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Dear Undercover Economist: Priceless Advice on Money, Work, Sex, Kids, and Life's Other Challenges Paperback – August 25, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Harford writes like a dream–and is also one of the leading economic thinkers of his generation.”—David Bodanis, author of Electric Universe

About the Author

Tim Harford is the author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times, where he also writes the “Dear Economist” column. He is a regular contributor to Slate, Forbes, and NPR’s Marketplace. He was the host of the BBC TV series Trust Me, I’m an Economist and now presents the BBC series More or Less. Harford has been an economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812980107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812980103
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Harford is the author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times, where he also writes the "Dear Economist" column. He is a regular contributor to Slate, Forbes, and NPR's Marketplace. He was the host of the BBC TV series Trust Me, I'm an Economist and now presents the BBC series More or Less. Harford has been an economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of Tim Harford's books; The Undercover Economist and Logic of Life were really interesting, in a vein similar to Freakonomics (to cite a more famous but not-necessarily-better book#. What I enjoyed about those books was that he explained economic and behavioral topics in an informal but entertaining way.

This book is compiled from letters and responses to his articles in the Financial Times, so intersting topics are touched on ("so-and-so showed that people are more likely to ..."), but the format is too cramped to elaborate.

If it is advice you are looking for, do yourself a favor: instead of getting this book, make sure to pick up his other two books instead.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After sitting bleary eyed through many economics classes - I would have bet my life savings that a professional could never have written a fun and informative book. I was wrong.

This is a thinking persons book. Lots of humor interlaced with economic concepts at a pretty deep level

You wont be disappointed
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Format: Paperback
This book left me disappointed, built of the interest of Freakonomics, I thought that this seemed interesting. As I started to read through the "chapters" I was getting less interested in what the book had to offer. Given the format of a 200 word response to each question, the amount of economics was very limited. Although it did mention a general theory of why something happens, I would not even feel satisfied if I had personally wrote the question to "Dear Economist." I would have asked for a refund if it wasn't free advice. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

If you want to read a lot of questions about life from several categories, only to hears answers that briefly state some professor somewhere studied this behavioral phenomenon. This is not worth your time to read if you are looking for insightful information on the topic of behavioral economics.
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Format: Paperback
Webster defines economics as the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind. The Financial Times of London has a column called Dear Undercover Economist, which receives letters from readers soliciting advice about such issues as money, work, career moves, marriage, and children. Tim Hartford is the "Undercover Economist" who submits answers to the letters through the lense of his economist viewpoint. The chapters have titles such as Speed Dating With A Money Back Guarantee; How to Spend Your Lottery Winnings; How To Fool A Wine Snob; and Selling Michigan to the Chinese.

In chapter one, Speed Dating With A Money Back Guarantee, one of the letters is from a man who can't decide whether to propose to his girlfriend on the upcoming Valentines Day, or wait until next year. The Undercover Economist discusses and applies the principle of value-creation to the situation. He advises that value-creating moves should be applied sooner rather than later, because of the limitation of time. However, some decisions are worth delaying in order to acquire more information, or improve upon a situation or thing. In analyzing a decision, the cost of delay needs to be weighed against the value of waiting. Additionally, the decision maker should also strongly bear in mind that the window of opportunity can slam shut, bringing the option value to zero. These principles of value-creating decisions can be applied to new product development and introduction. Companies should not be in a rush-to-market with new product developments if the value of waiting is greater than the cost of delay.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you subscribe to the Financial Times, there's no need to get this book. It's a compilation of Harford's columns from there.

He basically takes serious questions (broadly: how should I raise my children, how can I have a successful relationship, how can I get rich, etc.) and answers them with an economics-based joke. As a former econ major, I thought it was hilarious. A little on the light side, sure, but a good coffee-table book. If you don't enjoy economics (or academic wittiness), don't pick this one up. If you're looking for real advice, don't pick this one up.

Do pick it up if you'd like an introduction to some basic (and some esoteric) economic concepts or if you're looking to make interesting cocktail party conversation.
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