Re: [OPE] Open problems in Marxist economics: Workers' savings

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Wed Apr 07 2010 - 14:14:37 EDT

On 2010-04-06 23:57, Ian Wright wrote:
> And "what is at stake" in the answer to this question?
This is partly just a semantic question but I think the answer, in its
orthodox formulation expressed by Jerry, reveals a deeper problem: a
treatment of money that does not square well with the
historical-materialist concern for the extraction of surplus labour-time
and exploitation. This has often been hidden because in Marxist
economics the net savings of workers are taken to be zero.

Paul C wrote:
> What do you mean by workers savings?
> What do you include in workers savings - bank deposits, pension rights, state pension rights?

Let's keep the model simple at first, by considering a Kaleckian closed,
two-class economy. In monetary terms we have the following identity,

    Profits + Wages = Investment + Capitalist consumption + Workers'

or expressed differently,

    Profits + Net savings by workers = Investment + Capitalist consumption

Now looking at the economy in real terms, by definition historical
materialism takes the investment goods and capitalist consumption goods
and services as the 'surplus product', i.e. the product over and above
that consumed by workers. Hence the RHS of the equation is the monetary
expression of the surplus product.

If net savings by workers equals zero then we see that

    Profits = monetary expression of the surplus product

and this corresponds to the standard formulation of surplus value. But
when net savings are non-zero this does not hold. (This mirrors a
non-correspondence between exploitation of aggregate surplus labour-time
and monetary 'surplus-value'.)

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Wed Apr 7 14:20:02 2010

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