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《华尔街日报》:回顾世界十年 中国故事最成功
发表日期:2009-12-29 点击量:3152


  如果能回到1999年,那你会惊诧于一种非同寻常的不真实气氛。冷战结束了。互联网克服了距离,消除了边界,为消除愚昧提供了一种方法。人们模模糊糊地觉得,政府已变得多余,商业周期过时了。

  然后,随着新世纪的到来,现实降临。2000年3月,互联网泡沫破裂,摧毁了数万亿美元的财富,并让我们从一个技术引发的幻梦中醒来。随后,到了 2001 年 9月,双子塔难以置信地倒塌。恐怖主义变得很恐怖。冷战没有出现,我们却很快面临两场跨越这十年大部分时间的非常丑恶的热战。

  一些商业领导人在上世纪90年代是万众瞩目的英雄,荣登各大杂志封面。可是在新世纪,他们成了恶棍。安然、世界通信、阿德尔菲亚和帕玛拉特公司都爆出丑闻。

  中国是这十年最成功的故事,其飞速的经济增长让数亿人富裕起来。

  美国人对新十年现实的反应是,疯狂购买,用他们住房的膨胀价格为他们的肆意挥霍提供资金。头脑灵活的金融家把住房贷款变成一系列复杂的新证券,为横跨 全球的金融巨像提供了不稳固的地基。这个地基不可避免地垮了,巨像也倒塌了。很快,贝尔斯登、雷曼兄弟、美林和美联银行这类骄傲的老牌公司要么破产,要么 被对手收购。其他公司被迫投入政府的怀抱。大衰退接踵而至,这极大地动摇了世界对自由市场的信心。

  21世纪的头十年充分提醒人们,虽然有缺点,但人类能取得巨大成功。当中产阶级在中国、印度和其他地方壮大时,一无所有者将因为人类历史上最伟大的脱 贫而被铭记。这十年还将因为一长串技术成就而被铭记———从谷歌的崛起和维基百科网站的创建到雅致的iPhone手机的面世。

                                                                                                                                  源自:Back China

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A 10-Year Dose of Reality

What Terrorism, War, Boom and Bust, Business Scandals and Susan Boyle Taught Us

By ALAN MURRAY

If you could travel back in time to 1999, you'd be struck by a remarkable air of unreality. The Cold War had ended, communism had been defeated, capitalism had triumphed, history was over. The Internet had conquered distance, melted borders, offered a cure for ignorance.

There was a vague sense that governments had become superfluous, business cycles had become obsolete, and some broad extension of Moore's law had ensured an ever-accelerating rise in prosperity, ever-expanding wealth, and a Dow Jones average of 36000.

Then, as the millennium turned, reality set in. It didn't happen at the stroke of midnight, as the Y2K alarmists feared. But it began soon thereafter.

In March 2000 the Internet bubble burst, destroying trillions of dollars of wealth and awakening us from a technology-induced dream. Then came September 2001 and the unthinkable collapse of the twin towers, bringing a sudden realization that the great clash of civilizations had not ended. Terrorism turned out to be as frightening as communism, and instead of a cold war, we were soon faced with two very ugly hot wars that spanned most of the decade.

Business leaders, who were popular heroes and graced the covers of magazines in the 1990s (Ted Turner, Andy Grove and Jeff Bezos all made Time's "Person of the Year"), became villains in the new century. Scandals erupted at Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, Parmalat. The video clip of Dennis Kozlowski's company-financed birthday party for his second wife on the island of Sardinia, with half-naked gods and goddesses serving hors d'oeuvres and an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David spewing vodka from its member, became the symbol of corporate excess.

CEOs, whose job tenure once rivaled that of college professors, found themselves booted unceremoniously out the door. Carly Fiorina, Hank Greenberg, Phil Purcell, Hank McKinnell, Bob Nardelli and many more discovered that the corner office had an ejection chair, and someone else's finger was on the button.

China was the great success story of the decade, with soaring economic growth enriching hundreds of millions of people and creating countless new urban skylines. But even that triumph exploded a comfortable myth -- the once-easy assumption of Western thinkers that economic freedom would inevitably be followed by political and social freedom.

Meanwhile, the tectonic shifts of the global economic plates fed a relentless process of creative destruction, spawning dynamic new businesses in places such as Shanghai and Palo Alto, while cratering entire industries in places such as Detroit.

Americans reacted to the reality of the new decade by going on a shopping spree, using the inflated value of their houses to fund their profligacy. Ingenious financiers turned housing debt into an array of complex new instruments that provided the shaky foundation for a financial colossus that stood astride the globe.

Inevitably, the foundation gave way and the colossus collapsed. Soon proud old firms like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia were gone or sold to rivals, and others had been thrown into the arms of government. A great recession ensued, and the world's faith in free markets was shaken profoundly.

Unlike the Hollywood-scripted decade that preceded it, this one turned out to be more like the reality-television shows that proliferated during its span. They showed us that not everyone can sing, not everyone can dance, not everyone can stay on the island, and not every fairy-tale romance leads to happily ever after. The real world, after all, is made up of real human beings, and human institutions and history are inevitably infected with their weaknesses. Greed, envy, hatred, ignorance, corruption -- these are all part of the game.

The first decade of the 21st century offered ample reminders that even with imperfections, human beings are capable of great triumphs. The aughts will be remembered for the greatest alleviation of poverty in the history of humankind, as the middle class swelled in China, India and elsewhere. It will be remembered for a long list of technological accomplishments -- from the rise of Google and the emergence of Wikipedia to the creation of the elegant iPhone. In the U.S., it will be celebrated as the decade in which the nation took a huge step toward breaking free of its legacy of slavery and Civil War by electing a black president.

And the supersized dose of reality dumped on us during the decade is now informing a search for new answers, new approaches, new models, all based on a better understanding of human nature. For a time, at least, experience will trump hope. We won't assume that technology can solve all problems, that markets will cure their own excesses, or that one person can overcome the failures of the many.

The hopeful embodiment of this new tone surfaced at the end of the decade, in the person of an unmistakably real woman named Susan Boyle. Never in a thousand decades would she have been cast for a leading role by Hollywood. Yet her performances became the stuff of the most watched video ever on YouTube -- seen by more than 130 million people -- and reminded us that you don't need fantasy to create success. Reality will do just as well.

from: The Wall Street Journal

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