Tendency of the rate of profit to fall
|Part of a series on|
The tendency of the rate of profit to fall (TRPF) is a hypothesis in the crisis theory of political economy, according to which the rate of profit—the ratio of the profit to the amount of invested capital—decreases over time. This hypothesis gained additional prominence from its discussion by Karl Marx in Chapter 13 of Capital, Volume III, but economists as diverse as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo and Stanley Jevons referred explicitly to the TRPF as an empirical phenomenon that demanded further theoretical explanation, although they differed on the reasons why the TRPF should necessarily occur.
Geoffrey Hodgson stated that the theory of the TRPF "has been regarded, by most Marxists, as the backbone of revolutionary Marxism. According to this view, its refutation or removal would lead to reformism in theory and practice". Stephen Cullenberg stated that the TRPF "remains one of the most important and highly debated issues of all of economics" because it raises "the fundamental question of whether, as capitalism grows, this very process of growth will undermine its conditions of existence and thereby engender periodic or secular crises."
Marx regarded the TRPF as proof that capitalist production could not be an everlasting form of production since in the end the profit principle itself would suffer a breakdown. However, because the tendency is hard to prove or disprove theoretically, and because it is hard to test and measure the rate of profit, Marx's TRPF theory has been a topic of global controversy for more than a century.
Marx argued that technological innovation enabled more efficient means of production. Physical productivity would increase as a result, i.e. a greater output (of use values, i.e., physical output) would be produced, per unit of capital invested. Simultaneously, however, technological innovations would replace people with machinery, and the organic composition of capital would increase. Assuming only labor can produce new additional value, this greater physical output would embody a gradually decreasing value and surplus value, relative to the value of production capital invested. In response, the average rate of industrial profit would therefore tend to decline in the longer term.
It declined in the long run, Marx argued, paradoxically not because productivity decreased, but instead because it increased, with the aid of a bigger investment in equipment and materials.
The central idea that Marx had, was that overall technological progress has a long-term "labor-saving bias", and that the overall long-term effect of saving labor time in producing commodities with the aid of more and more machinery had to be a falling rate of profit on production capital, quite regardless of market fluctuations or financial constructions.
Growth of Capital Stock
In Adam Smith's TRPF theory, the falling tendency results from the growth of capital which is accompanied by increased competition. The growth of capital stock itself would drive down the average rate of profit.
There could also be several other factors involved in profitability which Marx and others did not discuss in detail, including:
- Reductions in the turnover time of industrial capital generally (and especially fixed capital investment).
- Accelerated depreciation and faster throughput.
- The level of price inflation for different types of goods and services.
- Taxes, levies, subsidies and credit policies of governments, interest and rent costs.
- Capital investment into areas of (previously) non-capitalist production, where a lower organic composition of capital prevailed.
- Military wars or military spending causing capital assets to be inoperative or destroyed, or spurring war production (see permanent arms economy).
- Demographic factors.
- Advances in technology and technological revolutions which rapidly reduce input costs.
- Particularly in the era of globalization, the national and international freight rate (shipping, trucking, railfreight, airfreight).
- Substituted natural resource inputs, or marginal increased cost of non-substituted natural resource inputs.
- Consolidation of mature industries into an oligarchy of survivors. Mature industries do not attract new capital because of low returns. Mature companies with large amounts of capital invested and brand recognition can also try to block new competitors in their markets. See also secular stagnation theory.
- The use of credit instruments to reduce capital costs for new production.
The scholarly controversy about the TRPF among Marxists and non-Marxists has continued for a hundred years. There exist nowadays several thousands of academic publications on the TRPF worldwide. However, no book is available which provides an exposition of all the different arguments that have been made. Professor Michael C. Howard  stated that "The connection between profit and economic theory is an intimate one. (...) However, a generally accepted theory of profit has not emerged at any stage in the history of economics... theoretical controversies remain intense."
Dispute over existence
The Japanese economist Nobuo Okishio famously argued in 1961, "if the newly introduced technique satisfies the cost criterion [i.e. if it reduces unit costs, given current prices] and the rate of real wage remains constant", then the rate of profit must increase.
Assuming constant real wages, technical change would lower the production cost per unit, thereby raising the innovator's rate of profit. The price of output would fall, and this would cause the other capitalists' costs to fall also. The new (equilibrium) rate of profit would therefore have to rise. By implication, the rate of profit could in that case only fall, if real wages rose in response to higher productivity, squeezing profits.
