Sraffa on Value

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sat Jun 10 18:37:27 MDT 1995


Hi Justin,

Thanks for coming back. I discovered by the way today that in addition to
Sraffa being out of print in London, Steedman's Marx after Sraffa is out of
print.

You said:

 > I guess I'm unclear on wshay you found to be opaque in Steve's exposition.


I had said

 > > I have two problems:
 > >
 > > 1) Steedman's chart that Steve uses is so condensed that I cannot find
 > > my way round it.
 > > I would like an explanation in very elementary terms as to what column
 > > is what and how the columns relate to each other.

<snip>

 > >
 > > 		Inputs			Outputs
 > > 		      Iron      Labor		Iron	Gold	Corn
 > > Iron Industry	28	56	-->	56
 > > Gold Industry	16	16	-->		48
 > > Corn Industry	12	8	-->			8
 > > Total		56	80	-->	56	48	8
 > >
 > > This is obviously mythical (it shows gold being produced by iron
 > > and labor), but it illustrates a few points. Firstly, production
 > > is a process that "transforms" inputs into quantifiable but
 > > qualitatively different outputs. Secondly, it takes both
 > > commodity inputs and labor to produce anything. Thirdly, since
 > > 56 units of steel are used up producing the total output of 56
 > > units of steel, 48 of gold and 8 of corn, this system is in
 > > "simple reproduction", since it only produces enough steel to
 > > reproduce the same outputs the next time round. Thus the net  *
 > > output is the 48 units of gold and 8 units of corn (these could
 > > be 48 ounces and 8 tonnes, by the way; they don't have to be in
 > > the same units).
 > > <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


Although I suspect magic is hidden in this table, I am seeking an
elementary explanation of what are the rows and columns and how they
relate to each other.

An explanation line by line as if I was an intelligent child would be
helpful to establish if there is something robust in Sraffa's model and
I am being over sceptical, or whether the obscurity of the mathematics
is impressive, but it is just a variant of the theories of economics
that are limited to circular descriptions of prices of production.

Thanks,

Chris B




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