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Constant capital (c), is a concept created by Karl Marx and used in Marxian political economy. It refers to one of the forms of capital invested in production, which contrasts with variable capital (v). The distinction between constant and variable refers to an aspect of the economic role of factors of production in creating a new value.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
Marxian economics, or the Marxian school of economics, refers to a heterodox school of economic thought. Its foundations can be traced back to the critique of classical political economy in the research by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxian economics refers to several different theories and includes multiple schools of thought, which are sometimes opposed to each other, and in many cases Marxian analysis is used to complement or supplement other economic approaches. Because one does not necessarily have to be politically Marxist to be economically Marxian, the two adjectives coexist in usage rather than being synonymous. They share a semantic field while also allowing connotative and denotative differences.
Political economy is the study of production and trade and their relations with law, custom and government; and with the distribution of national income and wealth. As a discipline, political economy originated in moral philosophy, in the 18th century, to explore the administration of states' wealth, with "political" signifying the Greek word polity and "economy" signifying the Greek word "okonomie". The earliest works of political economy are usually attributed to the British scholars Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo, although they were preceded by the work of the French physiocrats, such as François Quesnay (1694–1774) and Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (1727–1781).
Constant capital includes the outlay of money on (1) fixed assets, i.e. plant, machinery, land and buildings, (2) raw materials and ancillary operating expenses (including external services purchased), and (3) certain faux frais of production (incidental expenses). Variable capital by contrast refers to the capital outlay on labour costs insofar as they represent workers' earnings.
Plants are mainly multicellular, predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, plants were treated as one of two kingdoms including all living things that were not animals, and all algae and fungi were treated as plants. However, all current definitions of Plantae exclude the fungi and some algae, as well as the prokaryotes. By one definition, plants form the clade Viridiplantae, a group that includes the flowering plants, conifers and other gymnosperms, ferns and their allies, hornworts, liverworts, mosses and the green algae, but excludes the red and brown algae.
An estate in land is an interest in real property that is or may become possessory.
A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a wide number of factors, from building materials available, to weather conditions, land prices, ground conditions, specific uses, and aesthetic reasons. To better understand the term building compare the list of nonbuilding structures.
The concept of constant vs. variable capital contrasts with that of fixed vs. circulating capital (used not only by Marx but by David Ricardo and other classical economists). The latter distinction corresponds to the very common distinction in economics, between fixed inputs (and costs) and variable inputs (and costs). It distinguishes inputs from the point of view of their user (the capitalist), in terms of the degree of flexibility that the user has in using them.
In economics and accounting, fixed capital is any kind of real, physical asset that is used in the production of a product but is not used up in the production. It contrasts with circulating capital such as raw materials, operating expenses and the like. It was first theoretically analyzed in some depth by the economist David Ricardo.
Circulating capital includes intermediate goods and operating expenses, i.e., short-lived items that are used in production and used up in the process of creating other goods or services. This is roughly equal to intermediate consumption. Finer distinctions include raw materials, intermediate goods, inventories, ancillary operating expenses and. It is contrasted with fixed capital. The term was used in more specialized ways by classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx.
David Ricardo was a British political economist, one of the most influential of the classical economists along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith and James Mill.
On the other hand, constant capital refers to the non-human inputs into production, while variable capital refers to the human input (the hiring of labor power to do labor).
Constant capital can be measured as a stock magnitude, i.e., the total value of means of production in use at a specific point in time. It can also be measured as a flow magnitude, i.e., the total value of raw materials and fixed means of production used up in an accounting period. Which measure is used depends on the purposes and assumptions of one's analysis, for example whether one is interested in the unit-costs of output or in the rate of return on capital invested.
Economics, business, accounting, and related fields often distinguish between quantities that are stocks and those that are flows. These differ in their units of measurement. A stock is measured at one specific time, and represents a quantity existing at that point in time, which may have accumulated in the past. A flow variable is measured over an interval of time. Therefore, a flow would be measured per unit of time. Flow is roughly analogous to rate or speed in this sense.
In economics and sociology, the means of production are physical and non-financial inputs used in the production of economic value. These include raw materials, facilities, machinery and tools used in the production of goods and services. In the terminology of classical economics, the means of production are the "factors of production" minus financial and human capital.
Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.
The flow value divided by the stock value provides a measure of the number of rotations of the stock (the speed of turnover or turnover time) in an accounting period. It is strongly related to the actual depreciation rate of fixed capital. Alternatively, the stock value divided by the flow value is what Marx called the "turnover time".
The faster the turnover of constant capital (i.e., the shorter the turnover time), other things being equal, the higher the rate of profit.
Profit, in accounting, is an income distributed to the owner in a profitable market production process (business). Profit is a measure of profitability which is the owner’s major interest in income formation process of market production. There are several profit measures in common use.
Marx calls the constant part of the capital outlay "constant" because according to his labour theory of value, constant capital inputs - once produced, purchased, withdrawn from the market and used to create new products - do not by themselves add new value to output, or increase in value in the production process. Instead, the value of equipment and materials being used in production is conserved and transferred to the new product by living labor. For example, if a machine that is used to make cars costs $1 million and it is used to make 10,000 cars before it is worn out and replaced, then each car would have $100 worth of that machine in it (constant capital involves both fixed costs and unit costs).
It is true that the ruling market prices for constant capital inputs could change after they have been bought for use in production, but normally this cannot affect those inputs (having been withdrawn from the market for use in production), only the market valuation of the outputs created from those inputs.
Constant capital contrasts with variable capital, v, the cost incurred in hiring labor power. Marx argues that only living labour creates new value. The higher value of output, compared to input costs, is (other things being equal) attributable to the exploitation of living labor-power only. Variable capital is "variable" because its value changes (varies) within the production process, as the worker can produce value over and above what he needs to live (the "necessary labor time"), which is paid in wages. As the worker produces more than he is paid in wages, he thus creates new value.Although most commentaries on Marx do not acknowledge this, these changes could be both positive or negative. A misapplication of labour, or the devaluation of types of labour activity by the market can mean the loss of part of the capital invested, or all of it. However, Marx does generally assume that labour will accomplish the valorisation of capital.
An example of variable capital would be as follows: a worker is hired for $100 and uses $1000 of materials and components to create a product which is sold for $1300. This would be $1000 constant capital plus $100 variable capital plus $200 surplus value. The $200 surplus value was added solely by the activity of the worker - of the $1100 investment, only the $100 variable capital expanded. The $1000 constant capital was transferred from the materials and components to the product and thus produced no new value.
Critics of Marxian value theory object that labor is not the only source of value-added goods.
Examples of such arguments:
If workers receive a subsistence wage, and if the working day exhausts the capacity to labor, then it could be argued that in a day a worker “depreciates” by an amount equivalent to the subsistence wage—the exchange-value of labor power. However this depreciation is not the limit of the amount of value that can be added by a worker in a day’s labor—the use-value of labor. Value added is unrelated to and greater than value lost; if it were not, there could be no surplus.
According to some Marxists, the first two types of objection above cut to the heart of the main dispute between Marx and mainstream economic theory—their different conceptions of value.
For Marx's critics, value, if it exists at all, is a technical feature of economic calculus or is simply another word for the price of a product.
For Marx, however, economic value is a social attribution, which expresses a social relation between people that is specific to certain historical conditions. Inanimate objects can only feature in value relations as tokens of prior human effort, since they are not social beings. Thus, it is not the machine with which new outputs are produced that itself adds value to those outputs, but rather the people operating the machine who permit its value to be conserved and who operate the transfer of part of its value to the new outputs.
Another clarification is that Marx may have used the terms fixed and variable capital to emphasize the idea that the input cost of compensation can be varied by the enterprise, which sets the compensation levels of its workers, whereas the price of the other input factors sold to the company is "fixed," insofar as it is set by external vendors.
Other Marxian economists note that, at any time, most of the stock of objects of value in a society has no actual market price, because those objects are not being traded (i.e. they are withdrawn from the market); they are either being used in production or consumption activities, or else stored for later use. This can be easily verified by striking a ratio between gross product and the estimated total asset wealth of a country in money units.
In other words, this stock of owned objects has, at best, an ideal price which is estimated or hypothesized (the price it might have, if it was traded in the market).
