《经济学人》:衰退与创业 Downturn, Start up
日期:2012-02-14 11:16

(单词翻译:单击)

Downturn, start up
-The effects of recessions on entrepreneurs and managers run deep

衰退与创业
——经济衰退对企业家和经理人的影响在加剧

THE list of famous companies founded during economic downturns is long and varied. It includes General Motors, AT&T, Disney and MTV, all founded during recessions. A 2009 study found that over half of Fortune 500 companies got their start during a downturn or a bear market. A recession, it seems, may not be an entirely bad time to start a company. Indeed, busts (and booms) cast a longer shadow on the business landscape than is commonly realised, because they influence both the rate of business formation and how existing firms are run.

在经济衰退期间创办的知名企业数量很多,且各式各样的行业都有。通用汽车(General Motors)、美国电话电报公司(AT&T)、迪士尼(Disney)和音乐电视(MTV,全球两大音乐台之一)等都是在经济衰退时创建的。2009年有研究发现,超过一半的财富500强公司都是在衰退或熊市期间创设的。经济衰退时期,看起来并非完全不适合创设新公司。事实上,萧条(或繁荣)对经济的商业环境的影响远比一般人意识到的要深远,因为它们既影响新企业的设立速度又影响现有企业的运营状况。

Some argue that recessions speed up the process of productive economic churn—what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction. The destruction part is easy to see: downturns kill businesses, leaving boarded-up windows on the high street as their gravestones. But recessions may also spur the creation of new businesses.

有些人认为,经济衰退可以加快经济结构的调整进程——约瑟夫熊彼特称这为创造性破坏。破坏那部分很容易理解:经济衰退让企业倒闭,大街上剩下的那些用木板钉牢的窗户就如同他们的墓碑。然而,经济衰退也可能刺激新行业(企业)的诞生。

When people suddenly have less money to spend, clever entrepreneurs may see an opportunity to set up businesses that give them what they want more cheaply or efficiently. Downturns may also swell the ranks of potential firm creators, because many who might otherwise have sought a stable salary will reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs. A recent study by Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz found that the proportion of Americans who start a new business each month is on average about half as high again in metropolitan areas where unemployment is in double digits as in those where it is under 2%.

当人们的可支配的收入突然减少,敏锐的企业家可能抓住这个机会去兴办企业,生产他们需要的更便宜且更有效的商品。经济衰退也可能扩大潜在创业者的规模,因为很多原本要寻找一个稳定的工作的人,将会重塑自己为企业家。圣克鲁兹的加利福尼亚大学的罗伯特费尔利最近的一项研究发现,在失业率高达两位数的大城市,美国人的月均创业比率大约两倍于那些失业率在2%以下的地区。

A recession is a difficult time to start a company, of course. Credit is scarce. Would-be entrepreneurs are further handicapped by falling asset prices, since they might want to use their homes as collateral for a start-up loan. Whether downturns on balance help or hurt entrepreneurs depends therefore on the relative strength of these opposing sets of forces.

当然,在经济衰退期间创业总是相当艰难的。信用稀缺,且不断下降的资产价格更成为未来的企业家们创业的进一步障碍,因此他们可能以房屋为抵押,从而获得启动资金。因此,资产负债表的恶化对企业家是有利还是有害,取决于他们的相对资本实力。

Mr Fairlie finds evidence that the spur to enterprise during the most recent recession in America from a drying-up of other employment opportunities outweighed the drag on business formation from a collapsing housing market. That said, a shrinking economy also makes it hard for young firms to take root and grow. A study commissioned by the Kaufmann Foundation, an organisation devoted to entrepreneurs, suggests that young companies, typically responsible for the bulk of US job creation, added only 2.3m jobs in 2009, down from about 3m a year earlier.

费尔利在美国最近的经济衰退中发现的证据表明,其他就业机会的枯竭对创业的刺激超过了崩溃的房地产市场的阻碍。也就是说,经济萎缩也使得年轻企业难以扎根和成长。考夫曼基金会(一个致力于研究企业家的组织)资助的一项研究表明,美国大多数就业机会的增加要归功于新企业,在2009年仅增加了230万就业,而在去年这数字是300万左右。

Tough times do not suddenly prompt everyone to start a business. The vast majority of people who reach working age during a downturn still look for a job. But research also suggests that recessions have lasting effects on how executives manage businesses. John Graham of Duke University and Krishnamoorthy Narasimhan of PIMCO, a bond manager, have found that chief executives who lived through the Depression tended to run companies with lower debt levels (leverage then went up when these Depression-era bosses retired). In a new study, Antoinette Schoar and Luo Zuo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology show that companies run many years later by people who cut their teeth during bleak times, when money was tight and customers harder to find, are systematically different from those run by managers whose formative experiences date back to expansionary times, when credit and optimism were in ample supply.

