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Robert Vienneau



Articles by Robert Vienneau

Utility Maximization A Tautology?

5 days ago

Economists proved over half a century ago that certain stories are unfounded in the theory.
For example, one might think that if some workers are involuntarily unemployed,
a drop in real wages would lead to a tendency for the labor market to clear.
The Cambridge Capital Controversy revealed some difficulties. In response,
some economists turned to the Arrow-Debrue-McKenzie model of intertemporal
equilibria in which it is not clear that one could even talk about such concepts. The Mantel-Sonnenschein-Debreu theorem shows that this model lacks
empirical content. Utility theory provides a closure for some
models. Formally, one can demonstrate the existence of equilibria under
certain assumptions. But existence does not get one very far.

My purpose of this post is to note that some saw

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Elsewhere

6 days ago

Solidarity Federation
Francisco Nunes-Pereira and Mário Graça Moura. On the survival of a flawed theory of capital: mainstream economics and the Cambridge capital controversies, Cambridge Journal of Economics. Concludes mainstream economists continue to use flawed aggregate production functions because of an instrumentalist methodology and conformism.
. Colin Rogers. Whitehead’s fallacy of misplaced concreteness and the unfortunate uselessness of all monetary-macro theory micro-founded on Walrasian-Pareto general equilibrium theory, Cambridge Journal of Economics. Argues that neo-Walrasian general equilibrium theory cannot support monetary theory, despite the practices of mainstream economists.
Theo Santini and Ricardo Azevedo Araujo. Vertical integration, technical progress and

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Two Special Cases For The Labor Theory Of Value

10 days ago

1.0 Introduction

A simple labor theory of value holds in two special cases.

The rate of profits in the system of prices of production is zero.
The vector of direct labor coefficients is an eigenvector of the Leontief input-output matrix corresponding to the maximum eigenvalue.

I do not know if I’ve worked through this alone before. A more rigorous approach would prove the uniqueness of the solution.

2.0 The Setting

Suppose a capitalist economy is observed at a given point in time. n commodities are being produced, each by a separate industry.
Suppose the technique in use can be characterized by a row vector a0 and a n x n square matrix A.

The jth element of a0 is the amount of labor directly employed in the jth industry in producing one unit of a
commodity output from that

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Orwell Remembers Revolution

13 days ago

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
This post has long quotations, as is typical of a commonplace book.

Where did socialism work? In Barcelona, Spain, and, more generally Aragon and Catalonia, from August 1936
to April 1937. This was the anarchist version, and was resisted by all governments, including the Soviet Union.

The right staged their coup against the Republic in July 1936. Orwell went to Spain in December,
and he wanted to kill fascists. He describes it as almost happenstance that he ended up in
the militia under the Party Of Marxist Unity (POUM). This party contained, among others, followers
of Trotsky and did not follow Stalin’s line. Orwell describes how he found Barcelona:

"This was in late December 1936, less than seven months ago as I write, and yet it is a period
that has

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Variation On An Example From Schefold

23 days ago

Figure 1: Variation in the Economic Life of a Machine with Technical Progress
This post varies the coefficients of production in an example from Bertram Schefold.
I wanted to have ‘nice’ fractions at a time of zero. Qualitatively, this
looks like a previous post.

Reviewers for a recent rejection of an article with another fixed capital example objected to this type of model.
I need to relate technical progress to a well-known type (Harrod-neutral, Marx-biased, or whatever) or produce some evidence
that this sort of modeling is reasonable.

Table 1 presents the technology for this example. Machines and corn are produced in this economy. Corn is the only consumption good. New
machines are produced from inputs of labor and corn. Corn is produced from inputs of labor, corn, and machines.

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Bertrand Russell On Bolshevism In 1920

28 days ago

Many to the left of liberals, that is, socialists, communists, and anarchists of various stripes, were opposed
to the Soviet Union since its founding. Another example is Bertrand Russell.
This is from the preface to his The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, first printed in November 1920:

"The Russian Revolution is one of the great heroic events of the world’s history.
It is natural to compare it to the French Revolution, but it is in fact something of even more importance.
It does more to change daily life and the structure of society: it also does more to change men’s beliefs. The difference is
exemplified by the difference between Marx and Rousseau: the latter sentimental and soft, appealing to emotion, obliterating sharp outlines;
the former systematic like Hegel, full of hard

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Examples Of One-Parameter Pattern Diagrams

January 26, 2024

Figure 1: Variation in the Economic Life of a Machine with Technical Progress
I have invented graphs for visualizing how the analysis of the choice of technique varies
with perturbations of parameters in models of prices of production. This post presents some examples
of one type of diagram. One must click on a link with each graph, I guess, to fully understand
what is being depicted.

Figure 1 is an extension of an
example from Betram Schefold (21 May 2020). This example concerns technological progress and the economic life of a machine
in an example of pure fixed capital.