This theory is sometimes called neo-Ricardian, because David Ricardo also claimed that a fall in the average rate of profit could ordinarily be brought about only by rising wages (one other scenario could be, that foreign competition would drive down the local market prices for outputs, causing falling profits).
John E. Roemer criticized the absence of fixed capital in Okishio's model, and therefore modified Okishio's model, to include the effect of fixed capital. He concluded though that:
"... there is no hope for producing a falling rate of profit theory in a competitive, equilibrium environment with a constant real wage... this does not mean... that there cannot exist a theory of a falling rate of profit in capitalist economies. One must, however, relax some of the assumptions of the stark models discussed here, to achieve such a falling rate of profit theory."
It is also possible to construct an alternative Okishio-type model, in which the rising cost of land rents (or property rents) lowers the industrial rate of profit.
David Ricardo, interpreting Adam Smith's falling rate of profit theory to be that increased competition drives down the average rate of profit, argued that competition could only level out differences in profit rates on investments in production, but not lower the general profit rate (the grand-average profit rate) as a whole. Apart from a few exceptional cases, Ricardo claimed, the average rate of profit could only fall if wages rose.
In Capital, Karl Marx criticized Ricardo's idea. Marx argued that, instead, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is "an expression peculiar to the capitalist mode of production of the progressive development of the social productivity of labor". Marx never denied that profits could contingently fall for all kinds of reasons, but he thought there was also a structural reason for the TRPF, regardless of current market fluctuations.
By raising productivity, labor-saving technologies can increase the average industrial rate of profit rather than lowering it, insofar as fewer workers can produce vastly more output at a lower cost, enabling more sales in less time. Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz stated: "Marx’s own proof of his law of the falling rate of profit errs principally in disregarding the mathematical relationship between the productivity of labour and the rate of surplus value." Jürgen Habermas argued in 1973–74 that the TRPF might have existed in 19th century liberal capitalism, but no longer existed in late capitalism, because of the expansion of "reflexive labor" ("labor applied to itself with the aim of increasing the productivity of labor"). Michael Heinrich has also argued that Marx did not adequately demonstrate that the rate of profit would fall when increases in productivity are taken into account.
How exactly the average industrial rate of profit will evolve, is either uncertain and unpredictable, or it is historically contingent; it all depends on the specific configuration of costs, sales and profit margins obtainable in fluctuating markets with given technologies. This "indeterminacy" criticism revolves around the idea that technological change could have many different and contradictory effects. It could reduce costs, or it could increase unemployment; it could be labor saving, or it could be capital saving. Therefore, so the argument goes, it is impossible to infer definitely a theoretical principle that a falling rate of profit must always and inevitably result from an increase in productivity.
Perhaps the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall might be true in an abstract model, based on certain assumptions, but in reality no substantive, long-run empirical predictions can be made[?]. In addition, profitability itself can be influenced by an enormous array of different factors, going far beyond those which Marx specified[?]. So there are tendencies and counter-tendencies operating simultaneously, and no particular empirical result necessarily and always follows from them[?].
Labor theory of value
Steve Keen argues that if you assume the labor theory of value is wrong, then this obviates the bulk of the critique. Keen suggests that the TRPF was based on the idea that only labor can create new value (following the labor theory of value), and that there was a tendency over time for ratio of capital to labor (in value terms) to rise. However, if surplus can be produced by all production inputs, then he believes there is no reason why an increase in the ratio of capital to labor inputs should cause the overall rate of surplus to decline.
Eugen Böhm von Bawerk and his critic Ladislaus Bortkiewicz (himself influenced by Vladimir Karpovich Dmitriev) claimed that Marx's argument about the distribution of profits from newly produced surplus value is mathematically faulty. This gave rise to a lengthy academic controversy. Critics claimed that Marx failed to reconcile the law of value with the reality of the distribution of capital and profits, a problem that had already preoccupied David Ricardo – who himself inherited the problem from Adam Smith, yet failed to solve it.
