The Kondratiev Cycle

Joseph Schumpter (1892-1950) wrote a book called ‘Business Cycles’ & supported the existence of:
1. Business cycle (a.k.a. trade, industrial, Juglar) – on average about every 10 years; governed by fixed capital
2. Kitchen cycle – 40-48 months; governed by commodity capital (alluded to by Marx)
3. Kondratiev cycle – about every 50/60 years; governed by money capital (Nikolai Kondratiev (1892-1938))

There is also a proposed 20 year cycle based upon the construction industry – the Kusnet’s cycle.

No evidence Marx thought there was a long cycle; capitalism hadn’t been around that long.

The expansion of the market depends upon the production of the money material – silver & gold.
Hence the discovery of new silver & gold mark periods of new expansion, e.g. The Americas in the 16th century, Californian & Australian gold in the mid 19th century.

The ‘discovery’ of the Americas also provided cheap raw materials that reduced the organic composition of capital & so increased the rate of profit, as did a new source of labour power increase the quantity of surplus value produced.

Mandel Waves

Ernest Mandel (1923-1995) wrote ‘Late Capitalism’ (1972) & credits Parvus (1867-1924) with the discovery of ‘long waves’.

He also wrote a short book called ‘Long Waves of Capitalist Development’.

That capitalist laws can explain the downturn, due to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, but not the upturn.

“The correlation between fluctuations in gold production and long waves of economic development has fascinated many economic historians…gold production fluctuates in a ‘counter-cyclic’ manner in response to the ups and downs of the capitalist economy.”

But he rejects the link with gold production writing, “…the question of additional capital investments cannot be reduced to the production of money material (i.e., gold production) but constitutes a problem of the additional production and accumulation of surplus value”.

Mandel neglects the fact that before capital can be accumulated, invested, it has first to be sold for money to make a profit. Surplus value has to be realised.

Mandel does not support the idea that money can be de-commoditised.
That non-commodity money was in contradiction to Marx’s LTV.
Token & credit money doesn’t replace, it represents commodity money.

Is Gold Production Cyclical?

Partially, as discoveries of gold like those in California, Australia & South Africa were by chance & not part of a cyclical process.

Gold production has moved cyclically with movements in prices & profits.


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