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John, I was not thinking of the physical life, but I had, what Marx called
depreciation, in mind. I have made this point several times on the list. The
estimate of constant capital used during any period depends crucially on the
estimated lifetime. Several times, Marx wrote that the capitalists severely
underestimate the economic lifetime of capital.
My response: OK. I have no reason to doubt your reading of Marx. But
I'm interested in references to that underestimation.
We could conclude that Marx was wrong to believe so. Or we could say the
capitalists today are more sophisticated and do not make such mistakes, but I
believe that this difficulty in estimating the amount of constant capital
transferred to final products during any period is an important element of his
My response: Clearly, capitalists are more sophisticated today as the
accounting profession has made a bit of progress since Marx's time. It
seems to me that we'll have to work out all cases which would include
the underestimation as well as the overestimation of the lifetimes of
As I recall, for Marx, it is the crisis itself that corrects the
Since I regard crisis theory to the far more important than finding a
solution to the transformation problem, I'm willing to let the transformation
problem slide and accept the indeterminacy.
My response: I appreciate your take on this. Yet as long as folk are working
on the transformation, I think it would be interesting if those defending
Marx tried to include fixed capital in their solutions to the problem.
solving it using only circulating capital seems strange unless the
extension to the fixed capital case is obvious. To me, it is not.
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