One of the first essays I ever read about economics in college was Leonard Read's I, Pencil written in the year before I was born. While a little outdated in some ways it still does a wonderful job of illustrating the wonder and complexity of the market process. The Institute for Faith Work and Economics has just released a four minute clip that updates "I, Pencil" in a compelling and entertaining way.
Now let me add a caveat, especially for those of my readers who are skeptical of markets and free enterprise. Markets are not a quasi-deity. They do not solve every problem. They aren't perfect. They don't prevent evil people from doing evil things. But what they do, by historical measure, is astounding. Until very recently, human beings were trapped in low productivity labor. There was minimal ability to trade with others beyond the immediate community. There was no way for us to coordinate with, and mutually benefit from, the work of countless strangers from across the globe. Markets make that possible. Markets made this very conversation possbile that you an I are having right now because without it there would be no computers and no internet to enable this interaction. And for that reason markets can be celebrated, even as we wrestle with many implications that have arisen because of emergence of well-coordinated markets.