Nobody however will say that because this stock of objects has no actual market price, that it has no value; everybody knows that its exchange value could be expressed in money, within a certain range of probable prices; they may also know approximately that a quantity of one good is "worth" a certain quantity of another good.
This simple insight may help to clarify Marx's concept of value, because it shows that beyond prices there are also economic value relations referring to the changing relationships between objects of value which have no specific, defined or actual market price, and to the social outcome of the interactions between a myriad of prices. In turn, these value relations between objects reflect social relations between people.
The fact that the productive force of labour appears within capitalism as the productive force of capital was for Marx an example of reification of the relations of production or of commodity fetishism. In other words, property (a "thing") is given human powers and characteristics which it does not truly have. Economists talk about the "productivity of capital" to describe the yield or return on capital, but capital itself "produces" nothing, people do that.
The fetish of capital is broken as soon as living labour is withdrawn; then it becomes clear that the constant part of capital produces nothing, and declines in value. Because of its role as a traditional money commodity some individuals give a reference display of this fetish by seeing gold as the only 'real' money, even in the current time when most money is lacking any substantial form whatsoever, even paper.
The ratio, c/v is one measure of the organic composition of capital.
As noted above, the distinction between constant and variable capital overlaps with the distinction between fixed capital and circulating capital. Constant capital has both fixed and circulating components: for example, the fixed constant capital would include a factory and the machinery in it, while the circulating constant capital would include the raw materials used and the intermediate inputs produced by the factory.
Variable capital is almost exclusively a component of circulating capital. However, the salaries of some "overhead" employees (who have long-term security from being fired or laid off) are in effect, fixed elements of variable capital.
The labor theory of value (LTV) is a normative classical theory of value that argues that the price of a good or service should be (morally) equal to the total amount of labor value (wages) required to produce it. Smith and other classical economists saw the price of a commodity in terms of the labor that the purchaser must expend to buy it.
In economics, capital consists of an asset that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a caveman who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city.
In 20th-century discussions of Karl Marx's economics, the transformation problem is the problem of finding a general rule by which to transform the "values" of commodities into the "competitive prices" of the marketplace. This problem was first introduced by Marx in chapter 9 of the draft of volume 3 of Capital, where he also sketched a solution. The essential difficulty was this: given that Marx derived profit, in the form of surplus value, from direct labour inputs, and that the ratio of direct labour input to capital input varied widely between commodities, how could he reconcile this with the tendency toward an average rate of profit on all capital invested?
The organic composition of capital (OCC) is a concept created by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy and used in Marxian economics as a theoretical alternative to neo-classical concepts of factors of production, production functions, capital productivity and capital-output ratios. It is normally defined as the ratio of constant capital to variable capital. The concept does not apply to all capital assets, only to capital invested in production. The neoclassical concept most similar to the increasing organic composition of capital is capital deepening.
In economics and finance, the profit rate is the relative profitability of an investment project, of a capitalist enterprise, or of the capitalist economy as a whole. It is similar to the concept of the rate of return on investment.
Consumption of fixed capital (CFC) is a term used in business accounts, tax assessments and national accounts for depreciation of fixed assets. CFC is used in preference to "depreciation" to emphasize that fixed capital is used up in the process of generating new output, and because unlike depreciation it is not valued at historic cost but at current market value ; CFC may also include other expenses incurred in using or installing fixed assets beyond actual depreciation charges. Normally the term applies only to producing enterprises, but sometimes it applies also to real estate assets.
In economics, a cost curve is a graph of the costs of production as a function of total quantity produced. In a free market economy, productively efficient firms optimize their production process by minimizing cost consistent with each possible level of production, and the result is a cost curve; and profit maximizing firms use cost curves to decide output quantities. There are various types of cost curves, all related to each other, including total and average cost curves; marginal cost curves, which are equal to the differential of the total cost curves; and variable cost curves. Some are applicable to the short run, others to the long run.
In Marxism, the valorisation or valorization of capital is the increase in the value of capital assets through the application of value-forming labour in production. The German original term is "Verwertung" but this is difficult to translate, and often wrongly rendered as "realisation of capital", "creation of surplus-value" or "self-expansion of capital" or "increase in value".
