The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity

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Overview

"A remarkable use of parables and dialogues to convey economic intuitions. This should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand this branch of applied philosophy we call economics."—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

"This is a great story about human, social, and economic betterment brought about by the forces of spontaneous coordination. It's also about justice and there's a warm ending. Read and enjoy."—Vernon Smith, Nobel Prize-winning economist

"The Price of Everything illuminates the astonishing economic world we live in. This book could change your life—reading it will give you a sense of wonder about the everyday marvels that are all around us."—Paul Romer, Stanford University

"The Price of Everything is sensationally good fiction and sensationally good economics."—Deirdre N. McCloskey, author of The Bourgeois Virtues

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Editorial Reviews

The Business Economist
[T]he novel is eminently readable. And if you did not know anything about how the American system works you would come away from reading it better informed.
— Bethan Marshall
IPA Review
The Price of Everything is a must read for anybody interested in how market capitalism works.
— Julie Novak
nytimes.com Freakonomics blog - Stephen J. Dubner
[A]n unusual and wildly enjoyable book.
RealClearMarkets.com - John Tamny
Take a look at the computer screen your eyes are presently (hopefully) fixated on, not to mention the computer mouse you used in order to click on this posting. Did you ever consider how both were made? Could you make either yourself, and if so, how and where would you acquire the various raw materials and parts in order to create them? If the above questions vex you, the George Mason economics professor Russell Roberts's excellent new novel, The Price of Everything, is for you. Importantly, Roberts does not explain how things are made in this tale as much as he teaches us through a very interesting dialogue between a professor and student that the 'whole system we call a market economy works as well as it does precisely because of how little we have to know.'
Newsweek - George Will
Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts's The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity you will see the world afresh. . . .
Choice - A.R. Sanderson
This book is the third foray into the world of economic fiction for Roberts. In terms of prose and content, it is also his best effort. . . . In this new book, set on and around the Stanford University campus, Roberts bundles several clever insights about everyday economics with the overriding theme of prosperity and economic growth, and pulls it all off with warmth and plenty of heart.
Marginal Revolution - Tyler Cowen
[T]he best attempt to teach economics through fiction that the world has seen to date.
EconLog - Arnold Kling
The Price of Everything [is] Russ Roberts' latest didactic novel. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I thought his other fictional attempts to teach economics were decent, but in my opinion this one represents a real step up.
Spectator - Clint Witchalls
[The Price of Everything] is Roberts's third economics novel—the first two were Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism and The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance. They are great introductions to free-market economic theory, especially for those who are easily turned off by numbers and graphs. Wrapping a narrative around economic theories may seem like a peculiar approach to teaching, but didactic novels have a long and noble pedigree.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Thomas Oliver
Don't be put off by the title, you just might not be able to put it down. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and it's now the first economics book I recommend. Yes, Milton Friedman's Free to Choose and Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom are still the cornerstones, but easy to read? No.
Orange County Register - Alan W. Bock
I loved the way Roberts wove into the story examples of what Hayek called spontaneous order that even those who believe that order happens only from the top down would have to acknowledge—from dancers moving unpredictably on the dance floor without ever colliding to the thousands of people and bits of specialized knowledge it takes to make a pencil, which nobody can make by himself. This little book deserves an audience as wide as eventually developed for 'Economics in One Lesson.' It conveys similar information in a more nuanced, personal and humanistic way. Nice work.
Regulation - David R. Henderson
Have you ever wanted to give a friend a book that explains the main virtues of economic freedom in a dramatic way that is accessible to a broad audience? Russell Roberts's latest novel, The Price of Everything, is the book you want. That's right: I said 'latest novel.'
The Business Economist - Bethan Marshall
[T]he novel is eminently readable. And if you did not know anything about how the American system works you would come away from reading it better informed.
IPA Review - Julie Novak
The Price of Everything is a must read for anybody interested in how market capitalism works.
From the Publisher
"[A]n unusual and wildly enjoyable book."—Stephen J. Dubner, nytimes.com Freakonomics blog

"Take a look at the computer screen your eyes are presently (hopefully) fixated on, not to mention the computer mouse you used in order to click on this posting. Did you ever consider how both were made? Could you make either yourself, and if so, how and where would you acquire the various raw materials and parts in order to create them? If the above questions vex you, the George Mason economics professor Russell Roberts's excellent new novel, The Price of Everything, is for you. Importantly, Roberts does not explain how things are made in this tale as much as he teaches us through a very interesting dialogue between a professor and student that the 'whole system we call a market economy works as well as it does precisely because of how little we have to know.'"—John Tamny, RealClearMarkets.com

"Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts's The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity you will see the world afresh. . . ."—George Will, Newsweek

