[OPE-L:2310] Re: response to Andrew - Part 2

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Tue, 21 May 1996 15:06:48 -0700

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A reply to Fred's ope-l 2303.

Fred had claimed that his interpretation of Marx leads to different
quantitative conclusions from the "Sraffian interpretation," and is
thus not quantitatively redundant, while Ted McGlone and my interpretation
comes to the same quantitative conclusions and is thus quantitatively
redundant. I have shown that Fred has got everything exactly backwards.

In part of my response, I provided a 2-sector example with mechanization,
in which Marx's profit rate, according to my interpretation of it,
falls continuously over time, while the Sraffian rate remains constant.
The two rates not only are different, but they diverge systematically and
to an ever increasing extent.

Fred's response to this ignores the demonstration almost entirely. The
only thing he says about it is that its differences from examples I
have published earlier (he calls the examples "models") may be a valid
extension of Marx's theory. As to whether my interpretation differs
from the Sraffian quantitatively, as I say the example demonstration,
Fred has not a word to say. In the absence of a convincing refutation
(which presupposes that at least some attempt at refutation is made),
my point sticks.

Instead of engaging this issue, Fred returns to some earlier examples
I've published with Ted McGlone. Fred claims that the new "model"
differs from the prior ones, and seems to imply that the *interpretation*
of Marx is different as well. The latter point is false. The same
method of determining prices of production is used in the new as well
as the old examples. Secondly, what is involved is not different
"models," but different examples or illustrations. I have consistently
refrained from calling any illustration of Marx's transformation a
model, precisely because any illustration of the transformation must
make certain assumptions that have nothing fundamentally to do with
the transformation of values into production prices.

Thus, I agree with Fred that the transformation must be understood
independently of whether there's simple reproduction or not. So why
does he say I present a different "model" when I simply present a
example that assumes expanded reproduction? As to tech. change,
Fred claims that Marx's theory of the transformation presumes no
tech. change. I find absoultuely no textual support for this claim
whatever, except in the sense that Marx illustrates the transformation
by assuming a one-year turnover. Within that period, clearly, there's
no tech. change--tech. change takes place over time. But then that
applies equally to my newest example: in any particular period, there's
no tech. change.

I suspect, however, that Fred's argument that Marx abstracts from tech.
change is not based on this, but on the following: the transformation
implies a uniform profit rate (not true), a uniform profit rate implies
stationary prices (not true), prices cannot be stationary if there's
tech. change (mostly true), and hence Marx abstracts from tech. change.

A valid conclusion, but, I think, a false one, preceding from some
false premises.

The most curious things about Fred's response are:

(1) Fred says, rightly, that Marx illustrates the transformation in
one period. If you take any one period of any of my illustrations,
it comes to different quantitative conclusions from Sraffianism. Hence,
Fred brings out the convergence argument. So I use an example that
shows divergence from a stationary price "equilibrium." Fred objects
that this really isn't proper, because the transformation is illustrated
by Marx in one period.

You can't have it both ways Fred. One period, an unlimited number of
periods, or what? I'll let you choose; but you have to be consistent.

(2) Fred doesn't want to let me change the particular assumptions of
my illustration in order to answer the question of whether certain
results that superficially *appear* Sraffian are due to particular
assumptions or, instead, to some fundamental property of my
interpreation of Marx's value theory. But how, then, Fred, would you
propose to TEST whether it is the *assumption* of no tech. change
that leads to Sraffian-like conclusions or whether my *interpretation*
per se is basically indistinguishable from Sraffianism, quantitatively?

Andrew Kliman