Synopses & Reviews
An economist's version of The Way Things Work
, this engaging volume is part field guide to economics and part expose of the economic principles lurking behind daily events, explaining everything from traffic jams to high coffee prices.
The Undercover Economist is for anyone who's wondered why the gap between rich and poor nations is so great, or why they can't seem to find a decent second-hand car, or how to outwit Starbucks. This book offers the hidden story behind these and other questions, as economist Tim Harford ranges from Africa, Asia, Europe, and of course the United States to reveal how supermarkets, airlines, and coffee chains to name just a few are vacuuming money from our wallets. Harford punctures the myths surrounding some of today's biggest controversies, including the high cost of health-care; he reveals why certain environmental laws can put a smile on a landlord's face; and he explains why some industries can have high profits for innocent reasons, while in other industries something sinister is going on. Covering an array of economic concepts including scarce resources, market power, efficiency, price gouging, market failure, inside information, and game theory, Harford sheds light on how these forces shape our day-to-day lives, often without our knowing it. Showing us the world through the eyes of an economist, Tim Harford reveals that everyday events are intricate games of negotiations, contests of strength, and battles of wits. Written with a light touch and sly wit, The Undercover Economist turns the dismal science into a true delight.
"A rare specimen: a book on economics that will enthrall its readers....It brings the power of economics to life." Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics
"A playful guide to the economics of everyday life, and as such is something of an elder sibling to Steven Levitt's wild child, the hugely successful Freakonomics." The Economist
"A tour de force....If you need to be convinced of the irrerelevant and fascinating nature of economics, read this insightful and witty book." Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization
"This is a book to savor." The New York Times
"Harford writes like a dream. From his book I found out why there's a Starbucks on every corner and how not to get duped in an auction. Reading The Undercover Economist is like spending an ordinary day wearing X-ray goggles." David Bodanis, author of Electric Universe
"Much wit and wisdom." The Houston Chronicle
Harford ranges from Africa, Asia, Europe, and of course the United States to reveal how supermarkets, airlines, health care providers, and coffee chains to name just a few are vacuuming money from our wallets.
A fresh explanation of the fundamental principles of the modern economy, from who makes money from fair trade to why it is impossible to buy a decent second hand car.
About the Author
Tim Harford is an editorial writer at the Financial Times, where he also writes the newspaper's "Dear Economist" column and "The Undercover Economist" column, which also appears in Slate. He lives in London.