第6課: 外部影響及政府的角色

市場經濟無法透過價格系統解決所有問題。沒有貢獻但又使用公共物品的人會為整體經濟帶來沉重負擔, 而外部影響則是市場失效的訊號。可是, 有時候決定如何善用資源並不容易, 因為當中涉及平衡各方的目標, 譬如經濟發展和環境保育。

The market economy cannot address all problems through the price system. Externality is a sign of market failure in which free riders of public goods may generate consequences with heavy social costs that the rest of the economy has to bear. But sometimes it is difficult to determine how best to utilize our resources for balancing different social goals such as economic development vs. environmental protection.

我們可用一所新界的公立小學作為例子。該校擁有逾八十年的歷史, 而且四周風景宜人。由於收生不足, 小學需要倒閉。該場地有下述的幾個發展方案:

1. 拆除校舍, 把土地賣予發展商以發展度假勝地
2. 保存校舍, 把場地改為博物館
3. 保存校舍, 發展私立學校

你會選擇哪一個做法? 為什麼?

For Example, a public elementary school in New Territory with beautiful natural landscape and over 80 years of history has to be shutdown due to insufficient enrollment. There are alternative uses to the premise:
1. Demolish it and sell the land to developer to turn it into a resort
2. Preserve it and turn it into a museum
3. Preserve it and turn it into a private school
Which one would you pick? And why?

我們再舉一例: 為提升業界競爭, 政府將發布一個新的電視廣播牌照。以下是一些選項:
1. 以廣告為主的免費電視台
2. 以訂閱為主的收費電視台
3. 以補助及捐款為主的免費電視台


A new television broadcast license is going to be issued to increase competition. Here are some considerations:
1. Free TV with an advertising based revenue model
2. Paid TV with a subscription based revenue model
3. Free TV with a grant and donation revenue model
Which one would you pick? And why?

以上的選項都不能輕易的根據單純利益最大化模型來決定。利潤最大化是否跟帶有社會環境任務的經濟可持續發展對立? 最近, 社會創新這個想法逐漸冒起。社會創新是指我們不應忽視社會和環境影響以追求利益最大化。具有社會創新的創業家(社會創業家)應努力達致經濟, 社會及環境的三方平衡。舉例而言, 一家著名的產品設計公司Alchemist曾憑社會創新的意念獲得「Best of the Best」紅點設計獎項。它的得獎作品是利用鋁罐製成的手錶。該款設計師手錶能以較高價錢出售。再者, 它不但設計環保,更讓兩個本地的非政府組織參與其中。這兩個機構分別是聖雅各福群會和基督教家庭服務中心, 它們都是有名的康復服務提供者。

These decisions are tough and cannot be easily addressed by a pure profit maximization model. Is achieving profit maximization and sustainable economic development with social and environmental mission a contradiction? Recently, there is a growing advocacy of social innovation, which states that profit maximization should not be pursued in the expense of ignoring social and environmental impacts. An entrepreneur with social innovation in mind, a social entrepreneur, should strive for a balance to pursue economic, social, and environmental goals at the same time. For example, a renowned product design company, Alchemist, won the prestigious “Best of the Best” Red Dot Design Award just because of that. They received the award because of the watch they made out of aluminum can. Not only this watch is environmental in design, it also utilizes the staff from the St. James Settlement and the Christen Family Service Centre, two local NGOs, famous for their rehabilitation services. As a designer watch, the watch can also be sold at a higher price.

為了本地經濟的興旺, 政府需逼切地增加市場調節, 防止市場勢力的不當使用。不過, 即使政府心懷好意, 持分者仍會對市場調整意見分歧。以最低工資的法律為例, 該措施於去年五月生效, 最低薪水由港幣30元上升至32.5元。可是, 雇主及僱員雙方均不滿政策。此外, 日益上漲的成本壓力亦削弱了新公司的競爭力。對此, 我們應如何是好?

For the local economy to strive, there is a pressing need for the government to step up her role to regulate the market, protecting it against misuse by market power. Nevertheless, even with the best intent, the regulatory role can be perceived by various stakeholders differently. The minimum wage law is an example. Starting May last year, the hourly minimum wage has gone up from HK30 to HK$32.5 but neither employers nor workers are happy with the arrangement. This mounting cost pressure also reduce the competitiveness of our budding entrepreneurs. What can be done?

香港常被視為全球最自由經濟體。與此同時, 它也面對著房屋及勞動成本增加的巨大壓力。在其他國家, 有的政府已經開始干預市場。它們通過資助或更嚴峻的貿易措施去保護本地工業和打擊外國大型競爭者。相比之下, 香港政府就此並未作出很多干預。然而, 反映家庭和個人收入不平等的基尼系數正在上升。這清楚表示貧富懸殊在日益加劇, 而政府再也不能坐視不理。

Hong Kong, often voted as the freest economy in the world, is facing tremendous pressure to control housing as well as rising labor costs. In other countries, some governments may have already intervened to protect local industries and young firms from powerful foreign competitors through subsidies or passing tougher trade measures. The Hong Kong government is relatively hands-free on this. But the rising Gini-coefficients of both household and individual income inequality have clearly demonstrated a widening poverty gap that the Hong Kong government cannot ignore.

1. 外部影響的存在反映市場不能解決搭便車的問題。
2. 私人物品價格能通過市場調節, 但公共物品卻不能如此。
3. 以利益最大化的模型追求可持續經濟發展有其限制。我們需要更創新的商業模式去參與社會創業。
4. 基尼系數及政府干預

Major points to recap
1. Externality exists because the market cannot easily address the free rider problem.
2. Unlike private good that can be priced through the market, public good cannot.
3. The limitation of the profit maximization model in pursuit of sustainable economic development requires more innovative business model to engage in social entrepreneurship.
4. The Gini-coefficient and government intervention.

1. 優步聲稱它的在線平台能促進司機與乘客的交易, 讓市場更有效率。不過, 它卻被禁止在多個城市裡營運。這類型的政府干預對市場經濟(如香港)會否造成不利影響?
2. 為培育年輕的科技創業家, 香港政府在科學園和數碼港資助了一些創業孵化計劃。一 年的「免租」往往是孵化計劃的一部分。那麼「免租」又是不是推動初創企業發展的補助呢?

1. Uber claims to make the market more efficient by providing an online platform to facilitate transactions between drivers and passengers. However, they have been forbidden to operate in many cities. Is this kind of government intervention unfavorable for a market economy such as Hong Kong?
2. The incubation programmes at Science Parks and Cyberport are funded by Hong Kong Government to nurture young technology entrepreneurs. As part of the incubation package, there is usually one year of “free rent”. Is “free rent” considered as a subsidy to help the development of these young firms?