[OPE-L:3811] Re: Organic composition of capital negatively

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 09:28:12 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

In OPE-L 3799, Paul wrote:

> Ramos has raised the question of whether organic
> composition is negatively correlated with the rate
> of profit. There was some discussion of this
> about a year ago. Now, thanks to the miracle
> of microsoft Exchange I can send you mail messages
> demonstrating this.
> The following scatter plot shows the distribution
> of US profit rates for about 70 industries drawn
> from the 1987 i/o and capital stock tables.

1. Thanks for you attempts to send the plot. In my case,
unfortunately they all failed. Perhaps you could send me a
fax with the plot (as asked Gil). (Fax number 00591-2-

2. In any case, your results seem very interesting in
"challenging" the process of "equalisation". However I have
two observations:

a) Let us assume that your results are "correct", in
the sense that they translate into statistical terms Marx's
categories. I such case what you would demonstrating is
that prices = values. In that case you should drop the
"system of prices of production". Your values would be your
prices or, better, you have "market prices" whose centre of
gravity are "values". The problem you are raising does not
need Tugan-Bortkiewicz dualistic framework. Your "noise"
would not be "production prices" but "market prices".
Of course, we should discuss why is this so. But this is
another problem, completely out of the traditional
"transformation problem". In other words, if your results
were "correct" this does not imply an attack on the "non-
dualistic" interpretation. In this vision, in V.1 and V.2,
prices = values. In other terms, your allegation is not in
favor of the dualistic vision.

b) Your results come from "the 1987 i/o and capital
stock tables". That is your "plot" corresponds to ONE YEAR.
However, the "processes" put forward by Marx, e.g. the
"equalisation", cannot correspond to this "instantaneous"
vision. Let me quote a piece of Grundrisse. Note that in
this case prices = values, but this is analogous to what
would happen if "market prices" have as "centre of gravity"
production prices:

The value of commodities as determined by labour time
is only the *average value*. This average appears as
an external abstraction if it is calculated out as the
average figure of an epoch, e.g. 1 lb. of coffee = 1
shilling if the average price of coffee is taken over
25 years; but it is very real if it is at the same time
recognized as the driving force and the moving principle
of the oscillations which commodity prices run through
during a given epoch. This reality is not merely of
theoretical importance: it forms the basis of mercantile
speculation, whose calculus of probabilities depends
both on the median price averages which figure as the
centre of oscillation above or below this centre. This
*market value* is always different, is always below or
above this average value of commodity. Market value
equates itself with real value by means of its constant
oscillations, never by means of an equation with real
value as if the latter were a third party, but rather
by means of constant non-equation of itself (as Hegel
would say, not by way of abstrac identity, but by
constant negation of the negation, i.e. of itself
negation of real value).
*Price* therefore is distinguished from *value* not
only as the nominal price from the real; not only by
way of the denomination in gold and silver, but because
the latter appears as the law of the motions which the
former runs through. But the two are constantly
different and never balance out, or balance only
conicidentally and exceptionally. The price of commodity
constantly stands above or below the value of
commodity, and the value of commodity itself exists
only in this up-and-down movement of commodity prices.
Grundrisse, Penguin, pp. 137-8

So, note that in this case "value of coffee" is
described as an average of 25 years!! In the same
vein, the "equalisation process" cannot be examined in "one
year". It is a "long-run" process. What you have in "1987"
is only photograph of one "frame" of the whole film. In
that case it is obvious that you cannot have and "average"
but the situation of the "up-and-down movement".

Alejandro Ramos M.