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The Theoretical Work of Nobuo Okishio

Takesh Nakatani(kobe University, Greenwich University) Professor Okishio wrote many papers covering various important fields, for example value and price, accumulation theory, critical analysis of Keynesian economics, trade cycle theory and on the long run tendency of capitalistic economy. They were published in over twenty books and two hundred papers, unfortunately almost in Japanese. In English about thirty papers are published and main materials are collected in the following book. Nobuo Okishio, Michael Kruger and Peter Flaschel(1993), NOBUO OKISHIO ESSAYS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY: COLLECTED PAPERS, Peter Lang Publishing (ISBN 3631435584) We focus today the following topics and summarize his work as objectively as possible. I have studied economics for long years under Professor Okishios guidance. So objectively speaking needs some efforts. I know you have some critics about Okishios work but first I focus to introduce his own main research itself. 1. Value and Exploitation Theory (1) The Definition of Value He showed how Marxian value is determined quantitatively. The value equation presented by Okishio determines the amount of labor directly and indirectly needed to produce one unit of commodity as follows.
n

ti aij t j i
i 1

i 1, , n

where a ij is the amount of jth goods and i is the direct labor input needed to produce one unit of ith goods. He first got this idea when he was writing On Exchange Theory in 1954 in Japanese and a little later in 1955 more clearly wrote in English paper Monopoly and the Rates of Profits Kobe University Economic Review. (2) Fundamental Marxian Theorem Using this equation Okishio proved Marxs fundamental proposition that the exploitation of surplus labor is the necessary condition for the existence of positive profit, later called as Fundamental Marxian Theorm by Morishima. This proof has some characteristics. First, it does not preclude the acceptance of value theory in advance. Starting from the existence of profit expressed in price terms, we can deduct the existence of surplus value as a logical consequence. This is the opposite way to Marx, who started from value and reached price and profit. I think Okishios way of proof has effects to persuade the validity of Marxian propositions to much more non-Marxian economists at present.
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(3) Measurement According to this value equation we can make quantitative measurements using Input-output tables developed after World War Two. Okishio himself tried it at the first time in 1958 in Japanese economy and since then we have many measurement investigations in many countries. I myself did some measurements from 1955 to 1985 in Japanese economy and found that vales and prices move differently in the short run but in the long run these two magnitudes very much coincidently move. Thus at least in the long run values can be said as playing a gravitating role of prices. 2. Some Propositions of Marxian Economics (1) Transformation Problem Okishios work relates much to clarify the logic of Marxs theory. First is the transformation problem. Marx argued in Das Kapital Book Three about the transformation from values to prices. There he discussed that output prices also enter input prices in various sectors. And he warned that we could make a mistake if we ignore this fact because there exists some discrepancy between prices and values. Here, of course, prices mean output prices and values mean input prices at the first stage. So Marx suggested the need to proceed this iterative transformation process to the end. although he left others to do it. Marx completely showed the transformation formula Okishio executed the iteration process to the end using

