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The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,588 ratings  ·  314 reviews
Modern economies reward activities that extract value rather than create it. This must change to insure a capitalism that works for us all.

In this scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been determined and reveals how the difference between value creation and value extra
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by PublicAffairs
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Daniel Wei-hsuan It's not an easy read, but it's a rewarding read and you will feel like you learned a lot about the history of economics through the book.…moreIt's not an easy read, but it's a rewarding read and you will feel like you learned a lot about the history of economics through the book.(less)
Tim Prindall I am not yet done with the book but I have already been thinking of ways to help make this a subject that could be discussed around the dinner table. …moreI am not yet done with the book but I have already been thinking of ways to help make this a subject that could be discussed around the dinner table. My belief is that the hurdles that would have to be overcome in order to change those already indoctrinated into our current society are numerous and incredibly hard to overcome. Instead, we should be focusing on those that are still more open to new ideas, such as our youth.

By opening up education to the belief that all forms of economics are credible and deserved to be discussed in the classroom, we can start to influence a new generation of lifelong learners that don't get scared every time they hear the word "socialism". We could even start as young as elementary and pre-school. Concepts such as value theory and price theory are translatable, in their most simple forms, into children's books or other media.

Just like the changes that Friedman and Reagan brought to this country, the effects will not be felt overnight. It is the systems that keep us trapped in our current form of society and the systems that need to be changed. Only by affecting their base (the people) can we start to influence this change that Mazzucato and her peers continue to talk about. (less)

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Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for finance people and economists. This is an excellent history of bad ideas and theories in economics. Most especially, about how the government got removed and discounted as a creator of value. In fact, government investments create much of the value that the market uses and builds upon. When people think about government investments, they think about Solyndra. Mazzucato asks us to consider Tesla and the smartphone and the internet and all of the foundational modern technologies an ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mazzucato's observations and conclusions won't surprise readers who've read more than one or two works of contemporary critical theory. But the fact that she is writing in a different register and for a largely different audience matters a great deal in this case, and I found the book very rewarding (and even rather moving in her concluding call for an "economics of hope"). ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Capitalism has a problem - and that is to confuse price with value. So not only we think a $6 apple must be nicer than a $2 one, we also think that someone earning $100k must be better than one earning $60k etc. Firms are also told to only maximise shareholder returns (a.k.a. ever lower Price/earning ratios), so they dutifully increase revenue (raise price), cut costs (outsource and sack staff). To boost stock price, they also buy back shares to decrease the number of outstanding stocks. Not onl ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
A very disappointing book. Since it was billed as a refreshing alternative to free market capitalism, I was excited to see an academic take on what sustainable left-leaning policies look like, rather than the typical left-wing media take that relies heavily on moral obligations but fails to offer practical alternatives.

Mazzucato does offer a plausible criticism of modern economics (although I have little experience with economics so am not in much of a position to criticise) - the role of value
Tony Philpin
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mariana is a post Keynesian, hence relies on observations of actual economic behaviour rather than doctrine and illogical theoretical assumptions (as did Keynes in his writings) and some of this book follows Keynes' discussions in his General Theory. She debunks the classicists in a comparable fashion. It is refreshingly entertaining writing.
The whole book is readable, and is a logical sequel to her previous 'entrepreneurial state', developing similar themes.
The chapters on theory of value do n
Charles Haywood
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have long known in my gut that usual measures of social wealth, most of all GDP, are fraudulent, in that they falsely identify value where there is none. I have intuited we were all being lied to, and that those who assured us that ever more value was being generated by our society by what appear to be objectively valueless activities were, at best, hiding something. This outstanding book, by left-wing economist Mariana Mazzucato, explains what is being hidden, what hard truths are being avoid ...more
Tom Gagne
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I heard an interview with the author on the Brian Lehrer show. Her perspective on "value" leans a little more socialist than mine, but it's healthy to read opinions different from your own.

Certainly, her opinions are different than mine, though I can hear echoes of her opinions in comments made by President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

The book strikes me as a little too idealistic, imagining government and society as a Disney movie, where all the critters chirp
Richard Thompson
I wanted to like this book. I thought that Mazzucato had her heart in the right place. I kept hoping that she was going to deliver a new theory of value that was going take us into value's Copernican universe so that both the old discredited labor theory of value and the Neoclassical idea that value is a function of demand would look like the Ptolemaic epicycles of value theory. But she didn't. She seems to be saying that value is a function of overall social utility. Fair enough. But then she d ...more
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I first encountered Mariana Mazzucato's ideas as a paper in a course on Innovation and Technology Management at my university. If I recall correctly, the paper had been buried in the further readings, meaning that I only read it after wrapping up for the year and having written an essay on funding gaps in biotechnology. I really only started reading it on a whim, but I am very glad that I did.

