[OPE-L:3448] Re: Re: valuation of imports

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 21:52:28 EDT

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>On Tue, 6 Jun 2000, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>> Paul C wrote:
>> >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.
>> The US as reserve center does not have to give up anything for imports; it
>> gets them through the accumulation of an inflationary surplus of dollars
>> abroad.
>Trade deficits and surpluses complicate the matter, but it's
>absurd to suggest that the US runs (or would be able to run) a
>deficit equal to the value of imports.

OK I agree, and leave aside for now questions about seigniorage so we can
start talking about how complicated (or useful) it is to determine the
value added within national boundaries.

The UK has witnessed some of the most explosive growth in outsourcing, as
revealed in the growing ratio of imported to domestic intermediate inputs.
This is much greater problem for you than us.

Paul C has shown negative interest in determining whether these imported
intermediate inputs are through unequal relations of exchange sold below
value so that the surplus value they represent is transferred vis such
dicatated prices only to show up later as value added in the io matrix for
the UK or US.

We seem willing to entertain the possibility of such value transfer in the
case of foreign producer selling below value to the domestic trading sector
or visa versa but ruling it out as a possibility in the case of unequal
exchange with foreign producers of intermediate inputs even in the case of
distress exports. Yet obviously the profit of the whole of class of
capitalists can be shared unequally among them.

Moreover, with the explosive centralisation of capital we can expect that
strong capitals will be able to even further to squeeze their weak, often
foreign suppliers as to price. And in real time over the internet.

It is also possible that we overestimate the value produced within the US
or UK for another reason: the explosion of credit instruments has boosted
final markets, especially personal consumption expenditures. Here we have
only deferred the question of determing how much value would have been
added in lieu of such an artifical prop.

Of course from the io matrix, it will be impossible to determine whether
exports are sold above value at 'monopoly' prices, yielding overestimation
again of the actual value produced within national boundaries. But even
bourgeois economics recognizes this possibility in strategic trade theory
which says that when there are large up front R&D and other investment
costs, the world market is only able to sustain a small number of firms
which are then able to earn returns that are significantly higher than
those earned in the competitive industries and at the same time pay their
workforce higher wages, without inducing entry.

Yet Marx anticipated all this: "One other thing must never be forgotten,
namely, that, just as everything has become a monopoly, there are also
nowadays some branches of industry wich dominate all others, and secure to
the nations which most largely cultivate them the command of the world
market." On the question of Free Trade, 1/9/1848

When we should be reaching the conclusion that capital now only advances
despite credit and other props at the expense of other capitals and above
all the global working class, it seems to me that quantitative marxists are
finding capitalism relatively healthy through narrow nationalist
investigations which reveal a solid recovery in the profit rate, relative
stabilisation in the rate of exploitation, neutralisation of upward
pressure on the OCC, and possible rationalisation of unproductive labor. I
hear there is even talk of a Kondratief upswing.

Yours, Rakesh

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