marx on money

Apart from Marx himself, so far the most useful book I have read about Marx and money is:
Marx on Money by Suzanne De Brunhoff (1973 French, 1976 English translation). The link goes to a searchable pdf which can be downloaded without sign in. A review of part one of this book has now been published on this site, here

I’ll just setup this page now as a placeholder since we need a thread to post links about Marx on money. This page is being updated as new references come to hand.

updates (see comments for discussion about these):
Introduction to Money and Totality: Marx’s Logic in Capital by Fred Moseley. Provides a useful overview and the authors conclusion of the outcomes of the papers presented to the 2003 Marx’s Theory of Money conference.

Marx’s Explanation of Money’s Functions: Overturning the Quantity Theory by Martha Campbell. Also see the comments about this paper in the third column at Papers. Now summarised and discussed on a separate thread on this site: Martha Campbell debunks the quantity theory of money

Marx’s Theory of Money in Historical Perspective by Duncan Foley.

The “Monetary Expression of Labor”: in the Case of Non-commodity Money by Fred Moseley.

Money in the Circulation of Capital by Martha Campbell. An excellent account of the importance of the Volume II material on turnover.

The Culmination of Capital: Essays on Volume III of Marx’s ‘Capital’ (v. 3)

24 Responses to “marx on money”

  1. 1 Bill Kerr

    This page contains roughly 6 relevant books, starting with
    Martha Campbell & Geert Reuten (eds), The Culmination of Capital; Essays on Volume III of Marx’s ’Capital’, London/New York: Palgrave–Macmillan, 2002

    Some pdfs from this particular book:
    The General introduction by Geert Reuten

    The Rate of Profit Cycle and the opposition between Managerial and Finance Capital: a discussion of Capital III, Parts Three to Five by Geert Reuten

  2. 2 Bill Kerr

    Tony Smith has a collected of his work here. This includes:
    which explains the origin of the 6 books in my previous comment

    There is more than money involved here but some of it is directly relevant, especially the globalisation section.

  3. 3 Bill Kerr

    Fred Moseley provides a summary of the papers and his opinion of the outcomes of the 2003 money conference that he organised in this paper:

    And there are more Fred Moseley papers at many of them about money

    In his introduction to the 2003 conference Moseley outlines the questions that he invited the conference participants to address:

    (1) Does money have to be commodity money in Marx’s theory?
    (2) Is there any sense in which money is a commodity today?
    (3) If money is not a commodity, how is the value of money or its inverse the “monetary
    expression of labour time” determined?
    (4) Are there logical problems in Marx’s derivation of money in Section 3 of Chapter 1
    as the necessary form of appearance of abstract labor?
    (5) Is Marx’s critique of the quantity theory of money valid?
    (6) Are there logical problems related to money in Marx’s theory of prices of production
    in Part 2 of Volume 3?
    (7) What are the main tasks for the further development of Marx’s theory of money?
    (8) What are additional critiques of and alternatives to Marx’s theory of money?

    In his concluding remarks, Moseley says:

    The most important conclusion is that most of the authors agree, with varying degrees of certainty and for different reasons, that money does not have to be a commodity in Marx’s theory, even in the fundamental function of measure of value (even though Marx himself may have thought that money as measure of value does have to be a commodity). Pure paper money (not backed by gold) can also function as measure of value. (Similar conclusions have also been reached by Matthews 1996 and Williams 2000.) Germer is the strongest proponent of the opposing view that money as measure of
    value has to be a commodity in Marx’s theory (Bellofiore also holds this view), because the measure of value must possess value, and because the regulation of social labour requires that individual labour be converted into social labour by equating its product with another product of labour.

    I myself would argue that Germer’s argument that “the measure of value must possess value” is a historical contingency, not a theoretical necessity. In order to function as the measure of value, a particular thing must be accepted by commodity-owners as the universal equivalent. Until the 1930s, in the absence of any state-mandated alternative, commodity owners required that the universal equivalent (and hence the measure of value) had to be a commodity, or at least convertible into a commodity at legally defined rates. However, in the Great Depression, it became impossible to maintain the convertibility of paper money into commodity money. Governments legalized the inevitable, and commodity-owners had no choice but to accept paper money by itself as the universal equivalent, and hence as the measure of value.