Mariana dazzled me by citing the obscure readings like Pisano 2006 as case studies of the overarching th
Maciej Nowicki
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The value of everything by Mariana Mazzucato is about value creation and value extraction, making versus taking, which is a subtitle of the book. We currently have corporate governance structures which are very much not just aimed at short-termism but actually very much centred around extracting value. The book talks about particular practices of value extraction, for example, the increasing practice of just buying back your own shares to boost your share price or options and, unsurprisingly, ex ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard about this author in a recent piece in the NYT where she was recommended as one of a group of five especially important women economists. She is a professor at University College London and appears to hang out with a sharp group of colleagues. This is a book on public policy and political economy. It reads more like a trade book than one intended specifically for economists. In this book she is taking on a whole host of current interrelated economic crises not unlike those of interest to ...more
John  Mihelic
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mazzucato is one of the most interesting economists working today. I say this because her project in the last two books focus on a ground-up redetermination of what is important in the economy. To someone like me, who is interested in the social generation and distribution of resources but who think that policy makers went the wrong way in recent years (especially before 2008, see Bernanke to Friedman: “Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fear that confirmation bias makes me a poor judge; the author articulates and explains what I have been feeling for years.

She's a respected economist and writes accessibly. If you feel that something may be wrong with our rulers' views on the nature of value, read this book .
Jeff Kaye
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a follow-up to the Entrepreneurial State and is a consideration of how the public sector should be shown to be adding economic value rather than being seen as a drain on the economy.

This is done via an analysis of rent seekers in the 21st C like banks that have taken over from land owners in their rent-seeking capacity.

It then reviews the concepts of the previous book - how government adds value to research and risk-taking to enable companies in the private sector to stand on their shou
Jason Harrop
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The author does a good job of drawing attention to the evils of rent seeking behaviour. Parasites!

Although I agree there is a role for government in encouraging innovation, the author overstates government's contribution. This claim is stated repeatedly, but never treated in any depth.

The government invented the Internet? It would have been interesting to discuss the great man theory of invention.

In asserting government should get a larger share of the spoils, she ignores its take via tax. In th
Mike O'Brien
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read!

"While wealth is created through a collective effort, the massive imbalance in the distribution of the gains from economic growth has often been more the result of wealth extraction, whose potential scale globalization has greatly magnified...

I will argue that the way the word ‘value’ is used in modern economics has made it easier for value-extracting activities to masquerade as value-creating activities. And in the process rents (unearned income) get confused with profits (earned in
Justin Evans
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent argument for the relativity of 'value,' made from the perspective of an economist rather than a critical theorist. How do we calculate economic growth? In short, we include things made by private businesses, and exclude the work--'economic' or otherwise--of those who are not being employed by private businesses. Once you've done that, it's pretty easy to claim that tax cuts for the rich are the only ways to increase growth. Of course, once you recognize this, you should recognize th ...more
Darren Chuah
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am punching above my intellectual bag with this read as i find it rather academic and theoretical. First half recapitulation of history and theories of economic thinkers was rather dry but it gets really good on the second half. This book confronts the future viability of capitalism and author is being very bold in inviting the paradigm shift of mindset in the definition of value and wealth creation. Tech Companies, Financial traders, rapacious lenders, and property flippers are being bashed r ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Most delusional economic book I ever read. The book is heavily biased providing only one sided view. There no real solution offered all suggestions are utopian and have no relation to real life.
Charlotta Liukas
Thought-provoking book on value creation - how, by whom and where value is created. It’s not hyper technical but still being untrained in economics, I would have preferred reading it instead of listening to the audiobook. At parts challenging to follow the fast moving analysis on audio.
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite dense, but really good. I've also seen her talk and the arguments she presents are nothing like I've come across before; I left feeling optimistic and better informed on how govts have and should contribute to value creation. ...more
Jesper Döpping
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy read with a strong argument for re-instating value as a key concern

I bought this book because I read the entrepreneurial state. This book in my opinion in a very easy to understand way for non-economists argues that we have to return to a much more basic question - the question of value creation, what is it and what is it not?

