[OPE-L] Sraffian theory of the "weekly" rate of profit

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Oct 07 2007 - 07:52:13 EDT


Quite a few enterprises nowadays have half-yearly financial reports, and in
some cases publish quarterly accounts. The general trend in digital
accounting is to reach the position where financial reports on the current
state of business can be generated at very short notice ("just-in-time
accounting" as it were). However some data necessary to calculate relevant
ratios may become available only at some point during the year, so the
convention of accounting on yearly basis stays, plus of course a very
short-term statement may not be very meaningful, given the specific
turnovers (or acquisitions and disposals) involved.

Your definition of the Marxian rate of profit applies to the aggregate value
rate of profit. In Marx's theory, of course, individual capitalist firms
typically realise profits in excess of, or less than, the surplus-value they
create with the labour they employ. The aggregate rate of profit stated in
value terms may also diverge from the aggregate rate of profit in price
terms, though Marx generally assumed in his theory a close correspondence
between them, and "for practical purposes" (for the purpose of analysis)
assumed their equivalence.

Thus for example Marx writes specifically in Cap. 3 ch. 49 on the analysis
of the production process (retranslating) that:

The sum of average profit plus ground-rent [and presumably plus net
interest, production tax and fees - JB] can never be greater than the
quantity [of surplus-value - JB] of which these are parts, and this is
already given before this division. Whether the entire surplus-value of the
commodities, i.e. all the surplus labour contained in the commodities, is
realised in their price or not, is therefore immaterial as far as we are
concerned here. Actually why the surplus-value is not completely realised,
is because the amounts of socially necessary labour required for the
production of a given commodity are constantly changing owing to the
constant changes in productivity of labour, one section of commodities are
always produced under abnormal conditions and must therefore be sold below
their individual value.  At all events, profit plus rent [and presumably
plus interest/tax/fees - JB] equals the entire realised surplus-value
(surplus-labour), and for our present purpose the realised surplus-value can
be equated with the total surplus-value; for profit and rent are realised
surplus-value, and thus for practical purposes all the surplus-value that
forms a component of this price.

(Die Summe von Durchschnittsprofit plus Grundrente kann nie größer sein als
die Größe, deren Teile sie sind und die vor dieser Teilung schon gegeben
ist. Ob der ganze Mehrwert der Waren, d.h. alle in den Waren enthaltne
Mehrarbeit, in ihrem Preise realisiert wird oder nicht, ist daher für unsre
Betrachtung gleichgültig. Die Mehrarbeit wird schon deswegen nicht ganz
realisiert, weil bei dem beständigen Größenwechsel der zur Produktion einer
gegebnen Ware gesellschaftlich notwendigen Arbeit, der aus dem beständigen
Wechsel in der Produktivkraft der Arbeit entspringt, ein Teil der Waren
stets unter anormalen Bedingungen produziert und daher unter ihrem
individuellen Wert verkauft werden muß. Jedenfalls sind Profit plus Rente
gleich dem ganzen realisierten Mehrwert (Mehrarbeit), und für die
Betrachtung, um die es sich hier handelt, kann der realisierte Mehrwert
gleichgesetzt werden mit allem Mehrwert; denn Profit und Rente sind
realisierter Mehrwert, also überhaupt der Mehrwert, der in die Preise der
Waren eingeht, also praktisch genommen aller Mehrwert, der einen Bestandteil
dieses Preises bildet. http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me25/me25_840.htm)

For Marxists and economists, pricing and price aggregation are usually seen
as unproblematic activities - you just have some numbers, and you add them
up. But in real-world accounting, this is not so, since changeable prices
and valuations, and incomplete data, require accounting assumptions to be
made for a consistent aggregation (e.g. about the timing of transactions),
in which case computing a financial flow or achieving a consolidation may
not be so straightforward as adding up a few numbers. The effect is that in
any large aggregation of prices, theory is involved, i.e. the price
aggregate is a theoretical entity.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Oct 31 2007 - 00:00:17 EDT