A Short History of Socialist Economic Thought by Gerd Hardack, Dieter Karras, Ben Fine

By Gerd Hardack, Dieter Karras, Ben Fine

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It is this last point which is the justification of Marshall's 'constant marginal utility'. It will be observed that our two effects stand on a different footing as regards the certainty of their operation. It follows from the principle of diminishing marginal rate of substitution that the substitution effect is absolutely certain - it must always work in favour of an increase in the demand for a commodity when the price of that commodity falls. But the income effect is not so reliable; ordinarily it will work the same way, but it will work in the opposite way in the case of inferior goods.

1 Imagine an entrepreneur who starts controlling exchange transactions from x. Now as he extends his activities in the same product (B), the cost of organising increases until at some point it becomes equal to that of a dissimilar product which is nearer. As the firm expands, it will therefore from this point include more than one product (A and C). This treatment of the problem is obviously incomplete,47 but it is necessary to show that merely proving that the cost curve turns upwards does not give a limitation to the size of the firm.

The entrepreneur has to carry out his function at less cost, taking into account the fact that he may get factors of production at a lower price than the market transactions which he supersedes, because it is always possible to revert to the open market if he fails to do this. The question of uncertainty is one which is often considered to be very relevant to the study of the equilibrium of the firm. It seems improbable that a firm would emerge without the existence of uncertainty. But those, for instance, Professor Knight, who make the mode of payment the distinguishing mark of the firm - fixed incomes being guaranteed to some of those engaged in production by a person who takes the residual, and fluctuating, income - would appear to be introducing a point which is 42 The Nature of the Firm irrelevant to the problem we are considering.

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