[OPE-L:3443] valuation of imports

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 10:46:30 EDT

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At 10:15 06/06/00 -0400, you wrote:
> >We want to assign a value in US labour hours to the imports row.
> >
> >What you do is take the valuation of the exports in terms of labour
> hours, and
> >use this as the price/value coefficeint to convert the import row into
> >US labour hours.
> >
> >$1000 of imports have a US labour value of the number of hours of labour
> >embodied in each $1000 of US exports.
>You don't see this to be in contradiction to everything you have written
>elsewhere in the post?
>Following Adrian Wood, I suggest that we revise the labor coefficients used
>to determine the labor value content of *non competing* imports (that is, I
>grant that we adjust the labor coefficients in the developing world to come
>up with some estimate of what the US labor value would be if production
>were not outsourced abroad, but we cannot simply use the labor coefficients
>in the US two or three digit classifications); you turn around and tell me
>that equal price means equal value. Now who is determining value by price?

The point is that from the standpoint of the US economy the value of its
inputs is determined by the amount of its labour that it has to give up
in order to produce the exports required to obtain an import.

 From the standpoint of the i/o analysis, the international marked is just
another production process that takes US products as inputs and returns
imports. No labour is directly consumed in the process other than the labour
at docks and airports + possibly some US labour on ships. The process of
producing imports thus requires

1. Embodied labour in exports
2. Living labour in the docks etc

Foreign labour does not count towards the production of US value.

>At any rate, how can we determine if there is unequal exchange if by
>definition you are arguing that a $1000 of commodities represent the same
>labor value?

What is unequal exchange ?

To define unequal exchange you need some standard of equality.

You can not simply add up labours from different countries and assume
that they count as the same average labour. The productivity of labour
in different countries differs significantly, and the labour forces of
countries are not freely disposable between different activities in the
same way that internal labour is.

Of course the process of internationalisation gradually removes such
barriers. Between the countries of France, Germany and BeneLux, one
can probably now count the different domestic labours as equivalent
due to the effective integration of the economies, the Euro etc. One
might argue that Canadian and US labours are effectively equivalent,
but US and Mexican labour is not.

> It seems to me obvious that the US enjoys a monopoly price in
>several of its exports--software, logic chips, advanced aircraft,
>pharmaceuticals, medical instruments, etc.

Not at all clear that the US enjoys monopoly in these fields.

Aircraft industry roughly equally shared between Europe and
the US , similarly for pharmaceuticals. Germany and sweden
have large shares of medical instruments. Japan and Korea
large shares of the chip markets etc.

Through the position of Microsoft, software monopoly does
exist, but one should hesitate to generalise too much.

>As obvious that US capital
>obviously in its commercial form buys most of its imports below value.

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