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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sun Apr 22 2007 - 10:08:54 EDT

Hi Rakesh, thanks for your latest messages.  Sorry for my delay in responding.
My oldest son had an ACL knee operation on Thursday.

I think that I have been putting too much emphasis in recent posts on
long-run center-of-gravity prices to mean that prices do not change
over "long periods of time".  I think this is true for many commodities
(even today), and that it was even more true in Marx’s day, and that
Marx thought that changes in long-run center-of-gravity prices (i.e.
his prices of production) would not occur frequently for many

However, a slow rate of change is not necessary for Marx’s concept of
prices of production as long-run center-of-gravity prices.  Long-run
center-of-gravity prices are prices that are *determined by the
fundamental determinants of the system* (the values of commodities), as
opposed to the accidental determinants of supply and demand, and that
change only if these fundamental determinants change.

These fundamental determinants may change frequently for some
commodities, perhaps even most commodities.  But it is still true that
long-run center-of-gravity prices are prices that change only if these
fundamental determinants change.  One the other hand, these fundamental
determinants probably change less frequently for other commodities.
There is probably a range of different rates of change of these
fundamental determinants for different commodities.

And these fundamental determinants generally change less frequently
that the accidental determinants of supply and demand, which determine
actual market prices, and which generally change every period for most
commodities.  Long-run center-of-gravity prices are usually more stable
than market prices, and are the "centers" around which the continuously
changing market prices fluctuate.

Eatwell expresses a similar definition of the "long period" in an entry
in the New Palgrave:  " 'Long-period' does not mean a long period of
time, but rather *determined by the fundamental forces of the system*".
  I think this definition applies to Marx’s prices of production.


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