An Oscar Wilde play famously described a cynic as “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. A quip that’s droll on stage loses its humour when it spreads too far into real life. Even Mark Carney thinks our obsession with market prices has gone too far. Fortunately, he is working on some solutions.
In “Value(s): Building a Better World For All” the former Goldman Sachs banker who went on to lead two major central banks dissects a trio of global crises to show all that market prices can fail to capture, to society’s detriment. He starts with an overview of economic history that traces how social and political priorities gradually became subsumed by the market. As Carney puts it, the “price of everything is becoming the value of everything”. This lays the foundations for a scathing critique of how policymakers and society can be led astray by excessive faith in the ability of markets to price risks accurately and deliver the best outcomes.