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In economics, overproduction, oversupply, excess of supply or glut refers to excess of supply over demand of products being offered to the market. This leads to lower prices and/or unsold goods along with the possibility of unemployment.
The demand side equivalent is underconsumption; some consider supply and demand two sides to the same coin – excess supply is only relative to a given demand, and insufficient demand is only relative to a given supply – and thus consider overproduction and underconsumption equivalent.
Overproduction is often attributed as due to previous overinvestment – creation of excess productive capacity, which must then either lie idle (or under capacity), which is unprofitable, or produce an excess supply.
Overproduction is the accumulation of unsalable inventories in the hands of businesses. Overproduction is a relative measure, referring to the excess of production over consumption. The tendency for an overproduction of commodities to lead to economic collapse is specific to the capitalist economy. In previous economic formations, an abundance of production created general prosperity. However, in the capitalist economy, commodities are produced for monetary profit. This so-called profit motive, the core of the capitalist economy, creates a dynamic whereby an abundance of commodities has negative consequences. In essence, an abundance of commodities disrupts the conditions for the creation of profit.
The overproduction of commodities forces businesses to reduce production in order to clear inventories. Any reduction in production implies a reduction in employment. A reduction in employment, in turn, reduces consumption. As overproduction is the excess of production above consumption, this reduction in consumption worsens the problem. This creates a "feed-back loop" or "vicious cycle", whereby excess inventories force businesses to reduce production, thereby reducing employment, which in turn reduces the demand for the excess inventories. The general reduction in the level of prices (deflation) caused by the law of supply and demand also forces businesses to reduce production as profits decline. Reduced profits render certain fields of production unprofitable.
Henry George argued that there could not be any such thing as overproduction in a general sense, but only in a relative sense:
Is there, then, such a thing as overproduction? Manifestly, there cannot be, in any general sense, until more wealth is produced than is wanted. In any unqualified sense, over- production is preposterous, when everywhere the struggle to get wealth is so intense; when so many must worry and strain to get a living, and there is actual want among large classes. The manner in which the strain of the war was borne shows how great are the forces of production which, in normal times, go to waste; proves that what we suffer from now is not overproduction, but underproduction.
Relative overproduction there, of course, may be. The desires for different forms of wealth vary in intensity and in sequence, and are related one with another. I may want both a pair of shoes and a dozen pocket-handkerchiefs, but my desire for the shoes is first and strongest; and upon the terms on which I can get the shoes may in large measure depend my ability to get the handkerchiefs. So, in the aggregate demand for the different forms of wealth, there is a similar relation. And as, under the division of labor characteristic of the modern industrial system, nearly all production is carried on with the view, not of consumption by the immediate producers, but of exchange for other productions, certain commodities may be produced so far in excess of their proper proportion to the production of other commodities, that the whole quantity produced cannot be exchanged for enough of those other commodities to give the usual returns to the capital and labor engaged in bringing them to market. This disproportionate production of some things, which is overproduction in relation to the production of other things, is the only kind of overproduction that can take place on any considerable scale, and the overproduction of which we hear so much is evidently of this character.
Karl Marx outlined the inherent tendency of capitalism towards overproduction in his seminal work, Das Kapital.
According to Marx, in capitalism, improvements in technology and rising levels of productivity increase the amount of material wealth (or use values) in society while simultaneously diminishing the economic value of this wealth, thereby lowering the rate of profit—a tendency that leads to the paradox, characteristic of crises in capitalism, of "reserve army of labour" and of “poverty in the midst of plenty”, or more precisely, crises of overproduction in the midst of underconsumption.
John Maynard Keynes formulated a theory of overproduction, which led him to propose government intervention to ensure effective demand. Effective demand are levels of consumption which corresponds to the level of production. If effective demand is achieved then there is no overproduction because all inventories are sold. Importantly, Keynes acknowledged that such measures could only delay and not solve overproduction.
Say's law states that "The more goods [for which there is demand] that are produced, the more those goods (supply) can constitute a demand for other goods". Keynes summarized this "law" as asserting that "supply creates its own demand". The consumer's desire to trade causes the potential consumer to become a producer to create goods that can be exchanged for the goods of others, goods are directly or indirectly exchanged for other goods. Because goods can only be paid for by other goods, no demand can exist without prior production. Following Say's law, overproduction (in the economy as a whole, specific goods can still be overproduced) is only possible in a limited sense.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
In economics, a commodity is an economic good or service that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them.
In Karl Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism is the perception of certain relationships not as relationships among people, but as social relationships among things. As a form of reification, commodity fetishism transforms the intersubjective, abstract aspects of economic value into things that people believe have intrinsic value.
