[OPE-L:4336] Re: Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy

Michael_A._Lebowit (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 10 Mar 1997 12:06:23 -0800 (PST)

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In message Sun, 9 Mar 1997 13:27:00 -0800 (PST),
"A.B.Trigg -Andrew Trigg" <A.B.Trigg@open.ac.uk> writes:

> I think it is important in looking for a way to handle monopoly in
> Marxian economics, to emphasize your statement that the Baran/Sweezy
> monopoly capital model is based on a particular reading of Kalecki. In
> a paper published in the Journal of Post Keynesain Economic (1994), "On
> the relationship between Kalecki and the Kaleckians", I have argued that
> the Baran/Sweezy model has nothing much to do with Kalecki. Their
> argument that potential profits will rise with monopoly is shown to have
> more to do with the neoclassical monopoly diagram. Kalecki himself
> argues that monopoly does not impact on either total profits or the
> profit rate.

But, Kalecki proposes (in Theory of Economic Dynamics) that:

"Imagine, for instance, that as a result of the increase in the degree of
monopoly the relative share of profits in the gross income rises. Profits
will remain unchanged because they continue to be determined by
investment.... The level of income or product will decline to the point at
which the higher relative share of profits yield the same absolute level of
profits" (61).

This statement is consistent with Marx and with Baran/Sweezy. For any
given level of income, the potential profits (and also the unrealised
surplus value) rise as the degree of monopoly increases--- assuming
investment,etc unchanged. Off-hand, I do not see how this argument depends
upon the neoclassical position. Note also that Steindl made the same
argument--- that the rise of oligopoly increases the production of surplus
value but it can be realised only if capitalist expenditures correspondingly
increase. This is, I think, the rational kernel in the Baran/Sweezy Monopoly
Capital argument.

> He even has a model in which turning points in the
> business cycle are based on a falling rate of profit mechanism.

I'd love to get the reference on this, Andrew. Is it from the 1933

> Sweezy
> misreads Kalecki as badly as I am told that apparantly he has misread
> Marx!

Are these examples of misreading to be found other than in Monopoly
Capital? If so, I'd be very interested in seeing such examples.

> In looking for a way of handling monopoly I think that Kalecki deserves a
> close reading. In addition to modelling a falling rate of profit
> mechanism, Kalecki's use of departments of production has much in common
> with Marx; whilst at the same time introducing new ways of handling
> phenomena such as monopoly.

I agree, Andrew.

in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
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