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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2007 - 20:17:26 EDT

> I strongly suspect that the abstraction you are using makes you
> think that there is something there called a stock of money
> capital which is distinct from the value of the means of production
> itself.

I do distinguish between the stock of money that circulates
commodities, conserved in exchange, and the "value of the means of
production" because these *are* different.

The "value of the means of production" is merely a nominal label, a
price. Price is not money. Price defines the exchange rate between
actual money and the commodity.

My discussion of money-capital adds little to what is already in
Sraffa's equation for prices of production. We can interpret this
equation in terms of distinct periods of production. In this case, the
production period "opens" with money in capitalist accounts, that is
"money-capital". That money is released to firms, and is *identically*
the money of circulation that pays for the "value of the means of
production", including labour. If my memory serves this interpretation
is called the "single-swap" approach.

I also distinguish between money when it functions as a medium of
circulation, and when it functions as money-capital. But it's the same
"stuff". This distinction might give the impression that there is
money and "something else". But the distinction is functional, not

Profits are computed on that total "value of the means of production"
and paid to capitalist households. In simple reproduction there are no
additional injections of money-capital: the process is self-funding.

> In practice, certainly now, there is no stock of money capital
> at all. There is a system of accounts that involve mutual debts
> and sum to zero with the exception of state banknotes and credits
> with the Bank of England/ European Central Bank etc.
> These credits are acknowledgments of surplus rendered to the state
> and can be used to cancel tax debts, but they do not represent
> value itself. A dollar bill, is a trace of surplus unproductively
> consumed by the state and is not itself value.

Sure $1 represents value but is not itself value. But consider $1 of
money-capital that costs $r to borrow over the production period. The
$r, the price of money-capital, also represents value. But what value
does it represent?

> One can of course express the total quantity of plant, equipment
> and work in progress in money terms - but this is just the constant
> capital of the economy - there is no distict stock of value existing
> as money.

There is a distinct stock of money to circulate commodities. Sometimes
it passes through the hands of capitalists and functions as
money-capital, sometimes it passes through the hands of firms and
functions as means of circulation to buy input goods and labour.

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