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9780195189773

The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!

Harford, Tim Author

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9780195189773: The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!

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.

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From the Back Cover:

"The Undercover Economist is a rare specimen: a book on economics that will enthrall its readers. Beautifully written and argued, it brings the power of economics to life. This book should be required reading for every elected official, business leader, and university student." --Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

"Harford writes like a dream--and is also one of the leading economic thinkers of his generation. From his book I found out why there's a Starbucks on every corner, what Bob Geldof needs to learn to make development aid work properly, 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 E=mc2 and Electric Universe

"If you need to be convinced of the ever-relevant and fascinating nature of economics, read this insightful and witty book by Tim Harford. Using one interesting example after another, The Undercover Economist demonstrates how economic reasoning -- often esoteric and dull, but totally accessible in Harford's hands -- helps illuminate the world around us. Indeed, Harford's book is a tour de force." --Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization

"As Tim Harford demonstrates brilliantly in this enjoyable book, the powerful underlying ideas of economics can, in the hands of the right person, illuminate every aspect of the world we inhabit." --Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times, and author of Why Globalization Works

"Most people think economists are boring, opinionated and wrong. Tim Harford is often right, always opinionated, but never boring. He shows how economics can be used to illuminate our everyday lives. Whether you want an explanation of the price of a cup of coffee or of poverty in the third world, Harford has it all." --John Kay, author of Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets

About the Author:


Tim Harford writes the "Dear Economist" column in the Financial Times Magazine, in which he draws upon the latest economic theories to provide tongue-in-cheek answers to readers' personal dilemmas. Formerly an economics editorial writer at the Financial Times, Harford has worked at the International Finance Corporation, for a major oil company, and as an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in Washington DC.

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Harford, Tim Author
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