[OPE-L:858] valuation of inputs

Fred Moseley (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Sat, 27 Jan 1996 14:15:44 -0800

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Thanks for your comments and clarification (849). This is a partial
response. Maybe there is more agreement between us than I thought. I hope so.

1. You state toward the end of your post, commenting on the passage I
presented from TSV.III. 415-16:

I do not see how this [passage] proves your point. All agree that
as productivity increases, the value of constant capital
falls. Since this means falling prices, under Marx's
assumptions, it would mean that the constant capital
depreciates in terms of price.

What exactly do you mean by the "constant capital depreciates in terms of
price." Do you mean that the price of previously purchased means of
production declines as a result of technological change because this price
is determined by the current reproduction costs of the means of production,
rather than by the actual historical costs (or more precisely that this is
what Marx assumed)? This has been my main point in quoting this passage and
in my recent posts. I think all the passages I have quoted support this
interpretation of Marx's theory. This is what Marx said clearly and over
and over again: the prices of previously produced means of production are
determined by their current reproduction costs. e.g.

As a result of increasing productivity of labor, however, a part of the
existing constant capital is continuously depreciated in value, for its
value depends on on the labor-time that it cost originally, but on the
labor-time with which it can be reproduced, and this is continually
diminishing as the productivity of labor grows. (TSV.II. 416)

If this is what you mean by "constant capital depreciates in terms of
price," then we have no significant disagreement. If you mean something
different, please explain again what you mean and how you interpret this and
the other similar passages that I have presented.

2. Beyond this possible fundamental point of agreement, I think I can see
how what you are calling "moral depreciation" (increment of depreciation
costs due to accelerated depreciation) may be essentially the same as what I
am calling "moral depreciation" (reduction in the price of the means of
production due to technological change). I previously thought there was the
difference that, according to your definition, all the capital invested is
recovered, whereas according to my definition, there is a loss of capital.
However, I think I now
see that, with accelerated depreciation, it only APPEARS (on the
capitalists' books) that all the; capital is recovered. In REALITY
(according to Marx's theory), the increment of depreciation costs due to
accelerated depreciation is a deduction from surplus-value, and hence a loss
of capital. (Paul C. makes this point in 851).
The difference between the two definitions is whether the loss of capital is
counted over the shortened "economic life" of the machine, or all at once
(or rather at irregular intervals whenever there is technological change.).
I still think that Marx generally had in mind the latter alternative, but
this is no big deal. The main point is Marx assumed that there is a loss of
capital due to ongoing technological change and that the price of proviously
produced means of production are determined by current replacement costs,
not by actual historical costs.

To what extent do you agree with this reconciliation of our interpretations?