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Robert Vienneau

Articles by Robert Vienneau


3 days ago

Girardi, Mamunuru, Halliday, and Bowles investigate, does studying economics make you selfish? In contrast to earlier research, they conclude no.
Angus Deaton, in his book Economics in America: An Immigrant Economist Explores the Land of Inequality apparently says, "A reader might be forgiven for thinking we are scoundrels concerned only with our own financial gain."
Apparently, the Rochdale Principles were set out in 1844 in Rochdale, England, as principles for running cooperatives.
Intentional communities are another example of a non-capitalist institution. I have stumbled upon a web site for the Foundation for Intentional Communities.
‘Keynesian Spaceman’, in comments, informs me I was once brought up in a dispute on a discord server associated with some Austrian economists.

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Reswitching in a Model of Extensive Rent

8 days ago

My article with the post title is
now available
at the Bulletin of Political Economy (Volume 16, issue 2, pp. 133-146). The abstract follows:

This article presents an example of the reswitching of the order of fertility and
of the order of rentability. Whether or not these orders differ from one another varies with
distribution for certain parameter ranges in the example. This analysis emphasizes that
more rent per acre is not necessarily associated with more fertile land and that the ranking
of lands by fertility cannot, in general, be determined from only data on physical inputs
and outputs for the available processes.

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Variations in the Economic Life of Machines

11 days ago

in a model of fixed capital, that the cost-minimizing choice of the economic life of a machine need not conform to traditional
Austrian and marginalist theory. The cost-minimizing choice of technique around a switch point might associate a
shorter economic life of a machine with an increased capital intensity. This counter-intuitive variation of the economic life of a
machine is independent of capital reversing and the re-switching of techniques, both of which are also illustrated in these posts.

These posts build on the Cambridge capital controversy (CCC). A lower rate of profits may be associated with a
decreased value of capital per worker, a decreased ratio of the value of capital to output, and a decreased sustainable
steady state of consumption per worker

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On The Uselessness Of Economists

17 days ago

[embedded content]If you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are sitting
Suppose one wants to discuss capitalism versus socialism or some smaller matter. One
might think the discipline of political economy, now known as economics would be
But it is not.

What is taught in most universities in the United States was shown to be nonsense
more than half a century ago. I find it hard to account for this except on the grounds of
political ideology.
I realize that most academic economists and their students that persist do not experience
themselves as propagandists.
And it does take some study to master the mathematical models, even if they are incoherent.

Obviously, exceptions exist. I am most aware of the economics departments at the University of

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How To Find Fluke Switch Points

22 days ago

Figure 1: Convergence of Newton Method
This post steps through an algorithm for finding a fluke switch point.
I used a different example when I tried to explain this
Today, I use an example building on my
draft ROPE Article.

Consider Figure 3 in this post,
repeated below as Figure 2.
Let s1 = s2 = 1. I want to find s3,
the markup in the corn industry, such that the wage curves for Gamma, Delta, Eta, and Theta intersect at a single switch point.
One wants to find a function one of whose zeros is the desired markup.

Figure 2: Variation of Switch Points with the Markup in the Corn Industry
This economy produces a single consumption good, called corn. Corn is also a capital good, that is, a produced commodity used in the production of other commodities. In fact, iron, steel, and

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“Deserves got nothing to do with it”

26 days ago

This post echos another
who understands something about how rewards are distributed under capitalism.

"In every other country capitalism, competitive and
monopolistic, displays the same defects and applies
similar political and economic remedies in order to
save its life from the new revolutionary attacks of
socialism and communism. Regarded more narrowly
from my own standpoint of criticism, what has
occurred is a display and condemnation of the unequal
and unfair character of all markets. For nowhere
are the bargaining powers of supply and demand on an
equal footing, and everywhere the individual buyers
and sellers, whether of goods or services, are so
unequal in their ‘need’ to sell and buy that the
advantage accruing from sales at any given price give

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Variation With Markups Of The Analysis Of The Choice Of Technique With Intensive Rent

November 4, 2023

Figure 1: Variation of the Technique with Markup in Agriculture
This post is a continuation
a of a

I suppose this is the first example in post Sraffian price theory which combines intensive rent and markup
pricing. I do not plan on trying to publish it, in a stand-alone article. D’Agata (1983) sets some coefficients
to zero to simplify it for his purposes. I would like a range of parameters where I get reswitching
or capital-reversing. I have found a case
where, given the wage, the cost-minimizing technique is not unique away from switch points.
I would like an example where some of the locii in Figure 2 below intersect.

