Time horizons and electricity futures: An application of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's general theory of economic production
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Farrell, Katharine N.
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This paper reports theoretical economic production work and uses electricity futures trading to illustrate its argument. The focus is relationships between time, production and tradition both in Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's analytical representation of the production process (i.e., flow/fund model) and in his dialectical scheme dealing with the evolutionary changes in the economic process. Our main arguments are (1) the flow/fund model is designed to be employed in conjunction with attention to how the boundaries of a given process are determined and (2) process boundaries are dialectical distinctions—between process and not-process—that are strongly related to time and tradition. We propose that Georgescu-Roegen's The Entropy Law and the Economic Process is best understood as the elaboration of a general theory of economic production and we developed two conceptual tools (time and meta-funds), both of which are related to the dialectical distinction between process and not-process, which we use to operationalise this general theory. Finally, we demonstrate that, although trading in electricity futures is surprising if one uses a stock/flow vs services distinction (because electricity supply is classed as a service) it appears perfectly logical under Georgescu-Roegen's general theory: shortening time horizons, combined with a shift in the relationship between raw fuel supplies and power production procedures, lead to a shift in the status of electricity supply, from fund to flow.
Time , Energy , Futures trading , Georgescu-Roegen , Flow/fund modelling , Production processes , Tradition