What economic variables are constant?

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Mon Sep 25 21:37:49 MDT 1995

Jerry: Thur 21st

And how do you go about determining which variables should be exogenous?

Chris B: Fri 22nd

The total sum of use values may increase with the increase in

The total amount of currency in circulation may
fluctuate, usually upwards.


the most important variable that remains constant is
the total sum of exchange value created by all the
commodity producing labour in the world.

I would be grateful if everyone will throw everything they
can at this formula, as I  want to clarify whether it
is robust, or it needs amending. It appears to me to be an
inescapable corollary of Marx's economic theory.

Steve Fri 22nd:

so here goes, briefly. The statement is OK as a point-of-time,
stock statement. But in any proper analysis of capitalism, the
sum of exchange value produced will be a moving target. There
is also the issue of the pricing of non-commodities--such as
capital assets, in my analysis--which are not necessarily based
on their costs of production (as is required to make your
statement closed).

One of the difficulties in applying dynamic analysis to
social systems, as opposed to natural ones, is that there are
few if any "closures" that can be applied.

Chris B: today Mon 25th

Well 3 days is a long time on this list, and no one has
thrown anything harder at my corollary of marxism than
Steve's benign remarks. Come on folks!

I take Steve's points. We have a difficulty about how to define
a closed situation. That is one philosophical reason why I
suggest we must solve the problems posed by marxism on a
global scale.

I agree we are looking at a moving target.

Changes in population,

Changes in the proportion of the population selling their labour

Changes in the proportion of the week in which they sell their
labour power.

Changes in the proportion of labour power, distributed across different
technical levels of the means of production in different locations.

Changes in the speed of circulation of commodities in different markets.

Changes in the longevity of constant capital before it is discounted.

And no doubt other factors that would alter the constant I am proposing,

Can anyone throw something fundamental at it? Eg should the statement
be defined in terms of labour or labour power? I think that does not
matter to the sense of the proposition, but I am open to correction.

Chris B, London.

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