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Economist Mariana Mazzucato shines a light on an economic topic with important social and philosophical implications: the concept of value, and what creates it or diminishes it. Her engaging talk draws a historical timeline that explores how society’s changing definitions of value influence productivity and prosperity, and she posits how modern-day problems like climate change might find a solution through the collective reassessment of a vital economic idea. Mazzucato’s deft handling of a weighty subject, along with some useful graphics, make this video required viewing.


Economists have long debated the idea of value creation.

In 2009, barely a year after the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the CEO of Goldman Sachs called his employees “the most productive in the world.” For economists, productivity has to do with creating value, ideally through the products and services that people want and need. It’s hard to see how Goldman Sachs staff could be the most productive when their  institution’s activities had contributed to millions of people losing their homes.

The concept of value has long animated economic thinking. In the 1700s, because agriculture drove most economies, philosophers considered that which farm laborers produced to be of value. Merchants bought and sold items of value, while ...

About the Speaker

Mariana Mazzucato is a professor of economics at University College London. She is the author of The Value of Everything and The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths.

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