[OPE-L:5050] one commodity models and illustrations

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 07:53:58 EST

Paul C wrote in 5048:

> > * discussion of money and prices in a one-commodity >  > world is
incomprehensible talk <snip, JL>
> I, for one, can see no meaning for a concept of price in > a  one
commodity world. I find it incomprehensible.

I agree and note that the only way in this context to attach prices to the
product (I would argue the "one commodity" can't be a commodity, in Marx's
sense of the term, at all) is by way of some very brave and absurd -- and
illegitimate -- hypothetical situations (see below).

Hypothetical 1 (Wine):

Consider a "one commodity" world in which wine is the only "commodity" (a
fantasy perhaps for some wine-lovers).  If all wine was
"Beaujolais-Villages" some vintages might exchange at different rates. For
example: the "price" of 2 bottles produced in 2000 might be the same as the
price of 1 bottle produced in 1995.  The increase in the exchange-value of
wine  caused by aging was discussed by Marx (in Volume 2, I think). The
important point to remember is that they are *not* the same commodity any
more and we no longer have a one-commodity world.

Hypothetical 2 (Fish):

Suppose a particular type of fish, let's say herring, is the only
"commodity"  produced.  The exchange rate for 1-week-old fish might be
different than the exchange rate for 1-day-old fish.  This is because the
use-value of the fish can deteriorate with the passage of time. Indeed,
rotten fish might have "negative exchange value"!  But, again, we're no
longer talking about a "one commodity" world -- we're talking about
different products: even if both are fish they are no longer the same
(homogeneous) product.

Similarly, if we have herring and smoked herring (the mere thought of kipper
at this hour makes me hungry!), we are no longer talking about a
one-commodity situation.

Hypothetical 3 (Rice):

There are thousands of varieties of rice and it is possible to conceive of a
situation in which the exchange rates for different types of rice varies. In
this case, once again, we're no longer talking about a one commodity
illustration since the variety of rice has caused market segmentation.

But why use one-sector models/illustrations at all? Weren't they discredited
decades ago?

In solidarity, Jerry

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