I might as well repeat the data. Table 1 shows the coefficients of production. Only one type of land exists, and three
processes are known for

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An Alpha Vs. Delta Pattern For The r-Order Of Fertility With Intensive Rent And Markup Pricing

November 1, 2023

Figure 1: Wage Curves and Rent for an Example of Intensive Rent

This post is a continuation of
a previous

This is a fluke case insofar as the Alpha and Delta wage curves intersect at the
scale factor for the rate of profits that is the maximum possible for the Epsilon
technique. This fluke case is associated with a qualitative change in the range
of the scale factor for the rate of profits in which no cost-minimizing technique exists.

The technology, endowments, requirements for use, and techniques
are as previously defined.
Requirements for use can only be satisfied by the Alpha, Delta, and Epsilon techniques.

I continue to consider markup pricing. The rate of profits
is (s1r), (s2r), and (s3r)
in the iron, steel, and corn industries. In determining which technique is

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October 30, 2023

An appreciation of Rob A. Bryer, a Marxist scholar of accounting.
I stumbled upon a You Tube channel and web site for the International Marxist Tendency. I do not know what I think about variants of Trotskyism.
Alessandro Roncaglia contrasts theories of crises in which tendencies exist in competitive markets towards equilibrium and in which such tendencies need not exist.
Some have YouTube channels trying to explain the strange ideas that mathematicians have come up with:
An Infinite Series episode explaining the existence of an infinite number of different size infinities. This PBS show was actually finite.
Numberphile on the same topic.
Josh is clear that we have to define how to extend our notation when talking about infinity.
Bri the math guy on the Saint

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Economics, An Extraordinary Discipline

October 28, 2023

It seems to me that mainstream economists are socialized into ignorance and anti-scholarly norm.
Plenty of economists exist that so many economists dismiss as ‘fringe’, and yet these dismissed economists excel on any scholarly criteria.
It is not just that mainstream economists do not know of vast bodies of scholarship, produced by academics
around the world. They also do not know that what they believe has long ago been shown to be
without foundation. I have gone
on like this before.

I might as well list the sort scholarly criteria I have in mind. I am thinking of economists
with doctorates from well-known universities, who have published numerous journal articles and books from academic presses.
They have edited such books and garnered many citations. They have supervised doctorate

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A Pattern For The r-Order Of Fertility With Intensive Rent And Markup Pricing

October 25, 2023

Figure 1: Wage Curves and Rent for an Example of Intensive Rent
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, ‘This is mine’, and found people simple
enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors
and misfortunes, might not anyone have saved mankind by pulling up the stakes, filling in the ditch, and crying to his
fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all,
and the earth itself to nobody.’ — Jean Jacques Rousseau

1.0 Introduction

This post is a continuation of a previous example.
Three commodities, iron, steel, and corn, are produced commodities. A single type of land exists, and three

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Ludwig Von Mises Wrong On Capital Theory

October 20, 2023

We compare the conditions of two isolated market systems A and
B. Both are equal in size and population figures, the state of technological
knowledge, and in natural resources. They differ from one
another only in the supply of capital goods, this supply being larger
in A than in B. This enjoins that in A many processes of production
are employed with which the output is greater per unit of input than
with those employed in B. In B one cannot consider the adoption of
these processes on account of the comparative scarcity of capital
goods. Their adoption wouId require a restriction of consumption.
In B many manipulations are performed by manual labor which in
A are performed by labor-saving machines. In A goods are produced
with a longer durability; in B one must abstain from producing

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A Three-Technique Pattern With Intensive Rent And Markup Pricing

October 16, 2023

Figure 1: Wage Curves and Rent for an Example of Intensive Rent1.0 Introduction

This post is
exploring variations of an example from Antonio D’Agata (1983).

This post demonstrates that at least one of my fluke cases can appear in a model of intensive rent by
varying a parameter specifying relative markups among sectors. This post is only a start of exploring
the parameter space of relative markups in a specific numeric example of intensive rent.

Suppose the rate of profits is given, subject to the constraint that the ratios of the rate of profits in agriculture to
that in other industries are as specified. Then the wage can be one of two distinct levels. When the wage is at the lower level,
then the rent per acre is higher and vice versa. On the other hand, an

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Franz Fanon On The Need For People And Leaders To Learn

October 13, 2023

Optimism of the will leads me to hope that, with the misery we endure and cause, someday some
people, including leaders of political movements and parties, will gain some wisdom.
As I understand it, Frantz Fanon
generalized principally from Algeria.

The settler is not simply the man who must be killed. Many members of the mass of colonialists reveal
themselves to be much, much nearer to the national struggle than certain sons of the nation. The barriers
of blood and race-prejudice are broken down on both sides. In the same way, not every Negro or Moslem is
issued automatically a hallmark of genuineness; and the gun or the knife is not inevitably reached for when
a settler makes his appearance. Consciousness slowly dawns upon truths that are only partial, limited, and unstable.
As we

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October 10, 2023

[embedded content]The First Of A Robert Paul Wolff Series Of Lectures On MarxWolff raises the question of why Marx writes like he does in the first volume of Capital. The rest of Wolff’s lectures:
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Lecture 4
Lecture 5
Lecture 6
Lecture 7
Seth Ackerman, in Jacobin, on Marxist crisis theory.
Nathan Robinson pans Thomas Sowell.
Unlearning Economics disagrees with Sabine Hossenfelder. (Her original video.)

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Marx Against A Simple Labor Theory Of Value

October 7, 2023

Marx distinguishes, at least, between market prices, prices of production, and labor values.
For the first volume of Capital, Marx assumes market prices bob around or tend to labor values, not prices of
production. I think Marx nowhere says he is assuming the organic composition of capital does not vary among industries.
He adopts the labor theory of value in when considering capitalist production as a whole so as to address the
question of how owners of capital are able to regularly obtain a profit. He wants this explanation to apply
when capitalists are not cheating each other. Nor are they cheating the workers.

I have noted before a few passages in the first volume where Marx demonstrates that he is making a simplification,
to be dropped in volume 3. Consider the following:


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Jeremy Rudd: “Why I hate economics”

October 3, 2023

[embedded content]Jeremy Rudd addresses the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism
Jeremy Rudd has written:

Mainstream economics is replete with ideas that ‘everyone knows’ to be true, but that are actually
arrant nonsense. For example, ‘everyone knows’ that:

aggregate production functions (and aggregate measures of the capital stock) provide a good way to characterize the economy’s supply side;
over a sufficiently long span – specifically, one that allows necessary price adjustments to be made – the economy will return to a state of full market clearing; and
the theory of household choice provides a solid justification for downward-sloping market demand curves.

None of these propositions has any sort of empirical foundation; moreover, each one turns
out to be seriously

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Extensive Rent, Absolute Rent, and Markup Pricing

September 29, 2023

Figure 1: Variation of Technique with Relative Markups1.0 Introduction

This is a rewrite of a previous post with
somewhat ‘nicer’ values for coefficients of production. I also expand on it with some observations on absolute rent.
As far as I know, these posts are the first explicit presentation in the post-Sraffian tradition of a model of the prices of production with extensive rent and markup pricing.

These posts explore the conflict over distribution among workers, capitalists, and landlords. In a model of extensive rent,
perturbations of relative market power among industries can create or destroy reswitching of the orders of fertility or of rentability.
Extensive rent, called ‘differential rent of the first kind’ by Marx, arises when different types of land are cultivated. The

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Ludwig Von Mises Being Stupid

September 26, 2023

Are those who obtain more income better in some way, perhaps more intelligent than others?
Are they luckier?
According to Ludwig Von Mises, they are superior in intelligence:

"The entrepreneur is the agency that prevents the persistence of a
state of production unsuitable to fill the most urgent wants of the
consumers in the cheapest way. All people are anxious for the best
possible satisfaction of their wants and are in this sense striving after
the highest profit they can reap. The mentality of the promoters,
speculators, and entrepreneurs is not different from that of their fellow
men. They are merely superior to the masses in mental power
and energy. They are the leaders on the way toward material progress.
They are the first to understand that there is a discrepancy between

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Some Notes On Marx On Rent

September 22, 2023

Marx writes about rent extensively in Part II of Theories of Surplus Value and in volume 3 of Capital.
I read Theories of Surplus Value decades ago. I have been trying to read the chapters of volume 3 on rent, that is,
chapters 37 to 47.

