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Marxist Theory

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (PDT)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Old Town A
Hosted By: Union for Radical Political Economics
  • Chair: Paddy Quick, St. Francis College-Brooklyn

Towards a Critical Framework: Government Bonds as Titles of Fictitious Capital

Carolina Alves
University of Cambridge


This paper contributes to the development of Marx’s economic theory expanding on the
theorization of Marx category of fictitious capital and on his discussion of government
bonds. It puts forwards the argument that, as a title of fictitious capital, government bonds
are the most important tools whereby the state is able to intervene in the financial market
and influence everything from liquidity and availability of capital to portfolio variation,
returns on real and financial investment and price setting of real and fictitious assets. From
this perspective government bonds are the keystone of the financial markets, the backbone
of operations in the secondary market, and a source for financial accumulation, rather than
a fortuitous aspect of state finance. The implication of this argument is that public debt can
neither be avoided nor paid off in minimally complex capitalist economies, and that
government bonds offer unparalleled scope for purely financial accumulation.

Marx between Schumpeter and Keynes: Augusto Graziani, Marx's Theory of (Surplus) Value, and the Cycle of Money Capital

Riccardo Bellofiore
University of Bergamo


In this paper, which is a chapter of a forthcoming book (Is there life on Marx?) I present a novel perspective at reading Marx which was developed by Augusto Graziani as part of a rediscovery of a ‘monetary theory of production’ perspective. I will argue that Italian circuitism can be interpreted as fuelled by the dissatisfaction aroused by the impasse in which the Italian debate between Neoricardians and Marxians was engulfed after the mid 1970s. I am myself part of this story: having studied Marx with Napoleoni in his properly Marxian period in the early 1970s, and then having reacted to his new positions (abandoning the labour theory of value as an economic approach, and maintaining it only philosophically) in the late 1970s. The comprehension of the structure of the Marxian (macro)monetary theory of (capitalist) production put forward by Graziani and (with personal changes and developments) by myself requires to pursue a path not usually taken by Marx’s scholars, that is to engage in a (critical, but sympathetic) engagement with Wicksell, Schumpeter and Keynes recognised as the 20th century ‘political economist’, like Quesnay, Smith and Ricardo were in the 18th and 19th century. It is taking this road that a few years later I encountered Hyman P. Minsky’s contributions as major necessary ingredients to a rethinking of Marxian theory of capitalist dynamics and crises.

Profitability and Accumulation in Mexico: New Estimates and Analysis

Sergio Camara Izquierdo
Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM)-Azcapotzalco


The paper analyses the trends in profitability and accumulation in Mexico in the
postwar period. The main contribution of the paper is the novelty in the estimations, which
are based in a renewed methodology, date estimations procedures, databases, etc., not yet
offered by previous estimations both of our own and from other authors. Specifically, our
new estimations of the stock of capital are based in the new OCDE methodology that includes
intangible assets and geometric patterns of depreciation. Also, different measures of the profit
rate (gross, net of taxes, etc.) are estimated. The new estimations allow also for a novel and
deeper analysis of the process of capital accumulation in Mexico of both the expansive (1939-
1982) and contractive (1983-2018) long waves and the different subperiods of the neoliberal
contractive wave.

Productive Apparatuses of State, Technological Change, and Social Structures of Accumulation Theory

Baris Guven
University of Massachusetts-Amherst


The Marxian political economy has placed great emphasis on the nexus between technological change and capital accumulation. The existing literature on technological change views it as the outcome and lever of capital accumulation and suggests that the sole profit-motive and competition are capable of driving technological change. This view is reinforced in recent times as ICTs incarnate in an increasing number of new or improved means of production. However, the overdetermined institutional context of coming about of technological change has never been paid due attention, leading to an unwarranted attribution of technological change to profit-motive. This paper is an attempt to fill this gap in the literature. I argue, on the contrary, that profit-motive is the reason why capitalist economies are prone to underproduce technical (and scientific) knowledge. Crucially, this tendency has been counteracted by the remarkable involvement of productive apparatuses of state in the production of knowledge that is eventually embodied in consumer and producer goods. As such, it is argued that state, as one of the primary elements in the institutional context of capital accumulation, does technological fix, and this fix, in addition to others, supports reproduction of capital accumulation at extended scale. I incorporate this long-missing insight to Social Structures of Accumulation (SSA) Theory that aims to understand, from a class-institutional standpoint, how capital accumulation over long-run materializes at the first place given its conflict- and contradiction-ridden nature. I also argue that to the extent that state engages in supporting role for production of technical knowledge, it affects the association between technological change and occupational churn rate, and this association depends on the overall nature of regime of accumulation that is shaped by SSA.
JEL Classifications
  • B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches
  • O0 - General