Introduction to The Price of Everything

I’m going to have a series of posts discussing a fiction book that teaches economics.  I just finished reading it for the second time.  Enjoyed it more the second time than the first!

In the last few years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed books that are called “didactic fiction.” These are teaching tools written in the form of a novel.  This gives the author the opportunity to teach in an entertaining format.

Russell Roberts offers an explanation of the price mechanism in his book The Price of Everything – A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity As a bonus, the author explains how we developed into a rich economy.

The story line of the book is an ongoing visit between a college provost, Professor Ruth Lieber and a star tennis player at the university, Ramon Fernandez.

In the sources section of the book, he explains:

This book is my attempt to give the beginner and the expert a better understanding of the role prices play in our lives – how they create harmony between the competing desires of consumers and entrepreneurs, and how they steer resources and knowledge to transform and sustain our standard of living.

As you will soon be obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I heartily recommend it as a very entertaining way to learn how our economy works and why we are so much better off now than 100 years ago.

Why discuss this book in this Outrun Change blog?

Understanding how we got to the place we are now is key to understanding how to move forward.  There are astoundingly powerful forces that moved our economy from near-subsistence agriculture 150 or 200 years ago to the world’s most productive and rich economy today. 

It wasn’t an accident.  It wasn’t just good luck. 

There are understandable, repeatable, and destroyable reasons we have the economy we have today.

Understanding how we got here is key to moving forward into the future.

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