[OPE-L:4018] Re: More Depreciation Questions

Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 20:52:28 -0800 (PST)

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Andrew wrote in [4015]:

>I remain convinced that, in Marx's theory, how capitalists keep their books
>and what they expect cannot influence the determination of commodity values.
>To think that capitalists themselves determine the amount and rate of transfer
>to value is to think the opposite, and it contracts successivism. So I remain
>convinced that the discussion is getting ensnared in needless difficulties by
>mixing up two quite different things, value determination and accounting. My
>preference is just to deal with the former. But because everyone else keeps
>talking in terms of accounting and expectations, I think I should indicate how
>the two problems are related. It is quite simple: if firms anticipate moral
>depreciation, what they do is *count* some of their profit (surplus-value)
>from operations as depreciation. In other words, they record their profit as
>less than it really is, and they record as depreciation not only the value
>transferred to the product but also some of the moral depreciation.

Accounting is of course to be different from the determination of value. But
you appear to have confused the two things. Value is determined ex ante but
is revealed ex post. So, we have to account the values to avoid a loss. In
your equation, (Surplus-Value - "Profit") = ("Depreciation" - Value
Transferred), what we account ex ante is the "depreciation" not the
"transfer of value" (it was a conjecture of the latter). The latter can only
be accounted ex post because the VALUE as a LAW is not conspicous from the
outset. And it is a law not because it follows a physical, technological
life but because it should obey an economic life determined by the
capitalist competition. The technological (physical) life has thus nothing
to do with the determination of value nor with the accounting.

I should argue the capitalists, if they are to avoid any loss, must account
the duration as SHORT as possible within the feasibility determined by the
capitalist competition (as a competitor, they have to account the duartion
as LONG as possible). A value transfer would occur between sectors of
production if a given sector collectively accounted the duration
inaccurately (shorter or longer than the true one).