    With respect to Germer’s second argument, I agree that that the regulation of social labour requires that private, individual labour must be converted into social labour by being represented in some observable, socially acceptable form. However, I don’t think that this socially acceptable form of appearance of social labour has to be a commodity. Once pure paper money (not backed by a commodity) has been declared by governments as the universal equivalent, then this pure paper money can also function as the form in which social labour is expressed, i.e. can also function as the measure of value. Indeed, in this case, paper money must function as the measure of value, even though it contains no
    labour, because there is no other possible measure of value, no other possible way to represent social labour in an objective form.

    However, this conclusion raises the important further question: if social labour is represented by paper money, then what determines the quantity of social labour that is represented by a given quantity of paper money (since it is no longer be determined by the labour time contained in gold)? In other words, what determines value of money or the “monetary expression of labour-time” (MELT), when money is no longer a commodity? Unfortunately, none of the authors in this book who accept that money as measure of value does not have to be a commodity has presented an explanation of how the value of money or the MELT is determined in the case of pure non-commodity money. Foley argues that the MELT can be empirically measured ex-post by the aggregate ratio of money value-added to living labour, but he acknowledges that this empirical estimate of the MELT does not provide a theoretical explanation of what determines the MELT, which he says is “left hanging theoretically”. This empirical
    estimate of the MELT (=value added / living labour) cannot be used to determine the MELT, because then the MELT would depend on value added, and could not be used to determine value added (or the price of commodities as in equation 1 above), because that
    would be circular reasoning. Nelson argues that the value of money is determined by the “purchasing power” of money, i.e. by the inverse of the price level. However, like Foley’s empirical estimate, this interpretation of the value of money cannot be integrated into Marx’s labour theory of value, in which price depends in part of the value of money, because that would also involve circular reasoning.

    I myself suggest that a promising starting point for developing an explanation of the determination of the MELT in the case of pure non-commodity money is Marx’s discussion of the determination of the MELT in the case of inconvertible paper money, discussed above. I present one such possible explanation in Moseley 2004. I argue that the determination of the MELT in this case is essentially the same as in the case of inconvertible paper money discussed by Marx, which leads to the surprising conclusion that it does not make any difference to the determination of the magnitude of the MELT whether or not money is assumed to be still based on gold in some way. Bellofiore 2004
    presents a critique of my suggestion …

    At the very end he argues that:

    In terms of future research, I would suggest that the most urgent task is to develop further a theory of pure credit money (without commodity backing), based on Marx’s theory, in a way that is consistent with Marx’s labour theory of value and surplus labor
    theory of surplus-value. Promising beginnings of this important task have been made by several of the authors in this book and by others (e.g. Lipietz 1982, Gannsmann 1998). But much work remains to be done. Most importantly, there needs to be an explanation of
    the determination of the value of money or the MELT in the case of non-commodity money. This key component of Marx’s theory of value and surplus-value should not be “left hanging theoretically”. Relatedly, what is the relation between the quantity of money and the sum of prices in the case of pure credit money: does the quantity of money determine prices or do prices determined the quantity of money? Further, what
    are the different forms of credit money, and what determines the quantity of each of these different forms? These are some of the important questions that should be explored in the further development of a Marxian theory of credit money. Campbell suggests in her paper that Marx’s analysis of the function of means of payment provides the beginnings of a Marxian theory of credit money. Post-Keynesian theories of money emphasize credit
    money as the dominant form of money in capitalism, and therefore these theories should be studied and explored for possible intersections.

  4. 4 Bill Kerr

    about the Duncan Foley article: Marx’s Theory of Money in Historical Perspective

    arthur said on the Keynes thread:

    Though s6 of Foley (p11) at least points out what needs to be done (elaboration and transcending of Marx’s theory of money). s5 also relevant but I didn’t fully understand it.

    My take is that the article does not contain the word crisis. From Suzanne De Brunhoff’s book all 3 functions of money have to be considered as an ensemble, you can’t leave any one of them out. Once forms of money arise that are not a legitimate measure of value (eg. the US dollar as world standard) then you can describe them as false money (SDB, 36). You can’t transcend the underlying functions or laws of money but those laws will only express themselves in times of crisis. The price of gold rises as people lose faith in paper currencies even though gold is no longer a legal standard measure. This is the expression of the underlying laws of value and money. I’m not sure how important it is to explain false money but in line with SDB I’d say we need a monetary theory of the US dollar and not a US dollar theory of the money.