mathematical tools and proved that it converges to production price equilibrium with positive profits, i.e. equal to Bortkiewitz equation. One important finding relating this work is that the equilibrium rate of profit and the production prices are determined depending on real wage rate and technologies in basic sectors only. This result was accepted with surprise, because many economists considered that non-basic sectors also have some relations with the equilibrium rate of profit. As far as Japan concerned, some heated arguments are held between Okishio and some other Marxian economists. (2) Formal Proof of Marxian Theorem Next is the Marxs propositions of dynamic movement of capitalistic economy. In the paper A Formal Proof of Marxs Two Theorems he tried to prove Marxs two theorems; first the tendencial falling rate of profit and second the tendencial increase in unemployment. increasing organic composition of production. By formal Okishio meant whether we can deduct two propositions from Marxs presumptions of He showed that if new technologies with Here the crucial assumption is the increasing organic composition of production are continuously introduced, then the rate of profit must fall and the unemployment must increase. introduction of increasing organic composition technologies. Then he proceeds to examine the
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validity of this assumption from the viewpoint of capitalistic behavior of technical choice. (3) Technical Change and the Rate of Profit In the paper Technical Change and the Rate of Profit in 1961 he presented famous Okishio Theorem. There he showed that if we assume the viability condition, i.e. for the new technology to be introduced it should be cost reducing, then new technologies never decrease the rate of profit and if it is introduced into basic sectors the rate of profit will necessarily increase. His arguments depend on several assumptions, i.e. the real wage rate is constant before and after the technical change, the comparison is made about the equilibrium rate of profit, the rate of profit is defined on reproduction cost principle. This theorem was later extended to fixed capital case in Nakatani(1978) and Roemer(1979) and to joint production case in Morishima(1974). And as you know, this work stimulates a lot of discussions and arguments still now in relation with Marxs Falling Rate of Profit, which we can see in Review of Radical Political Economics. (4) Okishio Theorem and Falling Rate of Profit Concerning Marxs Falling Rate of Profit, Okishio considers Okishio Theorem wont deny it. A falling rate of profit might be realized in the long run due to competitive pressures among capitals, laborers bargaining power or other reasons. The crux of Okishio Theorem, seems to me, lies in that we have to take into consideration the capitalistic behavior of technical change and if the rate of profit falls in the long run, there must have happened the increase of real wage rate. The real wage rate will change in the process of technical change and it is very much doubtful whether this dynamic process converges to stationary production price situation. Nevertheless Okishio Theorem is relevant because it denied that the FRP is established automatically from technical changes itself. 3. Critical Investigation of Keynes (1) Keynes Economics compared with Classical Okishio critically investigated non-Marxian economics with a lot of energy, especially Keynes and Harrod. Although Keynes is not sympathetic to Marx but Okishio thought he is an Keynes also emphasized the important criticizer of neo classical economics inside modern economics, because Keynes denied the harmonic adjusting mechanism of market economy. independent and volatile role of investment demand in capitalistic economy. In these respects Keynes shared the similar viewpoint with Marx. Recent New Keynesian or Neo Keynesian has been neglecting these fundamental characteristics of original Keynes theory. (2) Aggregate Supply Function
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Okishios critique to Keynes is that he denied the possibility to change the capitalists decision making. As is well known, Keynes devoted almost all his investigation to demand side and as far as the supply side he only said that there remains almost no materials that is not known to us and Keynes left it as technically given. Okishio examined the capitalistic property of Keynes aggregate supply function Z(N) and showed alternative way of raising employment by changing Aggregate Supply Function. His critical examination of Keynes economics is jointly published book Keynesian Economics in 1957. (3) Determination of real wage rate As is well known, one of Keynes critical points to Classical Economics is the determined to clear the labor market. On the contrary in Keynes, the real wage rate is determined in commodity markets. Many Marxian economists consider real wage rate is affected by labor market. However labor market can effect the nominal wage rate for the present and the commodity market can effect nominal prices. So in order to determination of real wage rate. In classical economics the real wage rate is know how real wage rate move, we have to both markets, namely the economy as a whole. Okishio investigated the movement of real wage rate in accumulation process and considered investment demands as the most dominant determinant of real wage rate in the short run and the natural growth rate as determining the long run real wage rate. 4. Instability of Capitalistic Accumulation Path (1) Instability Relating this, Okishio thought Harrod as an important economist showing the limitation of market economy not only static but also dynamic perspectives. Harrod arguments are not necessarily clear, however, about investment decision making. Okishio wrote many papers to clarify the Harrod instability logic and showed that instability is the inherent characteristics in the accumulation process of capitalistic economy. Problems examined are (A)to make clear capitalists investment decision of Harrod and (B) to investigate the instability postulate taking into consideration other possibilities like substitutive technical changes, changes in saving ratio and movements in relative prices. He obtained the conclusion that instability is the robust property of capitalistic accumulation. (2) Crisis Theory Capitalistic accumulation process displays instability. However, for one production system to survive for long years, some kinds of equilibrium or near equilibrium conditions must be satisfied. In the shot run the economy diverges from the equilibrium growth path due to Harrod Instability but in the long run it satisfy several conditions as shown in Reproduction
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Formula of Marx Book Two. Okishio proceeds to investigate the crisis theory to reconcile these two requirements by introducing crisis theory as regulating mechanism. Japanese. 5. Competition (1) Profit and Competition Recently Okishio is scrutinizing the relation between profits and competition. As I stated in Okishio Theorem, Okishio Theorem is the proposition obtained by comparing the equilibrium rate of profit before and after the introduction of new technology. problematic. (2) Relating Production Price In other words, how can the Marxian Production-Price constellation be justified in real economy ? Marx considered, of course, that in the long run the average positive rate of profit is realized in capitalistic market economy. Then what is the logic to guarantee it considering the change of real wage rate ? Adam Smith considered that competition among capitals effects downward pressures on profits. But as is well known, Ricardo criticized Smith and claimed that Walras and more clearly Schumpeter competition can only equalize uneven rates of profits among capitals and never affect the level of the rate of profit itself, which is inherited by Marx. asserted that competition sweeps out profits completely. (3) Tentative Results Okishios tentative conclusion on this problem is that competition can drive the economy to zero-profit equilibrium unless there exist no continuous technical innovations or an increase in labor supply or independent capitalist consumption. This investigation is still under way. 6. Long-run tendency of Capitalistic Economy (1) Two Requirements On this point Okishios argument is composed of the following two propositions. First, in order for the capitalistic economy to work effectively, the production power of human kind in that society should exceed some minimum level and also should not exceed some maximum level. Second, the production power in the capitalistic economy necessarily advances due to its inherent mechanism in capitalistic economy.
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His accumulation