The book starts with a theory historical perspective that are incredible easy to understand on how value have been conceptualized. This theory perspective gives a cle
Daniel Wei-hsuan
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The economy might as well be a self full-filling prophecy machine, "How we discuss value affects the way all of us, from giant corporations to the most modest shopper, behave as actors in the economy and in turn feeds back into the economy, and how we measure its performance." This book has demonstrated the importance of how we perceive and narrate "value" in our lives because our every little thought counts and they eventually feed back into the system to determine both the "price" and "value" ...more
Robert Maisey
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Value of Everything is a heavy, serious and thoroughly argued slab of Keynesian economics for the post 2008 world. Just like Keynes himself, Mazzucato explores the tangible and intangible ways in which the economy and society interact, using different understandings of "value" as the mechanism to do this.

The book deals with finance, investment, corporate behaviour and public policy in a sophisticated but not unintelligible fashion. The focus is on achieving what most of us would imagine to b
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mariana Mazzucato's The Value Of Everything - Making And Taking in The Global Economy. discuss on the distinction between value extraction and value creation which have far reaching consequences to the companies , their workers and beyond all in the whole societies. The social , economic and political impacts of value extraction are huge. Because in the modern capitalistic world value extractors get rewarded more than the value creators.

Capitalisim rewards "rent seekers" over true "wealth Creat
Henrik Warne
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book poses very interesting questions: What does creating value mean? Who is making, and who is taking?

The first few chapters detail the history of economics from the perspective of value creation. The central problem is where to draw the production boundary – activities inside it create value, whereas activities outside it do not. The ideas from many famous economists, such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx, are explained. Typically agriculture and manufacturing were placed inside
Edmund Wigley
Mar 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Since 2008, there has been real public frustration with our market based economy and a number of books have been published trying to rework how we measure output and describe systems that better reward participants for the true value they create. This book is a little more philosophical in its style than it’s peers (such as doughnut economics). But, similarly, it suggests that the current market economy does not incentivise the right activity and that we have a poor grasp on both how to measure ...more
A Man Called Ove
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Q - What is GDP ?
A - It is the monetary VALUE of all finished goods and services made within a country during a specific period.
Q - What is Value ?
A - Read this book :P
What activities add "value" to an economy ? Do all activities that have monetary value create wealth or do some merely extract value ? In particular, does the financial services sector privatise profits and socialise losses ? And say even if it did not, does it create wealth or extract value ? And what about a factory that is succ
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
In The Value of Everything, economist Mariana Mazzucato invites readers to ask what creates value and urges them to accept that governments add value.

Back in the day, some economists began to pick sides on what produces value. Mercantilists pointed to merchants. Quesnay pointed to agriculture because how can a person really create something? Only the planet can do that and merchants are just moving resources around. Adam Smith, meanwhile, looked at two pin factories. The one with specialized wor
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Value should be centric to economy. Rather than value generation due to the price that an activity or an object raises, it should be the price to be determined basis the value generated by that activity or object. This perspective is immediately needed to be adopted by the economists and the policy makers to differentiate clearly between value creation and value extraction. Rather than major part of economy being part of rent or price changing hands, it should be about producing the real value. ...more
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Mariana Mazzucato is an economist with dual Italian and United States citizenship. She is a professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and the director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London (UCL) and the RM Phillips Chair in the Economics of Innovation at the University of Sussex. She is also a member of the Scottish Government's Council of ...more

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“It’s not easy to feel good about yourself when you are constantly being told you’re rubbish and/or part of the problem. That’s often the situation for people working in the public sector, whether these be nurses, civil servants or teachers. The static metrics used to measure the contribution of the public sector, and the influence of Public Choice theory on making governments more ‘efficient’, has convinced many civil-sector workers they are second-best. It’s enough to depress any bureaucrat and induce him or her to get up, leave and join the private sector, where there is often more money to be made. So public actors are forced to emulate private ones, with their almost exclusive interest in projects with fast paybacks. After all, price determines value. You, the civil servant, won’t dare to propose that your agency could take charge, bring a helpful long-term perspective to a problem, consider all sides of an issue (not just profitability), spend the necessary funds (borrow if required) and – whisper it softly – add public value. You leave the big ideas to the private sector which you are told to simply ‘facilitate’ and enable. And when Apple or whichever private company makes billions of dollars for shareholders and many millions for top executives, you probably won’t think that these gains actually come largely from leveraging the work done by others – whether these be government agencies, not-for-profit institutions, or achievements fought for by civil society organizations including trade unions that have been critical for fighting for workers’ training programmes.” 4 likes
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