[OPE-L] "Overaccumulation"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue Oct 10 2006 - 13:42:25 EDT

Well, when Marxists talk about "overaccumulation" it is often not clear to
me what this means. Overaccumulation of what, in relation to what? The
argument Grossman gives is essentially that the economic system by nature
tends towards the overproduction of constant capital, such that insufficient
surplus-value is produced to valorise it, with as result a falling rate of
profit. This is the main outcome of increases in physical productivity.  But
whether this adequately describes the real situation nowadays I am not
really sure. What we have these days is relatively high or rising average
profitability, stagnating growth of real wages and relatively low increases
in new fixed investment in production. So you might say, a rising S/V
coupled to sluggish or stagnating demand growth by the mass of ordinary
consumers, but a large fraction of the additional profit is not reinvested
in production, and presumably it is used for property investments, luxuries
and speculative deals. But this is not necessarily overaccumulation, merely
a shift in the type of accumulation, or, one might say, "capitalist growth
with the brakes on". To verify the real proportions and dimensions of this
would take a lot of research which I am unable to do however right now.

Here's a clip though from the Boston Globe:

Workers do more, but wages fall short
Productivity link broken, study says

By Robert Gavin, Globe Staff  | Boston Globe: October 10, 2006

Massachusetts workers are producing more than ever, and doing it more
efficiently, but their earnings have barely budged since the end of the
Dukakis administration, a Northeastern University study concludes. The
study, by Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies, found the state's
median annual earnings, adjusted for inflation, have risen just $546 -- 1.2
percent -- since 1989. Meanwhile, productivity, or the amount produced by a
worker in the same amount of time, soared nearly 50 percent in that period.
In other words, the typical employee is working harder, faster, and smarter,
but getting few of the benefits, said Andrew Sum, the center's director and
study's lead author. Historically, higher productivity has led to higher
earnings after inflation. But globalization and other economic forces are
breaking the link between productivity and wages, redistributing gains to
consumers, corporations, and the richest workers. For example, corporate
profits are grabbing a bigger share of the nearly $300 billion realized from
the production of goods and services in the state's private sector,
according to the center's analysis of the most recent Commerce Department
data. From 2001 to 2004, the share going to profits rose to 34 percent from
32 percent. The share going to employee compensation fell to less than 60
percent from more than 62 percent. ``Despite productivity gains, workers
have nothing to show for it in their pockets," Sum said. ``The average
worker is just treading water." (...) Some economists, however, disagree the
link between productivity and earnings is broken. David Tuerck, executive
director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a think tank at Suffolk University,
said analyses that rely on median or average earnings present a misleading
picture of workers' well-being. Such studies, he said, fail to capture
workers moving up the pay scale as they gain skills and experience, a key
aspect of the US labor force. (...)

Complete article (which has more details):

"The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and
restricted consumption of the masses, set against the drive of capitalist
production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute
consuming power of society constituted their outer limit" - Marx

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