Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Tue Feb 27 2007 - 13:52:31 EST

Hi Diego

> But note that the mH are neither more nor less dependent on market prices
> than the pH or the wH are. When you write that "A* is the technique
> augmented by workers consumption" you are probably thinking that A* is a
> physical matrix and as such independent from other variables. But A* depends
> on both labour and prices. On the one hand the magnitude of each coefficient
> depends on the duration, intensity, etc., of the labour process.

Assume the duration, intensity, etc. is given.

> On the other hand market prices clearly co-determine A and A*: if the price of gold
> were lower than the prices of aluminium and steel, the cars would probably
> be built in gold. Leontief was aware of this.

Assume the technique has been chosen.

> And if you put aside the physical matrices and look directly at labour,
> how do you measure the labour "included" in the means of production?
> You need to turn to A again, but A depends on market prices.

"A" depends on the "physical conditions of production" that obtain at
any given time. "A" may change in response to prices, but that is not
the issue.

If labour values in principle require knowledge of price magnitudes
for their calculation then labour values cannot explain prices. It is
like saying that a thermometer measures temperature but temperature
depends on the current reading of the thermometer.

I think that the independence of values from prices, in a static
equilibrium context, is necessary to understand the causal
interdependence of values and prices in a dynamic context. Projecting
back the causal interdependence in the dynamic case to argue that they
need not be independent in the static case may lead to trouble.

Best wishes,

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