Marx was already aware of this theoretical problem when he wrote The Poverty of Philosophy (1847). It gets a mention again in the Grundrisse (1858). At the end of chapter 1 of his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), he referred to it, and announced his intention to solve it. In Theories of Surplus Value (1862–1863), he discusses the problem very clearly. His first attempt at a solution occurs in a letter to Engels, dated 2 August 1862. In Capital, Volume I (1867) he noted that "many intermediate terms" were still needed in his progressing narrative, to arrive at the answer. Engels suggested, that Marx had indeed solved the problem in the posthumously published Capital, Volume III, but critics alleged Marx never delivered a credible or definitive solution.
Specifically, critics claimed that Marx failed to prove that average labour requirements are the real regulator of product-prices within capitalist production, since Marx failed to demonstrate what exactly the causal or quantitative connection was between the two. As a corollary, Marx's theory of the TRPF was undermined as well, since it was based on a necessary long-term evolution of value-proportions between the composition of production capital and the yield of production capital.
Marx regarded the TRPF as a general tendency in the development of the capitalist mode of production. Marx conceded, however, that it was only a tendency, and that there are also "counteracting factors" operating which had to be studied as well. The counteracting factors were factors that would normally raise the rate of profit. In his draft manuscript edited by Friedrich Engels, Marx cited six of them:
- More intense exploitation of labor (raising the rate of exploitation of workers).
- Reduction of wages below the value of labor power (the immiseration thesis).
- Cheapening the elements of constant capital by various means.
- The growth of a relative surplus population (the reserve army of labor) which remained unemployed.
- Foreign trade reducing the cost of industrial inputs and consumer goods.
- The increase in the use of share capital by joint-stock companies, which devolves part of the costs of using capital in production on others.
Nevertheless, Marx thought the countervailing tendencies ultimately could not prevent the average rate of profit in industries from falling; the tendency was intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production. In the end, none of the conceivable counteracting factors could stem the tendency toward falling profits from production.
First empirical tests
In the 1870s, Marx certainly wanted to test his theory of economic crises and profit-making econometrically, but adequate macroeconomic statistical data and mathematical tools did not exist to do so. Such scientific resources began to exist only half a century later.
In 1894, Friedrich Engels did mention the research of the émigré socialist Georg Christian Stiebeling, who compared profit, income, capital and output data in the U.S. census reports of 1870 and 1880, but Engels claimed that Stiebeling explained the results "in a completely false way" (Stiebeling's defence against Engels's criticism included two open letters submitted to the New Yorker Volkszeitung and Die Neue Zeit). Stiebeling's analysis represented "almost certainly the first systematic use of statistical sources in Marxian value theory."
Although Eugen Varga and the young Charles Bettelheim; already studied the topic, and Josef Steindl began to tackle the problem in his 1952 book, the first major empirical analysis of long-term trends in profitability inspired by Marx was a 1957 study by Joseph Gillman. This study, reviewed by Ronald L. Meek and H. D. Dickinson, was extensively criticized by Shane Mage in 1963. Mage's work provided the first sophisticated disaggregate analysis of official national accounts data performed by a Marxist scholar.
Study in the late 1970s and onward
There have been a number of non-Marxist empirical studies of the long-term trends in business profitability.
Particularly in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were concerns among non-Marxist economists that the profit rate could be really falling.
Various efforts have been conducted since the 1970s to empirically examine the TRPF. Studies supporting or arguing in favour of it include those by Michael Roberts, Minqi Li, John Bradford, and Deenpankar Basu (2012). Studies critical or contradicting the TRPF include those by Themistoklis Kalogerakos, Marcelo Resende, Òscar Jordà and Simcha Barkai. Other studies, such as those by Basu (2013), Elveren Thomas Weiß and Ivan Trofimov, report mixed results or argue that the answer is not yet certain due to conflicting findings and issues with appropriately measuring the TRPF.
From time to time, the research units of banks and government departments produce studies of profitability in various sectors of industry. The National Statistics Office of Britain now releases company profitability statistics every quarter, showing increasing profits. In the UK, Ernst & Young (EY) nowadays provide a Profit Warning Stress Index for quoted companies. The Share Centre publishes the Profit Watch UK Report. In the US, Yardeni Research provides a briefing on S&P 500 profit margin trends, including comparisons with NIPA data.
The American-Jewish magazine Tablet claims that :[Marx’s] essential idea, influenced by Ricardo, was that capitalism would become less and less profitable and that its downward spiral toward the abyss of deflation—lower prices, lower profits—would be followed by worldwide revolution. Instead, capitalism has become vastly more profitable".
