[OPE-L:7415] [OPE-L:947] Re: value and price

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 5 May 1999 05:34:55 -0400 (EDT)

Ajit wrote in [OPE-L:946]:

> My question is, in this exchange relation, where
> does time dimension enter? Is this problem defined for an instant
> of time or for a period of time?

Certainly, time enters into price determination. Yes, the distinction
between input prices and output prices is defined for a period of time.
I.e. production (and all moments in the circuit that occurs during a
*period* of production) take time. More specifically, the time at the
beginning of the period, where one has input prices, is different from the
time at the end of the period, where one has output prices.

> So let me
> ask you again, what do you mean by price if not a pound of cabbage
> worth $1?

If the price of cabbage is $1/pound then it tells us that the current
exchange rate, expressed in US imperial monetary units, of cabbage against
the $ is 1.00. As far as I can tell this last sentence was entirely

Now, let me be (slightly) more specific. The price of cabbage varies both
*spatially and temporally*. Spatially, it varies regionally and
internationally. Temporally, it varies as well (e.g. there is no reason to
assume that November, 1998 cabbage prices in a particular region will
equal January, 1999 cabbage prices).

You ask what price represents. It represents the value-form and the value
of commodities, cabbage included (of which, when cooked, I am rather fond

> If not really, then what question your theory of value is concerned
> with?

I thought I answered that in my last post. You added later in your post
that I "danced around" your question. I suppose that is true since I
didn't really understand what you were asking or getting at.
When you can't grab onto your partner, one must of necessity
dance around her/him. Nonetheless, even if it was a "soundbite" (short)
answer that you are unsatisfied with, it was an answer.

> I'm so glad that you brought about the example which I was
> going to bring about myself. You see there are two questions that
> are entirely of different nature which you guys confuse into one
> and think that you are doing dynamics. One question is about why
> two commodities differ in value at a given point of time, and the
> other question is why the value of one commodity differs between
> two time points. People think that the second question is
> essentially about dynamics and time is the essential aspect of this
> problem.

I agree that a comparison in price between 2 time points is not
necessarily a dynamic problem (especially if there is no technical
change). Nonetheless, if we are going to talk about what occurs both
within a period and from one period to another, we must recognize that
time (at least logical time) is an essential part of the problem.

> But it is not true. Your example of price of cabbages
> being different in US, Australia, and India at a given time point
> is basically of the same nature as the second question, even though
> time does not figure in as a dimension in this problem. So what is
> the essential difference between the two problems? In the first
> problem,

("why commodities differ in value at a given moment in time")

> what is given is that the rate of profit as well as wages
> are equal for both the commodities, and thus their differences in
> values must be explained by something other than wages or rate of
> profits.
> One the other hand the second question looks for the
> causes that explains the changes in either wages or rate of
> profits. It's about finding the causes that changes the givens of
> the first problem. So these two problems are separate problems, and
> mixing them together can only create muddle and mumbo jumbos.

Let's recall what we are discussing: the difference (if any) between input
prices and output prices. Yet, this is not a question defined as occurring
at a given moment in time -- indeed it requires the passage of time. Nor
is it necessarily a dynamic problem.

Let's consider an end to a circuit. The commodity output, let's say, has
been transported to the market and has a price (output price). Before the
next circuit can commence, the commodity output must be sold. That, in
general, takes time. Then, capitalists must purchase inputs (LP, MP)
before production can continue. That, as well, takes time. And, of course,
production itself takes time. Indeed, both production and circulation take
place over time -- even within the context of what occurs during a

In solidarity, Jerry