"This book is the third foray into the world of economic fiction for Roberts. In terms of prose and content, it is also his best effort. . . . In this new book, set on and around the Stanford University campus, Roberts bundles several clever insights about everyday economics with the overriding theme of prosperity and economic growth, and pulls it all off with warmth and plenty of heart."—A.R. Sanderson, Choice

"[T]he best attempt to teach economics through fiction that the world has seen to date."—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"The Price of Everything [is] Russ Roberts' latest didactic novel. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I thought his other fictional attempts to teach economics were decent, but in my opinion this one represents a real step up."—Arnold Kling, EconLog

"[The Price of Everything] is Roberts's third economics novel—the first two were Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism and The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance. They are great introductions to free-market economic theory, especially for those who are easily turned off by numbers and graphs. Wrapping a narrative around economic theories may seem like a peculiar approach to teaching, but didactic novels have a long and noble pedigree."—Clint Witchalls, Spectator

"Don't be put off by the title, you just might not be able to put it down. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and it's now the first economics book I recommend. Yes, Milton Friedman's Free to Choose and Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom are still the cornerstones, but easy to read? No."—Thomas Oliver, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"I loved the way Roberts wove into the story examples of what Hayek called spontaneous order that even those who believe that order happens only from the top down would have to acknowledge—from dancers moving unpredictably on the dance floor without ever colliding to the thousands of people and bits of specialized knowledge it takes to make a pencil, which nobody can make by himself. This little book deserves an audience as wide as eventually developed for 'Economics in One Lesson.' It conveys similar information in a more nuanced, personal and humanistic way. Nice work."—Alan W. Bock, Orange County Register

"Have you ever wanted to give a friend a book that explains the main virtues of economic freedom in a dramatic way that is accessible to a broad audience? Russell Roberts's latest novel, The Price of Everything, is the book you want. That's right: I said 'latest novel.'"—David R. Henderson, Regulation
"[T]he novel is eminently readable. And if you did not know anything about how the American system works you would come away from reading it better informed."—Bethan Marshall, The Business Economist

"The Price of Everything is a must read for anybody interested in how market capitalism works."—Julie Novak, IPA Review

nytimes.com Freakonomics blog
[A]n unusual and wildly enjoyable book.
— Stephen J. Dubner
RealClearMarkets.com
Take a look at the computer screen your eyes are presently (hopefully) fixated on, not to mention the computer mouse you used in order to click on this posting. Did you ever consider how both were made? Could you make either yourself, and if so, how and where would you acquire the various raw materials and parts in order to create them? If the above questions vex you, the George Mason economics professor Russell Roberts's excellent new novel, The Price of Everything, is for you. Importantly, Roberts does not explain how things are made in this tale as much as he teaches us through a very interesting dialogue between a professor and student that the 'whole system we call a market economy works as well as it does precisely because of how little we have to know.'
— John Tamny
Newsweek
Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts's The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity you will see the world afresh. . . .
— George Will
Choice
This book is the third foray into the world of economic fiction for Roberts. In terms of prose and content, it is also his best effort. . . . In this new book, set on and around the Stanford University campus, Roberts bundles several clever insights about everyday economics with the overriding theme of prosperity and economic growth, and pulls it all off with warmth and plenty of heart.
— A.R. Sanderson
Marginal Revolution
[T]he best attempt to teach economics through fiction that the world has seen to date.
— Tyler Cowen
EconLog
The Price of Everything [is] Russ Roberts' latest didactic novel. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I thought his other fictional attempts to teach economics were decent, but in my opinion this one represents a real step up.
— Arnold Kling
Spectator
[The Price of Everything] is Roberts's third economics novel—the first two were Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism and The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance. They are great introductions to free-market economic theory, especially for those who are easily turned off by numbers and graphs. Wrapping a narrative around economic theories may seem like a peculiar approach to teaching, but didactic novels have a long and noble pedigree.
— Clint Witchalls
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Don't be put off by the title, you just might not be able to put it down. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and it's now the first economics book I recommend. Yes, Milton Friedman's Free to Choose and Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom are still the cornerstones, but easy to read? No.
— Thomas Oliver
Orange County Register
I loved the way Roberts wove into the story examples of what Hayek called spontaneous order that even those who believe that order happens only from the top down would have to acknowledge—from dancers moving unpredictably on the dance floor without ever colliding to the thousands of people and bits of specialized knowledge it takes to make a pencil, which nobody can make by himself. This little book deserves an audience as wide as eventually developed for 'Economics in One Lesson.' It conveys similar information in a more nuanced, personal and humanistic way. Nice work.
— Alan W. Bock
Regulation
Have you ever wanted to give a friend a book that explains the main virtues of economic freedom in a dramatic way that is accessible to a broad audience? Russell Roberts's latest novel, The Price of Everything, is the book you want. That's right: I said 'latest novel.'
— David R. Henderson
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Don't be put off by the title, you just might not be able to put it down. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and it's now the first economics book I recommend. Yes, Milton Friedman's Free to Choose and Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom are still the cornerstones, but easy to read? No.
— Thomas Oliver
Newsweek
Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts's The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity you will see the world afresh. . . .
— George Will
Spectator
[The Price of Everything] is Roberts's third economics novel—the first two were Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism and The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance. They are great introductions to free-market economic theory, especially for those who are easily turned off by numbers and graphs. Wrapping a narrative around economic theories may seem like a peculiar approach to teaching, but didactic novels have a long and noble pedigree.
— Clint Witchalls
Regulation
Have you ever wanted to give a friend a book that explains the main virtues of economic freedom in a dramatic way that is accessible to a broad audience? Russell Roberts's latest novel, The Price of Everything, is the book you want. That's right: I said 'latest novel.'
— David R. Henderson
RealClearMarkets.com
Take a look at the computer screen your eyes are presently (hopefully) fixated on, not to mention the computer mouse you used in order to click on this posting. Did you ever consider how both were made? Could you make either yourself, and if so, how and where would you acquire the various raw materials and parts in order to create them? If the above questions vex you, the George Mason economics professor Russell Roberts's excellent new novel, The Price of Everything, is for you. Importantly, Roberts does not explain how things are made in this tale as much as he teaches us through a very interesting dialogue between a professor and student that the 'whole system we call a market economy works as well as it does precisely because of how little we have to know.'
— John Tamny
EconLog
The Price of Everything [is] Russ Roberts' latest didactic novel. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I thought his other fictional attempts to teach economics were decent, but in my opinion this one represents a real step up.
— Arnold Kling
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691143354
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 8/24/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 381,139
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell Roberts is professor of economics at George Mason University, the J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Distinguished Scholar at George Mason's Mercatus Center, and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is the author of "The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism" and "The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance".

