[OPE-L:1458] Re: Where does the value go?

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Tue, 12 Mar 1996 07:39:14 -0800

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Re: Paul C's [OPE-L:1451]

Moral depreciation is a change in price; material depreciation
is a change in use values.

Are we going around in circles or am I missing something? I would have
thought that there would be agreement now that moral depreciation can
describe a situation in which the elements of constant fixed capital become
cheaper due to a price change *or* where new more efficient forms of
means of production become available (what John keeps calling "BETTER
MACHINES") which increase the social productivity of labor.

Paul C.
Consider the following example. I purchase
100 summer 1996 style shirts, and hold them in
a warehouse for 3 years. At the end of the period,
even if the shirts are in mint condition, I will
only be able to sell them to the retailers at
a discount. One could argue that this was not
a pure price change, since the labour which
performed the shirt making was no longer embodied
in a socially necessary form. Thus there was
a decline in the socially necessary labour
content, a value change. (another example follows, JL)
Neither of these depreciations occurs in circulation.
They occur simply as a result of the passage of time
whilst goods are in store. Nor, in either case,
is there any good reason to suppose that the
value that I lost will be gained by anyone

The above scenario, a change in technology and/or market demand over
time, is certainly a strong incentive for capitalists to decrease the
amount of post-production time that commodities are in storage.

Let me pose the opposite scenario, though, concerning the passage of time
whilst commodities are in storage. Consider wine manufacture. As
is well known, the market value of high grade wine *increases* with the
passage of time. Does the increased price of wine which has been stored
for years necessarily equal the costs of storage? Aren't there
circumstances like this one where *nature* itself contributes to some
degree to the increase in market price? Is this a circumstance where
rent has to be taken into consideration?