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
A noted economist furnishes an entertaining introduction to the key principles and fundamental concepts of economics, as well as their influence on the history of the modern world, accompanied by real-life examples of economics at work. Reprint.
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.
Today, this engine has stalled. The decade of the 2000s lost one million American jobs, whereas the previous three decades averaged approximately 20 million new jobs per decade. If the next decade, the 2010s, generates only marginal jobs growth, the US economy could collapse under the weight of US debt and obligations. The US has several hundred trillions of dollars worth of debt, which it will not be able to pay if its workforce does not grow. The Jobenomics team is launching a national 20 by 20 campaign to create 20 million new US private sector jobs by 2020. 20 by 20 includes initiatives for government, large business, small and self-employed businesses, foreign investment in US businesses, and major emerging technology initiatives. Through Jobenomics, Americans will have common cause and resources to create jobs in order to build a more prosperous future.
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.
Table of Contents
Part I: Employment versus Unemployment
Chapter 1: Employment versus Unemployment Tyranny of Trillion$: Debtor Nation
Chapter 2: Awash In Debt
Chapter 3: National (Public) Debt
Chapter 4: Private (Mortgage & Consumer) Debt
Chapter 5: USG Bailouts, Pledges and Obligations
Chapter 6: Entitlement Programs
Chapter 7: Derivatives: Exotic Financial Instruments
Chapter 8: US Resources
Part 2: Recovery Scenarios
Chapter 9: Economic Recovery Scenarios
Chapter 10: V-Shaped Recovery and Jobs
Chapter 11: W-Shaped Recoveries and Joblessness
Chapter 12: Declining L-Shaped Recovery Forces and Factors Challenges, Issues and Indicators
Chapter 13: Closing the Spending/Receipts Gap
Chapter 14: Potential Second Residential Real Estate Crisis
Chapter 15: The Markets
Chapter 16: Inflation
Chapter 17: US Treasuries and the Dollar
Chapter 18: US Manufacturing & Emerging Markets
Chapter 19: Corporate Recovery May Not Increase Jobs
Chapter 20: Small Business Is The US Economic Backbone The Way Ahead: Jobs Creation
Chapter 21: The 20 by 20 Jobs Creation Plan
Chapter 22: Energizing the Private Sector
Chapter 23: Six Imperatives for Washington
Chapter 24: The Austerity Contingency Plan\n