency, interpreting the term ‘efficiency’ in a narrow, technocratic way. However, in this profession we need also scientists who are able to face difficulties with courage, who do not abstain from revealing deep contradictions. Nobody could possibly undertake this huge responsibility from the outside; the task is for people who know the situation from inside. When they consider the different ways in which difficulties can be overcome, such scientists are aware of the fact that any relevant choice between alternative strategies cannot be value-free: it is strongly linked to ethical principles. It is good to know that among Chinese economists there are people, and not just a few of them, whose way of thinking is based on a decent system of values: values which include the defense of the autonomy of individuals and of smaller and larger communities against tyranny; the enhancement of democratic governance and the rule of law; social responsibility for disadvantaged people; the poor, the sick and the aged. China’s progress is promoted most efficiently by those members of the academic intelligentsia who are consistent not only in their thought processes, but in their value choices as well. So I will conclude by wishing further fruitful work and ever greater success to my dear friends, Yingyi Qian and Chenggang Xu.

 


亲爱的朋友们,我在遥远的布达佩斯向你们送上我最真挚的问候。很遗憾没能参加这一隆重的典礼。我和妻子Zsuzsa衷心祝贺钱颖一和许成钢两位学者荣获中国经济学奖,成为这一新设立奖项的最早获奖者。该奖项是中国经济学家的最高奖项。我的两位学生,同时也是亲密的朋友,能够拿下该奖项,我感到非常自豪。两位获奖者的学术战绩和社会战绩无疑将成为传颂的典范。我想借助这次机会来谈一谈我印象中的这两位朋友。在此之前,我想先讲几个早先的事迹。

 

1981年,在雅典国际经济协会会议上,我与一位苏联经济学家的意见产生分歧。我坚持认为中央控制的社会主义经济必然会导致长期短缺,而他则对此持否定态度,并声称只要规划者不出现失误就不会造成短缺。会议结束后,一位真诚的中国经济学者过来找我,说是想跟我谈一谈。他简单地介绍了下自己:他叫吴敬琏,对匈牙利经济改革很感兴趣,尤其是关于市场经济要素的介绍。他认为这一改革经验值得中国借鉴。从那以后,我们便成为很要好的朋友。

 

这张照片是我们在北京见面时拍摄的,距离第一次见面相隔了有25年。我们都很高兴能够再次重逢。 我们的生日很接近,要是能一起庆祝生日当然是再好不过了。

 

吴教授有着开放自由的思想,并热衷于市场经济,是中国经济转型的主力军。他反对书本教条,并探索在当下的中国政治、经济和文化环境下如何实现变革。他鲜少出席公众场合,但众所周知,他对改革政策及公众思想影响深远。这里我要提到一位朋友叫彭小蒙,她对吴教授的工作给予了很大支持,包括宣传改革理论以及编写期刊,使得许多研究成果和先进思想得以传播和出版。今天应该先从吴敬琏说起,他才是今天我们要祝贺的大师。吴教授“是微观经济学或计量经济学教学的第一人”。我这里之所以使用“大师”这一词,是因为成钢和颖一正是从他的经济学著作中了解了中国的现状及发展的根本问题。

 

我最先认识的是颖一。那时我在耶鲁大学做讲座,记得没错的话应该是1983年或1984年。讲座结束后,他走到我跟前,告诉我说他决定将学业从耶鲁转到哈佛,因为听说我要到哈佛授课,他想成为我的学生。我听过以后很高兴,希望我的学生都能跟颖一一样。再一次重逢是在哈佛大学。我在那里讲授了一学年的关于社会主义制度的性质的课程。许多对社会主义制度感兴趣的优秀学生纷纷踊跃选修这门课,其中有来自美国、德国、拉丁美洲和加拿大的国际学生。许成钢和钱颖一都是出类拔萃的佼佼者。通过交流,我能感受到他们是真正地领悟了我的要领。他们对我的课题产生浓厚兴趣,不仅仅是出于对知识的渴求和对政治的关注,更重要的是,他们能够根据自己在国内的所学所用进行反思和深入分析。

 

随着时间的流逝,我们的友谊也在渐渐加深。我对成钢的事迹表示惊叹。高中时期,他便对毛泽东思想产生浓厚的兴趣,并自愿离开熟悉的城市,开始真正地“到人民中去”。白天下地干农活,晚上坚持学习政治经济。那时他便开始写作并发表论文。1970年,他被污蔑为“反动分子”,被禁闭并遭受种种磨难,直到6年后才洗清罪名。此后,他被分配去做各种手工活。他有着很长一段学习生涯,先是在清华大学读研,之后又到哈佛深造。当我看到他面带着熟悉的微笑侃侃叙述过去的经历时,我对他是又敬又畏。如果换作是东欧人,肯定会非常愤慨地讲述这样一段经历。

 

在剑桥生活期间,我们常常跟一群跟我比较亲近的中国学生坐在电视机前激动地观看关于中国的报道,交流并提出各种关切问题:当中国以及其他社会主义国家发生轰动全球的事件时,作为知识分子的我们能够做些什么以及应该做些什么?

 

身为这些优秀的哈佛博士生的导师,我觉得这是前所未有的挑战。在我的祖国,我曾上过黑名单:从1956年毕业直到90年代政权变化,我被禁止从事任何正式的教学工作。颖一和成钢赋予我很多教学乐趣,当然能够与Eric Maskin等伟大的学者共事我也深感荣幸。面对求知若渴的年轻学生,要成为一名出色的导师绝非是一件易事:从Eric那里,他们认识了经济学家的专业性,主要涉及理论研究,并学习了正确、统一的思想。Eric非常善良、和蔼。作为未来的一名教师,他们可以从Eric那里学会如何与学生建立融洽的师生关系。是哈佛大学促就了这两位获奖者成为真正的学者。这样一个积极活跃的教育环境对于他们的学习具有重大的意义。回想起颖一的一次考试,让很多考生,包括知名学者,恍然明白考试不仅考的是考生,对主考官也是一次考验。市场能否在社会主义经济中运作?50年前Oscar LangeHayek发生了什么争论?

