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Dear Undercover Economist

Priceless Advice on Money, Work, Sex, Kids, and Life's Other Challenges

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Paperback published by Random House Trade Paperbacks (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Throughout history, great philosophers have been answering profound questions about life. But do they know why your socks keep disappearing from the dryer, or how to choose the quickest line at the supermarket? Probably not, but Tim Harford does. . . .

In Dear Undercover Economist
, the first collection of his wildly popular Financial Times columns, Tim Harford offers witty, charming, and at times caustic answers to our most pressing concerns–all through the lens of economics. Does money buy happiness? Is “the one” really out there? Can cities be greener than farms? Can you really “dress for success”? When’s the best time to settle down? Harford provides brilliant, hilarious, unexpected, and wise answers to these and other questions. Arranged by topic, easy to read, and hard to put down, Dear Undercover Economist lends an outrageous, compassionate, and indispensable perspective on anything that may irk or ail you–a book well worth the investment.
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Throughout history, great philosophers have been answering profound questions about life. But do they know why your socks keep disappearing from the dryer, or how to choose the quickest line at the supermarket? Probably not, but Tim Harford does. . . .

In Dear Undercover Economist
, the first collection of his wildly popular Financial Times columns, Tim Harford offers witty, charming, and at times caustic answers to our most pressing concerns–all through the lens of economics. Does money buy happiness? Is “the one” really out there? Can cities be greener than farms? Can you really “dress for success”? When’s the best time to settle down? Harford provides brilliant, hilarious, unexpected, and wise answers to these and other questions. Arranged by topic, easy to read, and hard to put down, Dear Undercover Economist lends an outrageous, compassionate, and indispensable perspective on anything that may irk or ail you–a book well worth the investment.
Product Details
Paperback (240 pages)
Published: August 25, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780812980103
Other books byTim Harford
  • The Logic of Life

    The Logic of Life
    The Rational Economics of an Irrational World
    Life sometimes seems illogical. Individuals do strange things: take drugs, have unprotected sex, mug each other. Love seems irrational, and so does divorce. On a larger scale, life seems no fairer or easier to fathom: Why do some neighborhoods thrive and others become ghettos? Why is racism so persistent? Why is your idiot boss paid a fortune for sitting behind a mahogany altar? Thorny questions–and you might be surprised to hear the answers coming from an economist. But award-winning journalist Tim Harford likes to spring surprises. In this deftly reasoned book, he argues that life is logical after all. Under the surface of everyday insanity, hidden incentives are at work, and Harford shows these incentives emerging in the most unlikely places.

    The Undercover Economist

    The Undercover Economist
    Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, Why the Poor...
    “The economy [isn’t] a bunch of rather dull statistics with names like GDP (gross domestic product),” notes Tim Harford, columnist and regular guest on NPR’s Marketplace, “economics is about who gets what and why.” In this acclaimed and riveting book–part exposé, part user’s manual–the astute and entertaining columnist from the Financial Times demystifies the ways in which money works in the world. From why the coffee in your cup costs so much to why efficiency is not necessarily the answer to ensuring a fair society, from improving health care to curing crosstown traffic–all the dirty little secrets of dollars and cents are delightfully revealed by The Undercover Economist. “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 everrelevant 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 From Publishers Weekly Nattily packaged-the cover sports a Roy Lichtensteinesque image of an economist in Dick Tracy garb-and cleverly written, this book applies basic economic theory to such modern phenomena as Starbucks' pricing system and Microsoft's stock values. While the concepts explored are those encountered in Microeconomics 101, Harford gracefully explains abstruse ideas like pricing along the demand curve and game theory using real world examples without relying on graphs or jargon. The book addresses free market economic theory, but Harford is not a complete apologist for capitalism; he shows how companies from Amazon.com to Whole Foods to Starbucks have gouged consumers through guerrilla pricing techniques and explains the high rents in London (it has more to do with agriculture than one might think). Harford comes down soft on Chinese sweatshops, acknowledging "conditions in factories are terrible," but "sweatshops are better than the horrors that came before them, and a step on the road to something better." Perhaps, but Harford doesn't question whether communism or a capitalist-style industrial revolution are the only two choices available in modern economies. That aside, the book is unequaled in its accessibility and ability to show how free market economic forces affect readers' day-to-day. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Bookmarks Magazine Harford exposes the dark underbelly of capitalism in Undercover Economist. Compared with Steven Levitt’s and Stephen J. Dubner’s popular Freakonomics (*** July/Aug 2005), the book uses simple, playful examples (written in plain English) to elucidate complex economic theories. Critics agree that the book will grip readers interested in understanding free-market forces but disagree about Harford’s approach. Some thought the author mastered the small ideas while keeping in sight the larger context of globalization; others faulted Harford for failing to criticize certain economic theories and to ground his arguments in political, organizational structures. Either way, his case studies—some entertaining, others indicative of times to come—will make you think twice about that cup of coffee. Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

    Adapt

    Adapt
    Why Success Always Starts with Failure
    In this groundbreaking book, Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist, shows us a new and inspiring approach to solving the most pressing problems in our lives. When faced with complex situations, we have all become accustomed to looking to our leaders to set out a plan of action and blaze a path to success. Harford argues that today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt. Deftly weaving together psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, physics, and economics, along with the compelling story of hard-won lessons learned in the field, Harford makes a passionate case for the importance of adaptive trial and error in tackling issues such as climate change, poverty, and financial crises—as well as in fostering innovation and creativity in our business and personal lives.   Taking us from corporate boardrooms to the deserts of Iraq, Adapt clearly explains the necessary ingredients for turning failure into success. It is a breakthrough handbook for surviving—and prospering— in our complex and ever-shifting world.

    The Market for Aid

    The Market for Aid
    In an accessible style Michael Klein and Tim Harford analyze some of the hot topics in the aid industry today. They argue that the aid industry is changing, old models of aid are under pressure, and both donors and recipients will ask more and more of aid agencies in the future. The chaos of competition and the search for new ideas are frightening to some and risk harming the people whom the industry is supposed to benefit. Yet at the same time there is a tremendous opportunity for harnessing competition to improve performance and find better ways of helping the poor. Klein and Harford argue for rigorous methods of evaluation and creative use of the private sector to produce a more effective aid industry in which new experiments are encouraged.

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