[OPE-L:6348] Re: Rates of Profit?

Tsoulfidis Lefteris (lefteris@macedonia.uom.gr)
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 17:26:37 +0200

Gerald Levy wrote:
> Paul C wrote on Tue, 24 Mar:
> > Farjoun and Machover suggested some 15 years ago that in fact the
> > dispersions of profit rates in capitalist economies will be relatively
> > wide. Work that Allin and I have done on the UK economy and the US
> > economy tends to confirm this. If this is the case, then Marx's
> > identification of the general rate with the average rate in his price
> > of production theory, is currently unjustified. It is an open question
> > as to whether the dispersion of profit rates was narrow at the time he
> > wrote.
> Another related "open question" is the conceptual and empirical
> relationship between *monopolies* and the general and/or average rate
> of profit.
> ...

> Yet, if we were to *empirically* identify an "average rate of profit"
> within an economy, the rates of profit for monopolies (and oligopolies)
> would have to be included in the averaging. Right? If there is a wide
> dispersion, then it might also make sense to speak of *different* average
> rates of profit for *different* parts of the economy (e.g. regionally or
> by the form of competition as in a "dual economy" approach).
> There is also the question *why* there are wide dispersions of profit
> rates. What did your empirical work with Allin suggest about this?
> In solidarity, Jerry

To the extend that I know the literature, almost all researchers
(orthodox or Marxists) find a kind of long run convergence of
interindustry profit rates. The trouble is that this convergence does
not always take place exactly at the economys average rate of profit,
as is required to show that competition works. It could be above the
average and this is often taken as evidence of the presence of monopoly
and some times even below the average.

The problem with these studies is that the industry average rate of
profit is the average of what already exists in the industry (high
efficiency producers and low efficiency producers). Marx in his analysis
of competition clearly does not say that the equalization of the
interindustry profit rates (necessarily) take place on the average
capital but rather on the regulating, that is the type capital that the
inflow and outflow of investment takes place. The rate of profit of the
regulating capitals is equalized between industries and not the usual
average rate of profit that one finds in most of the empirical research.

This equalization (of the interindustry regulting rates of profit to the
average) is only tendential, which in a statistical sense, means that
the variance of the differences the regulating rates of profit from the
economys average should not display any particular tendency.

Lefteris Tsoulfidis