(OPE-L) recent references on 'problem' of money commodity?

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 07:42:54 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <andromeda246@hetnet.nl>
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 3:21 AM
Subject: Re: (OPE-L) recent references on 'problem' of money commodity?

Hi Jerry,

 If you read German, in their insightful book "Globalisierung der
Unsicherheit: Arbeit im Schatten, Smutziges Geld und Informelle Politik"
[Globalisation of insecurity: labor in the shadows, dirty money and informal
politics], (Munster: Westfalische Dampfboot, 2002) Elmar Alvater & Birgit
Mahnkopf discuss some contemporary issues regarding money: debt extortion,
rentseeking, informal money, countertrade, microcredits, moneylaundering,
Hawala banking, etc.

 This book focuses on the implications of how, as neoliberal policies try to
make everything "negotiable" to expand the market, formal institutionalised
rules that existed previously begin to break down, and can no longer be
enforced, so that the "grey" or "black" economy (informal economy) grows as
well as its concomitant corruption. In this regard, the authors get back to
one of the real concerns of Marx, i.e. viewing exchange as a social process.

One point they make, that I didn't think of before, is that the growth of
countertrade is something really inexplicable for the Ricardian "comparative
advantage" theory (as well as for "orthodox" Marxist theories which claim
that commodities must necessarily exchange for money, or which claim that
capitalists are "indifferent" to use-values). Alvater & Mahnkopf cite IMF
estimates that overall countertrade represented between 10% and 25% of the
value of total world trade in the 1990s. In the early 1990s, up to 40% of
the foreign trade of Central and East European countries was bartered; in
Russia, it's supposed to be around a quarter of trade. In the CEE at the end
of the 1990s, barter-type agreements still averaged about 12% of trade. In
the Ukraine, something like half of the value-added by enterprises is said
to be bartered in some form (op. cit., pp. 198, 200).

 The authors write: "according to the theorem of comparative cost advantage
everybody wins in a positive-sum game. According to the theorem of
comparative power advantage, some win while others lose. Only zero-sum or
negative sum games are possible." (p. 203). They also emphasize that
"countertrade is unequal exchange. In this case the norming effect of labor
and money is underdeveloped. Other than in the controversial debates about
unequal exchange in the early 1970s, involved here is not value transfer in
consequence of the "modified operation of the law of value in the world
market" (...) or in consequence of the historical deterioration of terms of
trade between producers of raw materials (extractive economies) and
industrial countries (production economies), but rather the exchange of
use-values for their [specific] use-value." (p. 204).

 It's a significant phenomenon, because one could predict that as the
international monetary system generates ever greater disparities in
monetized purchasing power, countertrade will increase; what matters here,
is the power of ownership of resources. In a certain sense, it signifies a
kind of "objective socialization" of circulation (which eliminates a series
of intermediating transactions, through the direct exchange of products),
and in fact the authors even suggest that "From this perspective, modern
countertrade within the fully capitalised world market resembles the
socialist monopoly of foreign trade" (of the COMECON type) (p. 204).


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Oct 23 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT