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Companies and the state A world of robber barons

The relationship between business and government is becoming increasingly antagonistic, says Philip Coggan. But the two sides should not overdo it: they need each other 用菲利普?科跟的话说,企业和政府之间越发对立。但双方应该适可而止:他们需要彼此

IN THE MIDDLE AGES the Rhine was Europe’s most important commercial waterway. Like many modern highways, it was a toll route. Toll points were meant to be approved by the Holy Roman Emperor, but local landowners often charged river traffic for passing through. These “robber barons”, as they became known, were a serious impediment to trade, and imperial forces had to take costly punitive action to remove them. 中世纪之时,莱茵河是欧洲最重要的商业航道。与许多现代高速公路一样,它是收费通道。 所收费用本应由罗马神圣帝国皇帝许可, 然而当地地主经常收取船只过路费, 这些人后来被 称为“强盗贵族”,他们对贸易构成严重阻碍,帝国军队不得不采取代价即为昂贵的惩罚行动 将他们铲除。 The relationship between business and the state bears some resemblance to this medieval tussle. Like those Rhine boatmen, the companies operating within national borders must pay something towards the cost of supporting commerce, but if the tolls are excessive, trade will suffer. At least some of the world’s 200 or so countries will be tempted to act as robber barons, charging the equivalent of protection money to the companies they deal with. 现代企业和国家之间的关系与这种中世纪的纠纷有类似之处。 与莱茵河上的船主一样, 在一 国境内经营的企业必须要支付费用,作为支持商业活动成本,但是如果费用太高,贸易会受 到影响。在世界近200个国家(世界上共有224个国家和地区,其中国家为193个,地区为31 个)中,至少有一部分国家会忍不住充当强盗贵族,向与它们打交道的公司征收类似保护费 的费用。 Some people on the left would argue that the label should be applied in the opposite way. In the late 19th century the term “robber barons” came to refer to the American railway magnates who used their monopoly power to drive competitors out of business. Politicians such as the trustbusting presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft crusaded against such corporate power. 一些左翼人士或许会争辩,应该将这一标签贴在公司身上。20世纪末,“强盗贵族”这个词逐 渐用来形容美国铁路大亨,他们利用自己的垄断地位使得竞争者破产。以西奥多 ?罗斯福 (Theodore Roosevelt)和威廉?霍华德?塔夫脱(William Howard Taft)为代表的反托拉斯政

治家则进行了打击垄断公司势力之战。 Since then that anti-corporate mood has never quite dissipated. Modern multinationals are sometimes portrayed as overmighty, using their wealth to subvert politicians through their campaign contributions and lobbying power and to evade their social responsibility. 自那以后,反公司的情绪从未真正消退。现代跨国企业有时候会被描述为“势力过于强大”, 利用自己的财富逃避社会责任,并通过政治献金和游说的方式让政客为自己办事。 Much political rhetoric across the spectrum suggests that the relationship between companies and the state is in essence antagonistic. Those on the right argue that government interferes far too much in the process of wealth generation and hinders rather than helps commerce. Those on the left depict business as a ravenous predator that government needs to control, exploiting workers and consumers and evading taxes. 政治领域的许多言辞都表明, 公司与国家的关系本质上而言是对立的。 右翼人士认为政府对 财富产生过程干预过多,阻碍而非促进商业。左翼人士则将商业描述成一个贪婪掠食者,剥 削员工和消费者,逃避税收,需要政府控制。

All that combative talk made it harder to respond to the 2007-08 banking crisis. The collapse of the subprime-mortgage market and the subsequent rescue of the banking sector created a sense of anger towards the financial elite which turned into a wider frustration with the corporate world. The crisis led to a plunge in tax revenues and a sharp rise in budget deficits, prompting governments to pursue austerity programmes that imposed tax increases on many middle-class people and cut the benefits of the less well-off. Such a climate breeds resentment of companies

