Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@WFU.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 01 2007 - 22:56:32 EST

On Wed, 28 Feb 2007, Fred "Pen-L" Moseley wrote:

> Quoting Diego Guerrero <diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES>:
>> You have now understood my "m".
> Thanks, I am glad to finally understand your "m".  And I would
> say that you have finally explained more clearly what you mean
> by "m".  This is a very important point, and should not be
> buried in footnote 24 of your paper...

I agree with Fred.  I think most people will assume that by
"market prices" you mean the actual prices at which goods change
hands in the market, with all their day-to-day and place-to-place

But it turns out you're wanting to interpolate a further layer
between prices of production and day-to-day market prices.  I see
how this might make sense, but I believe there's still an
important ambiguity here.  Do you mean

(a) To give these "market prices" of yours a theoretical
determination, or

(b) Do you mean to treat them simply as time- and space-averages
of actual market prices?

Here's the point: If I say that "labour values" (the labour-times
required to produce things) form centres of gravitation for market
prices, I'm saying something substantive (maybe true, maybe false,
but substantive).  Similarly, if I say that prices of production
(the set of prices generating a uniform rate of profit) are the
centres of gravitation for market prices, then again I'm something
that's possibly true, possibly false, but substantive.

With your "market prices" it's not so clear: if you mean, prices
of production adjusted for specific differential indirect
taxation, specific persistent monopoly power, specific barriers to
entry, and so on, then you could be saying something substantive.
But if you really just mean space- and time-averages of actual
prices then the claim that these are "centres of gravitation" is
just an arithmetical truism: on average, prices are at their
averages!  (Although actually it's not quite that easy, because
then it's incumbent upon you to spell out the scope and form of
the "averaging": prices averaged how, over what time-interval and
what spatial domain?  Otherwise it's just hand-waving.)

Allin Cottrell

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