[OPE-L:1620] Re: Do capitalists accumulate?

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Thu, 28 Mar 1996 13:26:16 -0800

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On Thu, 28 Mar 1996, Alan Freeman wrote:

> The simultaneous paradigm produces the absurd result that
> [capitalists] can accumulate with a rising rate of profit.

Can I check others' understanding of this point? I thought that
the Okishio theorem said only this: If the real wage is held
constant (rather than the rate of exploitation), then a "viable"
technical change (i.e. one that raises the individual capitalist's
rate of profit at the going price vector) will, when generalized,
also raise the general rate of profit. If that's right, the theorem
does not rule out the effect Alan is talking about (accumulation
leads to a falling rate of profit): that effect would come about
(a) if accumulation took place on an unchanged technical basis; and/or
(b) if the value of labour power rather than the real commodity wage
tends to remain roughly constant over the long haul.

To flip that over, the proposition that capitalists can "accumulate with a
rising rate of profit" is guaranteed, on the standard approach, only
on condition that capitalists are always coming up with sufficient
"viable" technical changes, and that the real wage does not rise.

Am I off-base?

Allin Cottrell
Department of Economics
Wake Forest University