The Price of Everything

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Everyday, all of us spend money on things — things we need, and things we don’t. And in turn prices are put on those things. But where do those prices come from? How much has to do with supply and demand? And how much has to do with bigger forces at play? Finance writer Eduardo Porter has been researching these questions for years. His new book is called “The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do.” Porter joins us to talk about the nature of value in modern society, some of its mysteries and explanations.


Eduardo Porter

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [4]


A friend worked with a luxury automaker several years ago to help market a new model car. Their analysis showed that they would sell more cars (not more revenue, more cars) at the $30K price point than at $25K.

Jan. 12 2011 01:42 PM

From what I recall of the discussion it was mentioned that certain people were tested and given placebo pills and some were told that the medication they got was more expensive while other people were told that their medication was less expensive and the people whom were told that they had the more-expensive medication reported that they felt better while those whom got the less-expensive medication reported not feeling the medication’s benefits as much.

I have participated in many psychological experiments. People are chosen according to their particular susceptibility to the power-of- suggestion . In other words people whom are not prone to being swayed to buy any product just because of positive advertizing or whom are not prone to believing what s/he is told , does not qualify to participate in the study. These studies which show so overwhelmingly how outer forces such as someone’s say-so makes a person believe that a product is better, are actually set up to have certain results. I would say that another matter is that the researchers whom design such studies often don’t seem to know that they are setting up the study so as to “discover” something that is or isn’t obvious.

(And if I did hear right) as for the mention of the female dancers whom get more tips because they were at the peak of their "fertility," was that just one study in one bar? Were all the dancers within a certain, limited, age-range? Was there a comparason group of dancers whom were not at the peak of their fertility? What about the people who tipped these dancers? What age were they? What culture? What background? Were they all male? In fact were all the dancers female?

Jan. 12 2011 11:25 AM
S Powers from Boston

I strongly disagree with the guest’s statement that immigrants have no effect on wage. I consider it irresponsible. L1 and H1B workers in high-tech and medicine have not only forced wages lower, but have led to high unemployment for engineers and others. I personally know many such formerly high-tech workers. The guest didn’t bother to look into this himself but is quoting from individuals who have something to gain from the continued suppression of white-collar income.

Jan. 12 2011 10:18 AM
Fafa from Harlem

Not the guest's main argument, but the notion he posits that immigrants have no negative effect on domestic wages and employment - particularly at the low end - is implausible and, at the least, a matter of dispute. A few years ago, several studies - on all sides of the political aisle - concluded the exact opposite. If, as the guest says, immigrants are now more often competing with other immigrants, it is more than likely in industries where displacement has already taken place...

Jan. 12 2011 10:03 AM

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