Entries by Alex Edmans

如果金钱没有给你带来幸福感,那是你没有花对

大量传统的金融研究告诉我们如何挣钱,比如最优投资策略可以指导我们的投资。但是,几乎很少有研究告诉我们如何花钱。研究发现金钱和幸福感之间的关系出人意料的微乎其微。一种解读是,真正带来幸福感的东西是金钱买不到的。可是,金钱让人们买得起更健康的食物、有能力选择更多样化的消遣、负担得起更好的医疗保障和更优质的教育,甚至能够带来更多与亲朋在一起的闲暇时间,这些都是金钱能够买到的可以带来幸福感的东西。所以,另一种解读就是,人们没有花对钱。 这也就是为什么我们需要行为经济学家和心理学家。不列颠哥伦比亚大学(University of British Columbia)的Elizabeth Dunn、哈佛大学(Harvard University)的Daniel Gilbert,和弗吉尼亚大学(University of Virginia)的Timothy Wilson在《消费心理学报》(Journal of Consumer Psychology)上发表了一篇相当精彩的论文《如果金钱没有给你带来幸福感,那么你可能没有花对》(If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right),它涉及了大量的研究并将其提炼为了八个要点。我在此总结了其中的五个。 1) 选择更多的体验消费和更少的实物消费 因为度假和高档晚餐这样的体验性消费无法带来实在的收获,所以舍得在这上面大手花钱的人常常被看作是挥霍无度;相比起来,装修房子或者买一辆好车则显得要审慎得多。但体验性消费给我们带来的并不只是体验的那一刻的快乐。我们对新东西(比如新家和豪车)的适应速度非常之快,而一次体验带来的回忆(比如一次非洲草原的探险之旅)会历久弥新,并且事前的期待也同样会带来效用。 此外,关于“正念”的研究系统性地发现不快乐和走神有关。各种体验发生的时刻能够让人全神贯注地关注当下,平常的时候则往往会被各种各样的事情分心。 2) 花钱在他人身上而不是在自己身上 科学家们相信,导致人类大脑尺寸如此之大的一个主要原因是,我们比其他几乎所有动物更加善于社交。因此,我们的快乐很大程度上取决于自己的社交关系的质量。“亲社会行为”的相关文献不断发现,研究对象表示花钱在他人身上而不是自己身上带给他们更多的幸福感——尽管他们也以为后者会更让他们快乐。 3) 多个小确幸胜过一个大快乐 各种各样频繁发生的小确幸(用作者的话说就是,“双份的拿铁、富人区的足疗,和大支纱数的棉袜”)完全胜过了一次大额消费,比如前排的演唱会门票。这就是有名的边际效益递减的经济学原理——一个为期两周的假期不如两个一周的假期爽。研究发现幸福感和频率的关系确实比和强度要密切。 主要原因是新体验中的惊喜成分。两个更短的假期可以让人去探索两个不同的地方。同时,就算是日常的体验也存在差异——这一次下班和朋友喝酒的感觉和上一次绝不会完全一样,因为与之相伴的是不同的人和不同的对话。 4) 少买保险 这一项并不只适用于常规意义上的的保险,比如,各种各样价格虚高的保障,同时也包括退货政策所带来的安全感。消费者更偏好Amazon而不是eBay或者Craigslist,除了它更贵的原因外,也是因为Amazon允许他们退回不喜欢的东西。但是,就像Dan Gilbert在他那个精彩的TED演讲“我们为什么会快乐(The Surprising Science of Happiness)”(这里是我眼中的十大TED演讲)中所谈到的,我们喜不喜欢一个东西并不完全取决于它自身的属性——我们可以有意识地决定去喜欢它。研究确实表明,如果我们不能退货,我们就更倾向于喜欢一件东西。 5) 警惕比较消费 网站给我们比较商品细节的机会,这让消费者容易在非常小的区别上纠结而忽视了大方向上的相似性。因此他们就可能一叶障目,根据小细节选择了错误的商品。此外,比较商品细节也造成了大量时间在细枝末节上的浪费。尤其是因为,如果总体没差,最后无论如何我们还是会喜欢自己购买的商品(请见第四点)。

How Short-Term Activists Create Long-Term Value

Activist hedge funds are often seen as the epitome of all that’s wrong with capitalism. They cut investment, fire employees, and break contracts to boost the short-term stock price, and cash out before the long-term value destruction comes to light. It’s certainly possible to find examples of this. And such stories make for good journalism […]

A Layman’s Guide to Separating Causation from Correlation … and Noticing When Claims of Causation are Invalid

Imagine you’re the Minister for Education, deciding how large to make a school district. Larger school districts offer parents more school choice. You look at data from thousands of school districts and find that, in larger districts, child performance is better. You’re tempted to infer that district size increases child performance. But, as we know, correlation doesn’t imply causation. […]

How Proxy Advisors Influence Voting Outcomes

Proxy advisors are playing an increasingly influential role in corporate governance, by providing investors with guidance on how to vote in director elections or for a manager- or shareholder-sponsored proposal (e.g. on corporate social responsibility or payout policy). Their influence is growing, in part, due to the rapid rise in index funds – since they […]

The UK’s Brexit Options

The UK voted for Brexit last June, but what does Brexit actually mean? The UK can pursue various options: staying in the Single Market, staying in the Customs Union, or forming a Free Trade Area. These are often used interchangeably as various forms of a “soft Brexit”, but there are important distinctions between them. The […]

CEOs Cut Investment To Sell Their Own Shares At High Prices

One of the most fundamental concerns with corporations is that they focus on short-term profit rather than investing for the long-term. This is a particular concern in the 21st century, where innovation is particularly critical for competitive success. Moreover, allegations of short-termism have serious social repercussions. Long-term investments, such as reducing carbon emissions, developing blockbuster drugs, or […]

Is Short Termism Really A Problem?

“Myopia [short-termism] is a first-order problem faced by the modern firm. In the last century, firms were predominantly capital-intensive, but nowadays competitive success increasingly depends on intangible assets such as human capital and R&D capabilities (Zingales (2000)). Building such competencies requires significant and sustained investment. Indeed, Thurow (1993) argues that investment is an issue of […]

Conflicts of Interest Among Proxy Advisors

The Importance of Proxy Advisors Proxy advisors play a critical role in corporate governance. One important way in which shareholders exert governance – ensure that executives act in shareholders’ interest, rather than their own interest – is through voting. Votes can be for particular directors (who monitor executives), for or against a say-on-pay vote, or for […]

House of Commons Report on Corporate Governance

Today the House of Commons Select Committee on Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published its report on corporate governance, after extensive consultation of oral and written testimony from a wide range of stakeholders. I applaud the Select Committee for such an extensive, thorough job with an issue of national importance, and am personally grateful […]