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Capital, Interest, and Rent: Essays in the Theory of Distribution; Fetter, Frank A.
4 paragraphs found.
Part 2, Essay 3
2.3.2

The preface is largely taken up with the translators' epitome of the criticism of John Rae, to whose ideas the author's attention had been called after the first edition of his work appeared. The translation is made up mostly of somewhat detailed replies to Marshall (a modified abstinence theorist), Carver (an abstinence theorist), and Wieser (a productivity theorist), and to various advocates of labor-cost and exploitation theories.

Part 2, Essay 6
2.6.2

This problem being intimately related to many others having theoretical and practical bearings, the center of discussion has shifted greatly throughout the centuries. In ancient and medieval times, it was viewed as little more than a phase of just price, and attempts to explain the phenomenon of interest rates were merely incidental to arguments on the ethics of usury. Even the more recent discussions of the subject from Senior's abstinence theory to the work of J. B. Clark, of Böhm-Bawerk, of Wieser, and of others, reveal clearly this motive. The income taking the form of "interest" has borne and still has to bear the main shock of communistic attack upon the institution of private property, although Henry George's brilliant sally diverted a considerable part of the reforming zeal to the attack upon land rent. However, the notable development of a more truly detached scientific spirit in theory which has occurred, at least in a small esoteric circle, has shown itself in part by the ardent pursuit of a "theory of interest" as matter of pure reason, regardless of its bearings on any particular practical questions. This sort of "mere theory" has been not only ignored but deprecated by some of those economists, who, armed with new statistical weapons of correlation, are in pursuit of quantitative measurements. They for their part have been doing notable work in collecting, analysing, and charting the growing mass of banking and commercial data regarding price changes and rates of interest, as aspects of the business cycle.

2.6.22

The negative and critical work of Böhm-Bawerk and Clark raised issues which their positive theories did not suffice to settle. It is true that two dynamic decades of widespread discussion of this and related topics in economic theory were followed after about 1900 by an equal period of reaction, or at least a prevailing lassitude, in theory. The majority of economists were inclined to take the various more or less novel and conflicting notions that had appeared, and to merge them into an eclectic body of doctrine, which it was believed, or hoped, might be generally accepted and initiate an era of theoretical harmony. To a remarkable degree this policy seemed to succeed. Alfred Marshall, the leader of this eclectic movement as well as its most typical representative, took from the first this attitude toward the work of Böhm-Bawerk. *77 Marshall's eclectic formula of the two qualities in capital of prospectiveness and productiveness became the mode among English and American economists. To the influence of J. B. Clark, and perhaps in part to Wieser's general imputation theory, is traceable a related but more systematic formulation of a general theory of the specific productivity (or productive contribution) of each of the factors, a conception almost, if not quite, as widely favored in the text books as that of Marshall. In all these cases the "productivity" of capital (as a certain limited group of material artificial agents) is viewed as the cause and source of the yield or income called interest (implicit as well as explicit). It is assumed that this "productivity" (vaguely assumed to be a technological fact, but always shifting its character to value-productivity, a fact of private profit in the broader sense) serves to explain not merely the amount or price sum yielded by a group of "capital goods" but also the rate per cent of yield computed on the valuation of the principal, or capital value. It ought to be evident without argument to any one acquainted with Edwin Cannan's work *78 that when this shift is made the interest rate per cent of "productivity" of capital value becomes something quite unco-ordinated with the per acre amount or per man amount of productivity of the other factors. A rate per cent yield from the investment of borrowed "capital" is a fact of general bearing, not related solely to the "productivity" of artificial agents contrasted with that of land per acre and of labor per man, but related equally to the profit productivity of labor hired and of land and natural agents either hired or bought by the use of any investment fund (owned or borrowed).

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