theory is published in his main publication CHIKUSEKIRON Accumulation Theory in

Whether the economic

disturbances due to technical change will smoothly converge to new stationary state is very

(2) Work to Do This viewpoint is exactly the same with Marxs historical dialectic. showing the following two. If this is correct, the

necessity for capitalistic society to be switched to another economic system can be proved by First, we have to prove how production power advances in capitalistic society. Next, we have to show what is the upper bound of production power for capitalistic economy to be able to work effectively. (3) Necessity of New Society As for the first, the introduction of new technologies are most important as shown by many economists as Schumpeter and others. As for the latter upper bound, he stresses the controlability of the whole economy. We are living in the world where even a local economic activity can have effects of global and long lasting consequences in all over the world. In this sense the production activities are already socialized in their effects. The decision making, however, is still grasped exclusively by small part of members in the society and it is executed based on profit maximizing principle. So he considers that in order to guarantee the existence of human being we have to change the capitalistic economy to alternative much socialized economic system, which is called socialistic economy.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Monopoly and the Rates of Profit, KER 1955 Durable Equipment and Equilibrium Growth, KER 1958 Technical Change and the Rate of Profit, KER 1961 A Mathematical Note on Marxian Theorems, Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv Vol.91 No.2, 1963 Instability of Harrod=Domars Steady State, KER 1964 Technical Choice under Full Employment in Socialist Economy, Economic Journal Vol.76, 1966 On Mr. N Kaldors Growth Model, KER 1967 Technical Choice and Planning Price, Australian Economic Paper Vol.6 No.8, 1967 An Extension of a Discrete Version of Pontryagins Maximum Principle and its simple Application, KER 1970 A Formal Proof of Marxs two Theorems, KER 1972 Value and Production Price, KER 1974 A Formal Proof of Marxs two Theorems: Reply, KER 1974 Fixed Capital and Extended Reproduction, KER 1975 Marxian Fundamental Theorem, lecture note in Wochum Unicersity, 1976 Marxian Fundamental Theorem: Joint-Production Case, KER 1976 Notes on Technical Progress and Capitalist Society, Cambridge Journal of Economics 1, 1977 Theorems of Investment Truncation, KER 1977 Inflation as an Expression of Class Antagonism, KER 1977 Three Topics on Marxian Fundamental Theorem, KER 1978 Dimensional Analysis in Economics, KER 1982 The Decision of New Investment, Technique and Rate of Utilization, KER 1984 A Measurement of the Rate of Surplus Value in JAPAN: the 1980 case, KER 1985 Stagflation: Causes and Policies, KER 1986 Theoretical Foundations of International Macroeconomic Model, KER 1987 A Sketch of Theory of Trade Cycle, KER 1988 On Marxs Reproduction Scheme, KER 1988 Problems and Method of Economics, KER 1989 On the Theories of Determination of the Real Wage Rate, KER 1989 To What Dissent, Bibliographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists, Edward Elgar Publishing, 199? NOBUO OKISHIO ESSAYS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY: COLLECTED PAPERS, Peter Lang Publishing, Okishio, Michael Kruger and Peter Flaschel, 1993

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