The McKinsey Global Institute claimed in 2016 that the three decades from 1985 to 2014 were the golden years for profits from stocks and bonds, but forecasts that average profitability will be lower in the future.
In May 2018, a WSJ analyst concluded that if taxcut effects are removed from the figures, real US corporate profits were not growing anymore, notwithstanding a surge in profits on S&P listed shares. Another WSJ analyst commented, at the same date, that "With the profits data, it could take several quarters for clear trends to emerge from the tax-associated noise." From September 2018 onward, as the economic and political news worsened, the bloated US stockmarkets began to deflate, while the VIX index trebled. In November 2018, Michael Wursthorn reported that "The postcrisis boom in U.S. corporate profits may be near its peak." CNBC reported a similar story. At the end of 2018, the record gains for the year by the 500 richest people listed on the daily Bloomberg Billionaires Index had been wiped out – together, they had lost more than half a trillion dollars of net wealth.
- Crisis theory
- Financial crisis
- Internal rate of return
- Steady-state economy: the stationary state in classical economics
- It is also referred to by Marx as the "law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall" (LTRPF). As explained in the article, there are disputes about whether there is such a law or not. Other terms used include "the falling rate of profit" (FROP), the "falling tendency of the rate of profit" (FTRP), "decline of the rate of profit" (DROP), and the "tendential fall of the rate of profit" (TFRP). The average rate of profit on production capital is usually written as r = S/(C+V).
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Chapter 9. See also Philip Mirowski, "Adam Smith, Empiricism, and the Rate of Profit in Eighteenth-Century England." History of Political Economy, Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer 1982, pp. 178–198.
- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (1848), Book 4, Chapter 4. Bela A. Balassa, "Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill." Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Bd. 83 (1959), pp. 147–165.
- David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, Chapter 6. Maurice Dobb, "The Sraffa system and critique of the neoclassical theory of distribution." In : E.K. Hunt & Jesse G. Schwartz, A Critique of Economic Theory. Penguin, 1972, p. 211–213.
- W. Stanley Jevons (1871), The Theory of Political Economy. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1970, pp. 243–244.
- Aspromourgos, Tony, "Profits", in: James D. Wright (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2015, 2nd edition, Vol. 19, pp. 111–116.
- Geoffrey M. Hodgson, After Marx and Sraffa. Essays in political economy. New York: St Martin's Press, 1991, p.28.
- Stephen Cullenberg, The Falling Rate of Profit: Recasting the Marxian Debate. London: Pluto Press, 1994, p.1.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed. 1981, p. 350 and 368.
- Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3, edited by Friedrich Engels. New York: International Publishers, 1967 (orig. ed. 1894). Chapter 2, "The Rate of Profit", and chapter 13, "The Law as Such". John Weeks, Capital and exploitation, chapter 8. Princeton University Press, 1980).
- Ernest Mandel, "Economics", in: David McLellan (ed.), Marx – the First 100 Years. Fontana, 1983.
- Michael Heinrich, "Begründungsprobleme. Zur Debatte über das Marxsche “Gesetz vom tendenziellen Fall der Profitrate", in Marx-Engels-Jahrbuch 2006, Berlin: Akademie Verlag 2006, p. 50. Lefteris Tsoulfidis & Dimitris Paitaridis, "Revisiting Adam Smith's theory of the falling rate of profit". International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 39 issue 5, 2012, pp. 304–313.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975, chapter 7.
- Ernest Mandel, ´´Late Capitalism´´. London: NLB, 1975, chapter 7.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975, chapter 13.
- Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin 1973, p. 751.
- Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin 1981, p. 320. Fritz Sternberg, Der imperialismus. Berlin: Malik-Verlag, 1926; Ernest Mandel, "Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution", in: A.R. Desai (ed.), Essays on Modernization of Underdeveloped Societies, Vol. 1, 1971 (Bombay: Thacker & Co.). Reprint as: "Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution", International Socialist Review, vol. 34, No. 2 (February 1973), 6–13.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975, chapter 9.
- [permanent dead link] Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott, "Demography and the falling rate of profit". Wake Forest University & Department of Computing Science, University of Glasgow, February 2007.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975, chapter 6.
- Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism. London: NLB, 1975, p. 542, 577.
