[OPE-L:4130] Re: use-value and value

Steve Kee (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Sat, 1 Feb 1997 12:03:53 -0800 (PST)

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Michael observes:
>I return to my case in point, the US in the late 19th C. New technology
>offered great cost savings but with enormous increases in scale. Yes,
>realization was the problem from a particular perspective. The
>contemporaries spoke of overproduction.

This is a bit like the "blondes have more fun" proposition, the repost to
which is "more fun than what"? Yes, overproduction was the contemporary
explanation--but overproduction relative to what? The symptom, quite
obviously, is stocks of unsold goods--but it's not a symptom in isolation.
It is normally accompanied by massive unemployment of labor, and preceded by
a debt-driven boom. So you can--and Minsky and Blatt do, for example--make
the case that it's overproduction relative to effective demand. The main
constraints on effective demand are then the distribution of income, the
accumulation of debt and consequent depressed levels of profit and investment.

So I can contend that the problem of overproduction isn't one of the
declining ability to produce surplus value, but the cyclical (and possibly
secular) ability to realise it.

Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Faculty of Business & Technology
University of Western Sydney
PO Box 555 Campbelltown NSW 2560
s.keen@uws.edu.au (046) 20-3254 Fax (046) 26-6683
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