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Empirical and Theoretical Developments in Marxian Political Economy

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Loews Philadelphia, Congress B
Hosted By: Union for Radical Political Economics
  • Chair: Usha Pradhan, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Regimes of Realization: Using Marx and Kalecki to Empirically Understand the United States Economy Including the Great Recession and the "Recovery"

David Brennan
Franklin & Marshall College


This paper contains a new methodology based on the work of Kalecki to provide empirical estimates of profits and the various components of realization, profit rates, and the organic composition of capital. These estimates provide new insights into the Great Recession and the "recovery."

The Construction of Production: Locating the Production Boundary in Conventional and Marxian Aggregates

Daniel Urban
University of Missouri-Kansas City


This paper seeks to illuminate the concept of the production boundary while demonstrating the incommensurability of conventional and classical political economy based national accounting aggregates. We begin by noting that national accounts represent empirical constructs, inherently shaped by theory, rather than facts in themselves. The production boundary and Kuznets’ scope, value, and netness together provide a useful conceptual framework with which we shall compare perspectives with respect to the production of aggregate income. Conceptions of the production boundary provide the relevant vision to be used in constructing national accounting aggregates, but such conceptions have varied over time. Thus, we shall explore these varied visions across the history of economic thought, giving particular attention to the neoclassical and Marxian paradigms. Following this, we shall consider the history of national accounting as the practical, empirical application of the production boundary in constructing aggregate income measures. Here we shall note the distinction between the neoclassical vision of the production boundary and that underlying our official national accounting aggregates. That is, conventional national accounts are constructed from a Keynesian-influenced cost-based accounting framework providing a measure that little reflects the Marshall-Becker-utilitarian definition of production. Nor do these accounts reflect the Classical-Marxian vision of production, however, such measures can be constructed. Thus, finally, we shall develop an alternative measure of aggregate production through implementation of a Marxian production boundary. In doing so we conclude that the conventional and Marxian conceptions of production are incommensurable and discuss suggested implications for empirical work.

Karl Marx’s ‘Critique of Political Economy’

Riccardo Bellofiore
University of Bergamo


Karl Marx’s “critique of political economy” is grounded in his value theory. Critique has to be distinguished from criticism: Marx was not only interested in pointing out the errors of political economy, but also to learn from its scientific results: here the key names are Quesnay, Smith, and Ricardo. Marx was also interested in assessing the conditions and the limits of the knowledge provided by Classical Political Economy. At the same time, the critique of the “science” of political economy was the means to provide a critique of capitalist social relations.

Marxian Value Categories in Sraffa’s Unpublished Papers: Evidence From the Early 1940s

Scott Carter
University of Tulsa


Sraffa’s theoretical apparatus is robust in the sense that the analytical framework remains open as to determination of which side of the distribution parameter closes the system. In developing this framework Sraffa utilized a method of inquiry very much informed it is argued by Marx’s critique of classical political economy. This is seen in Sraffa’s understanding of the history of the theory in his Lecture Notes on the Advanced Theory of Value given in 1928-31 (now available online at two sources, the Wren Library website and the Heretical Sraffa website run by the present writer) and more importantly in the use in the early 1940s of conceptual categories of analysis straight out of the pages of Capital, Volume I which Sraffa had re-read in Summer 1940 while interned on the Isle of Man for three months. The implication of this means that Marxian theory now has available the method of inquiry as well as advancement of the theory that Sraffa developed, and as the archive is made available for cogent study developments in Marxian theory can and will be made.  Important here will be focus on Sraffa's notion of 'capital' and how that relates to (is different from and/or similar to) that of Marx's notion of capital.   
Erik Olsen
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Erdogan Bakir
Bucknell University
Fred Moseley
Mount Holyoke College
JEL Classifications
  • B1 - History of Economic Thought through 1925
  • B2 - History of Economic Thought since 1925