A million listeners bought The Undercover Economist to get the lowdown on how economics works on a small scale, in our everyday lives. Since then, economics has become big news. Crises, austerity, riots, bonuses - all are in the headlines all the time. But how does this large-scale economic world really work? What would happen if we cancelled everyone's debt? How do you create a job? Will the BRIC countries take over the world?
Asking - among many other things - what the future holds for the Euro, why the banks are still paying record bonuses, and where government borrowing will take us, in The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, Tim Harford returns with his trademark clarity and wit to explain what's really going on - and what it means for us all.
©2013 Tim Harford (P)2013 Hachette Audio
This is not one of those disgraceful economics textbooks, which present macro theories as some kind of truths or laws of nature. It is quite a comprehensive and coherent review of most important macro topics, which clearly hilights the complexity and uncertainty about how economy works and at the same time helps to form opinion about various macroeconokics issues.
"The perfect book for that business flight"
The best teaching comes from telling stories - stories about human feats, challenges which were overcome, where the art of the possible conquers all. Tim Harford in his lectures and his writing does this all the time - putting a human face on problem solving.
This audiobook is for you if:
You consider yourself to be a serious person, concerned about the way of the world, unhappy about lives being wasted through deprivation, poverty and idleness;
You enjoy listening to the output of BBC Radio 4 (and particularly to the BBC Today programme, "More or Less"and new programmes like "The Philosopher's Arms");
I wondered when I bought it why it needed two narrators when novels etc can make do with just one. But the interchange of question and answer, explaining matters by the use of Socratic debate, really demands two voices and Cameron Stewart and Gavin Osborne do it justice as narrators. Tim never uses jargon unnecessarily and it is always explained in simple terms.
This is the idea audiobook to listen to after you turn left at the top of the stairs and settle into your aircraft seat. Get the steward to fix you a long drink, let everyone else watch the highly edited action movies and chill out to a tour de force. It will teach you that the modern macroeconomist needs to be a renaissance man - and that is a really good takeaway.
"The Only Thing Missing is Tim's Delivery"
This is a truly wonderful book.
It is funny, yet clear. It breaks up complicated ideas, and makes them understandable- with the clever use of ridiculous analogies and preposterous scenarios.
My only gripe is this- why didn't Tim Harford read it himself? I love his delivery in 'More or Less'- his radio show on Radio 4. He has great comic timing, and is a wizard at the straight faced presentation of the absurd. Cameron Stewart was not bad, but Tim H would have excelled, and I couldn't help subconsciously translating the lines spoken by the CS into TH's voice.
But if that's my only complaint, then you haven't got much to worry about. Do yourself a favour- get this, and be entertained and educated at the same time.
Good introduction to Macro Economics - just what you'd expect of Tim Hartford. However, why not have him actually read the book? You have an author who is brilliant on the radio and then have someone else on the audiobook?? Why? The narration is not bad - annoying that the 'instructor' voice is more posh than the 'student' but would have been better with Hartford.
"Good content, dodgy narration"
If you are familiar with Tim Harford from Radio 4's "More or Less" then you will almost certainly find the content of this book to be of his usual high standard. Unfortunately, you'll then almost certainly be really disturbed by the bizarre choice of narrator to play his part in the audio book. The content is great - a sweeping overview of macro economics for those of us who are interested in the big picture but weren't totally sure about the difference between fiscal and monetary policy or why money printing might sometimes be a good thing. But the narration jarred so much it detracted significantly from my enjoyment. Why the publisher decided someone sounding like a poor pastiche of Geoffrey Palmer at his poshest and most patronising was the ideal voice replacement for Tim was a good idea is totally beyond me. The stilted, contrived conversation between the overbearing narrator and the middle-class and modern "you" is beyond irritating and spoiled my listening quite dramatically. I finished the book (because the content is excellent) but I doubt I'll be able to listen to it again.
"Mindblowingly Complex Subject Distilled"
This works as audio book with the back and forth between two narrators. It is difficult to see how this could have the same impact in printed format.
Digging for chocolate, how does this relate to a modern economy. In fact what really is money, how much is it worth, and what is the impact on your life - so what has chocolate got to do with it all - Tim Harford spills the coins.
The story of a small island that used stones for currency, and a stone of about 2ft wide was about the price of a pig. So what happens when it is too big to move the stone, you trade notes as to where you left your stones. Sounds absurd right? But that's what we do now....!
Left confused, bewildered, mind blown by the complex web of interactions and implications.
I generally choose books by what I can learn to apply in life somewhere, the insights. Whilst it may be about macro economics, you can definitely learn to cut through the chaff and rhetoric that is in the media each and every day and used by those who manage our governments.
"Er, just an overview of macroeconomic basics then"
If it matched up to it's billing. Yes, there are some interesting examples to support his explaining of basic concepts but how, in any way, is this "striking back"?
Perhaps got rid of the idiotic "listener" who accompanies you on this audio trip to forget, he pipes up with gut churningly unfunny responses to the laboured content.
Performance was fine, content was the problem.
Did you lose much money during the crisis Tim? This seems like one you've rolled out with little effort to milk the 'Undercover Economist' name and pay the bills.
"thought provoking with clear explanations "
A thought provoking read with a number of good clear explanations, real world examples, nice quotes and stories.
could do with a short summary of key concepts top go with it so the listener can refer back to it later
"Interesting and Informative"
Interesting and Informative and well written. Not however, related to The Undercover Economist, which is what I was expecting. Nevertheless, worth reading.
"Ghastly delivery detracts from the content"
Okay, so macroeconomics is not the sexiest subject for a book. I guess pitching it to attract non-economists but have enough content to make a useful review for those with some knowledge isn't easy either. And Tim Harford is absolutely the guy I would expect to do a decent job - his delivery on Radio4 "More Or Less?"is excellent.
Unfortunately the chosen style of this book and, in particular, the ghastly narration (not by Tim) made it sound as if it were designed for a cretinous child rather than an interested adult. Sheesh - one to avoid!
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