Value, Price, and Cost

Often used interchangeably, the three concepts — cost, price, and value — are related but distinct. They are elementary and understanding them precisely is essential for reasoning about our world of production, exchange and consumption. People, including yours truly before learning economics, don’t even realize that they are confused about those simple concepts.

Let’s begin with value since it’s personal and therefore most intuitive. I want what I value, and vice versa. In nearly all cases, I have to give up something (S) in exchange for what I want (W). Logically, I must value S less than I value W if I do the exchange voluntarily. It would be irrational for me to give up something of greater value in exchange for something of lesser value to me. Continue reading “Value, Price, and Cost”

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