In general, these chapters do not use Hegelian terminology, but are just a matter of mathematical
economics. Marx conflates analyses I would keep separate. Maybe this is a matter of a dynamic analysis
set in historical time. I suppose I do not have standing to complain about everything being argued
through numerical examples.

In Chapter 37, Marx clarifies that he is discussing ground rent on unimproved land or land with permanent improvements.
Capitalist farmers are assumed, along with landed property.
He talks about the incentives to tenants not to

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Extensive Rent and Markup Pricing In A Complicated Example

September 16, 2023

Figure 1: Variation of Technique with Relative Markups
"That ‘diminishing returns’ was not an essential element in the surplus-based theory
emerged in Marx’s criticisms of Ricardo. Sraffa (1960), in his short chapter on land, the
implications of which have yet to be developed, shows how the classical view of rents need not
necessarily rest on the conception of ‘the law of diminishing returns’ or need not suggest
necessarily any functional relationship between output and cost, or even presume a unique
rank ordering of lands according to productivity. In fact, correcting the classical writers,
her shows that differential rents as well as the ‘no-rent’ land depend upon the rate of profit
(or wages)." — Krishna Bharadwaj (1984) Piero Sraffa: A Tribute Economic and Political Weekly 19 (30-1):

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Marginalism As A Distortion Of Classical Rent Theory

September 6, 2023

I want to note some instances in the literature that argue that one strain in the marginal revolution
was an extension of (a misunderstanding of) the theory of intensive rent in classical political
economy to all factors of production, particularly capital. This this is not of only historical
interest. It suggests that another approach, that of classical political economy, to value
and distribution exists. Furthermore, a treatment of intensive rent exists that is opposed
to marginalism, in some sense.

The classical theory of rent first became widely known through pamphlets
published in February 1815 by Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, Robert Torrens, and Edward West.
James Anderson was an eighteenth century predecessor. Was Karl Marx to first
point out that Anderson was

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Competitive Capitalism Rewards Inefficiency: The Production of Commodities with Extensive Rent and Markup Pricing

September 4, 2023

Figure 1: Order of Rentability Varying with Relative Markups1.0 Introduction

Ownership is not productive, as Joan Robinson informs us. But, at least under competitive conditions one might hope, more productive assets earn their owners
more than less productive assets. And this applies to scarce skills as well. But none of this is necessarily true, either. This article
presents a numerical example in which, among scarce lands, rent per acre is higher on more fertile land only when capitalists in agriculture
have more market power than industrial capitalists. Only the unenlightened would assess one’s worth by how much income they are able to obtain from what they own.

A less efficient scarce asset can receive a higher rent. The proof of this statement is provided by a model of the

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An Answer To Ludwig Von Mises

September 2, 2023

[embedded content]The Start Of This Video Is An Anecdote About George Dantzig1.0 Introduction

Ludwig Von Mises popularized the Socialist Calculation Problem
and brought it to wider attention.
(This problem is also known as the Economic Calculation Problem.)
In Von Mises’ 1920 paper, he argues rational economic planning is impossible without market prices for capital goods and unproduced resources.
Thus, anybody advocating socialism is advocating a system that cannot obtain a high material standard of living.
In this post, I want to offer a simple solution to Von Mises’ statement of the problem.

2.0 Informal Statement of the Problem

Von Mises thinks that socialism must imply central planning. He assumes that markets for consumer goods exist.
Households are given tokens with which they

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Correspondence Among Marxists

August 30, 2023

I have been (re?-)transcribing various letters in which various points of Marxism are
elaborated. This post is an index of what I have so far. I do not know that I will go on much.