In classical economics, Say's law, or the law of markets, is the claim that the production of a product creates demand for another product by providing something of value which can be exchanged for that other product. So, production is source of demand. In his principal work, A Treatise on Political Economy, Jean-Baptiste Say wrote: "A product is no sooner created, than it, from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value." And also, "As each of us can only purchase the productions of others with his own productions – as the value we can buy is equal to the value we can produce, the more men can produce, the more they will purchase."
In underconsumption theory in economics, recessions and stagnation arise due to inadequate consumer demand relative to the amount produced. It means that there is an overproduction and overinvestment problem during a demand crisis. The theory formed the basis for the development of Keynesian economics and the theory of aggregate demand after the 1930s.
Use value or value in use is a concept in classical political economy and Marxian economics. It refers to the tangible features of a commodity which can satisfy some human requirement, want or need, or which serves a useful purpose. In Karl Marx's critique of political economy, any product has a labor-value and a use-value, and if it is traded as a commodity in markets, it additionally has an exchange value, most often expressed as a money-price.
Capital accumulation is the dynamic that motivates the pursuit of profit, involving the investment of money or any financial asset with the goal of increasing the initial monetary value of said asset as a financial return whether in the form of profit, rent, interest, royalties or capital gains. The aim of capital accumulation is to create new fixed and working capitals, broaden and modernize the existing ones, grow the material basis of social-cultural activities, as well as constituting the necessary resource for reserve and insurance. The process of capital accumulation forms the basis of capitalism, and is one of the defining characteristics of a capitalist economic system.
Johann Karl Rodbertus , also known as Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow, was a German economist and socialist and a leading member of the Linkes Zentrum (centre-left) in the Prussian national assembly. He defended the labor theory of value as well as the view, as an inference from that, that interest or profit is theft. He believed that capitalist economies tend toward overproduction.
Post-scarcity is a theoretical economic situation in which most goods can be produced in great abundance with minimal human labor needed, so that they become available to all very cheaply or even freely. Post-scarcity does not mean that scarcity has been eliminated for all goods and services, but that all people can easily have their basic survival needs met along with some significant proportion of their desires for goods and services. Writers on the topic often emphasize that some commodities will remain scarce in a post-scarcity society.
In economics, aggregate expenditure (AE) is a measure of national income. Aggregate expenditure is defined as the current value of all the finished goods and services in the economy. The aggregate expenditure is thus the sum total of all the expenditures undertaken in the economy by the factors during a given time period. It is the expenditure incurred on consumer goods, planned investment and the expenditure made by the government in the economy. In an open economy scenario, aggregate expenditure also includes the difference between the exports and the imports.
In Marxian economics, economic reproduction refers to recurrent processes. Michel Aglietta views economic reproduction as the process whereby the initial conditions necessary for economic activity to occur are constantly re-created. Marx viewed reproduction as the process by which society re-created itself, both materially and socially.
The law of the value of commodities, known simply as the law of value, is a central concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy first expounded in his polemic The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) against Pierre-Joseph Proudhon with reference to David Ricardo's economics. Most generally, it refers to a regulative principle of the economic exchange of the products of human work, namely that the relative exchange-values of those products in trade, usually expressed by money-prices, are proportional to the average amounts of human labor-time which are currently socially necessary to produce them.
Criticism of capitalism ranges from expressing disagreement with the principles of capitalism in its entirety to expressing disagreement with particular outcomes of capitalism.
In macroeconomics, a general glut is an excess of supply in relation to demand, specifically, when there is more production in all fields of production in comparison with what resources are available to consume (purchase) said production. This exhibits itself in a general recession or depression, with high and persistent underutilization of resources, notably unemployment and idle factories. The Great Depression is often cited as an archetypal example of a general glut.
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 concepts of labour exploitation 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 is exploited under capitalism.
Throughout modern history, a variety of perspectives on capitalism have evolved based on different schools of thought.
In Karl Marx's critique of political economy and subsequent Marxian analyses, the capitalist mode of production refers to the systems of organizing production and distribution within capitalist societies. Private money-making in various forms preceded the development of the capitalist mode of production as such. The capitalist mode of production proper, based on wage-labour and private ownership of the means of production and on industrial technology, began to grow rapidly in Western Europe from the Industrial Revolution, later extending to most of the world.
"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. It is a central concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy. 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.
Crisis theory, concerning the causes and consequences of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in a capitalist system, is now generally associated with Marxist economics.
Marxism and Keynesianism is a method of understanding and comparing the works of influential economists John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx. Both men's works has fostered respective schools of economic thought that have had significant influence in various academic circles, as well as in influencing government policy of various states. Keynes' work found popularity in developed liberal economies following the Great Depression and World War II, most notably Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the United States, in which strong industrial production was backed by strong unions and government support. Marx's work, with varying degrees of faithfulness, led the way to a number of socialist republics, notably the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The immense influence of both Marxian and Keynesian schools has led to numerous comparisons of the work of both economists along with synthesis of both schools.