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转:曼昆致当代大学生的忠告  

2010-09-26 10:24:50|  分类: Reading notes |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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from: http://dongxi.net/b02Cd

每年秋天,哈佛大学著名经济学教授格里高利?曼昆都有一项令其非常愉悦的任务——欢迎大约700名大一新生,并由此想到了一些问题:大学生应该学些什么?理解现代经济,并为之做好准备需要打好哪些根基?且看这位享誉世界的经济学教授向当代大学生提出了哪些忠告。

作为哈佛大学传授经济学导论的一位教授,每年秋天,我都有一项令我非常愉悦的任务:欢迎大约700名大一新生。今年,我将第一次送自己的孩子上大学,由此想到了一些问题:他们应该学些什么?理解现代经济,并为之做好准备需要打好哪些根基?< xmlnamespace prefix ="o" ns ="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

我向所有年龄段的学生提出以下建议:

学点经济学 这个建议,你或许已经猜到了。也许我只是在尝试着保护我这个行当的市场份额而已,但我希望这项建议的意义不止于此。

伟大的经济学家阿尔弗雷德·马歇尔(AlfredMarshall)认为,经济学是一门研究人类日常生活事务的学科。当大学生毕业之后,日常生活事务将是他们所面临的最为迫切的问题。如果当前一蹶不振的经济果真如一些经济学家所担忧的那样,坠入失去的10,大学生们务必要做好充分的准备。

或许没有比经济学导论课堂更好的地方了。这门课可以帮助学生理解各种犹如旋风般旋转于他们四周的力量,可以促使学生掌握缜密的分析技巧——这种分析技巧将在日后的许多工作中派上用场。它可以让学生成为更好的公民,便于他们评估相互抗衡的政客的说辞。

对于那些已经离开校园的人来说,现在学习经济学还为时未晚。挑选一本经济学教材(我那本就是一个不错的选择),你或许发现你正在学习的东西超乎你的想象。

还不确信我的建议?纵使你跟许多人一样,一直不太信任我所从事的这个行当,那么还有另外一个,或许更为悲观的研习经济学的理由。正如经济学家琼·罗宾逊(JoanRobinson)曾经指出的,学习经济学的目的之一是,避免遭受经济学家的愚弄。

学点统计学  高中的数学课程设置在欧几里得几何和三角函数等传统主题上花费了太多的时间。对于普通人来说,这些都是非常有用的脑力训练,但它们在日常生活中几乎没有什么适用性。学生们最好多学一些概率和统计方面的知识。

数据,许许多多的数据,是如今这个计算机时代给予每个人的一项事物。然而,拥有数据跟从数据中学到东西,是跨度很大的两码事。学生们需要了解数字密集运算的潜力,以及它的局限性。我认为,至少在高中教材的更新内容之前,所有的大学生都应该上一门或更多的统计学课程。

学点金融学 随着401k)计划的崛起,再加上迫在眉睫的社会保障问题,美国人的金融前景越来越多地掌握在自己的手中。但他们能够胜任这项工作吗?

很少有高中生在其毕业之际掌握了明智抉择所需的工具。实际上,许多大学新生甚至不知道股票和债券为何物,不知道这些资产所带来的风险和回报,更不知道管理这些风险的最佳方式。

每当一些公司破产的时候,许多人就暴露出其金融菜鸟的本质。不管是安然还是雷曼兄弟,许多公司的员工经常将大半身家置放于一只股票之上。他们没有听从最基本的金融教训——免费的午餐,源自多样化的投资。这种方式在没有降低预期收益的情况下,减少了投资风险。

上大学是一项能够带来巨大回报的投资。现在,大学毕业生和高中毕业生之间的工资差异居于历史高位。如果大学毕业生打算聪明地管理其收入的话,他们就需要学习制定金融决策的基础知识。

学点心理学  像我这样的经济学家经常假设每个人都是理性的。也就是说,假设人们能够精确地计算出实现其目标的最佳方式。

就许多用途而言,这种方式是有用的。但这仅仅是观察人类行为的一种方式。对于学了太多古典经济学的人来说,学一点心理学不啻为一种颇有裨益的解毒剂。它可以显露出人类理性(包括你自身)的缺陷之处。

这是我上大学时没有聆听的一门课程。上本科时,我从未上过一节心理学课。但在将心理学注入经济学的行为经济学诞生之后,我弥补了这项缺憾。几年前,作为哈佛大学校务委员会的一员,我旁听了史蒂芬·平克(Steven Pinker)教授的心理学导论课。我不知道这门课是否让我成为了一名更好的经济学家。但它的确让我成为了一位更谦卑的经济学家,或许也让我成为了一位更好的人。