- Josef Steindl, Maturity and Stagnation in American Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1952.
- Harris, Seymour E. (1943). Postwar Economic Problems. New York, London: McGraw-Hill Book Co. pp. 67–70<Chapter IV Secular Stagnation by Alvin Sweeny.>
- Ayres, Robert U. (1998). Turning Point: The end of the Growth Paradigm. London: Earthscans Publications. p. 4. ISBN 9781853834394.
- Ernest Mandel, "Economics", in: David McLellan (ed.), Marx – the First 100 Years. Fontana, 1983; M.C. Howard and J.E. King, A history of Marxian economics (2 vols). Princeton University Press, 1989.
- Michael Howard, Profits in economic theory. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983, p. 3.
- Nobuo Okishio, "Technical Change and the Rate of Profit", Kobe University Economic Review, 7, 1961, p. 92. Shalom Groll & Ze'ev Orzech, "From Marx to the Okishio theorem: a genealogy". History of Political Economy, Vol. 21, Issue 2, 1989, pp. 253–272.
- John E. Roemer, Analytical Foundations of Marxian Economic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 132.
- Bill Gibson & Hadi Esfahani, "Nonproduced means of production: neo-Ricardians vs. Fundamentalists". Review of Radical Political Economics, vol. 15, issue 2, summer 1983, pp. 83–105.
- Francisco Verdera, "Adam Smith on the falling rate of profit: a reappraisal." Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 39, No. 1, February 1992; cf. Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin 1973, p. 751.
- Heinrich, p. 51. See David Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. In: Piero Sraffa (ed.), The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo. Vol. I. Cambridge, 1951, pp. 289–300.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin 1981, p. 319.
- Ronald L. Meek, "The Falling Rate of Profit", in R. L. Meek, Economics and Ideology and Other Essays (London: Chapman and Hall, 1967).
- Ladislaus Bortkiewicz, "Value and Price in the Marxian System". International Economic Papers, no 2, 1952. London: MacMillan, 1952, p. 73.
- Julius Sensat, Habermas and Marxism: an appraisal. London: Sage, 1979, p. 61, 125f. See: Jürgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1976, p. 56 and Jürgen Habermas & Boris Frankel, "Habermas talking: an interview", Theory and society, I, 1974, pp. 37–58, at p. 50.
- Michael Heinrich, "Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s", Monthly Review, Volume 64, Issue 11, April 2013.
- Bob Rowthorn & Donald J. Harris, "The organic composition of capital and capitalist development". In: Stephen Resnick & Richard Wolff (eds.), Rethinking Marxism: Essays for Harry Magdoff & Paul Sweezy. New York: Autonomedia, 1985, p. 356.
- Steve Keen, "Use-Value, Exchange Value, and the Demise of Marx's Labor Theory of Value", Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 1993, pages 107–121
- Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of his System. London, T.F. Unwin, 1898 (various reprints).
- Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz, "Wertrechnung und Preisrechnung im Marxschen System", in: 1906/7, Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, XXIII-1 (1906) pp. 1–50, XXV-1 (1907) pp. 10–51, XXV-2 (1907) pp. 445–488. This article was translated into English in 1952 as "Value and Price in the Marxian System", International Economic Papers, no. 2, 1952. A translation of Bortkiewicz’s follow-up article "On the Correction of Marx's Fundamental Theoretical Construction in the Third Volume of Capital" (Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, July 1907) is provided in Paul Sweezy (ed.), Karl Marx and the Close of his System by Eugen von Bohm Bawerk (New York: Kelley, 1949), pp. 199–221.
- Kenji Mori, "Charasoff and Dmitriev: An Analytical Characterisation of Origins of Linear Economics". Discussion Paper No. 249. Graduate school of economics and management, Tohoku University, January 2010. Eduardo Crespo and Marcus Cardoso, "The evolution of the theory of value from Dmitriev and Bortkiewicz to Charasoff" (Rio the Janeiro: Federal University of Rio the Janeiro, 2000).
- Bruce Philp, Reduction, Rationality and Game Theory in Marxian Economics. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005, p. 42f.
- Richard B. Day and Daniel F. Gaido, Responses to Marx's Capital from Rudolf Hilferding to Isaak Illich Rubin. Leiden: Brill, October 2017.
