The Price of Everything by Eduardo Porter
Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do

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Synopsis

Everything has a price, but it isn't always obvious what that price is.

Many of the prices we pay seem to make little sense. We shell out $2.29 for a coffee at Starbucks when a nearly identical brew can be had at the corner deli for less than a dollar. We may be less willing to give blood for $25 than to donate it for free. Americans hire cheap illegal immigrants to fix the roof or mow the lawn, and vote for politicians who promise to spend billions to keep them out of the country. And citizens of the industrialized West pay hundreds of dollars a year in taxes or cash for someone to cart away trash that would be a valuable commodity in poorer parts of the world.

The Price of Everything starts with a simple premise: there is a price behind each choice that we make, whether we're deciding to have a baby, drive a car, or buy a book. We often fail to appreciate just how critical prices are as a motivating force shaping our lives. But their power becomes clear when distorted prices steer our decisions the wrong way.

Eduardo Porter uncovers the true story behind the prices we pay and reveals what those prices are actually telling us. He takes us on a global economic adventure, from comparing the relative price of a vote in corrupt São Tomé and in the ostensibly uncorrupt United States, to assessing the cost of happiness in Bhutan, to deducing the dollar value we assign to human life. His unique approach helps explain: * Why polygamous societies actually place a higher value on women than monogamous ones. * Why someone may find more value in a $14 million license plate than the standard issue, $95 one. * Why some government agencies believe one year of life for a senior citizen is four times more valuable than that of a younger person.

Porter weaves together the constant-and often unconscious-cost and value assessments we all make every day. While exploring the fascinating story behind the price of everything from marriage and death to mattresses and horsemeat, Porter draws unexpected connections that bridge a wide range of disciplines and cultures. The result is a cogent and insightful narrative about how the world really works.

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About Eduardo Porter

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EDUARDO PORTER writes about business and economics as a member of The New York Times's editorial board. He has also worked as a journalist in Mexico City, Tokyo, London, São Paulo, and Los Angeles. He was editor of the Brazilian edition of América Economía and covered the Hispanic population in the United States for The Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York.
 
Published January 4, 2011 by Portfolio. 304 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Price of Everything

Kirkus Reviews

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A sweeping examination of the relationships between humans and money.

Dec 21 2010 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

The New York Times

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A look at the cold accounting that determines the value of things, even things considered priceless.

Feb 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

BC Books

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A different theory argues that polygamy "entrenches disparities" in a society, creating the kinds of discord that disturb social harmony and ultimately have a negative effect on a society's economic well being.

Jan 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

The Wall Street Journal

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Eduardo Porter thought he had found the perfect place to buy coffee: A pie shop near where he lived sold an excellent cappuccino for just $2.75—a steal for one of the best cups of coffee he'd ever tasted.

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

Los Angeles Times

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Eduardo Porter's book is as much about when prices fail to steer our lives as it is about when they succeed. That the book does not quite deliver what it promises, however, is its saving grace.

Jan 09 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

London Evening Standard

I do not want to receive additional offers and information from the Evening Standard I do not want to receive additional offers and information sent by Evening Standard on behalf of carefully selected partners Terms and Conditions * I have read, understood and agree to be bound by the term...

Feb 23 2012 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

Management Today

The book also ranges widely over the world - the middle class Indian marriage market, the slums of Mexico - but it's all rather colourless.

Jan 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

Inc.

The book: The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do, by Eduardo Porter;

Feb 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

The Gleaner

While an elegant and enjoyable read, The Price of Everything is also timely: Porter makes a strong case in the wake of the recession that it's silly for economists and policy makers to assume people act according to rational assessments or even in their own best interest.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Everything: Solv...

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