The Economic Ideas of Marx's Capital: Steps Towards Post-Keynesian Economics, London: Routledge, 2017; 336 pp.: ISBN 1138325120, 36.99 [pounds sterling] (pb)
In 2017, anticipating the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birthday, Ludo Cuyvers published with Routledge The economic ideas of Marx's Capital: Steps towards post-Keynesian economics. The book examines a number of building blocks supporting Marx's economic theory, as can be found in Capital. The golden thread of the book is the use that the author makes of the linear production model or the Marx-Leontief model, thus linking his analysis to Sraffa's work. As G.C. Harcourt mentions in the Foreword of the book, this is particularly appropriate since the opening of Sraffa's archive in Cambridge clearly shows how large Sraffa's indebtedness to Marx was. It is clear that Cuyvers views his contribution as being along the same lines. First of all, the approach links Marx's reproduction schemes to the equation system that allows the determination of both labour values and prices of production, as well as a Sraffa-like Standard System. The justification for using a system of equations resides, so the author states, in Marx's concept of 'normal reproduction', when all spheres of production are expanding in the same proportion, technical progress is neutral and the rate of profits constant. Cuyvers elaborates on the labour theory of value and points out that both Marx's prices of production and labour values are prices to which, under conditions of normal reproduction, the production and exchange system would evolve as the result of the migration of capital and labour respectively, from one sphere of production to another.
In a further chapter, Marx's concept of unproductive labour is examined. Cuyvers argues that what is crucial is whether economic activity is yielding a surplus product that can be used in the next 'production period', in which case it is productive. This also allows him to link his analysis to how the so-called Cambridge School models the relationship between the rate of profits and the rate of growth of the economy, particularly since the release of Joan Robinson's The Accumulation of Capital, which in turn builds on the work of Michal Kalecki, and Marx's 'realisation' of the surplus value.
The author than extends his analysis to Marx's 'laws of motion', that is, the dynamics of the capitalist economic system. However, using the linear production model, a thorough...