- Josef Winternitz (June 1948). "Value and Prices: A Solution of the So-Called Transformation Problem". The Economic Journal. 58 (230): 276–280. doi:10.2307/2225953. JSTOR 2225953.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Francis Seton (June 1957). "The Transformation Problem" (PDF). Review of Economic Studies. 24 (3): 149–160. doi:10.2307/2296064. JSTOR 2296064. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- Michio Morishima, Marx's Economics: A Dual Theory of Value and Growth. Cambridge University Press, 1973.
- Michio Morishima & George Catephores, Value, exploitation and growth. London: McGraw-Hill, 1978.
- Ian Steedman (1977). Marx after Sraffa. Humanities Press. ISBN 978-0-902308-49-7.
- Ronald L. Meek, Smith, Marx, & After. London: Chapman & Hall, 1977, p. 98.
- Ronald L. Meek, Smith, Marx, & After. London: Chapman & Hall, 1977, p. 99.
- Karl Marx, Grundrisse. Penguin, 1973, p. 560f.
- Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1971.
- Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, Part 3, chapter 20 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1971, p. 69-71.
- Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Letters on Capital. London, New Park, 1983, pp. 74–78.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin 1976, p. 421.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed. 1981, p. 339f.
- Marx regarded dividends as an ex post distribution from gross profit revenue (a fraction of surplus value), but he acknowledged that the specific pattern of distribution of portfolio capital between different types of placements could affect the overall average rate of return on capital investments. The overall yield on share capital is typically higher than the rate of interest, but lower than the gross profit rate on total enterprise capital (the latter rate which includes both distributed and undistributed profits, and tax). Hence, the larger the proportion of distributed profits (dividends) to shareholders in total gross profit, the lower the general profit rate on capital will be – "if" share capital is considered as a separate component in the total capital assets invested, rather than as a duplication of real capital assets in the form of notional "paper" assets, or "if" the average rate of profit is calculated as the weighted mean of rates of return on different types of business investment. Obviously, the more profit is distributed to shareholders, the less is available for reinvestment in the business, unless shareholders opt to reinvest their profits in the same business. In modern times, though, a very large chunk in the total distribution of stocks is held for less than one accounting year, or, at most, for around one and a half years (this is called "the increase in portfolio (or equity) turnovers", or "the decrease in average stock holding periods"). The investors are, in this case, primarily concerned with comparative risks, and with the net capital gain they can get from short-term positive changes in stock prices, as weighed against broker's fees and likely dividend yields (often the share parcels traded are large, which lowers the transaction costs per share). See: Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin 1981, pp. 347–348; Ernest Mandel, "Joint-stock company", in: Tom Bottomore (ed.), A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, 2nd edition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991, pp. 270–273; David Hunkar, "Average Stock Holding Period on NYSE 1929 To 2016". Topforeignstocks.com, 1 October 2017. 
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed. 1981, p. 356.
- Zoltan Kenessey, "Why Das Kapital remained unfinished". In: William Barber (ed.), Themes in Pre-Classical, Classical and Marxian Economics. Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1991, pp. 119–133.
- Marx, "Letter to Engels, 31 May 1873". Marx-Engels Werke Vol. 33, p. 821. English: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, Letters on Capital. London: New Park, 1983, p. 176 or Marx Engels Collected Works, Vol. 44, p. 504.
- Paul Studenski, The Income of Nations: Theory, Measurement and Analysis, Past and Present. Washington Square: New York University Press, 1958.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin 1981, p. 110. G. C. Stiebeling, Das Werthgesetz und die Profitrate. New York: John Heinrich, 1890. See the German Wikipedia article on Georg Christian Stiebeling.  
- M. C. Howard & J. E. King, A History of Marxian Economics, Vol. 1. Princeton University Press, 1989, p. 29.
- Eugen Varga, The Great Crisis and its Political Consequences. London: Modern Books Limited, 1935
- André Mommen, Stalin's Economist. The Economic Contributions of Jenö Varga. London: Routledge, 2011, chapter 7; Jelle Versieren, "Eugen Varga and the Calamity of Stalinist Economics." Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, Volume 41 Issue 1, 31 May 2013.
- e.g. C. Bettelheim, L'economie Allemande sous le nazisme. Un aspect de la décadence du capitalisme, Paris: P.U.F., 1946, p. 45.
- C. Bettelheim, Bilan de l'économie française (1919–1946). Paris : P.U.F., 1947; C. Bettelheim, Revenu national, épargne et investissements chez Marx et chez Keynes. Paris: Librairie du Recueil Sirey, 1948; C. Bettelheim, "Variation du taux de profit et accroissement de la productivité du travail." Économique Appliquée. Bulletin de l'Institut de Science Économique Appliquée, N° 1–2, 1959.
- Josef Steindl, Maturity and stagnation in American Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1952.
- Joseph Gillman, The Falling Rate of Profit. London, Dennis Dobson, 1957.
- Ronald L. Meek, "The Falling Rate of Profit: Marx's Law and its Significance to Twentieth-century Capitalism, by Joseph M. Gillman." The Economic Journal, Vol. 69 No. 273, March 1959, pp. 132–134. H. D. Dickinson, "Falling rate of profit". New Left Review I/1, January–February 1960. Cf. Howard C Petith; "Meek, Dickinson and Marx's falling rate of profit". Barcelona : Economics Department discussion paper, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 1997.
- Shane Mage, The Law of the Falling Tendency of the Rate of Profit; Its Place in the Marxian Theoretical System and Relevance to the US Economy. Phd Thesis, Columbia University, 1963.
- For example, J. L. Walker, "Estimating companies’ rate of return on capital employed". Economic Trends (London: HMSO), November 1974; T.P. Hill, Profits and rates of return. Paris: OECD, 1979; James H. Chan-Lee and Helen Sutch, "Profits and rates of return in OECD countries", OECD Economic and Statistics Department Working Paper N°20, 1985. ; Daniel M. Holland (ed.) Measuring profitability and capital costs : an international study. Lexington, Mass. : Lexington Books, c1984.; Dennis C. Mueller, Profits in the Long Run. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; Dennis C. Mueller, (ed.) The Dynamics of Company Profits: An International Comparison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; James Poterba, "The rate of return to corporate capital and factor shares: new estimates using revised national income accounts and capital stock data". Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Vol. 48, June 1998, pp. 211–246; Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton, The Millennium Book, A century of Investment Returns. London: London Business School and ABN AMRO, 2000; Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton, Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press 2002; Paul Gomme et al., "The return to capital and the business cycle." Review of Economic Dynamics, Vol. 14, Issue 2, April 2011, pp. 262–278; Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook. Zurich: Credit Suisse Research Institute, 2018.
- M. Panic & R. E. Close, "Profitability of British manufacturing industry". Lloyds Bank Review #109, July 1973, pp. 17–30; Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, "Is the rate of profit falling?". Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1, 1977; William Nordhaus, "The falling share of profits". Brookings papers on Economic Activity, No. 1, 1974, pp. 169–217."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Jeffrey D. Sachs, "Wages, profits, and macroeconomic adjustment: a comparative study." [with comments by William H. Branston and Robert J. Gordon] Brookings papers of economic activity, No.2, 1979, pp. 269–319 ; Thomas R. Michl, "Why is the Rate of Profit Still Falling?" New York: Jerome Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper no. 7, September 1988.
- Michael Roberts, "A world rate of profit". Paper presented to AHE/IPPE/WEA Conference, Paris July 2012 ; Michael Roberts. "Revisiting a world rate of profit". Paper for the 2015 Conference of the Association of Heterodox Economists, Southampton Solent University, July 2015.
- Roberts, Michael, "UK profit rate and British economic history", 2015, accessed 21/03/2018
- Minqi Li, Feng Xiao, Andong Zhu, "Long waves, institutional changes and historical trends: a study of the long-term movement of the profit rate in the capitalist world economy", Journal of World System Research, Number 1, 2007..
- John Hamilton Bradford, The Falling Rate of Profit Thesis Reassessed. Masters thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2007.
- Deenpankar Basu & Panayiotis Manolakos, "Is there a tendency for the rate of profit to fall? Econometric evidence for the U.S., 1948–2007", Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 45, 2012, pp. 76–91.
- Themistoklis Kalogerakos, Technology, distribution, and long-run profit rate dynamics in the U.S. manufacturing sector, 1948–2011: evidence from a Vector Error Correction Model (VECM). Master's Thesis, Lund University, August 2014.
- Marcelo Resende, "Profit rate in the US, 1949–2007: a Markov switching assessment". Applied Economics Letters, Volume 25, Issue 9, 2018.
- Jordà, Òscar, Katharina Knoll, Dmitry Kuvshinov, Moritz Schularick, and Alan M. Taylor. "The rate of return on everything, 1870–2015." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 134, no. 3 (2019): 1225–1298.
- Barkai, Simcha. "Declining labor and capital shares." The Journal of Finance (2016).
- Basu, D., Vasudevan, R., "Technology, distribution and the rate of profit in the US economy: understanding the current crisis", Cambridge Journal of Economics, 37, 2013, pp. 57–89.
- Adem Y. Elveren & Sara Hsu, "Military Expenditures and Profit Rates: Evidence from OECD Countries", Working Paper 374, Political Economy Research Institute, 2015, p. 3 et seq.
- Thomas Weiß, The rate of return on capital in Germany – an empirical study. Paper presented at the 19th FMM Conference, "The Spectre of Stagnation? Europe in the World Economy", Berlin Steglitz, 22–24 October 2015.
- Ivan Trofimov, "Profit rates in developed capitalist economies: a time series investigation", Munich Personal RePEc Archive, 5/06/2017, accessed 19/03/2018
- For example, Palle S. Andersen, "Profit shares, investment and output capacity." Bank of International Settlements, BIS Working Papers No. 12, July 1987; Luci Ellis and Kathryn Smith, "The global upward trend in the profit share" Working paper, Monetary and Economic Department, Bank of International Settlements, July 2007.
- Angela Monaghan, "UK companies at their most profitable since 1998". The Guardian, 14 November 2014. The ONA quarterly data are titled "Profitability of UK companies".
- EY Profit Warning Stress Index
- Profit Watch UK Report.
- Yardeni stock market briefing on profit margins  .
- David Mikics, "Karl Marx: the greatest intellectual fraud of the 19th and 20th centuries", Tablet, 18 June 2013.
- Richard Dobbs et al, Diminishing Returns: why investors may need to lower their expectations. San Francisco: McKinsey Global Institute, May 2016."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Justin Lahart, "Why Corporate Profits May Be Weaker Than They Seem", Wall Street Journal, 30 May 2018. Ben Leubsdorf, "Corporate Profits Boosted in Early 2018 by Tax Cuts". Wall Street Journal, 30 May 2018.
- Sarah Ponczek and Vildana Hajric, "Stocks Have Worst Week Since 2011 Amid D.C. Chaos: Markets Wrap." Bloomberg News, 20 December 2018.
- Michael Wursthorn, "Signs of Profit Peak Put Global Stocks at a Crossroads". Wall Street Journal, 4 November 2018.
- Jeff Cox, "Corporate profits are reaching their peak". CNBC News, 5 November 2018.
- "The World's Richest People Lost $511 Billion in 2018." Bloomberg News, 21 December 2018 ("511" is also a type of Levi's slim fit jeans).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to rate of profit.|
- Tendency of the rate of profit to fall wiki, audio version
- Economarx bibliography
- Anwar Shaikh, Is capitalism sustainable? video
- Anwar Shaikh, Capitalism: video Lecture # 24 – Demand, Profitability and Growth
- Anwar Shaikh complete video course in classical economics, in 30 lectures
- Marx Now: A symposium 2018 (BISR)
- Turan Subasat YouTube video: David Harvey – "A commentary on the falling rate of profit in Marx’s crisis theory". Izmir University of Economics – Workshop on "The Great Meltdown of 2008: Systemic, Conjunctural or Policy-created?" (there are more videos available in this series).
- Thomas Weiss, 2018: A comment on Anwar Shaikh’s description of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall
- Andrew Kliman interview 1 of 4 video
- Minqi Li, Capitalism with Zero Profit Rate? video
- Joseph Choonera, The rate of profit and capitalism today video
- Michael Roberts – Profits, Cycles, and Breakdown video
- Cliff Bowman, Marx's Theory of Economic Crisis video
- Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall video
- The Falling Rate of Profit Explained: Why Capitalism will Fail video
- Falling Rate Of Profit/"Late Stage Capitalism" DEBUNKED video
- Falling Rate of Profit & Okishio's Theorem video
- Robot Burger Flippers and the Falling Rate of Profit video
- Marxian Econ Made Easy 7: The Falling Rate of Profit video