# Re: [OPE-L] measuring causes

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sat Dec 17 2005 - 15:43:20 EST

```Paul,
What you are doing is decomposing the rate of profit (and
there could be other variations-- eg., taking into account turnover
insofar as the appropriate rate of surplus value is the annual one),
but is that the same as identifying causes?
michael
At 14:54 16/12/2005, Paul C wrote:
>Mike wrote:
>          This is a great opportunity for a systems-illiterate person
>like me to get an answer from a specialist. Assume that we have what
>Marx called a 'structure of society, in which all relations coexist
>simultaneously and support one another.' If you have a system with
>substantial interaction, feedback, etc (eg. change in X produces
>change in Y which produces change in Z which produces change in A
>which produces major change in Y), then how can we reason from the
>quantitative results of change to the weight to be assigned to
>causes? The unambiguous results you suggest would certainly be true
>if we assume no interaction effects (ie., that we can assign weights
>to factor A and to factor B but the value of AB approaches zero), but
>then the conclusion is embodied in the assumption.
>
>-------------
>I cited that example because it ( with slight changes to the figures )
>came out of a conjectural analysis of the UK that Allin and I did
>back in 1976. The interaction effects here are negligible because
>Marxist economics gives us clear formulae for the rate of profit
>as a function of the other variables. One can take the partial
>derivative
>of the rate of profit with respect to them along with the known
>data on the change in each of the individual variables and determine
>from this how much the change in c/v, s/v and p/s would, taken by
>themselves have produced as a change in the rate of profit.
>
>The point is that the whole formula captures the interaction between
>them, and since it is an analytic formula, you can compute its
>derivatives.
>
>
>
>  On the other hand,
>how can we come to a weighting of causes from the empirical results?
>          in solidarity,
>          michael
>Michael A. Lebowitz
>Professor Emeritus
>Economics Department
>Simon Fraser University
>
>Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
>Residencias Anauco Suites
>Departamento 601
>Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
>Caracas, Venezuela
>(58-212) 573-4111
>fax: (58-212) 573-7724

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724
```

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