Full text: Brief von Bertram Schefold an Josef Steindl

Potentials, whereas the Standard commodity plays a subordinate role only. The 
maximum rate of growth, G, is that rate which solves the quantity System 
. t/s' 
q = (1 + G)Aq, 
J fr ^ xW 
where A is the augmented matrix including the necessary subsistence for the workers. 
Since actual wages may include a share of the surplus product, it is not clear how the 
subsistence component is ascertained. Indeed, as Joan Robinson pointed out in her 
review of Sraffa’s book, it can hardly be imagined that ’when workers had a surplus to 
spend on beef, their physical need for wheat was unchanged’ (1961, p. 54). Further 
on, Professor Steindl’s measure of changes in the system’s ’productivity’ in terms of 
changes in the maximum possible growth rate crucialy depends on an hypothesis of 
how technological change affects the subsistence component, both directly and 
indirectly, via its impact on the general level of wages. It would be interesting to hear 
more about the kind of hypothesis Professor Steindl has in mind. 
According to Professor Steindl Sraffa Starts from the assumption of given 
’endowments at the beginning of the period’, i.e., 'Stocks which are left at the end’ of 
the previous period. To avoid possible misunderstandings, it is perhaps worthwhile to 
stress that the Capital Stocks contemplated in Sraffa's analysis are those necessary to 
produce the given levels of output of the different Commodities at minimum costs. In 
contradistinction to the neoclassical approach, which Starts from the familar 
assumption of an arbitrarily given endowment vector, Sraffa takes plant and 
equipment to be fully adjusted to effectual demand. Obviously, the Capital Stocks 
inheritöd form the past will generally not be consistent with a normal or long period 
Position of the economy characterized by a uniform rate of profit. 
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This leads to a final Observation. Professor Steindl maintains that ’Sraffa’s way of 
measuring the productivity of the System ... is made possible by an imagined shift of 
resources’. Clearly, the only resource to which the idea of an ’imagine shift’ could 
perhaps be applied is the quantity of labour employed, whereas the Capital Stocks 
required for the Standard System need not and general will not coincide with the 
Stocks of the actual Systems. (This is immediately obvious in the case of non-basics 
which serve as means of production.) However, even with regard to labour the idea of 
an hypothetical redistribution of the given labour force employed in the actual System 
is dubious. Since Sraffa allows for heterogeneous labour (1960, p. 10), there is no ■' 
presumption that the same quantities of the different kinds of labour employed in the 
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