名家风采

阿瑟·拉弗

  阿瑟·拉弗生于1941年,美国南加利福尼亚大学商学研究院教授,在尼克松政府时期曾担任行政管理和预算局的经济学家。也许冥冥之中有一种说不清道不明的因素在起作用,当拉弗还是斯坦福大学研究生时,就预言里根会在加利福尼亚州州长竞选中获胜,他的同学对此颇为怀疑,但事实证明拉弗是对的。经过拉弗的努力,拉弗成为里根的“莫逆好友”,这对日后供给学派理论成为“里根经济学”的核心部分也许起到了一定的作用。里根政府时期,他是总统经济政策顾问委员会成员。拉弗之所以引人注目,最主要的还是他所提出的描述税收与税率之间关系的曲线——“拉弗曲线”,尽管这一曲线最初是画在华盛顿饭店餐巾纸上的,但由于其对税收政策影响经济的解释更形象、更形式化,从而确立了“拉弗曲线”作为供给学派思想精髓的地位。
  1974年的一天,经济学家阿瑟·拉弗和一些著名记者及政治家坐在华盛顿的一家餐馆里。他拿来一张餐巾并在上面画了一幅类似倾斜的抛物线的图,向在座的人说明税率与税收收入的关系:税率高到一定程度,总税收收入不仅不增长,反而开始下降。这便是著名的拉弗曲线。拉弗曲线问世二十多年来,并没有多少国家的实践证明拉弗的这一假设,但经济学家们大都相信:税收会造成社会总经济福利的减少,过高的税率带给政府的很可能不是税收增加的美好前景。美国经济学家曼昆把税收造成的总福利的减少称为税收的“无谓损失”。
  拉弗曲线说明的是这样一个问题:总是存在产生同样收益的两种税率,所以减税未必使政府税收收益减少,于是可以通过减税增加供给又不用担心会减少政府收入。如果税率为零,意味着人们可以获得生产的全部成果,政府的收益自然就为零。这样,政府对生产没有妨碍作用,生产即可达到最大化。但是,由于税率为零,政府的收益也为零,政府就不可能存在。如果税率为100%,政府的收益仍为零,这是因为由于人们的所有劳动成果都被政府征税,他们就不愿意再工作了。生产中断,自然没有什么可供100%的税,因此,政府的收益就等于零。税率从0—100%,税收总额从零回归至零。在一定的税率之下,政府的税收是随税率增加而增加的,而一旦税率再增加而越过转折点,政府的税收将随税率进一步增加而减少。换句话说,总是存在产生同样收益的两种税率,所以减税未必使政府税收收益减少,于是可以通过减税增加供给又不用担心会减少政府收入。
  Arthur B. Laffer is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an economic research and consulting firm that provides investment-research services to institutional asset managers. Since its inception in 1979, the firm's research has focused on the interconnecting macroeconomic, political and demographic changes affecting global financial markets.
  Dr. Laffer's economic acumen and influence in triggering a world-wide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s have earned him the distinction in many publications as "The Father of Supply-Side Economics." One of his earliest successes in shaping public policy was his involvement in Proposition 13, the groundbreaking California initiative that drastically cut property taxes in the state in 1978.
  Years of experience and success in advising on a governmental level have distinguished Dr. Laffer in the business community as well. He currently sits on the board of directors of several public companies which include Vivendi Environmental (V), PacifiCare Health Systems (PI-ISY), MasTec Inc. (MTZ), Neff Corp. (NFF), Nicholas-Applegate Growth Equity Fund (NAPGX), and Oxigene Inc. (OXGN). He also sits on the board of directors or board of advisors of a number of private companies including: ProFlowers, Plyent.com, Synectics Technology, Proponent Sofiware, Interelate, Enverity, Restaurants International Group, MSC.com, ValuBond, Sonic Telecom, VirtualCom, U.S. Script and Castle Creek Capital.
  Dr. Laffer is a founding member of the Congressional Policy Advisory Board, a select group of advisors who assist in shaping legislative policies for the 105th, 106th, and 107th United States Congress.
  Dr. Laffer was a member of President Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his two terms (1981-1989). He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Reagan/Bush Finance Committee in 1984 and was a founding member of the Reagan Executive Advisory Committee for the presidential race of 1980.
  He was formerly the Distinguished University Professor at Pepperdine University and a member of the Pepperdine Board of Directors. He also held the status as the Charles B. Thornton Professor of Business Economics at the University of Southern California from 1976 to 1984. He was an Associate Professor of Business Economics at the University of Chicago from 1970 to 1976 and a member of the Chicago faculty from 1967 through 1976.
  During the years 1972 to 1977, Dr. Laffer was a consultant to Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, and Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz. He was the first to hold the title of Chief Economist at the Office of Management and Budget (0MB) under Mr. Shultz from October 1970 to July 1972.