[OPE-L:3931] Re: negative surplus-value

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Sun, 5 Jan 1997 13:10:37 -0800 (PST)

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I am joining this discussion late after being away
over the new year holiday so that some of my comments may
seem a little out of date.

At 06:42 30/12/96 -0800, Gerald Levy wrote:
>If profit is less than 0, does that mean that surplus-value is negative?

>(2) there could be an extreme reduction in the value of commodities
>produced (output) due to hyperinflation. Profitability could be negative,
>then, as the cost of inputs (c + v) increases.

Surely you mean a hyper deflation, a hyperinflation generally
inflates profits by causing the prices paid for inputs to be drastically
lower than the final selling price.

>In none of the above cases is s a negative number. Indeed, it is very
>difficult conceptually to understand *how* s could be negative. Unlike the
>rate of profit, s is *not a ratio*.

A negative rate of surplus value can occur when the value of wages exceeds
the net value product. At times of rapid inflation this is possible since
stock appreciation may lead capitalists for a very short while to believe
that they are still making positive profits even though, once stock appreciation
is taken into account the rate of surplus value is negative.

For instance in 1976 the ratio p/(c+v) for the uk economy was -1.2% after
taking stock appreciation into account. If one counted the wages of unproductive
workers as part of surplus value, then s/(c+v) was 15.9%, still positive. But
the classes of wage labourers and salarians taken as a whole were consuming more
than they produced in value terms.

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)