The value product (VP) is an economic concept formulated by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy during the 1860s, and used in Marxian social accounting theory for capitalist economies. Its annual monetary value is approximately equal to the netted sum of six flows of income generated by production:
Prices of production is a concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy, defined as "cost-price + average profit". A production price can be thought of as a type of supply price for products; it refers to the price levels at which newly produced goods and services would have to be sold by the producers, in order to reach a normal, average profit rate on the capital invested to produce the products.
Faux frais of production is a concept used by classical political economists and by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. It refers to "incidental operating expenses" incurred in the productive investment of capital, which do not themselves add new value to output. In Marx's social accounting, the faux frais are a component of constant capital, or alternately are funded by a fraction of the new surplus value.
Productive and unproductive labour are concepts that were used in classical political economy mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries, which survive today to some extent in modern management discussions, economic sociology and Marxist or Marxian economic analysis. The concepts strongly influenced the construction of national accounts in the Soviet Union and other Soviet-type societies.
Net output is an accounting concept used in national accounts such as the United Nations System of National Accounts (UNSNA) and the NIPAs, and sometimes in corporate or government accounts. The concept was originally invented to measure the total net addition to a country's stock of wealth created by production during an accounting interval. The concept of net output is basically "gross revenue from production less the value of goods and services used up in that production". The idea is that if one deducts intermediate expenditures from the annual flow of income generated by production, one obtains a measure of the net new value in the new products created.
The tendency of the rate of profit to fall (TRPF) is a hypothesis in economics and political economy, most famously expounded by Karl Marx in chapter 13 of Capital, Volume III. Economists as diverse as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo and Stanley Jevons referred explicitly to the TRPF as an empirical phenomenon that demanded further theoretical explanation, yet they each differed as to the reasons why the TRPF should necessarily occur.
Okishio's theorem is a theorem formulated by Japanese economist Nobuo Okishio. It has had a major impact on debates about Marx's theory of value. Intuitively, it can be understood as saying that if one capitalist raises his profits by introducing a new technique that cuts his costs, the collective or general rate of profit in society – for all capitalists – goes up.
Capital. Volume I: The Process of Production of Capital is an 1867 economics book by German philosopher Karl Marx. In Volume I, the only part of Marx's multi-volume Capital: Critique of Political Economy to be published during his lifetime, Marx critiques capitalism chiefly from the standpoint of its production processes. After Marx's death, Friedrich Engels compiled and expanded his friend's notes into volumes II (1885) and III (1894).
In classical political economy and especially Karl Marx's critique of political economy, a commodity is any good or service produced by human labour and offered as a product for general sale on the market. Some other priced goods are also treated as commodities, e.g. human labor-power, works of art and natural resources, even though they may not be produced specifically for the market, or be non-reproducible goods.
Criticisms of the labor theory of value affect the historical concept of labor theory of value (LTV) which spans classical economics, liberal economics, Marxian economics, neo-Marxian economics, and anarchist economics. As an economic theory of value LTV is central to Marxist social-political-economic theory and later gave birth to the ideologically motivated concepts of exploitation of labour and surplus value. LTV criticisms therefore often appear in the context of economic criticism, not only for the microeconomic theory of Marx, but also for Marxism, according to which the working class was exploited under capitalism.
Socially necessary labour time in Marx's critique of political economy is what regulates the exchange value of commodities in trade and consequently constrains producers in their attempt to economise on labour. It does not 'guide' them, as it can only be determined after the event and is thus inaccessible to forward planning.
Surplus value is a central concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy. "Surplus value" is a translation of the German word "Mehrwert", which simply means value added, and is cognate to English "more worth". Surplus-value is the difference between the amount raised through a sale of a product and the amount it cost to the owner of that product to manufacture it: i.e. the amount raised through sale of the product minus the cost of the materials, plant and labour power. Conventionally, value-added is equal to the sum of gross wage income and gross profit income. However, Marx uses the term Mehrwert to describe the yield, profit or return on production capital invested, i.e. the amount of the increase in the value of capital. Hence, Marx's use of Mehrwert has always been translated as "surplus value", distinguishing it from "value-added". According to Marx's theory, surplus value is equal to the new value created by workers in excess of their own labor-cost, which is appropriated by the capitalist as profit when products are sold.