Economía marxista para el Siglo XXI

Archivo para la Categoría "Tasa de ganancia"

Ben Bernanke and the ‘natural’ rate of return

Economic recoveries

Michael Roberts

Today, former head of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke launched his own economics blog through the Brookings Institution (  As Ben put it, “Now that I’m a civilian again, I can once more comment on economic and financial issues without my words being put under the microscope by Fed watchers. I look forward to doing that—periodically, when the spirit moves me—in this blog. I hope to educate, and I hope to learn something as well”.

David Harvey, monomaniacs and the rate of profit

Michael Roberts

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), Director of The Center for Place, Culture and Politics ( and author of numerous books. For over 40 years, he has been one of the world’s most trenchant and critical analysts of capitalist development. And he has developed a global audience for his on-line video lectures on reading Capital, (see Harvey won the 2010 Isaac Deutscher prize for the best Marxist book of the year with The Enigma of Capital (

I have commented on Harvey’s contributions to Marxist economics on various occasions on my blog.

Professor Harvey has always been critical of the view that Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall plays any significant role as a cause of crises under capitalism. In his award winning book, The enigma of capital, he states that “There is, therefore, no single causal theory of crisis formation as many Marxist economists like to assert. There is, for example, no point in trying to cram all of this fluidity and complexity into some unitary theory of, say, a falling rate of profit”.

Recently, Harvey has returned to this point in the presentation of an essay to the University of Izmir, Turkey in October. You can see a You tube screening of that presentation at


“La transitoriedad histórica del capital. La tendencia descendiente de ganancia desde el siglo XIX”










Esteban Ezequiel Maito



El artículo presenta estimaciones de la tasa de ganancia para catorce países en el largo plazo. La rentabilidad muestra una clara tendencia descendente, si bien existen períodos de recuperación parcial, tanto en los países centrales como en los periféricos. El comportamiento de la tasa de ganancia confirma así las previsiones hechas por Marx de su tendencia y la transitoriedad histórica del modo de producción. Finalmente, se realiza una estimación de la tasa de ganancia mundial para las últimas décadas, destacándose también el papel particular de China en la rentabilidad sistémica durante el último decenio.
Palabras clave: Tasa de ganancia – Marx – Modo de producción.


This article presents profit rate estimates in fourteen countries on the long term. Profitability shows a clear downward trend, although there are recovery periods, both in core and peripheral countries. The profit rate trend confirms Marx predictions and the historic transience of capitalist mode of production. Finally, it’s done an estimate of the world profit rate for the last decades, also highlighting the function of China in systemic profitability in recent years.
Keywords: Profit rate – Marx – Mode of production. Leer más en el blog Marxismo Crítico

David Harvey, Piketty y la contradicción central del capitalismo

Michael Roberts
Traducción de Ernesto Rosemberg

David Harvey es un reconocido profesor marxista de Antropología y Geografía en el Centro de Graduados de la Universidad de la Ciudad de Nueva York. Harvey es bastante crítico del libro de Piketty. Reconoce que Piketty proporciona datos de gran importancia sobre la desigualdad de la riqueza y de los ingresos en las principales economías capitalistas desde que el capitalismo se convirtió en el modo dominante de producción y las relaciones sociales desde 1750. ” Lo que Piketty sí muestra estadísticamente (y deberíamos estar en deuda con él y sus colegas por eso) es que el capital ha tendido a lo largo de su historia a producir cada vez mayores niveles de desigualdad. Esto , para muchos de nosotros, no es noticia. Era, además, exactamente la conclusión teórica de Marx en el Tomo I de su ‘El Capital'”.

Pero, como apunta Harvey, Piketty nada dice sobre las crisis recurrentes de producción y de inversión del capitalismo. Piketty “no nos dice por qué la crisis de 2008 se produjo y por qué está tomando tanto tiempo para tantas personas para salir de debajo de la doble carga del desempleo y de millones de casas perdidas en una prolongada ejecución hipotecaria . No ayuda a entender por qué el crecimiento es actualmente tan lento en EE.UU. en comparación con China, y por qué Europa está bloqueada en una política de austeridad y de una economía de estancamiento”.

Michael Heinrich, Marx’s law and crisis theory


May 19, 2013

Michael Roberts

Michael Heinrich is an exponent of what is known as the ‘New German Reading of Marx’, which interprets the theory of value that Marx presents in Capital as a socially specific theory of ‘impersonal social domination’. He is a collaborator on the MEGA edition of Marx and Engel’s complete works and has published several philological studies of Capital. He has also authored a work on Marx’s theory of value, The Science of Value, which is forthcoming in the Historical Materialism book series. And recently he has published An Introduction to all Three Volumes of Capital as his first full-length work to appear in English.

I am not going to do a critique of Heinrich’s views on the theory of value, as this has been done by Guglielmo Carchedi in his book, Behind the Crisis (see chapter 2). But I am moved to respond to a recent article of Heinrich’s in the American Monthly Review, entitled Crisis theory, the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and Marx’s studies in the 1870s (

In this article, Heinrich makes the following points: 1) Marx’s law is inconsistent because its categories are indeterminate; 2) it is empirically unproven and even unjustifiable on any measure of verification; 3) Engels badly edited Marx’s works to distort his view on the law in Capital Vol 3; 4) Marx himself in his later works of the 1870s began to have doubts about the law as the cause of crises and started to abandon it in favour of some theory that took into account credit, interest rates and the problem of realisation (similar to Keynesian theory); 5) Marx died before he could present these revisions of his crisis theory, so there is no coherent Marxist theory of crisis. (más…)

Profitability and the Roots of the Global Crisis: Marx’s ‘Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall’ and the US Economy, 1950–2007

Abstract The relevance of Marx’s theory of value and his ‘law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall’ to the analysis of the financial crisis of 2007–8 and the ensuing global slump is affirmed. The hypertrophic growth of unproductive constant capital, including the wages of ‘socially necessary’ unproductive labour and tax revenues, is identified as an important manifestation of an historical-structural crisis of capitalism, alongside the increasing weight of fictitious capital and the proliferation of fictitious profits in the lead-up to the financial crisis. These phenomena have obscured the deepest roots of the global slump in the long-term profitability problems of productive capital – that is, in a crisis of surplus-value production. With these considerations taken into account, a better empirical assessment of trends in the composition of capital becomes possible, and with it a more accurate understanding of the impact of the ongoing displacement of living labour from production on the average rate of profit and the future of US and global capitalism.

Affiliations: 1: Brock University ; 2: Brock University


Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s


In Marx’s work, no final presentation of his theory of crisis can be found. Instead, there are various approaches to explain crises. In the twentieth century, the starting point for Marxist debates on crisis theory was the third volume of Capital, the manuscript of which was written in 1864–1865. Later, attention was directed towards the theoretical considerations on crisis in the Theories of Surplus-Value, written in the period between 1861 and 1863. Finally, the Grundrisse of 1857–1858 also came into view, which today plays a central role in the understanding of Marx’s crisis theory for numerous authors. Thus, starting with Capital, the debate gradually shifted its attention to earlier texts. With the Marx Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), all of the economic texts written by Marx between the late 1860s and the late 1870s are now available. Along with his letters, these texts allow for an insight into the development of Marx’s theoretical considerations on crisis after 1865.… | more |


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