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I am an economist. I know the price of everything, and the value of nothing!!

‘Economists are often accused of believing that everything — health, happiness, life itself — can be measured in money. What we actually believe is even odder. We believe that everything can be measured in anything.’-David Friedman, ‘Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life.’

Oscar Wilde once remarked – “An economist is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” This observation may, or may not be totally true. But economists right from Adam Smith, Bentham, Marx, Jevons and Marshall, Pigou, to Joan Robinson, Chamberlin and Hicks have been engaged in explaining how prices are determined and why and when they are high or low. This, in a nutshell, is the subject matter of price theory, and I have no quarrel with that.

My concern from day one, decades ago, when I started to study economics, has always been: Should economists try to determine the price of everything, including those that are indeed priceless? More on this later.