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Tag Archives: Interpreting Classical Economics

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

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...

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‘The’ Labor Theory of Value

1.0 Introduction This post argues that there is more than one labor theory of value. 2.0 The Labor Theory of Property John Locke argued that what one mixes one labor with, one has a right to own. One could read Marx's Capital as a reductio ad absurdum of this labor theory of property. I disagree with this reading. 3.0 Labor Commanded as a Theory of Welfare Given a unit of money - one dollar or one british pound - the labor commanded by that money is the amount of person-years of labor...

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Translation Between The Language Of Classical Economists And Marginalists

Lately, when trying to write up my results I use terminology from classical political economy. The table below maps some terms from classical political economy to terminology for marginalists. Terminology ClassicalMarginalistUse valueUtilitySupplyQuantity suppliedDemandQuantity demanded(Normal) profitsInterestExtra profits(Pure) economic profitsSupernormal profitsMarket pricesShort run pricesNatural pricesLong run pricesPrices of production I probably am leaving some important mapping out....

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A Short History

William Petty began classical political economy in the 17th century. Classical economics was developed through the work of the physiocrats and such writers as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx. Marx was also a critic. About a century and a half ago, economists mistakenly accepted the marginal revolution. Jevons, Menger, and Walras had precursors, but they were regarded as cranks. Marx, however, posed a political problem. Some might mention Henry George here, or maybe even Silvio...

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Three Quotations: Rousseau, Adam Smith, Engels

Here is Jean Jacques Rousseau: "...whether those who command are necessarily better than those who obey, and if strength of body or of mind, wisdom or virtue are always found in particular individuals, in proportion to their power or wealth: a question fit perhaps to be discussed by slaves in the hearing of their masters, but highly unbecoming to reasonable and free men in search of the truth." -- Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality (1755). Early developers of political...

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Marx On The Transformation Problem In 1847

This is the start of Section 5, "Strikes and combinations of workers", in the second chapter of The Poverty of Philosophy: "'Every upward movement in wages can have no other effect than a rise in the price of corn, wine, etc., that is, the effect of a dearth. For what are wages? They are the cost price of corn, etc.; they are the integrant price of everything. We may go even further: wages are the proportion of the elements composing wealth and consumed reproductively every day by the...

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On Sraffian Subsytems And Labor Values

1.0 Introduction I recently stumbled across McKiernan (2017), an Austrian response to Sraffa's book. This is a weird working paper. He works through Sraffa, with apparently no knowledge of all the textbooks explaining the book. McKiernan correctly notes that Sraffa provides little context about his points. And the mathematics is not always explicit. Naturally, McKiernan makes mistakes. If he ever revisits this, I think he would want to break it up into several papers. (Fabra (1991) is the...

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Value And Distribution

"It is the whole process of production that must be called 'human labour', and thus causes all products and all values. Marx and Ricardo used 'labour' in two different senses: the above and that of one of the factors of production ('hours of labour' or 'quantity of labour' has a meaning only in the latter sense). It is by confusing the two senses that they got mixed up and said that value is proportional to quantity of labour (in second sense) whereas they ought to have said that it is due...

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Adam Smith On The Source Of Profits And Rents In The Exploitation Of The Worker

"In that early and rude state of society which precedes both the accumulation of stock and the appropriation of land, the proportion between the quantities of labour necessary for acquiring different objects seems to be the only circumstance which can afford any rule for exchanging them for one another. If among a nation of hunters, for example, it usually costs twice the labour to kill a beaver which it does to kill a deer, one beaver should naturally exchange for or be worth two deer....

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A Derivation Of Sraffa’s First Equations

1.0 Introduction Piero Sraffa wrote down his 'first equations' in 1927, for an economy without a surplus. D3/12/5 starts with these equations for an economy with three produced commodities. I always thought that they did not make dimensional sense, but Garegnani (2005) argues otherwise. This post details Garegnani's argument, albeit with my own notation. There are arguments about how and why Sraffa started on his research project I do not address here. The question is how did he relate...

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