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In this article we introduce readers to the new theory of international values by placing it in the context of the Ricardo-Sraffian theory of value and distribution. Ricardo’s theory is described as that in which exchangeable values of commodities are regulated by the quantities of labour bestowed in their production, on which he established his theory on the distribution of the produce of the earth. Contemporary classical theory, founded by Sraffa, is described as preserving Ricardo’s perspective of the value independent of distribution and of demand by replacing the labour theory with the production-cost theory. After noting that Ricardo left the question of determination of values of the commodities traded internationally, it is shown that J. S. Mill argued that the law of demand and supply determines them, which conflicts with the classical perspective. We then demonstrate how the new theory of international values solves the question in line with the classical vision. Lastly, the similarity between this theory and Sraffa’s treatment of multiple products is indicated.
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This expression is different from Sraffa’s in that the equations are written in terms of one unit of output.
The controversy began with the question raised by Joan Robinson ( 1953–1954) on the concept of ‘capital’ in the aggregate production function, which became popular in growth theory (Solow 1957). The possibility of the ‘reswitching’ of techniques indicated by Sraffa ( 1960) became a focal point, because it implies that capital intensity has no relation to the rate of profits. The proposition posed by Levhari ( 1965) that reswitching does not occur when all the commodities are ‘basics’ turned out to be false (Levhari and Samuelson 1966). Solow ( 1967) tried to save the neoclassical capital theory by proposing an interpretation that the profit rate is regarded as the rate of the increase in consumption for the saving necessary for switching from one technique to another, but the interpretation was criticised by Pasinetti ( 1969) as nothing but an accounting identity.
Shiozawa ( 2016) proposes to rename Ricardo’s theory of value the cost of production theory of value from the modern viewpoint.
Here, Ricardo’s four numbers are interpreted as representing the quantities of labour needed to produce a unit of wine and of cloth in both countries. Tabuchi ( 2006, 2017) and Faccarello ( 2015) argue that Ricardo’s numbers should not be interpreted as such. They insist that those numbers are not technical coefficients, and Ricardo assumed from the outset some amount of wine produced by using 80 men a year in Portugal is exchangeable for some amount of cloth produced by using 100 men a year in England. See also Chap. 9 in this volume.
The ridges of the production possibility frontier represent the limbo cases as explained in Chap. 10 of this volume; Mill, therefore, dealt with only a case of limbo.
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- The New Theory of International Values in the Context of the Ricardo-Sraffian Theory of Value and Distribution
- Springer Singapore
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