    I’ll manage this thread by putting important articles like the Foley one on the front page, ie. trying to create a short list since all of the reading is overwhelming.

  5. 5 Bill Kerr

    In my previous comment “false money” might be too strong. De Brunhoff also refers to “bad money” (true but bad) in her explanation. My argument is that if credit money escapes the criteria of being a measure of value then it is either false or bad money that will crash to earth when a crisis erupts. The full implications of the distinction b/w true money, false money and bad money are not clear to me at this point.

    I’m finding Martha Campbell, Marx’s Explanation of Money’s Functions: Overturning the Quantity Theory and Patrick Murray, Money as Displaced Social Form: Why Value cannot be Independent of Price very helpful in explaining the significance of the distinction b/w value and price in a way that promotes understanding of dialectics or the influence of Hegel on Marx (also relevant to earlier value theory thread)

  6. 6 jim sharp

    i heard the young rads many times in this humid city regularly quoting:

    ‘Fictitious capital’ : from original intent to hyper-inflation

    With the development of interest-bearing capital and the credit system, all capital seems to double itself, and sometimes treble itself, by the various modes in which the same capital, or perhaps even the same claim on a debt, appears in different forms, in different hands. The greater portion of this ‘money-capital’ is purely fictitious.

    Karl Marx, Capital, III.[1]

  7. 7 Arthur

    Essays on Volume III looks interesting but all the download links I found so far are broken. Anyone else found it?

    Found Essays on Volume II:

    Also found an unrelated interesting looking title at useful site for searches:

    Doubt that the text solves the problem, but the title certainly describes what’s needed!

  8. 8 Arthur
  9. 9 Bill Kerr

    That download site asked me to signup to megacloud. Any reason why you have changed the site, since the other one didn’t require that.

  10. 10 Arthur

    Most of those sites have prominent “Download” buttons that in fact lead to advertizing for signup and less prominent “slow download” links that deliver (usually after a delay and complex “captcha” input to prove you are not a robot).

    Didn’t “change” site, “found” it via google (but skipped links to actual download page link).

  11. 11 Bill Kerr

    I tried again. My experience is that requires you to sign up to megacloud for even the slow download, whereas, the one you used previously, doesn’t.

  12. 12 Arthur

    Repeat, 1. I didn’t “use” it, I “found” it via google.

    2. I got the file from that link using the “slow download” button without signing up.

  13. 13 Arthur

    (Sigh) I’ve now re-read Campbell supporting anti-quantity theory and following chapter by Pichit Likitkijsomboon opposing it in 2005 book. Found both convincing!

    There’s a long way to go, which will require understanding current literature on international trade, payments, investment, finance etc etc.

  14. 14 Bill Kerr

    Marx on Money by Suzanne De Brunhoff (1973 French, 1976 English translation)

    Now available as a searchable pdf and accessible without sign in here:

  15. 15 Bill Kerr

    found it! if google page 1 doesn’t work, try page 2 🙂
    Format is not ideal but there is a + sign on the menu at top to expand size of text, as far as I can see you have to read on line

    The Culmination of Capital: Essays on Volume III of Marx’s ‘Capital’ (v. 3)
    Marx’s Capital III, The Culmination of Capital:

    General Introduction;

    Class, Capital, and Crisis; P.Mattick

    Capital in General and Marx’s Capital;

    Hostile Brothers: Marx’s Theory of the Distribution of Surplus-Value in Volume III of Capital;

    Transformation and the Monetary Circuit: Marx as a Monetary Theorist of Production;

    Capital, Competition and Many Capitals;

    Surplus Profits from Innovation: A Missing Level in Capital III?; T.Smith

    The Rate of Profit Cycle and the Opposition between Managerial and Finance Capital;

    The Credit System;

    Rent and Landed Property;

    The Illusion of the Economic: The Trinity Formula and the ‘Religion of Everyday Life’:

    Abstracts of the Chapters
    Notes on the Contributors
    Author Index
    Subject Index

  16. 16 Arthur

    Congratulations! I’m interested enough to try and read online. Google does translate the help messages to english, which would make it possible to register and obtain 460 download points (eg by uploading Maksakovsky) so as to download. I’m not going to try, but will wait in hope that you do and announce it is available at somewhere easier to download from.