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi
Chapter 1: Thinking Outside the Box 1
Chapter 2: Out of Control 7
Chapter 3: Birds of a Feather 17
Chapter 4: Inconceivable 29
Chapter 5: Leaning on the Gardener 52
Chapter 6: Mea Culpa 64
Chapter 7: The Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs 77
Chapter 8: A Night in the Cemetery 104
Chapter 9: The Price of Everything 115
Chapter 10: No Host No Problem 129
Chapter 11: The Weaver of Dreams 150
Chapter 12: A Wild and Precious Life 166
Chapter 13: How's It Going to End? 174
Sources and Further Reading 191
Acknowledgments 201

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    5 stars for all of Russell Roberts books' -- writings'!

    Anyone who reads any of Russell Robert's book -- writings -- will be astonished on his literary writing skills on the topic of economics. He has got to be the best business writer I have ever encountered, and I read the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist and many other business publications daily. Read Russell Roberts--you will not regret it!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    LOOSE CHANGE. THIS BOOK IS FOR ANYONE WITH A PENNY IN THEIR POCKET! GREAT READ.

    Highly entertaining book, very good writing, research, presenting. Good book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2013

    Masterpiece.

    The most important business, economics, political science book ever written, best I have ever read! Author's approach is like gold, very easy to understand complex issues of trade, politics, business world! Wonderful book, very clear, very well written, fun to read. Will give to my husband, I loved this book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2013

    Russell Roberts is the best writer alive today.

    Incomparable writing in regard to the topic of economics, business, commerce, very well written. Russell Roberts is supremely talented writer, not sure if I have ever encountered a better writer! This book is very well researched, fun to read, very insightful. Recommend it highly to anyone and/or everyone. GREAT BOOK!!!!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2013

    RUSSELL ROBERTS IS THE BEST WRITER ON EARTH!

    Anyone interested in globalization, economics, business law, should read Russell Roberts PhD. His books are easy to read, insightful about the world we live in! Russell Roberts is one of the best qualified experts on global economics and he is also an incredible writer! He takes complex ideas in our business world, and explains to the reader in a remarkable manner how they can be explained, applied in the real world. Anyone interested in learning, reading a high quality book, read Russell Roberts. Very recommended that anyone read this book! Excellent book, well written, insightfuly, first rate book! Best busines book ever written.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    EXCELLENT BOOK!

    Very well written, this is the best book I have read in years, the author definetly informed me of concepts difficult to understand in the complex world of economics! Highly recommend this book, it was awesome!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Highly recommended.

    Great book.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Exceptional book!!!

    A must buy for anyone interested in learning about econmics. Very well written, insightful, entertaining, easy to understand-read, this book is awesome.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    High class writing, very well qualified writer -- does an excell

    High class writing, very well qualified writer -- does an excellent job.

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