[OPE] No rise is s/v? Kliman's empirical work on the falling rate of profit

From: Paul Zarembka <zarembka@buffalo.edu>
Date: Fri Oct 16 2009 - 09:23:28 EDT

Some of us have received from Andrew Kliman a link to his draft
"Persistent Fall in Profitability", i.e.,


Working with US data since 1947, he concludes: "the rate of surplus-value remained roughly constant over the entire course of each period taken as a whole, the rate of surplus-value had only a very minor influence on the rate of profit over longer spans of time". However, Andrew has no recognition whatsoever of unproductive labor (actually, he doesn't even mention it in his 105 pp. first draft). I don't recall having seen other work by Kliman which discusses Marx's productive versus unproductive labor, although I would presume he has taken a position on it somewhere since it hardly seems possible to ignore the discussion.

Those who have worked with US data and included unproductive labor find that the rate of surplus value is indeed rising considerably. My paper for the Marx gala conference in Amherst lays out these works (Wolff, Moseley, Shaik and Tonak) but I have yet to include Mohun's 2005 Cambridge Journal article correcting Shaikh and Tonak. (From a lecture I just heard from Tonak in Kocaeli University in Turkey, I understand him to accept Mohun'w work as an improvement.) Mohun's work reports from 1964 to 2001 a rise in s/v from ~2 to ~3 - a 50% increase - with the conceptual distinction between productive and unproductive labor incorporated. Mohun's result makes sense of the stability of real wages in that period for the US while the production of relative surplus value continues.

Any thoughts on this matter? Paul Zarembka

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