Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Capital III, Chapter 28 - Part 2

Marx then deals with these elements of confusion in Tooke's concept.

Firstly, it confuses the functional distinctions of money as currency and money as capital. Whether money is used to realise revenue, or to transfer capital, money acts as currency. What form this money takes – coin, bank notes, etc. - is also irrelevant. The retailer may take smaller denominations of note, or coins, because of the lower value of the commodities being bought and sold, compared to the transfers of capital, whose large value may be circulated by payment by cheque, for example.

In fact, this process can be seen by which the retail capitalist, every day, receives small notes and coins, in exchange for the commodities they sell, and pays these into their bank account. Each week, from that same bank account, they draw cheques to cover the purchases they in turn make from the wholesaler and manufacturer.

The money the retailer receives in is out of the revenue – wages, rents, profits, interest – of their customers, to cover their consumption needs. The money the retailer pays out, is to cover the transfer of capital. The retailer pays out a certain quantity of money-capital, in their possession, and receives back for it, a certain quantity of commodity-capital. So, this is a transfer of money-capital in exchange for commodity-capital. It is an amount of capital value being metamorphosed from one form money-capital, into another form, commodity-capital.  But, in both cases, the money itself acts as currency not capital.

Referring back to the discussion of the circulation of capital in Capital II, and the fact that at the heart of it remains simple reproduction, Marx points out that,

“Only where money is expended as money-capital, early in the reproduction process (Book II, Part 1), does capital-value exist purely as such. For the produced commodities contain not merely capital, but also surplus-value; they are not only capital in themselves, but already capital realised as capital, capital with the source of revenue incorporated in it. What the retail dealer gives away for the money returning to him, his commodities, therefore, is for him capital plus profit, capital plus revenue.” ( p 444)

In other words, the retailer buys commodities from the wholesaler or manufacturer. As a merchant capitalist, they buy these commodities at a price that is equal to the cost-price plus average profit, for the seller, and sells these commodities at the cost price to them, plus the average profit. But, because simple reproduction remains at the heart of capitalist reproduction, the retail capitalist must take a portion of this profit to meet their own consumption needs. A portion of the profit realised in the sale of these commodities, forms for them revenue, to be spent on commodities unproductively. It is only the portion of the realised profit that is used to expand their capital, which for them constitutes money-capital.

This is the point of Marx's comment referring back to Capital II, Chapter I, where Marx makes clear the the circuit M – C … P … C' – M', is only the circuit of newly invested money-capital. In other words, the newly invested money-capital M, exists purely as such. As soon as it is invested in productive-capital, the value of that capital can move up and down, as the value of the commodities that comprise it fluctuate. But, also that productive-capital, as soon as it functions as such, increases in value because surplus value is added to it, in the production process, so that already, by C', the commodity-capital no longer consists purely of the capital value advanced at M, but also includes s, the surplus value, and when realised, this becomes m, its monetary equivalent, such that M has been expanded to M' = M + m.

But, for the merchant capitalist, such as the retailer here, because they buy commodities beneath their value, and sell them at their value, as soon as they buy these commodities, the value of this commodity-capital includes the average profit. It is the cost price to the merchant plus the average profit. Moreover, as an already functioning capital, its circuit is not M – C … P … C' – M', or even as a merchant M – C – M'. Rather it is C' – M'. – C''. That is, as a functioning merchant capital, it always has a quantity of commodity-capital, which must be reproduced. The starting point of this reproduction is the sale of the existing commodities. The price at which these commodities are sold includes the average rate of profit, and thereby constitutes an expansion of the capital advanced for their purchase.

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