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[经济学人] Arrested development 困兽之斗

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发表于 2012-8-27 17:11 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
【导读】
自上世纪来,世界各国政府R&D支出与私有企业自身R&D的投入此消彼长,全球科技研发的脚步从未停歇,开发费用成了困扰世界各国特别是发达国家的难题之一。这无疑是一场政府在市场经济体制内的困兽之斗......


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Arrested development
困兽之斗


America and Europe are relying on private firms in the global R&D race
在全球科技研发竞赛中,欧美国家依赖于私有企业

Aug 25th 2012 | from the print edition

IT IS a font of economic growth. Research and development (R&D), the hunt for new ideas, products and processes, enhances productivity and generates well-paid jobs. It plays an important role in keeping economies growing after they have industrialised. It has positive spillover effects on the number of employees firms hire, and on the wages of low-skilled workers in high-tech sectors. These public benefits help explain why R&D activity has historically been supported by large amounts of government cash. But public spending on research is in secular decline, leaving private firms to pick up the slack. This funding switch has already left Britain lagging in the global R&D race, and may yet put America at risk, too.

我们所说的“研发”(Research & Development,缩写R&D,以下均简称研发。译者注) 是经济增长源头之一。它是对新想法、新产品和新工序的追求,这一过程促进了生产力,创造了高薪的工作岗位。发达国家完成工业化后,“研发”扮演了促进经济持续增长的重要角色。在企业雇员的数量以及高科技部门低技术工人的工资问题上,“研发”对其有正面的溢出效应。这些社会效益帮助告诉我们,为什么政府的大批资金历来都在支持研发活动。然而,欧美政府在研究上的公共支出持续的下降,把担子(逐渐地)下放到了私有企业身上。该类融资源头的转变已经导致了英国在全球研发竞赛中处于落后状态,也可能把美国拉下水。

Private firms have plenty of incentive to shell out, of course. The companies that spend most on R&D tend to be in computing, cars and drugs. Top of their respective industries in 2010, according to Booz, a consultancy, were Microsoft, a software firm; Toyota, a car manufacturer; and Roche, a pharmaceuticals firm. Last year Microsoft spent $9 billion on R&D. Its 850 PhD scientists and 40,000 developers are mainly preoccupied by cloud computing. Toyota spent ¥730 billion ($9.2 billion); its hybrid cars trace their origins to 15 research centres which investigate new materials and fuels. Roche, which has over 330,000 patients enrolled in clinical trials, spent SFr8 billion ($9 billion).

欧美私有企业自然有诸多利润驱使来为研发买单。这些私有企业的大手笔主要花在了计算机领域,汽车和医药领域。咨询公司博斯(Booz)的调查报告显示,2010年里,这三个领域中(计算机、汽车和医药)研发投资最多的私有企业有:软件供应商微软公司;汽车制造商丰田公司;医药生产商罗氏制药公司。去年,微软耗资90亿美元用于研发,850名博士学位的科学家和40,000名的开发者集中致力于云计算。丰田则斥资7300亿日元(约92亿美元)来进行研发,它的氢动力汽车可追根于旗下15个研究中心,这些研究中心专门研究新材料和新燃料。罗氏医药公司则进行了330,000多位病人的临床试验,费用达80亿瑞士法郎(约90亿美元)。

Nonetheless, ensuring that private firms do enough R&D is a problem because its public benefits are likely to be higher than the private benefits (ie, profits) that go to firms. Even with patent systems to protect innovators, genuinely new inventions diffuse so that copycats and competitors benefit. These knowledge spillovers are good for the economy as a whole, but may be bad for the firm that made the original discovery. In a 2010 paper* that looked at data from American firms, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Mark Schankerman and John Van Reenen of the London School of Economics found that the public benefits of R&D were roughly double the private benefits. The data also suggested that the optimal rate of R&D would be twice as high as the actual rate, and possibly higher.

即便如此,由于(政府部分注资研发而带来)公共效益可能要高于企业产生的私人效益(比如,企业利润),让私有企业在研发上做足功夫便成了问题。与用于保护产权人的专利体系比起来,坦诚的新发明(即政府公开注资公开研发的发明)传播开来,盗版商和竞争者则获益。总的来说,这些知识产权的溢出有利于整个经济社会,但是可能对原始产权开发的公司不利。2010年,斯坦福大学的Nicholas Bloom,伦敦经济学院的Mark Schankerman以及John Van Reenen撰文中通过观察美国企业的数据,发现研发的公共效益几乎是私人效益的两倍。该数据同时表明,研发的最优比率达到实际比率的两倍,并有可能更高。

Patent leathering
The simplest response to this problem is direct government funding. This was the favoured post-war model, especially in America during the space race. In the mid-1960s space exploration received around $25 billion a year from the taxpayer, measured in today’s dollars. Public funding for military research was also buoyant. At its 1964 peak federal R&D hit close to 2% of American GDP. But the share of publicly funded research has since fallen sharply in some countries. In America the ratio of public R&D to GDP has fallen by half since the 1960s. In Britain the ratio fell by the same amount over a shorter period, dropping from 0.31% in 1986 to just 0.17% in 2009, the lowest level in the G7 group of advanced economies. This contrasts with sharp growth in public R&D spending in Japan, Germany and South Korea.

对付这一问题的最简单答案是政府直接融资。这曾是二战后最受欢迎的方法,尤其是在美国太空空间竞赛时期。1965年前后,一年的从纳税人那里收到的空间开发费用,用今天的美元估值约250亿美元。政府对军事研究的公共融资亦是十分活跃。1964年,用于研发的公共融资猛飙到联邦政府公共支出的峰值,占到近美国国民生产总值的2%。但是,自此以后一些欧美国家的公共融资型研发出现剧降。在英国,该类资金的占国民生产总值比率从1986年的0.31%降到了2009年的0.17%,短期内出现同等下降率,达到的是G7集团发达国家的最低水平了。这一现象与日本、德国和韩国的公共研发费用急速上升形成了鲜明的对比。


A fall in government spending places the onus squarely back on firms’ private R&D efforts. In America this public-to-private switch has been relatively successful. Firms have increased their R&D spending faster than GDP, so that they have offset the reduction in government support (see left-hand chart). Even so America’s overall R&D-to-GDP ratio has fallen behind South Korea’s; China is catching up fast (see right-hand chart). Europe as a whole has a weak R&D-to-GDP ratio, despite German efforts. It currently stands at around 1.9%, far below a European Union target of 3%. Britain’s position is particularly poor. Unlike in America, business R&D has fallen in tandem with public spending, dropping from 1.5% of GDP in 1986 to 1.1% in 2009. Of rich countries, only Italy looks worse.

政府部门的花费下降,研发的责任则直接地推到了私有企业研发的努力成果上面。在美国,这种“公共转私人”的转变算是较为成功的。私有企业增加其研发成本快于国民生产总值,这样他们可以抵消政府支持下不足以支付的那部分(见左侧图)。即便是这样,美国的总体研发-国民生产总值比率还是被甩在了韩国的后面;中国正奋起直追(见右侧图)。欧洲作为一个整体而言,虽然德国尽心尽力,仍处在一个劣势的比率。目前,欧洲总体研发-国民生产总值比率大约处于1.9%,与欧盟目标的3%相差甚远。英国的情况则更是难堪。不像美国,英国的商业研发费用与公共支出都已出现下降,从1986年的1.5%降到了2009年的1.1%。在所以发达国家当中,仅有意大利看起来比英国更加糟糕。

Three things in particular help influence firms’ R&D spending. The first is tax treatment. America was quick to offer tax breaks, introducing “research and experimentation” tax credits in 1981. This reduced firms’ tax liability by 20% of their R&D costs, so $100m spent on research in effect cost only $80m. In a 2002 paper Mr Bloom, Mr Van Reenen and Rachel Griffith of Manchester University looked at R&D tax credits in nine advanced economies between 1979 and 1997, finding that a 10% fall in R&D costs produces a long-run 10% increase in R&D spending.

有三个因素尤其能够改变私有企业的研发费用。第一个因素是税务处理方式。美国早在1981年便迅速地出台了税务减免优惠政策,引入了“研究与实验”税务抵免政策。该举措削减了私有企业研发成本上20%的缴税义务,所以私有企业投10亿美元作研究仅只耗费8亿美元。在2002年的一份报告中,Nicholas Bloom先生,John Van Reenen先生以及曼彻斯特大学的Rachel Griffith先生观察了九个发达国家1979年至1997年研究上的税务抵免,发现研发成本上下降10%导致了研发支出的10%的长期增长。

Merger policy is the second thing that can influence R&D. Competing firms race to be the first to invent new products; one of the rationales for merging with a rival can be to dull this competition. The pharmaceuticals industry has seen massive consolidation, for example: of 42 American drugs firms that existed in 1988, only 11 remained in 2012. Case studies suggest this may reduce R&D growth rates. In the six years before their 1999 merger, Astra and Zeneca increased R&D by an average of 19% a year. In the six years after AstraZeneca’s R&D growth was just 1% a year.

并购政策当属第二个能够影响研发的因素。竞争企业为争夺市场头把交椅而研发新产品;与竞争对手合并的原理之一,便是能够减少这种竞争局面。比如,医药行业出现过大规模合并:1988年美国市场还存在着42家药品企业,2012年仅剩下11家。研究案例表明,这种趋势可能放缓了研发增长率。在1999年Astra 与Zeneca公司合并之前的前六年,他们研发费用的增长率达到平均每年19%。1999年后这家合并企业的研发增长率仅为1%.

Third, firms may face pressure from shareholders to rein in R&D budgets. Research is a current cost that delivers benefits in the distant future (although the drugs industry shows that pay-offs can disappoint). There is survey evidence that bosses choose to scrimp on R&D in order to hit earnings targets or to pay larger dividends to investors.

第三个影响因素在于,私有企业可能会面临着股东们收紧研发预算的压力。研究,就是以现有成本来带来长远未来的收益(尽管药品行业显示,研究的回报让人失望)。有调查表明,私企老板们为达到盈利目标或付给投资者较大额的股息红利,而选择缩减研发成本。

Britain’s listless performance in private R&D spending is explained by all three of these factors. Britain was a tax laggard, introducing credits only in 2000. Much of its private R&D spending is down to drugs and services industries, where mergers are rife. And a recent government-sponsored report on equity markets found a lack of long-term decision-making by investors. But America should not relax. It looks increasingly stingy in its tax treatment of R&D as other countries catch up; mergers and short-termism are a concern in America, too. Relying on private firms to power R&D should mean giving them every incentive to do so.

上述三个因素能够解释英国私有企业研发支出上的乏力表现。英国曾是个税务上的落伍者,2000年才引入税务减免政策。英国私有企业的研发成本主要花在了医药和服务业,这些行业合并现象十分普遍。最近一份有政府支持的资本市场报告发现,广大投资者缺乏长期决策力。然而,美国也别高兴太早。由于其他国家奋起直追,美国在研发上面的税收处理逐渐地变得吝啬起来;企业合并和短期主义也成为了美国关心的话题。依靠私有企业来带动研发将意味着给予他们这样做的一切财路。
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