Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sweating money

When one commodity replaces another, the money commodity always sticks to the hands of some third person. Circulation sweats money from every pore.
Marx, Capital, p. 208

Do you think he's thinking of lawyers and accountants?


David Stern said...

No, he isn't thinking of lawyers and accountants. I went to check the quotation on Google Books. Marx's point is that typical microeconomic models assume barter of one commodity for another. But in the world of a money based economy if I want to exchange linen for a Bible I sell the linen to one person and buy the Bible from another. So three people have to be involved in this transaction. OTOH, then his comment that money sticks to a third person doesn't make a lot of sense, it's the seller of the Bible who ends up with the money.

Hannah Forsyth said...
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Hannah Forsyth said...

Thanks David. I was kinda kidding about the lawyers and accountants. I agree that the line doesn't seem to fit in the transactions Marx is describing, since he does seem to be talking about a third party not directly involved in the exchanges, but it does not fit with the surrounding text. Perhaps he did what we're all prone to do: popping in a great sentence even though it doesn't belong there. Doesn't it better belong with his critique of (is it Adam Smith's?) the theory that free exchange will lead to a kind of efficient equilibrium?

Regardless: what a great line it is: circulation sweats money from every pore. Mmm.