The Economics of Integrity
Did you know that…
- When you drink a glass of milk, your life or death depends on an amazingly reliable chain of people you don’t know who make sure your milk is safe?
- . When you withdraw money from an ATM, you depend on as many as 10 separate organizations working together over the course of an entire day to ensure you have cash instantly and your wealth is protected.
- In global financial markets, $50 million trades on the basis of someone’s word every second.
- Toyota became the leading car company in the world by investing in and then charging for integrity.
When you pour yourself a glass of milk, does it ever cross your mind that it might not be safe to drink? Of course not—you trust that each person who handled it before it reached your refrigerator did what they were supposed to do. In short, you depend on their integrity to take that first sip. In fact, every single day, without even realizing it you depend on the integrity of thousands of complete strangers to ensure your safety.
In The Economics of Integrity acclaimed journalist Anna Bernasek explores the profound ways in which integrity, traditionally thought of as an “eat your spinach” topic, forms the bedrock of our economy. Through her colorful—and often surprising—stories, Bernasek takes us on a journey (from car factories to dairies to the Federal Reserve) that reveals the deep layers of trust involved in even the simplest of transactions and how our stock of integrity is our most valuable economic asset.
Whether it’s drinking milk, withdrawing cash, or driving a car, our daily activities depend on preexisting relationships and assumptions that are founded on trust. Integrity is the “invisible infrastructure of the economy,” and when an individual cuts corners or breaks rules for personal reward, the entire system is compromised: trust unravels, firms collapse, and markets break down. As Bernasek explains, “doing the right thing” not only strengthens our collective integrity, but is necessary for an economy to run efficiently. In this era of renewed responsibility and transparency, The Economics of Integrity offers a bold new way of looking at our economy and reveals how we can invest in integrity to create and share greater wealth; this is a book for our times.