 

此后多年,我重复着同样课题的教学,该系列讲座几经修改后以书本形式出版,书名为《社会主义制度》。许多我的学生,包括来自布达佩斯的学生以及我在哈佛曾教授过的学生,在学术研究上给予我很多帮助。感谢成钢和颖一一直以来帮助我了解中国的发展状况。

 

尽管天各一方,但求精神共勉 

 

自从他们博士毕业离开后,我们便从此天各一方。后得知他们加入了著名机构:颖一先是在斯坦福大学任教,后转入伯克利大学,成钢在伦敦经济学院任教。作为他们以前的老师,我为他们的良好开端感到自豪。尽管相距甚远,我们的友谊和学术关系却一直维系着。我第二次到访中国时,颖一从加利福尼亚不远万里专赴北京来帮助我们。虽然我们请了一位翻译,颖一仍然适时地接管了翻译工作,并指出译员翻译地不够精确。他的中文、英语和Kornai语都说得非常流利。

 

这张照片是在我1999年旅行的时候拍摄的,前面我提到过。颖一不仅陪同我们参加各种重要的学术讨论,还为我们介绍北京悠久的历史文化。

 

西方的职业大门永远为颖一和成钢敞开。尽管如此,他们还是决定回国发展,展示对祖国真挚的爱。爱国主义绝非是任何民族主义口号可以传达的,行动才是最好的传达方式。颖一和成钢积极传播现代知识和批判性思维,编写研究书籍,并引领大学教育,以此帮助改善广大同胞的生活。

 

补充说明一点,曾赴哈佛深造后又回国发展的不仅仅只有我这两位学生。

 

这张照片是后来在一次香港会议上拍摄的:我以前的几位学生并排而立。许成钢、王一江、钱颖一和李稻葵(白重恩未出现在照片里)均做出同样的选择:回国。他们都是知名院校的正教授。

 

浅谈许成钢和钱颖一的学术成就 

 

许成钢和钱颖一,每个人都有自己的的学术特点和个性,但同时又彼此欣赏。他们在哈佛期间就成为了朋友。当然他们的专业兴趣也有很多相似点,有时甚至还一起写作。

 

两位均受到《软预算约束综合征》理论的启发。颖一还就此写了相关主题的博士论文,利用并发展了数理博弈理论的DewatripontMaskin模型。论文获得广泛认可,并被刊登上著名经济杂志《美国经济评论》。他和成钢两人曾多次就这一主题展开论述。成钢确切地论述了这一综合征在资本主义体制下的影响,并指出这也是经济过热的主要因素,导致日本经济停滞,以及后来美国和全球范围的经济大萧条。除了成钢和颖一,其他中国经济学家也成功将应用了软预算约束理论的核心观点,用以描述和分析中国的形势,并推进国有企业和金融部门的发展。当国家机构在执行信贷协议上一再失败时,如果不负责任、频繁地提供解困之法,则会导致财政纪律松弛、生产效率下降。

 

此外,颖一和成钢对中国盛行体制的调查研究,让我受益良多。我暂且举两个例子。

 

对我影响颇深的是颖一的 How Reform Worked in China》,由Dani Rodrik编辑,并于2003年出版,这是一本非常优秀的学术文献。其中全面、详细地剖析了中国走向市场经济之路的初步发展。

 

成钢的《中国改革与发展的基本制度》也颇有影响力,于2011年发表在著名的《经济文献杂志》上。这是20年来《经济文献杂志》刊登的第一篇关于中国的文章。

 

这张照片是我与成钢在赫尔辛基会议上的对话画面。当时我已经读过他准备发表在JEL上的论文初稿。我们还多次书信交流观点,谈论如何抛开经济学的思想禁锢,从社会科学家的角度来全面深入分析国家体制,确保将经济学、政治学、政治哲学与社会学和历史学相结合。如果只考虑中国的经济统计数据,而忽略全局,是无法真正了解这个国家。例如,忽略政治结构的实质、意识形态世界的发展、以及权力、财富、收入和知识分配的改善。

 

中国在过去几十年飞速发展。1980年至2015年间,以美元计量的人均GDP增长了26倍。然而,中外专家清楚地意识到,这一迅猛的势头不会持续太久。经济和社会均出现各种各样的紧张局面。

 

关于中国的问题,会有专门的论坛,在这个欢庆的场合我就不做过多论述。我想借此佳际,代表学术界发表一些观点。我们可以单从经济学家角度就如何提高经济效率以及“效率”的术语解释展开各种论述。但是,我们还需要把自己当作社会科学家,勇敢面对挑战,坚持不懈地探究根本矛盾。除了了解情况的业内人士,任何外界人士都不可能担此重任。当科学家们思索问题的解决方案时,他们便明白任何所选的替代方案都不会是无价值的,这与道德原则密切相关。我很庆幸,许多中国经济学家能够基于恰当的价值观体系展开思考。其中包括抵抗暴政以捍卫个人和大小社区的自主权、加强民主和法治以及对老弱病残群体负有的社会责任。中国的发展离不开每一位有着共同的抱负与价值观的知识分子。

 

最后,我衷心地祝愿我亲爱的两位朋友——钱颖一和许成钢,再接再厉、永创辉煌。


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转载须注明来源:北京当代经济学基金会