Tue, Nov 05, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Taxing the rich to fund welfare is Nobel winner’s growth mantra
諾貝爾經濟學獎得主:「劫富濟貧」是良方

Abhijit Banerjee, joint winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, stands for a photograph with his new book Good Economics for Hard Times, co-authored with Esther Duflo, in New Delhi, India, on Oct. 21.
諾貝爾經濟學獎得主阿比吉特‧班納吉,手持其與艾絲特‧杜芙洛合著之新作《艱困時期的好經濟學》,十月二十一日攝於印度新德里。

Photo: Bloomberg
照片:彭博社

How do you spur demand in an economy? By raising direct taxes and distributing the money among the poor, says this year’s winner of the Nobel prize for economics.

Reducing taxes to boost investments is a myth spread by businesses, says Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize along with Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Michael Kremer of Harvard University for their approach to alleviating global poverty. “You are giving incentives to the rich who are already sitting on tons of cash.”

Countries from China to India to Indonesia are slashing taxes for businesses to spur growth amid a gloomy outlook for global economic expansion. The International Monetary Fund last month made a fifth-straight cut to its 2019 global growth forecast, pegging it at 3 percent.

“You don’t boost growth by cutting taxes, you do that by giving money to people,” Banerjee said in an interview on Oct. 21, suggesting that cash in the hands of the poor will drive consumption. “Investment will respond to demand.”

China earlier this year rolled out tax cuts worth US$280 billion on personal income and corporate profits, while India surprised with a US$20 billion stimulus, taking its corporate tax rate to among the lowest in Asia. Indonesia also plans to lower tax on companies to 20 percent from 25 percent.

MIT Professor Banerjee spoke in New Delhi where he was promoting his book Good Economics for Hard Times.

Last year, US President Donald Trump unveiled a US$1.5 trillion tax package, and has promised “very substantial” tax cuts in 2020 for “middle-income” Americans.

It’s the widening inequality in developed countries such as the US that has angered people and is pushing the world into a trade war, Banerjee said. “It is unbelievable that in the name of growth you have allowed inequality to explode to this point.”

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. spur demand phr.

刺激需求

(ci4 ji1 xu1 qiu2)

2. economy n.

經濟(體)

(jing1 ji4 ti3)

3. distribute v.

分配 (fen1 pei4)

4. poverty n.

貧窮 (pin2 qiong2)

5. consumption n.

消費 (xiao1 fei4)

6. tax cut phr.

減稅 (jian3 shui4)

7. personal income phr.

個人所得

(ge4 ren2 suo3 de2)

8. inequality n.

不平等

(bu4 ping2 deng3)


India Slowdown

Growth in India, Asia’s third-largest economy, has slumped to a six-year low as consumption is weak, prompting the central bank to cut interest rates to the lowest in almost a decade.

The government complemented the monetary policy easing with a series of measures to reverse the demand slowdown. Those steps — including scrapping a tax on foreign funds to allowing tax concessions on vehicle purchases — have raised concerns of a fiscal slippage.

“Given the demand slump it’s not a bad thing for the government to be expansionary,” Banerjee said. “If we want to stimulate demand and corporate tax cut doesn’t do that, which is my prediction, then what do we do.”

(Bloomberg)

在經濟結構中要如何刺激需求?今年的諾貝爾經濟學獎得主認為,應提高直接稅,並將錢分配給窮人。

阿比吉特‧班納吉與麻省理工學院的艾絲特‧杜芙洛及哈佛大學的麥可‧克雷莫,以其對緩解全球貧窮問題的研究,共同獲得了今年的諾貝爾經濟學獎。班納吉表示,用減稅來鼓勵投資,是企業所散播的迷思,減稅「是在獎勵富人,而這些有錢人已是坐擁金山銀山」。

全球經濟前景黯淡,從中國到印度再到印尼都在大幅削減企業稅,以刺激經濟成長。國際貨幣基金上個月將二○一九年全球成長率連續第五次下修,將其定為百分之三。

班納吉十月二十一日在接受採訪時表示:「促進經濟成長不是透過減稅來達成,而是要給人錢」。這表示,窮人手中的現金才會推動消費,「有需求才會有投資」。

今年稍早,中國對個人所得和企業利潤實施減稅,所減之稅額達兩千八百億美元。而印度則出乎意料地祭出兩百億美元的經濟刺激措施,將印度的公司稅稅率降至亞洲最低。印尼還計劃將公司稅由百分之二十五降至百分之二十。

麻省理工學院的班納吉教授在印度新德里宣傳其著作《艱困時期的好經濟學》時,做出以上表示。

美國總統唐納‧川普去年公佈了一項一點五兆美元的稅務方案,並承諾在二○二○年對「中等收入」的美國人實施「很實質性的」減稅。

班納吉說,激怒人們,並讓世界陷入貿易戰的,是美國等已開發國家日益擴大的不平等。「令人難以置信的是,你打著經濟成長的名號,卻讓不平等迅速擴大到這個地步。」

印度經濟成長下滑

由於消費疲弱,印度這亞洲第三大經濟體,其經濟成長已跌至六年來最低,使得印度央行將利率調降至近十年來最低。

為了避免因貨幣政策寬鬆所造成的需求放緩,印度政府以一系列措施來做配套。這些措施──包括取消對外資課稅,以及購車稅率優惠──引起了人們對政府財政惡化的擔憂。

班納吉表示:「由於需求下滑,因此增加政府支出並不是件壞事」。「如果我們要刺激需求,而削減公司稅又如我所料達不到這目標,那我們也別無他法。」

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