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Fictitious Capital and Crises

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  • Meacci, Ferdinando

Abstract

This paper is concerned with chapters 25-35 of Part V, The Division of Profit into Interest and Profit of Enterprise, of Volume 3 of Capital. These chapters may be properly grouped in an ideal Part to be possibly titled "Credit and Crises, or Money Capital and Fictitious Capital" and is referred to in this paper as 'the unidentified Part'. This Part should be strictly considered as a follow-up of Part IV, The Transformation of Commodity Capital and Money Capital into Commodity-Dealing Capital and Money-Dealing Capital (Merchant's Capital) in the sense that while the former deals with the role played by merchant's capital, and particularly by money-dealing capital, the latter deals with the obstruction or perversion inflicted on this role by money capital being turned into fictitious capital by an improper use of credit. The paper is structured in three ideal sections. The aim of the first section is to clear the debris of 'the unidentified Part' and to reconstruct Marx's own thinking about the nature and role of credit and of fictitious capital in relation to the concept of merchant's capital and to the phenomenon of crises. On the contrary, the second section, which is mostly focused on different forms versus different sets of crises, highlights some contradictions in Marx's unsystematic treatment of the relations between financial and real crises. The third section is derived from the arguments set out in the previous two sections. Its aim is to assess Marx's similarity with Keynes on the matter of 'money as money' and of financial crises. Its conclusion (which is also the conclusion of the paper) is that this similarity, however strong with regard to the role of money as a store of value, is bound to collapse if Marx's law of the falling rate of profit is believed to be true. For in this case the fictitious-capital theory of crises developed in 'the unidentified Part' acquires a secondary importance while financial crises come to be viewed as a typical effect, rather than as the cause, of real crises.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 11761.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision: 15 Apr 2009
Publication status: Published in Bellofiore R. (ed.), Marxian Economics: A Reappraisal London: Macmillan.Vol.1(1998): pp. 189-204
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11761

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Keywords: Marx; fictitious capital; money capital; financial crises;

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  1. Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
  2. Dudley Dillard, 1984. "Keynes and Marx: A Centennial Appraisal," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 6(3), pages 421-432, April.
  3. Smith, Adam, 2008. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: A Selected Edition," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199535927 edited by Sutherland, Kathryn, September.
  4. Arie Arnon, 1984. "Marx's Theory of Money: the Formative Years," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 555-575, Winter.
  5. Kenway, Peter, 1980. "Marx, Keynes and the Possibility of Crisis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 23-36, March.
  6. Ferdinando Meacci, 1989. "Irving Fisher and the Classics on the Notion of Capital: Upheaval and Continuity in Economic Thought," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 409-424, Fall.
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