适当地忽略成年人的建议  形形色色的成年人对即将跨入大学校门的学子提出了各种建议。离开家,即将开始大学生涯的新生应该聆听,思考,反思这些建议,但最终要跟随自己的直觉和激情。

未来唯一确定的事情在于,它远远无法确定。我不知道,4年之后,哪些新兴产业将对大学毕业生产生吸引力,任何人都无法确知。下一代人将塑造其自身的经济形态,就如同比尔·盖茨和马克·扎克伯格(MarkZuckerberg)塑造了我们这代人的经济形态一样。现在正忙于收拾行囊,购买课本,会见室友的大一新生将未来掌握在他们的手中。每一年上第一堂课时,我总能看到700位大一新生那一双双热切的眼睛,这一幕总让我对前方的道路充满了乐观的期待。

格里高利·曼昆(N. GREGORY MANKIW)是哈佛大学经济学教授。

 

 

Original article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/business/economy/05view.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=N.%20GREGORY%20MANKIW&st=cse

 

AS a Harvard professor who teaches introductory economics, I have the delightful assignment of greeting about 700 first-year students every fall. And this year, I am sending the first of my own children off to college. Which raises these questions: What should they be learning? And what kind of foundation is needed to understand and be prepared for the modern economy?

 

Here is my advice for students of all ages:

LEARN SOME ECONOMICS You knew this was coming. Perhaps I am just trying to protect my profession’s market share, but I hope it is more than that.

The great economist Alfred Marshall called economics “the study of mankind in the ordinary business of life.” When students leave school, “the ordinary business of life” will be their most pressing concern. If the current moribund economy turns into a lost decade, as some economists fear it might, it will be crucial to be prepared for it.

There may be no better place than a course in introductory economics. It helps students understand the whirlwind of forces swirling around them. It develops rigorous analytic skills that are useful in a wide range of jobs. And it makes students better citizens, ready to evaluate the claims of competing politicians.

For those who have left college behind, it is not too late to learn. Pick up an economics textbook (mine would be a fine choice), and you might find yourself learning more than you imagined.

Not convinced? Even if you are a skeptic of my field, as many are, there is another, more cynical reason to study it. As the economist Joan Robinson once noted, one purpose of studying economics is to avoid being fooled by economists.

LEARN SOME STATISTICS High school mathematics curriculums spend too much time on traditional topics like Euclidean geometry and trigonometry. For a typical person, these are useful intellectual exercises but have little applicability to daily life. Students would be better served by learning more about probability and statistics.

One thing the modern computer age has given everyone is data. Lots and lots of data. There is a large leap, however, between having data and learning from it. Students need to know the potential of number-crunching, as well as its limitations. All college students are well advised to take one or more courses in statistics, at least until high schools update what they teach.

LEARN SOME FINANCE With the rise of 401(k) plans and the looming problems with Social Security, Americans are increasingly in charge of their own financial future. But are they up to the task?

Few high school students graduate with the tools needed to make smart choices. Indeed, many enter college without knowing, for instance, what stocks and bonds are, what risks and returns these assets offer, and how best to manage those risks.

The evidence of financial na?veté shows up every time some company goes belly up. Whether it is Enron or Lehman Brothers, many company employees are often caught with a large fraction of their wealth in a single stock. They fail to heed the most basic lesson of finance — that diversification provides a free lunch. It reduces risk without lowering expected return.

College is an investment with a great return. The gap between the wages of college graduates and those with only high school diplomas is now large by historical standards. If those college grads are going to manage their earnings intelligently, they need to study the fundamentals of financial decision making.

LEARN SOME PSYCHOLOGY Economists like me often pretend that people are rational. That is, with mathematical precision, people are assumed to do the best they can to achieve their goals.

For many purposes, this approach is useful. But it is only one way to view human behavior. A bit of psychology is a useful antidote to an excess of classical economics. It reveals flaws in human rationality, including your own.

This is one lesson I failed to heed when I was in college. I never took a single psychology course as an undergrad. But after the birth of behavioral economics, which infuses psychology into economics, I remedied that mistake. Several years ago, as a Harvard faculty member, I audited an introductory psychology course taught by Steven Pinker. I don’t know if it made me a better economist. But it has surely made me a more humble one, and, I suspect, a better human being as well.

IGNORE ADVICE AS YOU SEE FIT Adults of all stripes have advice for the college-bound. Those leaving home and starting their freshman year should listen to it, consider it, reflect on it but ultimately follow their own instincts and passions.

The one certain thing about the future is that it is far from certain. I don’t know what emerging industries will be attracting college graduates four years from now, and neither does anyone else. The next generation will shape its own economy, as the young Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg shaped ours. Those now packing up their clothes, buying textbooks and meeting roommates hold the future in their hands. Every year, when I look out over my 700 eager freshmen on that first day of class, the view gives me optimism about the path ahead.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard.

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