Figure 2 is from an example
of two produced commodities with stable relative markups in the two industries (19 September 2020).

Figure 2: The Effects of Variations in Relative Markups
Figure 3 is from another

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Austrian Economists Rediscovering Sraffa

January 23, 2024

Some recent papers by economists of the Austrian school
rediscover some aspects of post-Sraffian price theory. Others would benefit from more knowledge of post-Sraffian
price theory. But the authors do not know this.

Fillieule (2007) is a rediscovery of Sraffa’s standard commodity. He sets out a special case of
Hayekian triangles in which an infinite series of datad labor inputs are used to produce current net output.
"Only circulating capital is taken into account", and "the
proportion between capital goods and originary factors is the same in all
stages." Fillieule, unlike Sraffa, has wages advanced instead of being paid out of net output.
He gestures at Sraffian subsystems. Production at any year can be viewed as decomposed into
producing the net output, producing the capital goods

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A Parameter Space for an Example of Harrod-Neutral Technical Progress

January 17, 2024

Figure 1: A Two-Dimensional Parameter Space
The above is for this example.
I wish somebody would be inspired by this to write it up with mathematical proofs. What
I see here is found by numerical methods.

Figure 1 shows a partition of the parameter space based on fluke switch points.
The dashed line shows the temporal path in the previous post.
Each of the solid lines are parallel affine functions, with a slope of unity.
A proof that these slopes are unity should be able to handle a model with any number of produced commodities.

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Milovan Djilas On The Soviet Union As State Capitalism

January 15, 2024

What to make of the Soviet Union? Apparently, the description of it as state capitalism goes back to Lenin.
Djilas description of it as such is central to his best-known book:

"Abstract logic would iпdicate tћat tће Communist reyolution,
when it achieves, under different conditions and Ьу state
compulsioп, the same things achieved Ьу industrial revolutions
and capitalism in the West, is nothing but а form of state-capitalist
revolution. The relationships which are created Ьу its
victory are state-capitalist. This appears to Ье even шоrе true
because the new regime also regulates all political, labor, and
other relationships and, what is more important, distributes the
national income and benefits and distributes material goods
which actually have been transformed iпto state property.

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Elsewhere: Data On Capitalism And Other Systems

January 12, 2024

The first is a distateful counting of the victims of capitalism in the twentieth century.
The second concludes that no-longer-actually-existing socialism was about as efficient
as western countries. The last argues that general prosperity first declined with
the introduction of capitalism.

Salvatore Engel-DiMauro. 2021. Anti-communism and the hundres of millions of victims of capitalism. Capitalism Nature Socialism 32(1): 1-17.
Peter Murrell. 1991. Can neoclassical economics underpin the reform of centrally planned economies?. Journal of Economic Perspectives 5(4): 59-76. This issue has a symposium on transition economies, with other interesting articles.
Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel. 2023. Capitalism and extreme poverty: a global analysis of real wages, human height, and

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Another Example of Harrod-Neutral Technical Progress And The Choice Of Technique

January 9, 2024

Figure 1: Variation in the Maximum Wage and the Cost-Minimizing Technique with Time
This post presents an example in which some coefficients of production vary from
those in example.
Reswitching, capital reversing, and the reverse substitution of labor do not arise in this example.

Table 1 shows the coefficients of production for this example. The labor coefficients vary identically with the
the labor coefficients in the previous example. a2,1(a), a3,1(a),
a2,1(b), a3,1(b), a1,2(c), a3,2(c),
and a1,2(d) are all larger in this example.

Table 1: The Technology
InputIronIndustrySteelIndustryCornIndustryabcdefLabor(15/2) e-φt32 e-σt(13/2) e-φt60 e-σt(15/2) e-φt55 e-σtIron1/62/51/201/1010Steel1/201/201/43/1001/4Corn1/151/151/15000
Table 2 repeats the definition of the techniques of

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A Characterization Of Neoliberalism From Wendy Brown

January 5, 2024

I have been reading Brown (2015). She acknowledges neoliberalism
is difficult to define:

"Three decades out, rich accounts by geographers, economists, political theorists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, and
historians grappling with these questions have established that neoliberalism is neither singular nor constant in its discursive
formulations and material practices. This recognition exceeds the idea that a clumsy or inapt name is draped over a busy multiplicity;
rather neoliberalism as economic policy, modality of governance, and order of reason is at once a global phenomenon, yet
inconstant, morphing, differentiated, unsystematic, contradictory, and impure, what Stuart Hall calls a ‘field of oscillations’ or
Jamie Peck calls ‘unruly historical geographies of an

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Harrod-Neutral Technical Change And The Choice Of Technique

January 3, 2024

Figure 1: Variation in the Maximum Wage and the Cost-Minimizing Technique with Time1.0 Introduction

I thought I would revisit the application of my analysis of fluke switch points to an example of Harrod-neutral
technical change. Two techniques are assumed to experience Harrod-neutral technical change. The same commodities
are produced with both techniques. No capital goods are produced for one technique that
are unproduced in the other. Consequently, the techniques have no processes in common. At least two processes
must be available in each industry. So more than two techniques must exist.

