[OPE-L:5381] Re: Re: Re: turnover time and surplus value

From: Paul (clyder@gn.apc.org)
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 18:27:38 EDT

On Sat, 21 Apr 2001, you wrote:
> In response to [5370], I would like to ask Paul
> C  a few questions (with sub-parts):
> 1)  On the above
>     ==========
> a) Why doesn't  a change in the turnover time
> of capital  affect the timing of when value and
> surplus value is created?   
The creation of value and surplus value are 
continuous processes, they occur simultaneously
with the performance of labour

>Doesn't it lead to
> a reduction in both production and circulation
> time?

I assume by a change in turnover time you implicitly
mean a reduction in turnover time. A reduced turnover
time is equivalent to having a smaller stock of work
in progress - the aim of just in time manufacturing is
to reduce this stock. The effect is to lower the organic
composition of capital. But except for certain industries
like construction and shipbuilting there is no 'production
time'. Production is continuous. Hence the category
production time is not generally applicable. It should be
seen as a didactic category in Marx's presentation rather
than an analytic one.


> b) Doesn't the subject of the release and tying-up
> of capital suggest a temporal staggering of value?

The effect of reducting circulation time, being equivalent
to organic composition falling, implies a dimunition in the
rate of capital accumulation.

> c)  couldn't a change in turnover time over a long
> period of time lead to a change in what is
> considered to constitute SNLT?
There are potential second order effects due to the
change in the productivity of labour over time. This 
relates to the analysis of Samuelson and Weizacker on
rational estimations of socially necessary labour time
under conditions of technical change or population growth.
My take on this is that it is of some relevance when considering
very long lived capital goods like dams, power stations etc,
or in the case of computer equipment where technical change
is very rapid.

> 2) On the literature and empirical measurement
>     ==============================
> a) as I'm sure you remember, the subject of
> a reduction of turnover time was considered by
> Ernest Mandel  in _Late Capitalism_ (London,
> NLB, 1975) to be "one of the fundamental
> characteristics of late capitalism" (p. 223, see
> Ch. 7).  Do you agree or disagree with Mandel's
> perspective on this subject? (It is interesting to
> note in this connection how Mandel interweaves
> the subjects of reduction in turnover time and
> the "pressure towards company planning and
> economic programming"  insofar as the later
> issue was addressed somewhat in the "Socialism"
> book that Allin and you wrote).

I would broadly agree with this, but treat it as
a case of reducing organic composition.
> b) In emphasizing a role for turnover time, Mandel
> -- it seems to me -- is following in the footsteps of
> one of his mentors, Henryk Grossmann.  Do you
> agree with Grossmann that a shortening of
> turnover time is a 'countertendency' which "is a
> further means of surmounting crises"? (see _The
> Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the
> Capitalist System_, London, Pluto Press, 1992,
> pp. 140-142). Note in this connection that 
> Webber/Rigby have claimed in their work, _The
> Golden Age Illusion_ that changes in turnover
> times "have offset any tendency of the rate of
> profit to fall" (in the period that W/R study for
> the four countries, Aus, Can, Jap, US).  Does
> the empirical work that Allin and you did tend
> to confirm or cast doubt on this perspective?

It tends to make the reduction in turnover even
more important since sectoral profit rates are
inversely correlated with organic composition. This
implies that industries with lower turnover times will
have higher rates of profit than average.

> c) The annual rate of turnovers are estimated
> by Webber/Rigby as "the ratio of total costs
> (wages and salaries, raw materials, depreciation,
> fuel, and electricity) to owned inventory" 
> (_The Golden Age Illusion_, p. 323). Is this
> the best way of calculating turnover rates?
> How do you calculate turnover time in your
> empirical work?
We use estimates of stocks of work in progress
as a surrogate where these are available.

Paul Cockshott

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