[OPE-L:7389] [OPE-L:920] Re: Marx's concept of price of production

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 22:40:31 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Fred. Thanks for your [OPE-L:919]. You wrote:

> By contrast, in Andrew and Ted's numerical examples in their published
> works, productivity and the real wage are assumed to remain constant,
> but their prices of production continue to change from period to period,
> because their input prices are not equal to their output prices and hence
> the equalization of profit rates in subsequent periods will require
> further changes in their "prices of production", even though
> productivity and the real wage remain constant. There is nothing
> like this in any of the texts in which Marx discussed his concept of
> prices of production. Hence, I conclude that Andrew and Ted's
> interpretation of Marx's concept of price of production is erroneous.

The above raises what I think we both (and probably Andrew, Ted, and Alan
-- although I hasten to add that I can not speak for them) would agree
are two separate questions:

1) Marx's concept of POP

This has been the issue that you have been focused on -- like a laser
beam -- in this thread. I think that there is also probably broad
agreement that this question must be answered with reference to what
Marx wrote (the "evidence") and which interpretation makes the most
sense with reference to what Marx wrote on other subjects (in other
words, which interpretation seems best to fit into the rest of his
theory). You have written a lot on this subject -- as have Alan and
Andrew (among others). I have no doubt that Andrew and Alan have *not*
conceded this point to you and we will hear from them more in due
course. I, of course, look forward to their response and your future
contributions on this matter (and those of anyone else who would like
to add something to this thread).

2) Changes in input and output prices

You insist that input prices equal output prices within a period ... in
Marx's theory. This is part and parcel of your answer to 1) above.
*Yet* -- (if for just a moment we set aside what Marx wrote on this
topic in relationship to POP) -- will you not concede that input prices
do *not* have to equal output prices within a period?

If you don't agree, then I would like to hear your reasoning.

If you do agree, then this raises several distinct questions such as:

a) what is the appropriate level of abstraction to interrogate this

b) what do you believe can cause input prices to differ
(systematically?) from output prices?;

c) what is the relationship between changes that occur within a
period to what occurs over a longer time horizon?

d) shouldn't we, as we move to a more concrete level of abstraction,
investigate non-equilibrium processes, including those that happen
during a period?

Of course, if you want to continue to focus on 1) now, then I will
understand. I do think, though, that at some point we should move beyond
1) to 2). Speaking only for myself, I find the questions in 2) more
intriguing and challenging.

In solidarity, Jerry