[OPE-L:3571] Re: Marxian empirical research topics

Duncan K. Fole (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Thu, 31 Oct 1996 13:10:08 -0800 (PST)

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In reply to Jerry's [OPE-L:3567]:

>I address the following comments to all those who are either doing
>empirical research now or plan to be doing that research in the future:
>-- a crucial initial step in the development of any research project
> (theoretical or empirical) is the *specification* of the significance
> (political, historical, analytical) of the subject to be investigated.
> With that in mind, I ask the following question:
>-- what are the specific areas of empirical research that listmembers
> believe *need* to be investigated?

I've guided some very fruitful attempts to apply the circuit of capital
methodology empirically to the U.S. economy, though no one has ever got to
the point of publishing the results, to my chagrin. There's a lot to be
done here, both in applying a variety of production lag models to the U.S.
data (along the lines of questions John has been raising about moral and
other types of depreciation) and in extending these studies in a
comparative way to other countries where the requisite data is available.

I think there is also a rich set of problems involved in applying the labor
theory of value to compare capitalist countries internationally. The
questions run from the degree to which international money markets function
to equate labor times across countries (which raises methodological
problems that intersect with the list discussion on the treatment of
skilled labor) to comparative studies of rates of exploitation, turnover
times, and rates of profit. Alice Amsden did a very influential pioneering
study of this type in 1982 or so (Cambridge Journal of Economics), but
there's lots more to be done.

I also think that there are very interesting researchable problems that
arise in trying to connect the work on the structure of capitalist
economies Anwar, Ed Ochoa, Paul, Allin and others have done on the basis of
input-output level data both in the direction of macroeconomic aggregates
and in the direction of firm level data.


Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu