CHAPTER 19
PRICES AND PROFITS

IN the tranquil conditions of a golden age productive capacity, actual output and effective demand all expand together. When the conditions of a golden age are not being maintained demand may expand faster than capacity (as, for instance, when there is an unforeseen speeding up of technical progress, leading to an investment boom) or may drop below it (as, for instance, when an increase in monopoly lowers real wages without a corresponding increase in the rate of accumulation). We must now examine these situations in more detail.


LONG AND SHORT PERIODS

At any particular moment there is a particular amount of productive capacity in existence, represented by a who's who of capital goods appropriate to a particular technique (or a particular mixture of techniques), and a particular distribution of available labour between different lines of production. The stock of capital goods is in course of changing in quantity or being transmogrified in form, but in a short period of time it does not alter very much. The short period, in the analytical sense, is not any definite period of time, but a convenient theoretical abstraction meaning a period within which changes in the stock of capital equipment can be neglected. Within a short period the rate of output can alter, for it is possible to utilise given equipment more or less by employing more or less labour to operate it. The range of output that is technically possible, in a given short-period situation, is anything from zero to the maximum that can be squeezed out of existing resources. The range of technically possible rates of consumption is anything from zero to the maximum

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