[OPE-L:7965] Re: unequal exchange and poverty in African countries

From: Alejandro Valle Baeza (valle@servidor.unam.mx)
Date: Thu Nov 07 2002 - 08:27:37 EST


Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
unequal exchange and poverty in African countries
Re Alejandro's [7917]:
> I agree with Paul: in general unequal exchange is a misleading discussion. Amin and Emannuel  did several mistakes. By example, Emannuel ignored the tendency to sell  products at similar prices in world markets despite huge differences in productivitys.

But couldn't this mean that the high productivity nation is selling at a price above its individual value while the low productivity nation is selling at a price below its individual value?
That's the possibility Carchedi explores through the formation of concepts such as individual and social value (Carchedi's theory reads to me as a development of Bauer's and Grossmann's simple ideas on this question).
Based on my own work  (Valle, 2000) I think:

1.  In general prices are differente between countries. It does not mean  "Law of one price" is  totally wrong  but that is neccesary to reformulate such law using  Marxian categories. Skaik has done some work on this direction.

2. Some prices are cheaper in low productivity countries than in higher productivity countries. It depends on: average productivity in both countries, productivities for the specific commodity in  both countries and exchange rate. This conclusion depends on assumption that  prices are proportional to values but could be  useful for more concrete cases: production prices and market prices.  

3. I do not used the names of individual values  an social values  on my analysis but I belive the idea is almost the same. In world economy there are nacional (individual) values and social (world ) values.  The last is expresed by  international prices that are alike despite huge differences in nacional values.
This is similar to the  problem of individual and social  values  in a particular country: despite differences in individual values  producers of the same comodity must sell  at similar prices.  However there is  an important difference between  internal and international markets.  Inside  countries must be a correspondence between productivity and profitability.  This aspect does not hold for the international  market.

Why can't there be a redistribution of value in circulation?

I belive circulation is the main way  to redistribute surplus value.
What role is played by exchange rates?
A very central role because is neccesary to make prices alike. However there is  little eforts on this important subject.  I know Shaik's work on exchane rates, have you  some work on this?
This certainly does not imply that the lion's share of the value redistributed to the high productivity nation ends up in the hands of the mass of its working class, thereby turned en masse into a conservative labor aristocracy. Wasn't it the putative political implication of unequal exchange theory which led many Marxists to reject any form of it as 'circulationist'?
I need more time to  discus this,  I agree with you  that  Emmanuel's assertions are wrong.  However  I think negative efects of international trade is very important issue.  In my view is not necessary to  support theoretically such negative efects the aproach of unequal exchange.

There is also the problem that the goods traded between the North and the South are non competing (I think Carchedi tends to downplay this structural aspect of international trade), and Marx did  entertain the possibility that the kind of agro-mineral exports from colonies would systematically tend to exchange below value. I had to return to the library Enrique Dussel's book on the Unknown Marx, ed. Fred Moseley, but if I remember correctly, Dussel has collected Marx's passages on this--the most important being (I believe) in Theories of Surplus Value.
Yours, Rakesh

Valle, A (2000) "Desarrollo desigual y competetividad" en La nueva economia política de la globalización. Arriola, J. y Guerrero, D. ed. España: Univ. del País Vasco..

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