The book was edited together posthumously by Friedrich Engels, who tried to make a polished story out of a mass of draft manuscripts Marx left behind. With "countercyclical" policy again revealed as unworkable, and politicians plotting to make matters worse, the contents of this book have direct bearing on present and future monetary policy. - Anwar Shaikh, "The Transformation from Marx to Sraffa", in: Ernest Mandel & Alan Freeman. McKinsey analysts found that for every $1.00 of operating profit on consumer goods sold in the US in 2008, retailers collected a profit of about $0.31 (down from $0.60 in 1999) while the suppliers, packagers, and others along the value chain behind retail received $0.69. Marx's argument is that price-levels for products are determined by input cost-prices, turnovers and average profit rates on output, which are in turn determined principally by aggregate labour-costs, the rate of surplus value and the growth rate of final demand. The oil price that companies need to profitably drill new wells has closely tracked prices for long-dated oil futures in recent years.  In his major 2016 treatise on the economics of capitalist production, Anwar Shaikh has indeed overhauled the whole theory of prices of production in the light of empirical evidence, arguing that production prices in the classical sense can only be theoretical notions, which strictly speaking do not exist in reality. What is statistically much more difficult to prove, is the relationship between prices and values in the actual distribution of net output (a traditional example mentioned, is that while in South Korea workers on average work the most working hours in the world, per capita per year, Korean value-added per capita has been much lower than might be expected; it is not so easy to explain, why this is the case).. He did not discuss in any detail the difference between distributed and undistributed profit, or tax requirements, and how this might affect profit statements. They believed, that the idea of a production price was simple, obvious and not controversial. But this manoeuvre of itself cannot contain any formal proof of a necessary quantitative relationship between values and prices, nor a formal proof that capitals of the same size but different compositions (and consequently different expenditures of labour-time) must obtain the same rate of profit. This basic market logic was already well known by medieval merchant capitalists long before the dawn of the modern era in the 15th century. However, Marx himself explicitly denied in chapter 49 of the third volume of Das Kapital that such an exact mathematical identity actually applies. Cost definition is - the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something : price. If the classical economists talked about the "naturalness" of price-levels, this was ultimately a theoretical apologism; they could not reconcile their labour theory of value with the theory of the distribution of capital. , In Marx's developed theory, however, the value of the commodity represents the average labour currently required to make it, given the current state of the whole production complex - it is the current social valuation (the replacement cost) of that commodity. There are constant disparities in space and time between labour-expenditures and capital returns, but also just as constant attempts to overcome or take advantage of those disparities. In that case, there is again no formal proof of any necessary relationship between values and prices, and Marx's manuscript really seems an endless, pointless theoretical detour leading nowhere. That is, Marx only illustrated with examples the general results towards which the competitive process would tend to move in capitalism as a social system. The creation of such an oeuvre is a formidable intellectual feat over an entire lifetime; it is an absolute marvel when we consider that Hayek had completed it in the span of eight years (1929–1937) and still well shy of his fortieth birthday. Their prerequisite is the existence of a general rate of profit, and this presupposes in turn that the profit rates in each particular sphere of production, taken by itself, are already reduced to their average rates." Rather, the transformation means that the direct regulation of the exchange of commodities according to their value is, in a capitalist mode of production, transformed into the regulation of the exchange of commodities by their production prices - reflecting the fact, that the supply of commodities in capitalist society has become conditional on the accumulation of capital, and therefore on profit margins and profit rates, within the framework of market competition. The "gravitation" could be interpreted as an actual physical process, an empirical stochastic result, or a purely theoretical description. The profit or surplus value component of an individual commodity is rarely in equal proportion to the total profit on the total turnover of that type of commodity. He implies that it can be solved only by examining capital and profit distributions as a dynamic process, rather than statically. It could, in principle, also be argued that some types of production prices are empirical price averages, while other ones only express theoretical price-levels. According to the German Marxian scholar Michael Heinrich, "Marx was nowhere near solving all of the conceptual problems".  Marx defines the "general rate of profit" as the (weighted) average of all the average profit rates in different branches of production - it is a "grand average" profit rate on production capital. Yet classical political economy provided no credible theory of how this process could actually occur. This was a dynamic business reality Marx sought to model in a simple way.. After all, constantly shifting product-values and product-prices co-exist side by side all the time according to Marx's theory, and operate in tandem. Anwar Shaikh, "Notes on the Marxian notion of competition." Reiner Franke, "Production Prices and Dynamical Processes of the Gravitation of Market Prices". OECD statistics provide data on labour productivity levels in the total economy for many countries. Here's why it's happened and what it means. Once the output has been produced and sold, a production price (or a unit cost price) can be fixed "after the fact", but that price is based on the preceding capital outlays which are fixed once the output has been produced, plus a profit mark-up, and usually cannot change later (at least not very significantly, in the ordinary situation). In fact, this function of prices may be analyzed into three separate functions. As this massive book reveals, he was also a great economist whose elaboration on monetary theory and the business cycle made him the leading foe of Keynesian theory and policy in the English-speaking world. Marx's critics interpreting his models often argue he keeps assuming what he needs to explain, because rather than really "transforming values into prices" by some quantitative mapping procedure, such that prices are truly deduced from labour-values, he either (1) equates value quantities and price quantities, or else (2) he combines both value quantities and price quantities in one equation. On the surface, it looked to the individual observer as if profit yields on capital determine expenditures on labour, but in aggregate, it is - according to Marx - just the other way around, since the volume of labour-time worked determined how much profit could be distributed among producing capitalists, via the sales of their products. , In grappling with these issues, it must also be remembered that when Marx lived there was little macro-economic statistical data available that would enable theoretical hypotheses to be tested and relativised. In another interpretation, however, the production price reflects only an empirical output price-level which dominates in the market for that output (a "norm" applying to a branch of production or economic sector, which producers cannot escape from). Products D, E, and F have smaller demand changes than alterations in price. : Planet Money On Monday, the price of a barrel of oil in the United States fell to negative $37. , Subsequently, Frederick Engels emphasized in this regard that an idealization of reality is not the same thing as reality itself, in a letter to Conrad Schmidt dated March 12, 1895.  What products will sell for, has to do with what it normally costs to make them, plus the profit mark-up that will secure a normal average return on capital for the producing enterprise.