Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Sraffa and the slogans not used

Fratini Saverio Maria, Roma Tre University
Ravagnani Fabio, Sapienza University of Rome

The two ‘slogans’ written by Sraffa in an early draft of the preface of his book (Sraffa Papers D3/12/43:1(3)) can be seen as the synthesis of a wider reasoning that he carried out in 1955 and 1956. We rationalize this reasoning by three statements: A. The rate of profit manifests itself in the Standard System as the ratio of two well-defined quantities of Standard Commodity; B. The rate of profit can be identified in the Standard System before knowing the prices of commodities; C. The rate of profit emerging from the Standard System cannot be altered by ‘manipulations of prices’ and, for this reason, can be regarded as a non-price phenomenon. By conducting an in-depth analysis of the meaning of these statements, the paper is aimed to shed new light on the two slogans, and provides a possible reason why Sraffa decided not to use them.

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Keywords: Sraffa, rate of profit, Standard system

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