[OPE-L:5530] unproductive fixed capital

Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 21:00:57 -0700 (PDT)

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This is a reply to Simonšs (5469) about the estimation of
unproductive fixed capital.

Yes, I think that estimates that are based on Marx's
distinction between productive labor and unproductive
labor should also try to divide the total capital stock into
productive capital (the value of the buildings and
equipment utilized in production) and unproductive
capital (the value of the buildings and equipment utilized
in circulation and supervision).

I tried to do this in a partial way in my book on the
Falling Rate of Profit. I assumed that certain TYPES of
buildings and equipment were used mostly for unproductive purposes.
The main types were: commercial buildings, furniture and fixtures,
and office, computing and accounting machines (see pp.
175-76 of my book).

I now think that a better way to make this distinction is
to use estimates of the capital stock by INDUSTRY and to
assume that all the capital invested in Wholesale and
Retail Trade and in Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate in
unproductive. We are trying to use this method in our
estimates of the rate of profit in the Mexican economy,
but less data exists. Paul C. suggests that such data exist
for the UK economy. I donšt remember if Alan Freemanšs
estimates for the UK make this distinction.

Shaikh and Tonak's book also discusses extensively the
FLOWS of unproductive capital, which they base on the
breakdown by INDUSTRY. But they do not provide
estimates of the STOCK of capital - either productive or
unproductive capital.

Jim Devine informed me recently that Doug Henwood in
the Left Business Observer (#78, July 17, 1997)
presented estimates of the stock of unproductive fixed
capital, based on Shaikh and Tonakšs conceptual
framework. Henwood's email address is:

Jim himself is also now working on this subject, so you
might want to contact him. His email address is:

I hope this helps. I would be happy to discuss this