The Undercover Economist, Paperback

The Undercover Economist Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (6 ratings)


Who makes most money from the demand for cappuccinos early in the morning at Waterloo Station?

Why is it impossible to get a foot on the property ladder?

How does the Mafia make money from laundries when street gangs pushing drugs don't?

Who really benefits from immigration? How can China, in just fifty years, go from the world's worst famine to one of the greatest economic revolutions of all time, lifting a million people out of poverty a month? Looking at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways, THE UNDERCOVER ECONOMIST is a fresh explanation of the fundamental principles of the modern economy, illuminated by examples from the streets of London to the booming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the sleepy canals of Bruges.

Leaving behind textbook jargon and equations, Tim Harford will reveal the games of signals and negotiations, contests of strength and battles of wit that drive not only the economy at large but the everyday choices we make.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780349119854



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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

In this interesting and well written book, Harford explains how basic economics drives the world and why the cup of coffee you buy on your commute in the morning is so expensive. A quick glance at your average daily newspaper will show how a lot of people who ought to know better completely misunderstand economics and how the world works. This book is fun to read as well as easy to understand, but not patronisingly simple.

Review by

Very enoyable, easy to read. You actually get to learn a few things too!

Review by

very enjoyable non-technical introduction to a number of non-trivial main concepts of economics and how they relate to one another and to phenomena that any intelligent and curious person could easily observe in her environment. it helped me piece together into a more coherent mental map ideas that I had heard before in other contexts and encouraged me to follow up with more specialized reading on some of them. I agree with some of the other reviewers that Harford's perspective often comes across as a little biased. his description of China's transportation system, for example, is at odds with what was observed during the last week of January 2008 and what I hear from my Taiwanese relatives who work there and describe road conditions as horrible. one last comment about the title: there is nothing undercover in anything Harford says or does in this book except, maybe, for his investigation of the marginal cost of producing a cappuccino in Central London.

Review by

Very interesting and informative book. Makes an excellent case against the US Healthcare system, and suggests that Singapore has found an appropriate balance.

Review by

Brings economics back to the individual on the street, who, after all, is the point of departure in the first place.

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