  17. 17 Bill Kerr

    More details of conferences and books published by the same group of people who organised the 2003 money marx money conference. They have been meeting yearly. The most recent books in English are:
    Re-reading Marx: New perspectives after the critical edition R. Bellofiore and R. Fineschi (eds), Palgrave Macmillan 2009 [Contributors: Moseley, Arthur, Bellofiore, Roberto Finelli, Fineschi, Rolf Hecker, Michael Heinrich, Murray, Reuten, Regina Roth, Smith, Massimiliano Tomba]

    In Marx’s Laboratory. Critical Interpretations of the Grundrisse, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, (Historical Materialism book series), R. Bellofiore, Guido Starosta, Peter Thomas (eds), forthcoming in 2012 [Contributors: Moseley, Arthur, Bellofiore, Campbell, Murray, Reuten, Smith, Starosta, Thomas, etc., etc.]

  18. 18 Bill Kerr

    Downloads for 2 of the articles in Culmination of Capital

    Reuten’s introduction:

    Moseley: Hostile Brothers: Marx’s Theory of the Distribution of Surplus-Value in Volume 3 of Capital
    in G.Reuten (ed.), The Culmination of Capital: Essays on Volume 3 of Capital, Palgrave,2002

  19. 19 Arthur

    Downloadable “Culmination of Capital” Essays on Volume 3:

    (Found by google for 0333964934.pdf listed as the file that had been removed from various sites)

  20. 20 Bill Kerr

    Just transferring part of a comment by arthur from de Brunhoff thread to here, so that most of the good marx on money references can be located by visiting just this thread:

    This paper reviewing Anitra Nelson’s book includes a substantial reference list and suggests that the only 3 monographs on the subject as of 2000 are those by Nelson, De Brunhoff and a thesis by Pichit Likitksombon. (Can’t find a link to the thesis online. Could be worth writing to him for it).

    So reading references and reverse citations from those plus the 2005 book from the 2003 conference edited by Mosely should cover the literature.

    BTW most economics journal papers (as opposed to books) should be accessible via the free database access available free to public online from National Library of Australia and the various State Libraries. (They send a registration card with login ID free to any residential address).

    Unfortunately some of the relevant journals, eg Review of Radical Political Economy, Historical Materialism and Capital and Class don’t seem to be included in the subscriptions. But lots of “mainstream” economics journals are (sometimes excluding the most recent issues).

    Others should be accessible via visits to university libraries.

  21. 21 Bill Kerr

    Another transfer, initially on the Keynes thread:

    Georg Simmel’s Philosophy of Money, RKP, London, 1978
    “Despite its idealist formulation, remains the most penetrating phenomenological exploration of the social power of money”(comment by Simon Clarke)

  22. 22 Bill Kerr

    Another transfer from Keynes thread:

    There are some interesting Phil O’Hara downloads about money and other topics available'Hara

    Includes this one:
    Money credit and finance National regional and global dimensions

    Several schools of thought contribute to this heterodox view of money, including neo-Marxian, Schumpeterian, institutional and post-Keynesian political economy. Neo-Marxian contributions centre on the circuit of money capital, fictitious capital and the break-up of the surplus value into profit, interest and rent. Schumpeterian perspectives focus on the role of credit-money in financing innovation or variously being used for general accumulation or speculation. Institutional themes include the
    financial instability hypothesis and social structures of accumulation. And post Keynesian approaches recognise the role of uncertainty in complex capital investments plus the role of endogenous finance and taxes-drive money. These approaches complement each other while they all centre on the core contradiction of industry versus finance and the need for a dynamic, circuitous vision of finance capitalism

  23. 23 Arthur

    Found a couple of sites working on theorizing money and finance in current situation:

    Haven’t explored yet, but look interesting.

  24. 24 Bill Kerr

    Christopher J Arthur (2005) The Concept of Money

    Links marx directly to Hegel’s Logic, similar position is put in his vol 2 essay but this one has more detail

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