By Joan Robinson
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Extra resources for Economic Heresies Some Old-Fashioned Questions in Economic Theory
8 In the famous passage 9 which anticipates Keynes, a slump occurs when confidence fails-investment declines, unemployment reduces the demand for consumer goods and so multiplies itself. Clearly it is the confidence of the entrepreneurs in future profits that has failed, not the desire of rentiers to add to their wealth. But if the rate of profit dominates the rate of interest and the entrepreneur dominates the rentier, there is nothing in the story to say what determines the "normal" rate oi profit.
8 On this view, the profit received by the capitalist is due to the contribution to output of his capital. Capital equipment contributes to output (along with education and training) by raising the productivity of labor; a command of finance permits a capitalist to provide equipment, employ labor, and receive profits. The neo-neoclassical revival of pre-Keynesian theory took over J. B. Clark's identification of capital as profit-earning finance 7 See, in particular, R. M. Solow, Capital Theory and the Rate of Return (Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company, 1963).
In a Pigovian stationary state, with a given rate of interest, we are to suppose that there are a number of different possible methods of producing a given rate of output; competition between profit-maximizing firms has led to capital being embodied in forms which yield a rate of profit equal to the rate of interest. On this basis we can construct a pseudo-production function showing all the possible points of equilibrium in an imagined "given state of technical knowledge" which is intended to illustrate the supposed effect of relative "factor prices" (the realwage rate and the rate of profit) on the choice of technique.
Economic Heresies Some Old-Fashioned Questions in Economic Theory by Joan Robinson