Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Capital II, Chapter 15 - Part 6

The longer the circulation time as a proportion of the total turnover time, the greater proportion of capital must be held as money-capital.

“The same thing also takes place — as far as it concerns both the advance in the form of a productive supply and in that of a money-supply — when the separation of capital into two parts made necessary by the time of circulation, namely into capital for the first working period and replacement capital for the time of circulation, is not caused by the increase of the capital laid out but by a decrease of the scale of production. The amount of capital tied up in the money-form grows here still more in relation to the scale of production.” (p 268-9)

The additional capital ensures that working periods are continuous, so that an equal portion of the advanced capital is always engaged productively. In the second example, £500, or 50%, of the total advanced capital, is continuously employed productively, i.e. over each five week period. It produces then 10 x £500 = £5,000 in the year.

“But if the capital of £500 were regularly interrupted in its productive activity by a 5-week circulation time, so that it would again become capable of production only after the close of the entire 10-week turnover period, we should have 5 turnovers of ten weeks each in the 50 weeks of the year. These would comprise five 5-week periods of production, or a sum of 25 productive weeks with a total product worth 5 times £500 or £2,500, and five 5-week periods of circulation, or a total circulation time of likewise 25 weeks. If we say in this case that the capital of £500 has been turned over 5 times in the year, it will be clear and obvious that during half of each period of turnover this capital of £500 did not function at all as a production capital and that, all in all, it performed its functions only during one half of the year, but did not function at all during the other half.” (p 269)

But, as illustrated previously, it is not £500 that is the advanced capital, but £1,000 - £500 original capital, and £500 additional capital, to cover the circulation period, so that production is continuous.

“In our illustration the replacement capital of £500 appears on the scene during those five periods of circulation and the turnover is thus expanded from £2,500 to £5,000. But now the advanced capital is £1,000 instead of £500. 5,000 divided by 1,000 is 5. Hence, there are five turnovers instead of ten. And that is just the way people figure. But when it is said that the capital of £1,000 has been turned over five times during the year, the recollection of the time of circulation disappears from the hollow skulls of the capitalists and a confused idea is formed that this capital has served continuously in the production process during the five successive turnovers. But if we say that the capital of £1,000 has been turned over five times this includes both the time of circulation and the time of production. Indeed, if £1,000 had really been continuously active in the process of production, the product would, according to our assumptions, have to be £10,000 instead of £5,000. But in order to have £1,000 continuously in the process of production, £2,000 would have to be advanced. The economists, who as a general rule have nothing clear to say in reference to the mechanism of the turnover, always overlook this main point, to wit, that only a part of the industrial capital can actually be engaged in the process of production if production is to proceed uninterruptedly. While one part is in the period of production, another must always be in the period of circulation. Or in other words, one part can perform the function of productive capital only on condition that another part is withdrawn from production proper in the form of commodity- or money-capital. In overlooking this, the significance and role of money-capital is entirely ignored.” (p 269-70)

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