[OPE-L:3943] Re: Re: Re: The Transformation Problem

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Wed Oct 04 2000 - 01:04:35 EDT

Tsoulfidis Lefteris wrote:

> Ajit Sinha wrote:
> Many scholars have argued that the divergence of total profit from
> > total surplus value or the total prices  of  production  from  the
> > total value is not all that damaging for Marx's basic  proposition
> > about exploitation, since it can be proven that positive profit is
> > possible if and only if  there  is  positive  surplus  value  (see
> > Wolfstetter, 1973;  Morishima,  1973,  Morishima  and  Catephores,
> > 1978). Recently Sinha (1991, 1996) has argued in favour  of  using
> > the condition that  total  value  is  equal  to  total  prices  of
> > production as an outside constraint  on  the  system,  given  that
> > values are substance and it is neither created or destroyed in the
> > process of exchange.  Moreover,  the  system  must  be  put  in  a
> > balanced state since only  in  a  balanced  state  the  prices  of
> > production could actualise. In this  case,  Morishima  (1973)  has
> > shown that Marx's average rate of profit will come out to  be  the
> > correct solution if there is zero consumption by the  capitalists,
> > ie. all the surplus value is reinvested or  accumulated.  However,
> > this, in general, will not be true  in  the  case  of  capitalists
> > consuming a part of the surplus value. Shaikh (1984)  argued  that
> > this happens because capitalists' consumption becomes part of  the
> > revenue and falls out of the circuit  of  capital.  Since  we  can
> > explain the divergence of prices of production from values as well
> > as the divergence of total profit from total surplus value on  the
> > basis of the value analysis  itself,  the  transformation  problem
> > should be considered solved.
> >
> > Note: the reader should know that I'm not convinced with Shaikh's argument. The
> > point has been left uncriticized there. Ajit Sinha
> In my view the transformation problem (that you summarized in your posts) has been
> discussed extensively in the decades of 1970's and early 1980's and the solution
> proposed independently by Morishima (1973), Okishio (1973?!) and Shaikh (1973,
> 1977, 1984) deals with the issues of logical consistency and all that in (my view)
> a satisfactory way. In addition the solution by Shaikh (1984) includes also a
> discussion of the circuits of revenue and capital which present (besides the
> mathematical) a conceptual explanation of the possible divergence of total surplus
> value and profit. These two magnitudes normally are expected to differ from each
> other and only in the improbable case that there is no circuit of revenue (i.e. the
> economy expands along a von Neumann ray) the two totals equal to each other. I am
> very much interested in your critique to this thesis.


I'm not sure whether the transformation problem has anything to do with what Shaikh
calls circuit of capital and circuit of revenue. In my opinion, the transformation
problem in the end boils down to whether the competitive rate of profits is equal to
Marx's S/(C+V). If this comes out to be true then Marx's main argument of chapter 9
pretty much goes through. Most of the literature on the problem have shown that in
various situations this would be true, von Neumann ray is one of those situations.
However, it is also proven that in general it is not true. As I have explained in my
piece, a part of which you have quoted above, that the transformation problem is about
measuring the investment. I don't think that the problem has anything to do with what
the capitalists do with the outputs in their hand. Cheers, ajit sinha

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