that are seen as not paying their fair share of taxes or of exploiting their monopoly pricing power. 这些带有火药味的言论使得对2007-08年间的银行业危机作出回应更难。次级抵押贷款市场 的崩溃以及随之而来的拯救银行业行为催生了对金融界精英的愤怒情绪, 这种情绪又转变成 对企业界更大范围的沮丧。危机使得税收收入大幅下降,预算赤字猛烈上升,迫使政府实施 紧缩项目,增加对许多中产阶级人员的征税,削减经济状况较差之人的福利,这种氛围孕育 了对公司的仇恨,人们认为公司不支付应缴之税,利用垄断权定价。 In response, governments have introduced strict new regulation, particularly for banks, and sought to crack down on the use of offshore tax havens. But they have also recognised that they cannot afford to drive multinational business away. Some countries, including Britain, have cut their tax rates in order to attract new business from abroad. “Countries have got to see themselves as being an attractive shop window for multinational investment,” says John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry. Even France’s president, Fran?ois Hollande, who in 2012 came into office on a wave of anti-capitalist rhetoric, last month announced a 30 billion ($41 billion) cut in corporate taxes in an attempt to revive a stagnant economy. 作为对危机的回应,政府实施了严厉的新监管,尤其针对银行业,并打击使用海外避税天堂 的行为。 但是他们也承认自己无法承受将跨国企业从本国赶走的后果。 包括英国在内的一些 国家已经削减了税率来吸引国外的新行业。 英国工业联合会总干事约翰?克里德兰称“国家已 经将自己视作吸引跨国投资的陈列窗口。”即使是2012年上任之时大谈反资本主义言论的法 国总统奥朗德上月也宣布削减300亿欧元(410亿美元)的公司税,以振兴停滞的经济。 For all their differences, the two sides need each other. Governments rely on businesses to drive economic growth, create jobs and generate the exports to ensure that their countries can pay their way in the world. Multinationals are particularly important, argues Ted Moran of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an American think-tank: they pay higher wages than other companies, export more and have a superior record in research and development. And countries would be unwise to rely on multinationals staying put come what may: WPP, an advertising and marketing group, moved its headquarters from London to Dublin in 2008 in a dispute over tax on overseas profits, then moved it back again after the rules were changed. With growth in emerging markets so much faster than in the developed world, locations like Singapore or Dubai are becoming ever more attractive. 尽管存在诸多差异,政府和公司都需要彼此:前者依赖后者推动经济增长,创造就业,产生 出口以确保他们国家能够在世界舞台借经济力量畅行无阻。 美国一家智库彼得森国际经济研 究所的泰德?莫兰称,跨国公司尤其重要。他们支付比普通公司更高的工资,出口更多,研 发记录也更优秀。而国家指望跨国公司无论风吹雨打,都会岿然不动是不明智的:2008年, 因海外利润税纠纷,广告和营销集团 WPP 将总部从伦敦迁往都柏林,在规则变更之后又迁 了回来。随着新兴市场的增速远高于发达世界,新加坡,迪拜等地变得越发有吸引力。 Businesses, for their part, need governments. It is not just that they provide the legal systems and the basic security that allow companies to operate in the first place; they also educate the workers on whom firms depend, and they create the infrastructure—roads, railways and air-traffic

control—that enables companies to get their goods to market. Moreover, governments undertake a lot of scientific research that businesses can turn into commercial products, from the internet to satellite positioning systems to drug development. 反过来, 公司也需要政府。 不仅仅由于政府可以提供允许公司最初开始经营的法律体系和基 本安全保障,政府还为公司发展所依赖的工人提供教育,修建基础设施—公路,铁路和空中 交通控制—使得公司能够将产品运往市场。此外,政府还进行大量科学研究,包括互联网, 卫星定位系统和药品开发,不一而足,公司能够将这些研究转化成商业产品(获利) 。

In many industries the government is also a key customer; after all, a typical government in a developed country spends around 40% of GDP. Defence is an obvious example, but the pharmaceutical industry is also important: national health services are huge buyers of drugs, and government bodies have to approve new products before they come to market. Construction, too, depends heavily on government action: a boost to infrastructure spending can make a big difference to the industry’s prospects. 政府还是许多行业的关键消费者;毕竟,一个典型的发达国家政府约花费 GDP 的40%(用 于采购) 。国防支出不消多说,但制药业同样重要:国家医疗卫生服务是药品的大客户,新 产品进入市场之前也需要政府机构的批准。 建筑业也十分依赖政府行为: 增加基础设施支出 可以对该行业前景产生十分重大的影响。 Government policy also has serious (and sometimes unintended) effects on corporate structure. In America, high corporate taxes and a growing body of regulation have led to a decline in the number of public corporations and the emergence of alternative structures such as “master limited partnerships”. Around the world, the tax deductibility of interest payments has encouraged a greater reliance on debt rather than equity and favoured private-equity firms. Even though executives moan about excessive government interference, shares on Wall Street have been hitting record highs, and profits as a share of America’s GDP are close to a post-war high. 政府政策同样对公司结构有重要(有时候是出人意料的)影响。在美国,高昂的公司税和越 来越多的监管使得股份有限公司数量下降,并产生了其它的公司形式,“业主有限合伙企业” 就是其中之一。在世界范围内,免征利息税的规定有利于私募股权公司,并鼓励公司更加依 赖债务而非股票 (这里的意思应该是公司更加依赖债务融资而非股权融资, 因为债务融资只 需要支付利息,而股权融资则需要支付股利,不免税) 。尽管高管们抱怨政府干预过度,华 尔街股价一直创历史新高,利润占美国 GDP 的比重也接近战后最高值。 Because of the sheer scale of the modern state, companies are obliged to engage with it on many levels. Governments, for their part, are expected to deal with a variety of ills in society, from banning imports of unhealthy or dangerous substances to combating global warming. 由于现代国家规模问题,公司不得不在许多层面上与国家打交道。反过来,政府则要解决一 系列社会弊病,包括禁止进口不健康或危险物质,对抗全球变暖等。

