Re: [OPE-L] surplus labour and aggregate profit (reply to Paulo Cipolla)

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Aug 22 2007 - 04:31:04 EDT

Jurrian -- surely this only works so long as nobody attempts to consume the capital gains, up until that point they can continue to exist as bookkeeping entries, when they do attempt to consume them they need actual products of labour.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Jurriaan Bendien
Sent: 22 August 2007 07:15
Subject: [OPE-L] surplus labour and aggregate profit (reply to Paulo Cipolla)

Hi Paulo,

You wrote: Honestly speaking, I donīt understand how capital gains can
increase aggregate profits!

What is it that you do not understand? In the USA, total realised capital
gains declared for tax purposes amounted to a positive income of about 6.5%
of GDP in the year 2000, i.e. more than twice the average annual increase in
real GDP.

Suppose there is a strong demand for dwellings (through demographic
pressures, cheap credit etc.) then obviously more dwellings will be built.
In addition, however, it is likely the prices of existing dwellings will
rise. In this situation, an individual house-owner can easily keep buying
and selling existing dwellings on own account at a profit. Possibly the
transactions might involve some surplus labour from companies or
institutions facilitating the deals, but the bigger part of the profit the
house-owner himself makes, cannot be attributed to surplus-labour at all.

Because this particular type of profit income is regarded as "property
income" from the point of view of the product account, and does not involve
value-adding production, it is theoretically excluded from Gross Output and
GDP (well, GDP does include the "imputed rental income of owner-occupied
dwellings" that would accrue if the dwellings was rented at current market
rates, a component that will increase if more homes are owned rather than
rented). A profit is made, but it is not attributable to surplus-labour.

The circuit in this case is not



C-M-C' or M-C-M' depending on whether you start with owning a house or with
owning capital to buy a house with,

which, in an aggregate sense, is a redistribution of capital. I suppose you
could then argue, that the capital gain of one person must be the loss of
another, the two cancelling each other out, but if the housing stock as a
whole increases in value beyond the additional value of the new dwellings
built, the total net capital gain is positive.


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