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41 Reviews
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy read on a difficult subject
According to John Maynard Keynes "The master economist ... must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher-in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes...
Published 15 months ago by Alistair Kelman

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing Words
The content of the book is great, as usual, for Tim Harford, but it is incredibly annoying that the Kindle version does not fit properly on a page and words are missing. They reappear if you change the font size, only for other to disappear on another page. Very frustrating indeed!
Published 8 months ago by chris fish


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5.0 out of 5 stars Really great intro to macroeconomics, 22 Nov 2013
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Henry S. Baker (Plymouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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Tim takes you on a tour of modern macroeconomics in the conversational question-and-answer style he uses in his Financial Times column. It is the perfect length and amount of detail for a layman to get a quick grasp of the concepts in the context of the financial crisis. I fully recommend it. Very easy read, and Tim has a knack for making economics interesting without going down the pseudo-popeconomics route of books like freakonomics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars nice to put the big debates in perspective, 17 Nov 2013
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Thoughtful explanation of key economic concepts, well linked to the reality of todays big economic/political debates. Well worth the read so you can smile knowingly before pedantically correcting your friends' uninformed arguments in any economic policy debate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to macroeconomy ever, 9 Oct 2013
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Amazon Customer (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Very clear and easy explanation of mysteries of macroeconomy. History perspective and last chapter on new approaches to economy are both very interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tim Harford strikes again, 5 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy (Hardcover)
If you are interested in how the economy works (and fails), but you are not an economist then this book is essential reading. Harford never takes a partisan approach, but cuts through the political spin to the core of the real debate and the actual evidence. Macro-economics for the intelligent layman. Brilliant!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Big Picture, 4 Oct 2013
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Tim Hartford's book is an essential guide on how macroeconomics has changed over the years.
From Keynes to neoliberalism, it is all there. Hartford explains everything, and his explanation is a sympathetic one. He explains how we have reached, post the latest economic depression, where we are today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as his other books, 17 Sep 2013
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I think this is a very well-written book, but, even acknowledging that the subject is complex and that there are no easy answers,I would have welcomed a more decisive stand by the author on key issues, which I felt was a bit "on the one hand, .....On the other hand,......". It seems obvious Tim Harford is more at home in microeconomics than macroeconomics. Nevetheless, it is very fluent and covers a vast amount of ground well. PS I read the kindle edition which often had the bottom line of the page missing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a good easy read, 12 Sep 2013
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The book covers things from sticky prices, money ilusion, efficency wages, poverty measurements as an absolute or in preportion to other incomes. The pros and cons of gdp and happeness indexes.

It is simple and straighforward to read much like the authors other books nothing ground breaking or new but in a nice easy to read style.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book; depressing implication, 13 Nov 2013
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy (Hardcover)
If you are familiar with Tim Harford's work, whether as an author, print journalist or broadcaster, then this book is not a surprise. It is, as you would expect, well-written, de-mystifying complicated subjects and giving the novice an understandable overview of controversial and complicated areas, explaining clearly what the experts agree on, what they disagree on - and why. This time his subject is macroeconomics and it is a highly enjoyable read.

Highly enjoyable, that is, save for one depressing lesson.

Harford's broad conclusion is that the economic evidence points towards it being best to have traditionally right-wing policies in boom times (such as labour market reforms) and traditionally left-wing policies in times of recession and stagnation (such as fiscal and monetary stimulus). In other words, it's not a matter of being left or right but of having the best policies for the current times.

However, as he also points out, politics in Britain and elsewhere tends to operate the other way round. Right-wing parties tend to do better in economic bad times (when their policies are less suitable) and left-wing parties tend to do better in economic good times (when again their policies are less suitable). The electorate servies up the mirror opposite economic policies from those that would work best.

The book is also packed full of fascinating (and rather cheerier) other information. One point which rather caught my eye was about how public services are valued in GDP calculations. As most of them are not sold and so don't have a market price, they are valued at the cost of providing them. However, that underplays the contribution of the public sector to the economy because private sector goods are valued at their market value which is normally higher than the cost of providing them.

Many of these interesting examples are from the US. Despite his British roots, Tim Harford clearly had an eye on where the biggest market for books is. That isn't a problem given how international economics is, though it would have been nice for the rest of the world to have featured a little more.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Lucid Explanation, 15 Sep 2013
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I reckon I now know more about macro economics than the average Chancellor of the Exchequer on his first day in the job.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun., 1 Dec 2014
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Fun, but I didn't like the use of enacting a conversation to deliver a great overview of macro economics.
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