You know too much 你知道的太多了 Perhaps the trickiest relationship at present is between governments and the technology industry. Some consumers are uneasy about the large amount of digital data being hoovered up and want governments to regulate the way that businesses use and maintain these data. The governments’ security services, for their part, want to have access to such information whenever they feel the need. Recent revelations about the extent of government monitoring of e-mails and phone calls have pushed this issue into the headlines and created a dilemma for tech companies. Do they stand up for their customers and risk being accused of compromising security, or do they give in to governments and risk alienating their customers? 或许当前最棘手的关系是政府和科技界之间的关系。 一些消费者对公司收集的大量电子数据 感到不安, 希望政府监管公司使用和保留这些数据的方式。 而政府安全部门则希望在必要时 候能够获得这些信息, 最近有关政府监控电子邮件和电话程度的泄密使得这一问题成为焦点 (进入头条) ,为科技公司制造了一个进退两难的困境。他们是应该站在消费者一边,还是 向政府屈服?选择前者,它们有可能被指控危害安全,选择后者又有可能使消费者离心。 Another set of complications arises from social benefits for citizens provided jointly by companies and governments. In health care, for instance, many small businesses think that America’s Affordable Care Act imposes an excessive administrative burden on them. Parental leave also divides the spirits. Many governments want to extend maternity leave for women and offer parental leave to fathers. That may be manageable for big businesses but is harder to implement for small companies. Given that voters are resistant to higher taxes, politicians are drawn to programmes that offer improved benefits at the expense of companies rather than the state. 另一些复杂情况源于公司和政府联合提供给公民的社会福利。例如,在医保领域,许多小企 业认为美国的平价医疗法案(又称 Obamacare)让他们承受过重的行政负担,有关产假及育 婴假的意见同样纷纭。许多政府希望延长女性的产假,并为父亲提供育婴假。这对大公司而 言或许尚可实行,但对小企业而言就较难了。鉴于选民们抵制增税,政客们倾向于牺牲公司 而非国家利益为公民提供更多福利的项目。 Big businesses accept that they need a relationship with government. That has fuelled the rise of the lobbying industry and, in some countries, the growth of campaign contributions by firms. Many people now suspect that the key to success in business is not necessarily to be the most competitive but the best-connected. Lobbying creates a kind of arms race in which tax laws and regulations become ever more complex as companies seek to influence the rules to suit their own interests. 大公司承认他们需要与政府建立关系。 这推动了游说行业的兴起, 以及在一些国家公司为竞 选献金的发展。许多人现在怀疑在商界要成功,关键不一定是做最有竞争力的企业,而是做 关系最硬的企业。游说创造了一种类似军备竞赛的竞争,在竞争中,公司寻求影响法规以满 足自身利益,税法和税务条例因此变得更加复杂(这个比较典型的例子是 Dodd-Frank bill

和其中的沃克尔规则) 。 Favoured firms can be “national champions”, such as airlines, which governments strive to protect through regulation and restrictions on foreign ownership. In international trade negotiations they often try to protect the interests of a vital industry, as France does with agriculture and Britain with financial services. In emerging markets such practices are even more entrenched. In some industries, such as energy, Western multinationals find themselves at a disadvantage in their dealings with state-owned titans, as BP found in Russia. 受政府偏爱的企业可以成为“国家冠军”,航空公司就是其中一例,政府通过监管和限制外国 所有权而努力保护航空公司。在国际贸易谈判中,政府通常试图保护关键行业的利益,例如 法国保护农业,英国保护金融服务业。在新兴市场,这种做法更加根深蒂固,在一些行业, 如能源业,西方跨国企业发现自己在与国有大型企业交易中处于不利地位,正如 BP 在俄罗 斯发现的那样。 This special report will concentrate on the relationship between business and state in the rich world, which in the aftermath of the financial crisis is clearly under strain. It will consider the role of tax, regulation and competition policy, explain why the technology industry is a special case, examine the arguments for and against lobbying and give examples of how the relationship can be managed successfully. 本期的特别报道将关注发达世界企业与国家之间的关系,很明显,金融危机过后,二者关系 处于紧张之中。报道将考虑税收,监管和竞争政策的作用,解释为何科技行业与众不同,探 讨支持和反对游说的论点,并举例说明如何成功管理这一关系。


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