Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 14:49:12 EDT

Hi Riccardo

> However, likely all three would (rightly) strongly object to your
> labelling his model as "half-equilibrium" system.

The observation is Joan Robinson's. Sraffa's single production model
is only half an equilibrium system because a nominal distribution of
income is specified (your "given distributive rule") but the
corresponding real distribution of income is not specified (i.e.
precisely what consumption bundles are consumed). The system has a
missing closure. This asymmetry has the purported advantage that the
income distribution can be hypothetically considered as a nominal
wage-profit trade-off, while avoiding introducing assumptions on
returns to scale due to the change in the composition of demand.
Alternatively, one could view it as bit of a mess.

> It is a model of determination of (re)production prices, "after the
> harvest", and before the market, allowing for the reproduction of the
> inputs and respecting a given distribitutive rule.
> With no hypothesis about returns.

Yes, but you must admit this is an extremely artificial construction.
Again, it is half an equilibrium system because the surplus is
undistributed: it has been produced, but not yet shipped from the
factory gates. Who knows what will happen next?

The system is open. So Sraffa closes the price system with a
distributive rule. That tells us (hypothetically) where the money
goes. But the net product remains at the factory gates: it remains
undistributed unless the net product is split with another
distributive rule, namely the real distribution of income. Sraffa does
not do this.

> We should also distinguishing static/dynamic (making formally
> explicit time) and stationary, quantitative growth/evolutionary,
> qualitative development.
> Whatever the formal tools.

It seems to me that Sraffa did attempt to say something about
*changes* in the distribution of income with *simultaneous* equations.

> What do you mean by "novel event"?

The production of a undistributed surplus. The event is novel because
the surplus is not part of the cost structure of the current period.
What happens to the surplus is not fully specified. So the novel event
remains unfinished business: like Wiley Coyote who runs off the edge
of a cliff. What happens next? Without causal laws, which are lacking
in Sraffa, no-one can say.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 31 2007 - 01:00:12 EDT