[OPE-L:7878] Re: accounting for value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Thu Oct 31 2002 - 08:44:14 EST

Re Tony T's [7876]:

TT: About the only thing they have in common is the term 'accounts' 
(and even then, I'm not aware that double entry bookkeeping figure 
prominently in NI Accounts).  A 'decent education' in financial accounting 
requires a grounding in accrual methods of income determination (for some, 
a proxy for 'income' in a neoclassical sense) and the many 'conventional' 
rules and practices that make the numbers 'verifiable' (intersubjective) -- 
as opposed to 'relevant' (in a neoclassical sense).  
A couple of issues come to mind:

a) are the conventional rules and practices for the valuation of constant fixed 
capital by firms  the same as that used in national income accounting?
How can those accounts or conventional accounting rules account for
the release and tying-up of value and moral depreciation?  Is there a 
'conventional' norm for estimating depreciation of constant fixed capital,
such as 'straight-line' depreciation, or are there instead many different
ways of accounting for depreciation?  

b) national income accounting doesn't account for the income received
by undocumented workers and other workers who work (wholly or
partially) off-the-books.  Yet, it seems to me that firms that employ
workers who work 'off-the-books' have to for their own purposes account 
for these funds even though they don't show on the official firm books. 
This would suggest that these firms keep two sets of books: one official 
and one more accurate. Yet, obviously the official government accounts 
can not include reliable estimates for 'the underground economy' even 
though this may be in fact be a significant (in some countries, the
leading) sector in the economy).  This also is an issue in terms of
calculating productive and unproductive labour since from a Marxian
perspective the legal status of workers in terms of whether they work
on or off the books is not a criteria in terms of whether they are or are
not productive of surplus value.  Yet,  who has attempted to estimate
the quantity of workers so employed and  then integrate those estimates
into Marxian empirical work on value?
Rob and I are good friends.  I have published his works in the Critical 
Perspectives Journal, and served as a reference in support for his recent 
promotion.  No, I don't know of any of his writings on Enron et. al, but you 
could ask him at: afinrb@razor.wbs.warwick.ac.uk or 
AFINRB@rapier.wbs.warwick.ac.uk.  Rob's strength is in a (social) history 
of accounting.  We have had some good natured differences about 
interpreting Marx (especially Vol,1).  These can be found in my paper, 
"Mickey Marxism Rides Again!" (Critical Perspectives on Accounting,  
Vol. 10, No 5, October 1999, pp. 643-670).
Thanks. I've asked him.

For the benefit of others, your "Mickey Marxism" paper is
available online (in pdf format) at:

In solidarity, Jerry

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