艰难的日子并非突然促使每个人去创业。在衰退时期,绝大多数处于工作年龄的人仍然会去寻找工作。但是有研究表明,衰退对管理层管理企业的方式有着持续的影响。杜克大学的约翰葛拉汉和太平洋投资管理公司(PIMCO)的债券经理Krishnamoorthy Narasimhan发现萧条期间的首席执行官倾向于以更低的债务水平运营公司(在大萧条时代的老板退休以后,公司的财务杠杆将会上升)。在一项新研究中,麻省理工学院(MIT)的安托瓦内特肖尔和佐罗( Luo Zuo)发现,那些曾在黑暗时期(银根紧缩,客户难寻)创业的企业家管理多年的公司,与仅经历扩张时期(信贷充足,且对未来持乐观态度)的企业家的公司有系统性的差别。

By carefully dissecting the careers of over 5,700 bosses of companies that have been on the S&P 1500 list, Ms Schoar and Mr Zuo found that those who began their management careers during a bust were substantially more risk-averse, took on less debt and generally were more conservative managers than the rest of the sample, even many decades later. That will strike critics of the over-leveraged company as thoroughly good news, but it is hard to say whether this effect is entirely benign.

通过详细分析那些公司曾入标普1500(S&P1500)的公司的5700多名老板的职业生涯,肖尔女士和佐先生发现,那些在萧条时期开始管理生涯的人更不愿意冒险,公司的负债更少。此外,即使几十年之后,相对于样本中的其他老板,他们亦更保守。这对于那些指责公司过度负债的批评家来说,应该是彻底的好消息。然而,很难判断这样的效应是否是完全良性的。

Bosses whose careers began in a recession also tend to be so concerned about cost-effectiveness that the companies they go on to run spend less on research and development. They may thus be too conservative: firms with bosses whose professional baptism came in a weak economy have lower returns on assets than those run by other managers.

那些在衰退时期开始管理者生涯的人,倾向于过多地关注企业的成本效益,以致他们研发的投入较少。他们也可能因此变得过于保守:对于那些职业生涯受过经济低迷的严峻考验的老板,他们的企业的资产回报率相比其他老板的要低。

Why should this be? One plausible explanation is that recessions affect the way people take decisions. Management styles are surely in part the result of the kinds of problems a person has had to grapple with. Even a risk-lover may end up taking more conservative financial decisions in a weak economy. If these decisions serve him well in lean times, then he may conclude that fiscal prudence is a stance worth sticking with in years of plenty.

这是为什么呢?一个合理的解释是经济衰退影响人们的决策方式。企业家的管理风格在一定程度上取决于他们过去所应对的各种难题。即使一个风险爱好者也可能在经济不景气的时候最终选择保守的融资决策。如果那些决策在拮据时期给他带来了好处,那么他可能得出这样的结论,即使在经济繁荣的时候,审慎的投融资仍是值得我们持续坚持的立场。


Downturns also funnel people into different jobs from those they might otherwise have entered. A 2008 study by Paul Oyer of Stanford University found that Stanford MBAs disproportionately shunned Wall Street during a bear market. This may seem unsurprising—who wants a job in finance when the market is tanking? But there are reasons to believe that these choices make a difference well into the future. Those who begin their careers in a bust are less footloose than their boom-time equivalents. Ms Schoar and Mr Zuo find that the average recession-scarred chief executive is more likely to have risen through the ranks of a firm than the norm, and is less likely to have switched employers or jumped from one industry to another.

若不存在经济下滑,人们可能会选择不同的工作。2008年,斯坦福大学的保罗奥耶研究发现,斯坦福的工商管理硕士(MBA)在熊市时都或多或少地避免在华尔街就业。这看起来不足为奇——在股市大滑坡之际,又有谁愿意在金融领域工作呢?但是我们有理由相信,这些选择的影响将会波及未来。相比那些在经济繁荣期间开始工作的同行,在萧条期间开创职业生涯的人显得更稳定。肖尔女士和 佐先生发现一般经历过经济衰退的首席执行官有更大的可能是从公司的底层一步步爬上来的,也不大可能跳槽或变换所从事的行业。

The pool of candidates for top jobs in a particular industry reflects the choices that people make early on in their working lives. Yet these choices are the result not only of managers’ preferences and abilities, as you might expect, but also of the economic circumstances that prevailed at the time they began working. Whether they were set up during a boom or a bust, today’s firms are deeply affected by the economic fluctuations of the past.

某一特定行业最高职位可供选择的人才反映了他们在工作初期所做的选择。然而,这些选择不仅仅依赖经理的偏好和工作能力,正如你所预料的,也取决于他们开始工作时所处的经济环境。不管企业是在衰退又或者在繁荣时期创设的,现在的企业都深受过去经济波动的影响。

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重点单词
  • loann. 贷款,借出,债权人 v. 借,供应货款,借给
  • bleakadj. 萧瑟的,严寒的,阴郁的
  • efficientlyadv. 有效地
  • executiveadj. 行政的,决策的,经营的,[计算机]执行指令 n
  • particularadj. 特殊的,特别的,特定的,挑剔的 n. 个别项目
  • bustn. 半身像,胸部,萧条,破产 v. 打碎
  • normn. 标准,规范
  • castv. 投,掷,抛,铸造,丢弃,指定演员,加起来,投射(目
  • striken. 罢工,打击,殴打 v. 打,撞,罢工,划燃
  • boomn. 繁荣,低沉声,帆杠,水栅 vi. 急速增长,发出低