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

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Mon Mar 05 2007 - 13:40:33 EST

Hi, Allin,

You wrote:
> I agree with Fred.  I think most people will assume that by
> "market prices" you mean the actual prices at which goods change
> hands in the market, with all their day-to-day and place-to-place
> micro-variation.
> But it turns out you're wanting to interpolate a further layer
> between prices of production and day-to-day market prices.  I see
> how this might make sense, but I believe there's still an
> important ambiguity here.  Do you mean
> (a) To give these "market prices" of yours a theoretical
> determination, or
> (b) Do you mean to treat them simply as time- and space-averages
> of actual market prices?


I mean (a)


> Here's the point: If I say that "labour values" (the labour-times
> required to produce things) form centres of gravitation for market
> prices, I'm saying something substantive (maybe true, maybe false,
> but substantive).  Similarly, if I say that prices of production
> (the set of prices generating a uniform rate of profit) are the
> centres of gravitation for market prices, then again I'm something
> that's possibly true, possibly false, but substantive.
> With your "market prices" it's not so clear: if you mean, prices
> of production adjusted for specific differential indirect
> taxation, specific persistent monopoly power, specific barriers to
> entry, and so on, then you could be saying something substantive.


I hope to be saying something substantive in the sense you suggest.


> But if you really just mean space- and time-averages of actual
> prices then the claim that these are "centres of gravitation" is
> just an arithmetical truism: on average, prices are at their
> averages!


I agree


(Although actually it's not quite that easy, because
> then it's incumbent upon you to spell out the scope and form of
> the "averaging": prices averaged how, over what time-interval and
> what spatial domain?  Otherwise it's just hand-waving.)
> Allin Cottrell


I replied to Fred's similar suggestion:

"I must insist that the _m_ I used in my paper are not daily prices. In
fact, all direct values and
prices, production values and prices, and market values and prices, have to
be understood as both important categories of the LTV and social averages of
actual magnitudes in a triple sense: time, place and individuals ... I
cannot see any a priori reason to
clarify the point MORE in the case of market prices than in the case of
direct and production prices"

What do you think about this?


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