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

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199926510
ISBN-10: 0199926514
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This is a book to savor." --The New York Times


"Harford is smart. Scary smart. So smart he can illuminate, in clear, entertaining English, ideas and forces of mind-boggling complexity." --BusinessWeek


"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


"For anyone schooled in blackboard economics, The Undercover Economist succeeds in taking the chalkdust out of the subject."--The Economist


"Distinguishes itself from the pack... lively and insightful." --The Wall Street Journal


About the Author


Tim Harford is a senior columnist for the Financial Times and author of several books. He is a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, a senior visiting fellow at Cass Business School, and he lives in Oxford with his wife and three children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (August 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199926514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199926510
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A nerd at heart, I am always looking for a good laymans book on economics. This book is a bestseller for a reason. The author takes every day situations and explains economic theories based on these situations. The result: The reader is able to understand the how and why things unfold as they do. Economics is not just a bunch of complex mathematical equations. It is a study of scarcity be it money, or time, or resources. My only complaint is that the author becomes too wordy at times and interjects his personal opinion too often. Still, if you are interested, it is an easy read.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite my criticisms, I think this book can teach the layman something about simple economic concepts, so I'm giving it an 'OK' three stars despite the biases.

This book goes out of its way to be readable and simplify complex economic concepts. It goes too far.. while it may define and explain what an externality means in the early book, it never mentions them when defending sweatshops as essential for growing economies. Corruption is 'an economic disincentive', but the connection between forms of government and successful countries isn't stated. The author is obsessively for free-trade and pro-globalization. He is worshipful of the Chinese economy for performing well in the past few decades. Harford loses sight of those 'tragic externalities' a fast growing economy generates for the rest of the world.

This book never gets into the "Terror of Infinity", the concept that endless growth with finite resources is not possible. It does mention that a small corrupt ruling class can utterly destroy a nation's economic growth (The Tokugawa Shogunate is given as an example), but never says a thing about contemporary examples. I found this obvious self-editing, this refusal to connect the dots, to give ANY political or moral conclusion, detracted from the message the book was trying to sell.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When you start reading, the book has many fascinating facts and comments. After a while you are amazed by the range of issues
covered. Facts, the range of issues, and the opinions expressed keep growing.

Then you notice that some of these items are questionable. Later on some are suspicious. And finally you notice items you know
are incorrect. And still facts, range of discussion, and opinions keeps growing.

As you continue several ideas come to mind.

- Few people could write a wide ranging book like this in an accurate manner.
- It is not possible to know what is reliable information?
- What are valid comments?
- How much can you trust?
- What can you hope to gain from this book?

Maybe the author is correct about everything. Possibly the reader is mistaken about the issues he disagrees with. But
some things are difficult to excuse. The author says that globalization is widely considered a good thing. This was possibly
true at the time of the book, but is not as widely supported today. Other items are equally unsupported.

In my opinion the book covers too much ground. Not everything can be trusted. Some conclusions are conjecture, personal
opinion, and outdated biases of economists. It seems in the end you cannot tell the difference. So, is the book very
valuable or just a wild flurry of unsubstantiated information? For lack of a definitive answer, I give it a one star.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tim does a fantastic job explaining important economic concepts and without the confusing charts, graphs and formulas you usually see in an economics course. You get some fascinating anecdotes about how economics plays out in everyday life. You will never look at a supermarket or Starbucks quite the same away again. Tim delivers on every provocative question he asks in this book and answers the all important question of what the major difference is between rich countries and poor countries.
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Format: Hardcover
International bestseller, with over 1.5 million copies sold throughout our Earth! World-renowned economist Tim Harford (author) provides world-class, brilliant and/or incredible content in a sharp, easy-to-read, and insightful text. He is able to teach the most difficult concepts within the social science of "Economics," in a sharp, fun format of a text! Tim Harford (author) currently teaches the topic of Economics at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. An updated version, very-well written. Tim Harford (author) explains in a fun, in-depth, outstanding text what most world citizens understand and don't understand about the way the globalized economy functions.

Mind-boggling content. The most difficult elements involved withing the topic of economics, broken down in a sharp, fun text, easy to read, then comprehend nonfiction book. For example, the ideas of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and Milton Friedman (1912-2006) are explained. Concrete, relevant examples in everyday life that are very intriguing are cited; showing the massive relevance of understanding how economics in our daily life. Outstanding for anyone searching for a clear, brilliant, luminous book on the role of economics in our 21st century - globalized society. Overall, a sharp text that explains the role of economics in our modern globalized economy.

Virtually every concept of macro-economics is explained in a fun manner. My favorite; "How much is your life worth?" (p.95). Tim Harford (author), states: "Individually, we constantly make decisions that put a value on our own environment, our own time, and even our own lives" (p.97).
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