Friday, 21 March 2014

Capital II, Chapter 15 - Part 9

The output of a working period might be, for instance a machine, here with an exchange value of £900. But, the £900 is likely only to be actually returned in one lump sum. If the circulation period is 4.5 weeks, it is unlikely to be the case that in each of these weeks, the buyer of the machine will return £200 to the seller. Of course, that may happen, the seller might receive stage payments from the buyer of some big piece of equipment, or for a house etc.

On the other hand, although a working period might last for 4.5 weeks, that might only be in the sense that this is the amount of time required to process a given amount of material. That might be the case where commodities are produced to order; for example, a large wholesaler places orders for regular large quantities, or it might simply be that this is the period required for some historically determined optimum long production run. For example, car manufacturers used to have such long runs that made best use of the jigs and other machinery set up for producing particular models, rather than having to stop production to change the set up to produce some other model. But, it may also be the case that where production is truly homogeneous i.e. only one identical commodity is continuously produced in huge quantities, the working period is merely a convenient mathematical abstraction of the time required to produce a given quantity of that commodity, which may or may not be related to the usual quantities shipped to the market.

Especially, in the latter case, therefore, where quantities are being continually sent to market, and payment received, it may well be the case that the capital returned represents a proportion of the advanced capital for a given working period. For example, a company may produce 10,000 ball bearings, or metres of linen per month, or a potbank might produce 10,000 cups per month. It may limit its output to this quantity, because it knows this is on average the amount it can sell in that time. But, all of that output is unlikely to be sold in one go. Buyers will place orders etc. throughout the month. So, although the circulation time might be 1 month, a proportion of the month's output will be being sold every day, so that a proportion of the capital will be continually being returned throughout the month.

So, the fact that Capital 1 is said to be ⅔ of the way through a turnover, simply reflects the fact that the capital has been employed, produced value, and is not currently available for employment as productive capital, but will be after another 3 weeks.

Similarly, for Capital 2, which does not begin its turnover until week 4.5 (as may well be the case with different businesses that begin operating at different times), when it arrives at week 51, its capital will be in a number of different forms.

Its 6th working period starts at week 49.5. At the end of week 51, it is then ⅓ of the way through its working period. So, ⅓ of its capital will have been advanced for labour-power, and materials. Two-thirds will be in the form of money-capital, or materials waiting to be used in production.

“The same calculation of averages that we employed above for I and II suffices also here to bring down the turnover years of the various independent portions of the social capital to one uniform turnover year.” (p 274)

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