[OPE-L] science of value science of price

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Thu Jun 30 2005 - 23:13:43 EDT

Hi Jurriaan,

Thanks for this.  I hope others will be provoked to let me know what they

Economically, value has no way to manifest itself except through price.  Yet
price does seem to have a species of autonomy or quasi autonomy.  If, for
example, price just reduces to value, then any relevant science is a science
of value and there is no separate social science of price.  But if price is
in some sense distinct, what characterizes its distinctness?  What
difference in subject matter or subject matter emphasis is studied?  I don't
see how your comments respond to those questions.  Does Marx say anything
suggestive when he speaks of how his project will be fully elaborated?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
To: <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>
Cc: <glevy@pratt.edu>; "Gerald A. Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 10:06 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] value and price

> Really good question...:-) I think that from previous posts it is clear
> I think that prices and values mutually imply or assume each other, as
> as being able to exist independently of each other. I would claim for
> example that Sraffa still assumes a value theory (which however is not
> explicit).
> To repeat some arguments: what economists forget is that the majority of
> goods in an economy at any time are not being traded. Some goods have an
> actual price, some only a potential or ideal price, but many just have no
> price at all. Yet they do have value.
> The type of difficulties involved in valuing fixed capital (historic cost,
> replacement value, current sale value, scrap value, real versus economic
> depreciation, etc.) turn out to apply to a lot more assets in the economy,
> including financial assets. Even if we have a lot of price information,
> there may be an epistemic problem in knowing what something is really
> When Marx's value theory has been attacked by economists who feel it is
> redundant for modern price theory, typically Marxists have tried to defend
> the uses and merits of value theory. However, really attack is the best
> method of defense here, and in this case, the real point is that
> conventional economics treats *prices* as an entirely unproblematic,
> homogenous category. A price is just a price, that is all, and all prices
> are assumed to be all ontologically the same, in your average textbook.
> Once we can treat prices as an abstract uniform variable, based on
> expression in a monetary unit, and attach them to anything and everything,
> we can do all sorts of mathematical wizardry on the basis that we have a
> *uniform method for valuing things*, i.e. everything is reducible to price
> quantities. In reality, however, not all prices are the same, and price
> formation processes may be very different for different sorts of goods and
> services. The differences begin to show up as soon as we study real
> behaviour, i.e. how economic actors really respond to price signals in the
> real world.
> There are real prices, negotiable prices, potential prices, ideal prices,
> hypothetical prices, theoretical prices, accounting prices, imputed
> proxy prices, derived prices and so on. There are prices which apply to a
> tangible good here and now, but there are also e.g. futures prices which
> will apply only if certain conditions exist at a future date. A problem
> economic theory is that prices which do not exist, can nevertheless
> influence economic behaviour.
> Additionally, price theories based on the concept of utility imply that
> exchange is an entirely unproblematic process. They mostly assume that
> exchange occurs or will occur - i.e. if there is a price, there is
> At the same time, they cannot conceive that exchange could occur without
> prices (apart from barter).
> One of the beauties about Alexander Gersch's autodidactic book "On the
> theory of Exchange Value" is that while he makes some funny errors, he
> at least grasp there is a problem with price theory in this context.
> Jurriaan

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Jul 02 2005 - 00:00:01 EDT