ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unequal Exchange of Errors

Unequal Exchange of Errors V M Dandekar RECENTLY, there has been an interesting exchange between Arun Bose and Ranjit Sau on the possibility of unequal exchange in international trade [1, 2, 3, 4]. Sau, after arguing out "Emmanuel's attempt to demonstrate the occurrence of unequal exchange even under the conditions of perfect competition" as unsuccessful, presents what he calls a 'Fresh Approach* to demonstrate, "at the theoretical plane", the possibility of unequal exchange in international trade [5, p 55]. Taking two countries, 'an advanced country' and 'the Third World country' as Sau refers to them, trading two commodities x and y (the Third World country exports x and imports y), Saw assumes balanced trade and chooses units of measurement such that the unit prices of x and y arc equal and, by implication, the quantities of the two commodities traded, expressed in these units, arc also equal. Sau says that he ''chose the units that way only to simplify the analysis" [2]. Rose contends that it is not a "harmless simplification", that in fact it is a "highly restrictive assumption" and that the result is "nothing more than a curiosum, or a freakish special case, based on highly restrictive assumptions, which cannot be dropped without killing the result" [3]. On this limited point, Bose is wrong and Sau is right. But on other more crucial points, Sau is wrong, Bose shares some of Sau's errors and does not notice others. There is a typographical error in his book which Sau corrects in his Reply [2] and in a footnote adds that the error "escaped Bose's kind notice". Sau is not aware that there are other errors of his, not typographical but typical, which also have escaped Bose's kind notice. Bose has his own errors to contribute which Sau in his turn and kindness does not notice, Bose in his Rejoinder to Sau's Reply [2] says; All "he [Sau] does in his Reply is to make mistakes and to try to side-track some issues, in Ordei to cover up his failure. This may make some though hopefully not many, curious readers wonder whether it is worth their while to try to understand the issues involved" [3], The latest in the exchange is Sau Reply-II [4]. Before Bose sends his Rejoinder-Il, the curious readers might want to know a third view of the issues involved in this rather curious exchange.

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