Re: [OPE-L] the "unequal exchange" controversy

From: Alejandro Valle Baeza (valle@SERVIDOR.UNAM.MX)
Date: Fri Dec 30 2005 - 21:37:37 EST

Jerry Levy wrote:

> Hi Alejandro,
> Thanks for the references, but I am already familiar with many
> UE references.  What I'm concerned with is an empirical
> measurement issue which arises from the fact that standards
> for what are *socially  necessary* labor times differ in different
> social formations as a consequence of different histories, cultures,
> and class struggles.  That is, what is SNLT varies spatially
> (and temporally): there are differences in average skill and
> labor intensity in different branches of production and
> social formations.  An analogy: the issue that I am raising
> is similar to but not the same as  conversion and measurement
> issues that come up with reference to international comparisons
> of GDP because of different meanings of GDP used
> internationally.   There are statistical ways of dealing with those if one
> wants to compare GDP accounts.  How is it done with reference
> to differences in SNLT -- recalling, for instance,  that there isn't a lot
> of  reliable non-anecdotal data on differences in labor intensity?
> It is all well and good to assert that international differences in SNLT
> are  "converted" in practice on international markets, but that
> doesn't address the empirical measurement issue that I am
> raising.  In the literature on UE this issue seems to be mostly
> -- explicitly or implicitly -- assumed away and the labor time
> performed in different nations is assumed to be of  the same
> average skill and intensity.
> In  solidarity, Jerry

Jerry, you know about the issue more than me by far. Hence I can not
comment most  of your toughts on this subjet.
However, I have a basic commentary: Most discussions about UE ignore
SNLT as you say.  SNLT is different between  rich (RC) and poor
countries (PC) because skilling and intensity  but also because  organic
composition of capital are unequal too. All theese differences are put
together in productivity differences; RC are more productives than PC.
Selling at (roughly) same prices at world  market implies than one
working hour of RC count more than one working hour of PC.  Is this UE?
If the answer is yes it means that  UE  is the regular way  of
capitalist market operation and it is impossible to change it without
eliminate capitalism. Hence UE is not a problem. If the answer is no;
you need to eliminate productivity differences to analyse UE.  I think
that UE should be defined excluding productivity differences between RC
and PC.  Some UE theorist (Prebish) suggest that fair relationship
betwen RC and PC could be reached within capitalism. I a sure that fair
capitalist relaitions implies that poor countries reach RC productivities or

Muchos saludos


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