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

Version: Unabridged
Author: Tim Harford
Narrator: Robert MacKenzie
Genres: Business & Economics
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published In: March 2006
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 10 hours, 15 minutes
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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.

Reviews (3)

The Undercover Economist

Written by CJ on July 17th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 1/5

The book started out great and was very informative on macro economics. It then spiraled into a justification for confiscatory taxes and the redsitribution of wealth in order to compensate for the unfairness of capitalism. This was woven through the subsequent CDs and I finally became disgusted and returned the CD. Not recommended.

Sometimes entertaining, sometimes boring

Written by Anonymous from Wilmington, DE on August 6th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Much of the book was entertaining and thought-provoking. That said, some parts were rather dull and I had to fast-forward through them to save my sanity. A must listen for people who are interested in economics.

Undercover Econimist

Written by Catherine Copeland on October 13th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I absolutely loved this book. I love the author's dry wit and his ability to get passed the numbers and straight to the heart of the matter. Sometimes stating the obvious brings you back with a jolt when you say to yourself, Of course! For example, often as a teacher I wondered why, if there truly is a shortage of teachers public schools aren't coughing up more bucks to lure more prospective employees. The answer was obvious but like the proverbial snake it hadn't yet bitten me, schools are a monolpoly employer. If you want to be a teacher you have to go to work in a school. DUH!!!!! OK done with being stupid. Still this book was so good that it managed to keep my father-in-law quiet for a whole hour as he listened to someone else opinion for a change. This would be a book hubby and I would consider buying!!!!!!!!

Author Details

Author Details

Harford, Tim

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.