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The Undercover Economist

Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--And Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!

By Tim Harford

(54)

| Hardcover | 9780195189773

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Book Description

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 Un Continue

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.

96 Reviews

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  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Tim Harford tiene una columna en el Financial Times, "Dear Economist", traducida hace un tiempo en Italia por el famoso periodico Internazionale. De allí, descubrí el interesante blog del autor en el que él se divierte en explicar problemas cotidiano ...(continue)

    Tim Harford tiene una columna en el Financial Times, "Dear Economist", traducida hace un tiempo en Italia por el famoso periodico Internazionale. De allí, descubrí el interesante blog del autor en el que él se divierte en explicar problemas cotidianos propuestos por los lectores en clave económica, en el estilo de Dubner y Levitt (Freakonomics).
    Pues, cómo pasa a menudo en estos casos, el libro ha sido una decepción: la columna se queda ganadora respecto al libro (que en concreto no es una recopilación de los artículos) que se pierde en divagaciones y desperdicia las ideas originales y a veces geniales del autor.

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    Bakis said on May 4, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Divertente testo divulgativo di economia di Tim Harford, editorialista del Financial Times.
    (riprendo con minime varizioni una recensione dal mio blog http://www.robertosedda.it/?p=687)

    È un libro che spiega in termini economici le cose banal ...(continue)

    Divertente testo divulgativo di economia di Tim Harford, editorialista del Financial Times.
    (riprendo con minime varizioni una recensione dal mio blog http://www.robertosedda.it/?p=687)

    È un libro che spiega in termini economici le cose banali della nostra vita quotidiana, tipo perché il caffé negli aereoporti è uniformemente cattivo ma costa il doppio del bar sotto casa, perché c’è sempre un ingorgo in centro a mezzogiorno, perché le sedi delle banche hanno portoni di bronzo, perché la CocaCola spende milioni di dollari in pubblicità insignificante e perché non esiste un oggetto come una buona macchina usata.

    Non solo si legge con molta facilità ma pian piano si scopre che va a toccare (a parte il prezzo del caffé…) questioni di grande rilevanza, come l’ambiente, la salute pubblica, la povertà del sud del mondo e così via.

    È fortemente consigliato per confrontarsi almeno una volta nella vita con l’eleganza, il rigore e, lasciatemelo dire, la bellezza del ragionamento economico classico. Si tratta di un regalo intellettuale che tutti prima o poi dovrebbero farsi.

    Naturalmente… sono tutte cavolate; nel senso che uno che ha studiato economia a fondo saprà che ci sono mille modelli che spiegano gli stessi fenomeni in maniera radicalmente diversa (e molto meno amichevole nei confronti del mercato e del capitale); tuttavia se si vuole arrivare a quel passo bisogna pur sempre passare per il pensiero economico ortodosso (e non schivarlo come certi teorici dell’economia alternativa dei miei stivali) e l’introduzione ininterrottamente spiritosa, provocante e… amichevole e gentile di Harford è quanto di meglio io conosca.

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    Roberto Sedda said on Jul 7, 2013 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    I had great expectations from this book. I thought it would be as funny and as interesting as "Freakonomics."
    Unfortunately, the author cannot set a uniform tone in this essay.

    At times he can be super-partes and show how ignorance (meaning: ...(continue)

    I had great expectations from this book. I thought it would be as funny and as interesting as "Freakonomics."
    Unfortunately, the author cannot set a uniform tone in this essay.

    At times he can be super-partes and show how ignorance (meaning: lack of mutual information) can affect the efficiency of exchanges. Other times, instead, he is clearly taking sides.
    He likes Gordon Brown and he will spend pages and pages explaining how his government has been better than New Zealand's, Australia's, and the USA's in setting up an auction for 3G licenses. You would expect that, since he's a British Labourist and there may be some bias involved, this didn't go on for pages, but it does.

    Harford likes London's congestion charge and he spends pages saying it. He asks himself the question: "what about the rich being able to allow the congestion charge as they want?" (which is my main concern about these charges) but he replies quickly "It's not true that the rich do not care what they spend." But they could!

    On the other hand, the first pages of "Adapt", which are attached to this book as a "teaser", look much more promising. There, it seems the tone is much clearer and quite an original theory is well explained. Will read!

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    Christina Shepard said on Sep 3, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Molti spunti su cui riflettere a lungo. Un'introduzione agli aspetti dell'economia applicati alla vita reale.

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    Xno71 said on Aug 8, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    *** This comment contains spoilers! ***

    此書可重讀。
    就一些社會的情況/問題提出經濟觀點,可刺激思考。

    1. 非市場的體系有它的好處,但缺了一樣東西;資訊──關於願望、需求、渴望與成本的資訊。有時候.缺乏資訊是值得的.因為在資訊缺乏下的平等與穩定,可以帶來好處。但有些時候,缺乏資訊會導致整個經濟和社會的錯亂與浪費。
    2. 千萬別將他人的陰謀看做是他人的無能。

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    虛空 said on Aug 5, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Buen libro sobre economía en la linea de freakconomics, pero se centra un poco más en explicar algunos aspectos básicos de economía pero con ejemplos muy didácticos.

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    Rata almizclera said on Jul 18, 2012 | Add your feedback

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