Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Do Nothin' 'til You Hear From Me

I'm going away (before you get too excited, it's only temporary) and while I'm taking my access to digital resources with me, don't know if I'll be away from the sea, the wine, and the sunscreen long enough to want to write something.  If truth be told, I can be more shallow and superficial than the next guy, and sometimes being more shallow and superficial is almost good enough  (see here).

So if sometime somewhere you happen to be strolling down a sun-drenched promenade where palm trees don't look homesick, out of place, and lost, and you spy a mature gentleman tucked behind his sunglasses and a bottle of wine, trying his best, but usually failing, to likewise not appear out of place, most probably it's not me... this world being filled with mature gentlemen in sunglasses and sunblock trying and failing to not appear out of place.  But it might take the chance and inquire.  Part of being shallow and superficial is never failing to buy the wine for all.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this, one of my favorite passages from my favorite manuscript by my favorite critic of capitalism:

Thus in a crisis–a general depreciation of prices– there occurs up to a certain moment a general devaluation or destruction of capital. The devaluation, like the depreciation, can be absolute and not merely relative, because value expresses not merely a relation between one commodity and the other, as does price, but rather the relation between the price of the commodity and the labour objectified in it, or between one amount of objectified labour of the same quality and another. If these amounts are not equal, then devaluation takes place, which is not outweighed by appreciation on the other side, for the other side expresses a fixed amount of objectified labour which remain unchanged by exchange. In general crises, this devaluation extends even to living labour capacity itself. In consequence of what has been indicated above, the destruction of value and capital which takes place in a crisis coincides with– or means the same thing as– a general growth of the productive forces, which however, takes place not by means of a real increases of the productive force of labour (the extent to which this happens in consequence of crises is beside the point here, but by means of a decrease of the existing value of raw materials, machines, labour capacity……In the same way, on the other hand, a sudden general increases in the forces of production would relatively devalue all present values which labor objectifies at the lower stage of the productive forces, and hence would destroy present capital as well as present labouring capacity. The other side of the crisis resolves itself into a real decrease in production, in living labour– in order to restore the correct relation between necessary and surplus labour, on which, in the last analysis, everything rests. (Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook IV,  p446 Penguin 1973)[bold underlining provided by me, italics provided by KM]
Among other things, besides prefiguring Marx's discussion of, and the importance of, fixed capital to rates of profitability and the "growing over" of capitalist expansion to capitalist contraction, I think this section goes a long, long way to validating Kliman's arguments concerning the proper valuation of the means of production when calculating that profitability. 

"...the correct relation between necessary and surplus labour, on which, in the last analysis everything rests..."  Indeed.  Too much is at one and the same time too much and never enough. 

May 25, 2013


  1. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Hope you're enjoying your vacation!

    I always look forward to reading your comments on Roberts' blog. I hope you continue to contribute there.

    Since you trade derivatives, currencies, etc. I was wondering what you think determine exchange rates? Labor productivity?
    No I'm not thinking about trading currencies :)



  2. Thanks Cameron. However, I don't trade currencies or derivatives. That was just a plot device to show how real life can outfreak you at every turn.