Marx to Engels, 2 August 1862, sets out the transformation problem and Marx’s solution.
Marx to Engels, 18 June 1867, on the order of presentation in Capital.
Marx to Engels, 24 August 1867, on the two best points in volume 1 of Capital.
Marx to Engels, 8 January 1868, on three original points in volume 1 of Capital.
Marx to Engels, 30 April 1868, outlines the three volumes of Capital, especially the transformation problem.
Marx to Vera Zasulich, 8 March 1881, on how Russia might not go through the same modes of production as western Europe.
Engels to J. Bloch, 21 September, 1890, about historical

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On My Research Program With Fluke Switch Points

August 24, 2023

I have a research program that I have been pursuning for several years.
And I seem to be able to go on for several more years.

I have been looking at the analysis of the choice of technique in models of the production of commodities
by means of commodities.
Fluke cases are characterized as losing their qualitative properties with almost any perturbation
of the parameters of the model.
The parameter spaces in these models are partitioned by these fluke cases.
Within a region formed by the partitions, qualitative behavior is invariant.
I have been looking for regions in which such phenomena as reswitching,
capital-reversing, the reverse substitution of labor, or the recurrence of processes occur.
These models are open, with the functional
distribution of
income taken as
exogenous to the

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Intensive Rent, Extensive Rent, And Absolute Rent

August 19, 2023

1.0 Introduction

I have decided that this previous post
is inadequate. If intensive rent exists on some type of land, the system of equations for prices of production cannot
include a process that only partially cultivates some other type of land producing the agricultural commodity.

So to form an example with both intensive and extensive rent, I need the technology to specify the possibility of cultivating
at least three types of land. I might as well include markup pricing so as to maybe create an example with
intensive, extensive, and absolute rent all existing. If this example works out, it would provide a
refutation, in some sense, of this paper.

2.0 Technology, Endowments, Requirements for Use, and Relative Markups

Table 1 presents coefficients of production defining

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August 18, 2023

[embedded content]Randall Wray on MMT. (About 40:55: Most economics is "fraud". Lots of ads.)Jason Blakely, Doctor’s orders: COVID-19 and the new science wars, in Harper’s
Matias Vernengo of Bidenomics.
Economists in Chicago cannot stomach the slightest dissent on antitrust.
Mario Tronti, 24 July 1931 – 7 August 2023. A republished essay in New Left Review.
Deepankar Basu, 2022. A Reformulated Version of Marx’s Theory of Ground-Rent Shows that there Cannot be any Absolute Rent. Review of Radical Political Economy 54(4)
Saverio M. Fratini, 2012. A remark on intensive differential rent and the labour theory of value in Ricardo. Bulletin of Political Economy 6(2): 133-147.
Saverio M. Fratini and Fabio Ravagnani, Sraffa and the ‘slogans not used’.
James Rehwad. I like satirical

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Some Assertions Of Marx And Some Remarks On The Labor Theory Of Value

August 11, 2023

1.0 Introduction

I have been reading fools in other parts of the Internet. Hence this post.

2.0 Assertions

Marx says the following (I am least sure of 6):

Both sides to an exchange gain. (Capital, volume 1, chapter 5)
Nobody, neither consumers, nor workers, nor investors, nor the managers of firms, make decisions on the grounds of the labor time embodied in commodities. (Capital, volume 1, chapter 1, section4)
Surplus value (dividends, interest, rent, etc.), in an ideal competitive capitalist economy, is not stolen from the worker. (Capital, volume 1, chapter 7, section 2)
Relative prices do not tend towards relative surplus values. (Capital, volume 1, chapter 5, last footnote; Capital, volume 3, part II)
After the revolution, workers will not receive equal wages. (Critique of

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Marx: Labor Is NOT The Source Of All Wealth

August 9, 2023

I think most quote the first page of the Critique of the Gotha Program for Marx asserting this:

"First part of the paragraph: ‘Labor is the source of all wealth and all culture.’

Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values
(and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power.
The above phrase is to be found in all children’s primers and is correct insofar as it is implied that labor is performed with the
appurtenant subjects and instruments. But a socialist program cannot allow such bourgeois phrases to pass over in silence the conditions that
alone give them meaning. And insofar as man from the beginning behaves toward nature, the primary source

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