or so the expression for valuing something really highly goes. Many economists apply it to top publications - AER, QJE, Emetrica, JPE, RES. And finally, someone actually investigated willingness to pay for a "top 5". Here is the study. Three scholars in the Netherlands conducted a survey amongst economists, and found that they valued the AER higher than all other journals. Willingness to pay on average was $12,000 (and nearly $10,000 for a QJE). The same people also were asked how much of their life expectancy they would sacrifice for a publication. For the AER, that's 0.77 years; for the QJE, 0.55. This is close to the values for how much lifetime people are willing to give up to keep their right thumb (1 year). Note, however, that these are the average responses; medians are much lower, which implies that a handful of (presumably desperate) characters are skewing the results big-time.