[OPE-L:5789] Re: commodity money

Tue, 2 Dec 1997 18:12:30

[ show plain text ]

Alfredo quoted by Massimo:

> > Alfredo writes: In my view, once gold is abandoned the price
> > level is (more clearly than ever) determined
> > historically. A computer costs stlg.1000, not stlg 1 million or 1
> > billion, for historical reasons. To a large extent, prices
> > are what they are because they were what they were. Having
> > come from a country that has had five (or six, I forget)
> > different currencies in twelve years, Ive seen too many new
> > currency names and too many elimination of zeroes to believe in
> > anything else.
> > In other words, what matters is the *relative prices*, which
> > establish the (tendential, erratic, etc) equality of profit
> > rates across branches. The absolute price level is
> > inconsequential.

This implicitely assumes that the Real (or Cruzado, or Cruzado Novo
or... Cruzeiro or "Cruzeiro divided by 1000") is (or has been) THE
Brazilian money, which I strongly doubt. All these monetary
denominations are only a very partial kinds of money, perhaps limited
to the function of "means of circulation" in relatively small trade
Since many years Brazilian (in general Latinamerican) capitalists
(and non-capitalists!) use the US dollar as a more "complete" form of
money. For many commodities, value is directly or indirectly measured
in terms of dollars; hoarding is obviously carried out in dollars;
the means of payment is the dollar or some kind of money pegged to
the dollar. Here in Bolivia sometimes the dollar is even means of
circulation, i.e. you purchase an ice-cream or a newspaper paying in
dollars in many places. This even though the inflationary rates in
the national currency have been low for many years.

Alfredo's idea that only "relative prices" matter could be
interpreted as there is no such a thing as a "value level". That is,
if a capitalist advanced $100 and obtains $120, we couldnt say that
she got a profit of $20 because the "value level" actually doesnt
exist, it is only an "inflationary illusion". But, maybe Im
misunderstanding Alfredo.

> > With gold, we have an anchor. Without gold, we dont.

I dont understand very well the idea of the "gold anchor". This could
mean that the value of gold is eternally constant. A change on the
value of gold would destroy the so-called "anchor". I think the only,
so to say, "anchor" in Marx's theory is social labor-time.

On the other hand, I think that in this thread it hasnt been stressed
that for Marx value has a twofold measure, social labor-time and
money. It seems to me that much of the discussion on Marx's monetary
theory separates it out of his theory of value, neglecting the
linking between money and social labor-time.

Alejandro Ramos