Re: [OPE-L] Sraffian surplus vs Marxian surplus

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Wed Jun 28 2006 - 06:19:10 EDT

--- Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL> wrote:

> However, I was
> really looking for a reference to a specific
> analytical discussion of
> Sraffian vs Marxian concepts of surplus.

You can take a look at my paper: ‘Understanding the
Transformation Problem: Is the Standard Commodity a
Solution?’, Review of Radical Political Economics,
32(2), 2000, pp. 265-281.

By the way, Marx was in full agreement with Smith and
Ricardo on their notion of 'centre of gravitation',
which is nothing but market's equilibrating mechanism.
But I do not want to start a debate on this issue
right now. Cheers, ajit sinha
 I tend to
> think Sraffa was a pretty
> good "Marxist" in the sense that his critique did
> something new, it took the
> ruling economic theory of his day, and showed it was
> riddled with
> contradictions and really didn't make sense, and
> that an alternative was
> possible that makes more sense. I'm still thinking
> about the basic
> theoretical concepts involved though.
> For instance, a common way of economists' thinking
> about "equilibrium" is,
> that there exists a set of prices such that supply
> will match demand (and
> the suggestion is that unimpeded market activity
> will tend towards those
> prices). But I think the evidence is, that Marx
> would have thought this
> trivia - his real thought would appear to be, that
> the whole economic
> process can be subsumed under the motions of
> capital, such that a capitalist
> market economy is in principle capable of
> reproducing its own initial
> conditions, and thus perpetuate itself as a
> relatively stable, growing
> socio-economic formation (admittedly through booms
> and busts, i.e. precisely
> through market fluctuations). Unlike what Thomas
> Sekine argues, this does
> not necessarily involve the assumption of any market
> equilibrium at any
> time, only the enforcement of property relations,
> the reproduction of
> capitalist social relations, and a "relative degree
> of satisfaction of
> needs", all of which requires the political state
> from the outset. The very
> process of "equilibration" involved (the attempt to
> match supply and demand)
> should also be examined critically, since e.g. some
> needs are satisfied at
> the expense of others, it involves the
> transformation of producer and
> consumer behaviour etc. etc. In reality, financial
> analysts are interested
> in equilibrium theories only insofar as it sheds
> light on "what the market
> will bear" or what price level is most conducive to
> capital accumulation.
> The real question Marx asks about equilibrium is of
> the type, "if prices for
> a type of commodity settle at a certain average
> level in the real world, why
> that level, and not any other?".
> Inputs and outputs (and the surplus measures derived
> from them) can be
> thought of as physical (material) products or as
> price magnitudes based on
> costs and revenues, there is an ambiguity here which
> I think becomes
> problematic for Sraffa's theory. But in fact Marx
> does not even mention
> inputs and outputs himself, he refers to amounts of
> capital value which are
> transformed into larger amounts of capital value
> (through production, but
> not only production). You might say, "the production
> of capital by means of
> capital".
> Dumenil and Foley ("new solution") suggest that one
> of the famous two
> identities (total price = total value) should be
> interpreted as the equality
> of the value and price of aggregate net output, but
> (1) if you carefully
> examine the concept of aggregate net output, you
> find that it relies itself
> on a grossing and netting procedure informed by a
> value theory which in some
> respects is quite alien to Marx's intention. I think
> I have referred to this
> before on this list and on PEN-L. Lurking in the
> background is a second,
> *accounting* concept of "equilibrium", in
> balance-sheet terms. The economy
> is in balance if the balance-sheets are in balance.
> So anyway really I think
> that the "aggregation problem" noticed by
> Sraffa/Robinson is a special case
> of a more general aggregation problem, and their
> critique could be extended.
> (2) prices and the money supply apply not just to
> new outputs produced, but
> to all kinds of assets, and by implication the "new
> solution" implies a
> specific position on monetary theory - supposing
> that we can aggregate a
> total net output price expressed in currency units,
> that these currency
> units would exactly express the Marxian value of the
> net product. I think
> various conceptual confusions are involved here, the
> main one being a
> conflation of an empirical indicator with the real
> relationship it tries to
> represent.
> Regards
> Jurriaan

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