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A Descriptive and Analytic Look at Marxs Own Explanations for the Falling Rate of Profit

  • Howard Petith


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    Abstract: Marxs conclusions about the falling rate of profit have been analysed exhaustively. Usually this has been done by building models which broadly conform to Marxs views and then showing that his conclusions are either correct or, more frequently, that they can not be sustained. By contrast, this paper examines, both descriptively and analytically, Marxs arguments from the Hodgskin section of Theories of Surplus Value, the General Law section of the recently published Volume 33 of the Collected Works and Chapter 3 of Volume III of Capital. It also gives a new interpretation of Part III of this last work. The main conclusions are first, that Marx had an intrinsic explanation of the falling rate of profit but was unable to give it a satisfactory demonstration and second, that he had a number of subsidiary explanations of which the most important was resource scarcity. The paper closes with an assessment of the pedigree of various currents of Marxian thought on this issue.

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    Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 486.01.

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    Length: 30
    Date of creation: 19 Apr 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:486.01
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    1. Blaug, M., 1998. "Misunderstanding Classical Economics - The Sraffian Interpretation of the Surplus Approach," Discussion Papers 9802, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    2. Okishio, Nobuo, 1977. "Notes on Technical Progress and Capitalist Society," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 93-100, March.
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