I think these ideas could be worked up into something. I will probably spend some time toying with the
example.

2.0 Technology

This economy produces a single consumption good, called corn. Corn

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Problems With The Economic Calculation Problem

December 28, 2023

[embedded content]Hakim on the Economic Calculation Problem
Reactionaries often bring up the Economic Calculation Problem (ECP) as a fatal objection
to socialism, considered as entailing central planning. Ludwig Von Mises put this forth in 1920 as an argument in principle
that central planning is guaranteed to be highly inefficient. He postulates that the planning authority knows
the prices of consumer goods and all technical possibilities, including the endowments of originary factors of production.
But without prices of intermediate goods, the planning authority cannot make rational decisions about how to produce
commodities. Like Enrico Barone,
Von Mises insists the planning authority must re-introduce prices for intermediate goods and a market for ‘capital’.

Friedrich Hayek changed

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Toni Negri, Bob Solow, Tony Thirwall

December 26, 2023

I feel each of these three needs more than I am able to say. I find intriguing radicals attacking
communist parties from the left, as Negri and others (Autonomia) did in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s.
I draw on those who have all sorts of arguments with Solow. I find him witty.
Thirwall I associate with Nicholas Kaldor and development economics.

Antonio Negri (1933 – 2023). Repost of 2015 interview from Democracy Now. Libcom page of works related to Negri.
Robert Solow (1924 – 2023): MIT obituary. Russell Sage Foundation obituary. 1987 Nobel announcement.
Tony Thirwall (1941 – 2023). Repost of an obituary from John McCombie.

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Misrepresentations Of Keynes’ Work

December 21, 2023

I claim that what mainstream economists teach about what Keynes wrote is often false and nonsenical.
Unfortunately, this is quite impressionistic in that I do not give examples
of these misrepresentations.
I am writing here only about the General Theory.
I suppose some mainstream economists might respond that they do not teach about Keynes at all.

Some say Keynes work was about policy, not theory. Keynes specifically says otherwise in the first sentences
of the preface to his major work:

"This book is chiefly addressed to my fellow economists. I hope that it will be intelligible to others.
But its main purpose is to deal with difficult questions of theory, and only in the second place with
the applications of this theory to practice. For if orthodox economics is at fault, the error

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Aims And Tasks Of Democratic Socialism

December 13, 2023

Socialist and coomunist parties have formed various internationals over the course of centuries.
I consider a
declaration of the Socialist International, adopted at its First Congress held in Frankfort-on-Main on 30 June-3 July 1951
an authoritative statement of "The Aims and Tasks of Democratic Socialism".
This declaration was re-affirmed in 1962.
The declaration starts as follows:

1. From the nineteenth century onwards, capitalism has developed immense productive forces. It has done
so at the cost of excluding the great majority of citizens from influence over production. It put the rights
of ownership before the rights of man. It created a new class of wage-earners without property or social rights. It sharpened the struggle between the classes.

Although the world contains

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Labor And Land Are No Commodities

December 9, 2023

I read Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of our Time years ago.
I find its thesis on the first passage
of the first chapter:

"Nineteenth-century civilization rested on four institutions. The
first was the balance-of-power system which for a century prevented
the occurrence of any long and devastating war between the Great
Powers. The second was the international gold standard which symbolized
a unique organization of world economy. The third was the
self-regulating market which produced an unheard-of material welfare.
The fourth was the liberal state. Classified in one way, two of these
institutions were economic, two political. Classified in another way,
two of them were national, two international. Between them they determined
the

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Anti-Communist Literature

December 6, 2023

We live, dead to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches.

But where there’s so much as half a conversation
The Kremlin’s mountaineer will get his mention.

His fingers are fat as grubs,
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his mouth.

His cockroache whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam.

Around him a rabble of ring-necked leaders –
Fawning half men for him to play with.

They whinny, purr or whine.
As he prates and points a finger.

One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horeseshoes at the head, the eye or the groin.

And every killing is a treat
For the broad-chested Ossete.

— Oslip Mandelshtam

This is just a bibliography.
I have posted bibliographies before.
I want people that are sympathetic to socialism of some sort or another.
As

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Elsewhere

December 2, 2023

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

November 27, 2023

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:

Abstract:
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

November 24, 2023

These
posts
demonstrate,
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

November 18, 2023

[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
helpful.
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

November 13, 2023

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
before.
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”

November 9, 2023

This post echos another
quotation
from
somebody
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
widely

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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
previous
example.

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
example.

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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Elsewhere

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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