A work of tremendous ambition, academic rigor, and originality, The Value of Everything argues that American companies have for too long been valued according to the amount of wealth they capture for themselves rather than for the value they create for the economy. In fact, Pfizer, Amazon, and countless other companies that claim to drive innovation are actually hopelessly dependent on public money, spend their resources on boosting share prices and executive pay, and reap ever-expanding rewards without offering the market real value. Such parasitic behavior is only getting worse: leading American companies are profiting from the redistribution of wealth and knowledge without giving anything back to the communities that have made them so profitable.
In her previous groundbreaking and controversial work, The Entrepreneurial State, Mariana Mazzucato argued that public investment has been the most significant driver of innovation and product development. The iPhone as it exists would not have been possible without government-sponsored technology like Siri, GPS, the Internet, and Touch ID. Yet Apple today, like numerous other technology and biotech companies, is engaging in a massive repurchase scheme, and for the first time has prioritized value-extraction practices such as spending to boost shareholder profit and lobbying to diminish the state and its tax policies-the very initiatives that funded their software.
If private companies continue down this path, they will succeed in diminishing the size of their largest and most successful investor-the state-and will destroy powerful opportunities, shrivel markets, and depress wealth. The lesson here is urgent and sobering: to rescue our economy from the next, inevitable crisis and foster long-term economic growth, we will need to rethink capitalism, rethink the state rather than downsize it, and redefine how we measure value in our society.
Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) where she is also Founder and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She is author of the highly-acclaimed book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, and winner of the 2014 New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy, the 2015 Hans-Matthöfer-Preis and the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She has advised policymakers around the world on how to deliver ‘smart’, inclusive and sustainable growth. In 2013 she was named as one of the ‘3 most important thinkers about innovation’ in the New Republic.