Re: [OPE-L] the point of a dynamic model?

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Mar 18 2007 - 11:31:53 EDT

> Towards the end of his life, Marx toyed with the idea of studying the
> ups and downs of the trade cycle mathematically, but Samuel Moore
> convinced him that the data to do it did not exist yet.

Hi Jurriaan:

The problem is analytical -- pertaining to the quantity of  variables --
rather than simply a lack of data.  How could one, for instance,  construct
a  formal dynamic model  of  the trade cycle in which there was:

-- a changing but tendencially rising c/v,
-- a changing but tendencially rising s/v,
-- a  tendencially falling s/c+v,
-- periodic changes in the intensity of labor,
-- periodic depression of wages below their value,
-- periodic cheapening of the elements of constant capital including
-- the periodic release and tying-up of constant capital including
-- moral depreciation,  including
-- the forcible destruction of constant capital values,
-- changing capital centralization and concentration,
-- changes in the size of the relative surplus population and its relation
      to changes in wages,
-- changing terms of trade including unequal exchange,
-- changes in the credit system and the growth of fictitious capital,
-- how changes in state policy can impact the timing of the above,
-- how class action by workers can affect the timing of the above,
--  __________________  (feel free to add other important variables)?

Such a model can not be constructed unless we make a lot of heroic
assumptions, including assuming that a lot of  these variables are
constant or their range of change can reasonably be stipulated in advance.
But, that would in my view do an injustice to Marx's theory. And, more to
the point, it would get in the way of studying  actual trade cycles.
That's because the timing of a  particular cycle may be affected in ways
which run against the assumptions regarding the variables and parameters
of the model.

In general, I don't think that Marx liked to make empirical predictions
about the  trade cycle because of the above.   His so-called  'predictions'
were more along the lines of  asserting long-run tendencies. Some of  the
Marxists, though, (Loren Goldner comes to mind) seem much more
comfortable making predictions about crises and collapse.   Their success
rate (i.e. the extent to which their predictions have materialized in the
time  and manner asserted) has not been very good.  But, still they forge
forward with their predictions ....

With apologies to Dylan:
          "How many times will Marxists make predictions
               about 'impending' economic crises?
           How many dates will they give for the fall
               in the general rate of profitability?
           How many times will their predictions not  happen
              yet they will make more predictions still?
           When will they ever learn?
            When will they ever learn?
            The answer, my friends and comrades,
               is blowin in the wind.
            The answer is blowin in the wind."

Would anyone care to add another stanza?

In solidarity, Jerry

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