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An empirical investigation into the UK profit rate, 1949-2003

An empirical investigation into the UK profit rate, 1949-2003

Narouei, Shir Ali (2011) An empirical investigation into the UK profit rate, 1949-2003. MPhil thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis argues for the importance of the Marxian concept of economic crisis and counteracting forces to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall in contemporary capitalism through empirical research on the UK economy. Mergers and acquisitions, government expenditure, capital goods export, capital goods imports (EU as the main partner of the UK trade) emerged from this investigation as influenced by the rate of profit. Mergers and acquisitions and government expenditure have not previously been considered as counteracting forces within the Marx‟s approach.

This study comprises the first use of VARs time series analysis with Granger causality tests on an analysis of the UK economy using Marxian variables. There was an early attempt by Glyn and Sutcliffe (1972) discussing about the profit squeeze, and using different measures for the rate of profit, but this did not contain any substantial econometric analysis or estimating any counteracting forces. A major obstacle in any estimation of Marxian variables is data availability and a lack of clarity and consistency in HMSO publications, and the work in this study to present consistent data in these terms will be valuable for any future research in this area.

The significance of government expenditure as a counteracting force to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall highlights the importance of unproductive capital in Marxian analysis of crisis. Government expenditure is mainly a form of unproductive capital, and therefore growth of government expenditure affects the productivity of the economy. Unproductive labour has been the focus of a lot of analysis and literature amongst the Marxist economists but not enough emphasise has been put on the role of unproductive capital.

In estimating the variables concerning the rate of profit variables and counteracting forces, I have used the money expression of value, or money terms in current prices. To justify this, I use Morishima and Seton‟s “inverse transformation” scheme to address the “transformation problem”, using input-output tables for values and prices of production, following Wolff‟s (1975) approach. The ratio of values to the prices of production was 1.02 1 for the production industries. On the basis of this approach, I then developed a computer programme by Mathematica that enabling the calculation of values and prices of production for the UK.

The study supports the view that capitalist production is a dynamic process in which the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as a form of economic crisis could find some counteracting forces to offset this tendency for a short period of time and bring about a relative stability; however, this stability does not persist forever, and crisis prevails repeatedly. This demonstrates that Marxian theory provides important insights which can address both economic crisis and growth in its theory of „the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall‟ and counteracting influences. If we forget this dialectical relationship in the Marxian theory, by over emphasising on one aspect of the argument or the other, the result is likely to be a dogmatic ideology in place of a scientific method of inquiry.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: UK economy, profit rate, mergers and acquisitions, government expenditure, Marxian theory, capitalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:19

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