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

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA, 2006 - Business & Economics - 276 pages
438 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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

A very fun and helpful introduction to economics. - Goodreads
Just fun, funny, interesting prose. - Goodreads
A great introduction to economics. - Goodreads
It was easy to read but didn't dumb it down too much. - Goodreads
His writing style is pedestrian. - Goodreads
Brilliant introduction to economics - Goodreads

Review: The Undercover Economist

User Review  - Quinn - Goodreads

Some of the chapters were a little sleepy but I think everyone should have to read chapter 9 "Beer, Fries and Globalization". It covers the reasons why sweatshops are better than the alternative for ... Read full review

Review: The Undercover Economist

User Review  - Ian Wilson - Goodreads

Not always easy reading but challenging and gave and interesting view point on the world. For the most part Tim made potentially challenging topics and understandable perspective. Read full review

All 183 reviews »

Other editions - View all

References to this book

About the author (2006)

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.

Bibliographic information