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The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy by [Harford, Tim]
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The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Review

Tim Harford is a brilliant explainer of economics . . . A superb guide, whatever your level of expertise (William Leith Evening Standard)

Tim Harford is a brilliant explainer of economics . . . beautifully clear . . . A superb guide (William Leith Scotsman)

Tim Harford is a riveting expositor of the field, lively and fair minded, and his books The Undercover Economist and its macroeconomic companion piece The Undercover Economist Strikes Back are excellent places to start, both because they are so interesting in themselves and also because they give a good initiation in how economists think and study these sorts of questions (John Lanchester)

Every Tim Harford book is cause for celebration. He makes 'the dismal science' seem like an awful lot of fun (Malcolm Gladwell)

Harford spurns the polemical style that infects so much writing about macroeconomics, offering a clear exposition of the key debates using case studies ranging from Second World War POW camps to the 1970s oil shock and Brazil in the 1990s ... Harford explains the subject with impressive clarity and wit. (The Times)

clear-thinking and easy to read ... he has mastered the art of dealing with this subject without the use of a single diagram or mathematical equation (Sunday Times)

Our chief economic storyteller ... thanks to people such as Harford, the profession will gain a better informed audience (Independent)

Reading Harford is like finding yourself next to the funniest, smartest fellow at the party. It is such fun that readers will hardly notice that, by the end, they've mastered macroeconomics (Financial Times)

Book Description

Tim Harford returns as the Undercover Economist with an even bigger target in his sights: to explain how the whole world economy works.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 638 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408704242
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ABLJ6OE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,171 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 of the future. No part of man's nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician."

So even a very bright fifteen year old is not going to be able to understand macroeconomics - it will need half a lifetime of professional training and experience to get him to a point where he can grasp even the basics. Unless, that is, he has Tim Harford as his guide. Using the Q&A Socratic debate format Tim leads the reader towards an understanding of why macroeconomics is so hard, why no solutions have yet been found and maps out potential sources of hope for future solutions. Along the way we encounter some of the latest thinking on behavioural economics, on why economics growth can continue forever, on why happiness economics is just plain weird and on how the Euro is like Dr Strangelove's doomsday device with Greece playing the role of Major Kong.

Although this book could be read on its own I feel it is better to read The Undercover Economist first so that the reader has a basic understanding of microeconomic concepts before embarking on "The UE-SB". The takeaway from this book is different from his earlier works.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you haven't read a Tim Harford book before, the first thing that will strike you is how easy he makes his subject sound. The second thing will be that it is not at all easy, but that like all great teachers he has the knack of communicating a sense of the intellectual curiosity and delight that inspire him.

Plutarch said that the mind is not a vessel to be filled, it is a fire to be lit - and Tim Harford's effortlessly fluent style and range of illuminating examples and thought-experiments certainly achieve that. Macroeconomics is probably not a subject I would normally be interested in learning about, but the author's excitement is infectious and thus, instead of a dry academic text, what you get is an exhilarating page-turner.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of the original "Undercover Economist" but was not so impressed with "The Logic of Life", which I found a bit same-y (and I'm afraid I didn't bother with "Adapt" at all). However, this book enters new territory - macroeconomics - and does it well. For me as a lay reader, there was a lot of new information, well-explained and backed up by interesting and illustrative examples. I think I will have to re-read it to fully digest everything, but I'm looking forward to it! The only slight sticking point for me was the question and answer format. Harford has clearly come to like writing this way from his columns in the FT but although the format (usually) works well at column length, I wasn't convinced for a whole book. Sometimes the "questions" were so few and far between that he might as well just have written normal prose and even in the parts that were more conversational I didn't think the format added much. Still, it worked for Plato so you can't blame Harford for giving it a go.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the second Hartford book I've bought and is, considering the subject matter, an easy read. Executed in the style of a conversational 'question and answer' between reader and author is throws much illumination on the current 'state-of-the-nation'.
Recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant book on the big, governmental-level of economics. It occasionally hints at preferred solutions, but the book is mainly concerned with explaining how things work, how things go work and how economic theorists have struggled to understand the underlying processes. It always tries to be fair-minded, careful to explain both a "Keynesian" and a "Classical" approach to the problems. There are no maths or equations, the book uses quotes and (true) stories to illuminate the author's points.
It covers all the hot topics: recessions, "austerity", when balanced budgets are a good idea and when they are not, how running a government budget isn't like running a household budget, printing money, rising inequality (or not), job protection and so on.
The book is brilliantly written - the tone of it is almost exactly like that he adopts in his radio show "More Or Less", which is simple without being patronizing and with a gently ironic sense of fun. The explanations are very clear - an inquisitive older child could happily follow this book without problems and it is short enough to read in an afternoon, but without leaving you feeling short-changed. I'd recommend this to any reader interested in the subject without qualification.
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