Re: [OPE-L] Incoherence of the TSSI - consensus?

From: Gary Mongiovi (MONGIOVG@STJOHNS.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 22 2007 - 11:24:40 EDT

Hi, all. Two quick responses to Anders.
I agree that my title "Vulgar Economy in Marxian Garb" is provocative. It was intended to be so. But then, referring to Marx's precise definition of vulgar economy (as opposed to classical political economy, which he regarded as a genuinely scientific enterprise, albeit one that is flawed in  serious ways), the paper lays out why I think the charge is apt. One TSSI position is that since actual prices change over time, a theory which views them as long-period centers of gravitation must be false, hence cannot cannot capture central features of reality. This argument strikes me as akin to mistaking surface phenomena for appearances, exactly the mistake which Marx attribued to the vulgar economists who sought to explain value in terms of the proportion of demand to supply (the mercantilists, Malthus, Say, Bastiat). Many TSSI models trace out an intertemporal sequence of short-period prices, much as modern intertemporal genral equilibrium models do, and therefore suffer from the same methodological defects of those GE models. I argued also that there is substantial evidence that such models run counter to Marx's own methodological outlook.
So I wasn't just trying to poke the TSSI school in the eye: I was attempting to call them out on what I believe to be their very weak arguments, and I was hoping for a serious rejoinder. 
But I don't feel that they have really responded to my specific criticisms. I've only skimmed Andrew Kliman's book, but I don't see that he has engaged my specific points; mainly he just dismisses them There were some stirrings, a year or two ago, of a strategy that might be in the works, though perhaps it has fizzled out. (I base this speculation on some comments I heard in debate at an Association for Heterodox Economics conference in London in 2005 or 2006.) In my 2002 paper I argued that the TSSI denies what Marx explicitly acknowledged--that he was building on insights he discovered in Ricardo. At the London conference there were hints that the Sraffians are not only interpreting Marx incorrectly, but that they don't really understand Ricardo either. Yes, Marx drew on insights from Ricardo, that is obvious; but Ricardo, it turns out, was a temporalist as well, not an adherent to long-period equilibrium analysis. I've not seen the argument committed to print, so perhaps, as I say, it has been abandoned. But that position is, in my opinion, even more indefensible than the TSS interpretation of Marxian value theory. 
Anders also asked whether I have done any work on economic dynamics. I didn't mean to give the impression that I have done that sort of work myself. I haven't. I meant only to say that I support such work and believe it to be important. I don't think the particular approach to economic dynamics taken by Kliman, Freeman et al. is useful, and I would add that I have reservations about some of the Sraffian literature on accumulation & growth. Pasinetti's work in this vein is ambitious & insightful, but it shows also the limitations of a mathematical approach. I would favor a more historical or instituional approach.
-----Original Message----- 
From: OPE-L on behalf of Anders Ekeland 
Sent: Sun 10/21/2007 12:54 PM 
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Incoherence of the TSSI - consensus?

	Dear Gary,
	Maybe I was too quick on the trigger here, but that was certainly my
	impression after reading the "Vulgar economy paper". Can you give me
	a couple of references to your dynamic, non-equilibrium work.
	I have a deadline Tuesday, so I can only get seriously back on this
	after that - and when I have had time to study your dynamic,
	non-equilibrium work.
	At 19:37 20.10.2007, you wrote:
	>May I just correct an inaccurate statement by Anders? He writes that:
	>"Mongiovi and Veneziani only accept static equilibrium (input prices
	>= output prices, Bortkiewicz, Sraffa, Steedman kind of models). They
	>seem very unwilling to look outside this very limited paradigm."
	>I don't believe I have ever suggested, and I know I have never
	>believed, that the "static equilibrium paradigm" is the only
	>legitimate framework for analyzing the world, or for interpreting
	>Marx. On the contrary, I am on record as saying that Marx, like his
	>predecessors Smith & Ricardo, was primarily concerned with issues
	>that cannot be analyzed within that framework and that these issues
	>are important. I have argued, however, that in his analysis of
	>value, price determination & the main determinants of the profit
	>rate, Marx adopted much the same method & approach of Smith &
	>Ricardo, in which the objects of his investigation were conceived as
	>long-period centers of gravitation.

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