A reading club with a view to the future

117 Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything

Challenges the modern concept of value and exposes the flaws in the global economy, proposing solutions for a fairer system.

Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything


Mazzucato argues that our current economic system is flawed, as it doesn't properly value the contribution of those who generate wealth, and instead disproportionately rewards rent-seekers who extract value without creating it. She shows how economic value has been distorted by financialization and the focus on short-term profits, leading to inequality, instability, and environmental degradation. Mazzucato proposes a new approach to value creation that focuses on innovation, public investments, and long-term planning to address societal challenges. She argues for a more active role of the state in the economy, not as a regulator, but as a mission-oriented investor in innovation and sustainable growth.


Title: The Value of Everything

Author: Mariana Mazzucato

Publishing year: 2018

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Length in hours: 12 hours and 28 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The current concept of value is flawed: Value has become synonymous with price, leading to the neglect of social and environmental costs.
  2. The role of the state in value creation has been underestimated: The state has historically played a critical role in funding innovation and infrastructure, leading to economic growth.
  3. The financial sector has distorted value creation: Financialization has led to the creation of new financial products that extract value without creating it, leading to instability and inequality.
  4. The need for a new approach to value creation: We need to shift our focus from short-term profits to long-term sustainable value creation, investing in innovation and addressing societal challenges.
  5. The role of the state in the economy: The state should act as a mission-oriented investor in innovation and sustainable growth, not just as a regulator.
Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything

5 funny quotes

  1. "Economists have an unhealthy obsession with GDP."
  2. "If you want to make money, go into finance. If you want to create value, go into science."
  3. "Innovation is not just about making things faster and cheaper, it's also about making things better."
  4. "There is no such thing as a free market."
  5. "The economy is like a garden, it needs nurturing and care."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "We need a new framework that focuses on creating value rather than just measuring it."
  2. "There is no such thing as a value-free economy."
  3. "The paradox of value is that the most valuable things are often the things that we take for granted."
  4. "The value of a good or service is not just what someone is willing to pay for it, but also the social and environmental costs and benefits."
  5. "The state is not the problem, it is the solution."

5 dilemmas

  1. How can we accurately measure value in the economy when the traditional metrics we use, such as GDP, are flawed?
  2. What role should the government play in shaping the economy, and how can it do so effectively without stifling innovation and growth?
  3. How can we ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared fairly across society?
  4. How do we incentivize businesses to prioritize creating long-term value for all stakeholders, rather than short-term profits for shareholders?
  5. How can we shift the focus of the business world away from financial value and towards broader societal value, such as environmental sustainability and social justice?

5 examples

  1. The role of the state in funding innovation: DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the US and ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) for energy innovations.
  2. The distortion of value by financialization: Credit default swaps and securitized mortgages, which contributed to the financial crisis of 2008.
  3. The importance of public investments in infrastructure: The interstate highway system in the US, which spurred economic growth and created jobs.
  4. The case of the pharmaceutical industry, where the focus on maximizing profits can lead to neglect of important public health needs. The story of Paul Polman, the former CEO of Unilever, who prioritized sustainability and social responsibility in his company's operations.
  5. The example of the sharing economy, where companies like Airbnb and Uber have disrupted traditional industries and raised questions about their impact on workers and communities.

Referenced books

  1. "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" by Thomas Piketty
  2. "The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time" by Karl Polanyi
  3. "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith
  4. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" by Adam Smith
  5. "The Making of Political Economy: A History of Economic Thought from Marx to Hayek" by Robert L. Heilbroner and William Milberg

Share a quote

"We need a new framework that focuses on creating value rather than just measuring it."

Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything
Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.