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Sraffa’s PoCbMoC At 60

Summary:
[embedded content]Seminar I finally watched Production of Commodities at 60. Our host and moderator is Matias Vernengo. Seminar participants are Franklin Serrano, Antonella Palumbo, and Ed Nell, who present in that order. They take questions at the end. I cannot recall who made these points; they generally agreed. But here are some I noted. Sraffa is not only about an internal critique of marginalist theory, but a setting out of an alternative theory. This is a rediscovery of the classical theory of value. Sraffa's theory is not restricted to perfect competition. Paul Sweezy was wrong to think that the advent of monopoly capitalism meant that only qualitative assertions could be made about value. Ed Nell talks about linear programming, as contrasted to prices that support the

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Seminar

I finally watched Production of Commodities at 60. Our host and moderator is Matias Vernengo. Seminar participants are Franklin Serrano, Antonella Palumbo, and Ed Nell, who present in that order. They take questions at the end.

I cannot recall who made these points; they generally agreed. But here are some I noted. Sraffa is not only about an internal critique of marginalist theory, but a setting out of an alternative theory. This is a rediscovery of the classical theory of value.

Sraffa's theory is not restricted to perfect competition. Paul Sweezy was wrong to think that the advent of monopoly capitalism meant that only qualitative assertions could be made about value.

Ed Nell talks about linear programming, as contrasted to prices that support the reproduction of the economy. He is probably thinking of an appendix in Pasinetti (1977). I take his point, but I and others have shown that a LP can be used to formalize prices of reproduction.

In the Q and A at the end, Vernengo reads a question about whether Sraffa was inspired by Marx's schemes of simple and expanded reproduction in his development of his first and second system of equations equations. Like the seminar participants, I do not have a strong opinion on this question. I wish the scholars debating this would look into Sraffa's reading of the french translation of Kautsky's edition of Theories of Surplus Value. What is different about the later more complete edition? Does Sraffa's copy have marginal notes?

Another question concerns the relevance of steady state growth paths. Come to think of it, Serrano's remarks about a more general, looser concept might draw on his work on the supermultiplier, which he otherwise does not talk about. I think it was Nell who raises the point that Robinson did not think much of the analysis of the choice of technique. When one technique replaces another over historical time, this is not a choice with given knowledge of alternative techniques. What would Robinson think of my merging the two by considering, say, perturbations of coefficients of production in logical time? Probably not much.

Anyways, this is just a selection of topics from a far-ranging discussion.

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