Saturday, 9 January 2016

Capital III, Chapter 22 - Part 6

When it comes to the division of the new value, produced by labour, into surplus value and wages, these are two objectively determined quantities. The new value is a function of the abstract labour-time performed, whilst the wages are merely a phenomenal form of the value of labour-power. The surplus value is then the difference between the new value created and the value of the labour-power. The higher the latter, the smaller the surplus value and vice versa.

At the same time, this fundamental opposition represents the fundamental opposition of capital and labour, the two things are qualitatively different, and this qualitative difference leads to the quantitative difference between the share going to wages and the share going to surplus value.

But, there is no qualitative difference between capital as money-capital and capital as productive-capital, between interest and profit. The difference of the share going to one as opposed to the other is purely quantitative, resulting from competition. It is, in fact, here the reverse, because it is this quantitative division, which then leads to a qualitative difference between interest and profit, and between money-capital and productive-capital, and which creates the division of interest between these two class fractions.

“Two entirely different elements — labour-power and capital — act as determinants in the division between surplus-value and wages, which division essentially determines the rate of profit; these are functions of two independent variables, which limit one another; and it is their qualitative difference that is the source of the quantitative division of the produced value. We shall see later that the same occurs in the splitting of surplus-value into rent and profit. Nothing of the kind occurs in the case of interest. Here the qualitative differentiation as we shall presently see, proceeds rather from the purely quantitative division of the same sum of surplus-value.” (p 364)

In just the same way that the market prices of commodities are determined by their average social value, rather than their individual value, i.e. by the labour-time required, on average, to produce the given class of commodity, not the labour-time actually used to produce these specific commodity units, so the average rate of interest is determined by the average rate of profit, and not any particular rate of profit.

In other words, the rate of interest, set in the money market, to borrow for 2 years, is the same whether the individual capital that seeks to borrow is making profits above or below the average rate of profit. Engels, in a note, gives some of these money market rates, as an example, and at the same time makes the point, alluded to earlier, that these rates can change even during the same day, but these changes are a result of movements in the demand and supply of money-capital, not the rate of profit.

In practice, as stated earlier, the actual rate of interest charged to any borrower may be influenced by their own individual rate of profit, particularly for unsecured loans, because the lender will seek to protect themselves against the risk of default by charging a higher rate of interest. But, this may not be entirely a function of the rate of profit. A very large company, like Microsoft, can borrow in the money-market at lower rates than a much smaller company, even if the latter is making a higher rate of profit, because Microsoft's massive balance sheet means that its risk of default is very low. The same applies to very big economies like the US. In short, those who need to borrow least can always borrow more easily, and at lower rates, than those who need to borrow most.

Back To Part 5

Forward To Part 7

No comments: