Planet Money’s T-shirt Project

Lynne Kiesling

Are you a fan of Leonard Read’s I, Pencil (see video above)? Hayek’s argument the “The Use of Knowledge in Society” about how prices coordinate the decisions of anonymous individuals with diffuse private knowledge? Adam Smith’s tale of the making of a woollen coat? Pietra Nivoli’s book on the global travels of a t-shirt?

Then you may be interested in Planet Money’s new t-shirt Kickstarter project:

Almost every single t-shirt out there — from the cheesiest vacation tank top to the fanciest boutique designer tee — is the result of a complicated global odyssey. We will take you on that odyssey and document the route our t-shirt took to your back. We’ll meet the people who grow the cotton, spin the yarn, and cut and sew the fabric. We’ll ride on the cargo ships that bring our t-shirt from factories in Bangladesh and Colombia to ports in the US. And we’ll examine the crazy tangle of international regulations which govern the t-shirt trade the whole way.

Planet Money does some of the best economic journalism, and the participatory nature of bringing this story into being is itself an example of the kind of value-creating interconnectedness that underlies economic exchange.