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关于全球经济中企业风险和弹性的新思考。
技术

技术垄断正在扼杀创新。反垄断执法或许会有所帮助。

采访

Big tech couldn’t seem to catch a break this year. Across Europe and the United States, tech’s biggest players have been under increasing scrutiny to reform, occasionally clashing with regulators and policymakers.

In the wake of this year’s many tech scandals, some have proposed breaking up the biggest tech companies. One of the most vocal advocates of this approach is Tim Wu, a lawyer, professor and作者known for coining the term net neutrality and for his roles in the Federal Trade Commission and Obama White House. BRINK News spoke to professor Wu about the role antitrust enforcement should play in curbing the excesses of big tech and the dangers posed by the rise of private power in the United States.

BRINK News:How would you make your case—that we need a public check on private power—to risk managers, consultants, and the managerial class?

蒂姆•吴:反垄断执法既有政治理由,也有强有力的经济理由。

我认为首先,这是一个公民的问题,涉及到人们的能力,不一定是他们在经济中所处的位置,而只是一般而言。关于民主是否仍然代表人民的愿望,有很多问题,人们担心,私人对政府的过度影响,如果不加以抵制,最终会导致更极端的政治和选举更极端的人。这就是政治问题。

我认为限制私人权力的经济理由也很充分。《经济学101》指出,过多的垄断对一个经济体不利,往往会造成长期停滞。美国在其历史的大部分时间里都有一个充满活力的经济,但偶尔也会有一些行业被垄断或寡头垄断所束缚。我认为,电信业就是一个很好的例子,到了60年代,电信业已经陷入了一个相当停滞的状态,虽然当时他们并不喜欢,但它从分拆中受益匪浅。

BRINK News:What do you think are the repercussions of pursuing an antitrust agenda that might hobble domestic companies and embolden foreign competitors?

吴教授:我想有一个吸引力的政策说we should be supporting and even subsidizing and protecting our national champions, but I think it goes against what we’ve learned, over the last 50 years or so, about the wisdom of national championship policies. I think the wiser version of American industrial policy has usually suggested that you want as much domestic competition as possible in order to make the companies as strong as possible.

一个强有力的例子来自上一次美国和科技产业面临外国挑战,那是在70年代和80年代,当时日本被认为是在挑战美国在科技市场的霸主地位。跟随Mark Zuckerberg’s logic例如,正确的做法应该是保护和支持IBM、AT&T和Xerox,它们当时是美国领先的科技公司。

Instead, the United States federal government sued both IBM and AT&T. They put IBM through 13 years of反垄断审查. 他们把美国电话电报公司分成八部分。如果你看一下结果,对IBM的审查导致了个人电脑行业和独立软件行业的诞生,这两个行业都比IBM重要得多。以美国电话电报公司(AT&T)的分拆为例,你诞生了一个在线网络产业,CompuServe AOL,一个现代产业,从长远来看,互联网经济,现在是美国科技的主流。

Do you protect today’s champions by giving them a pass on antitrust law? That, I think, has the best chance of making China the tech power of the future. Trying to encourage competitors has proven to be a much better policy.

BRINK News:对于目前反垄断执法力度减弱的现状,你最担心的是什么?

吴教授:我认为,我最担心的是,这将使美国进一步走上财富和收入不平等的道路,在赢家和输家之间造成更大的分歧,并使在许多这类行业中几乎不可能提出挑战。这可能导致国家陷入如此支离破碎和危险的状态,人们变得越来越愤怒,转而采取更极端的解决办法。历史表明,这种情况在其他地方也发生过。

我认为政府已经形成了一种非常规避风险的心态。在很多执法领域,极端谨慎似乎成了口号。

我认为我更关心的是,你的经济将为股东创造大量利润,但仍然是一个对美国大部分地区没有多大贡献的经济。经济增长和企业家精神一直是美国经济的支柱。

BRINK News:In the past two years, we’ve seen many former Obama administration officials—such as yourself—saying, “I wish we had done this when we were in power.” How can we revive enforcement courage and embolden officials to act when they’re actually in power?

吴教授:That’s a very good question because you’re right, you have a lot of people saying, “Why did we let this happen?” or “Why did we do that?” Part of that is because things are sometimes clearer years later.

但同时,我认为这与一个更深层次的人事问题有很大关系,也与人们为什么去政府工作,以及他们的心态有关。我认为政府已经形成了一种非常规避风险的心态。这超越了反垄断法,也延伸到了起诉。有很多文件表明,检察官不敢提起诉讼,因此在金融危机后没有采取什么行动,因为他们害怕败诉。

因此,律师们面临着一个更大的挑战,那就是找回自己的魔力,不再做这样的胆小鬼。在很多执法领域,极端谨慎似乎成了口号。

BRINK News:似乎欧洲在监管和执法方面比美国更具前瞻性。我很好奇你是怎么理解这个轨迹的。

吴教授:我对欧洲有复杂的感情。显然,他们更活跃。他们更关心公司提出的隐私问题。他们带案子快多了。但在我看来,他们已经批准了甚至连美国人都不愿意批准的合并。我认为他们在批准化肥和化工行业的合并方面做得太过火了。

我的观点是他们已经倒下了。他们为这些复杂的监管补救措施提供了有力的理由,这些措施似乎效果不太好,这给了公司一种感觉,只要他们同意一系列复杂的条件,他们就可以开绿灯。我不知道对这些情况的监督是什么样的。他们似乎总是以这些极其复杂的程序收场。

I think that Europe needs to re-understand the importance of breakups and blocking mergers.

BRINK News:In your book,The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age,你谈到需要以更日常的方式来评估经济,让老百姓产生共鸣。这似乎是一个长期存在的问题。为什么前线没有什么动静?

吴教授:我认为这很大程度上与共产主义和马克思主义作为可行的替代品的失败有关。世界上有很大一部分人认为资本主义没有正确评估人们的需求。但另一种选择是这样的失败,我认为它创造了某种反应。从那时起,我认为人们想象着进步的步伐将朝着对工人更大的保护和更人性化的制度迈进。但在过去的20年里,事情已经向另一个方向发展。我猜这种反弹又来了。

This is a perennial issue. I don’t think you solve it. I don’t think there are that many people anymore who think if you just have a dictatorship of the proletariat that that would solve all their problems. But figuring out what continues to generate wealth and a vibrant society without the inherent cruelty of raw capitalism—I think figuring that out will never go away.

为了清晰起见,本次采访经过了编辑和浓缩。

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