Tim Harford The Undercover Economist



Pop-Up Economics, Pulp-O-Mized


The Pulp-O-Mizer. More about Pop-Up Economics.


7th of February, 2013MarginaliaRadioComments off

Thomas Schelling, Henry Kissinger, and Dr Strangelove

The full video of the latest episode of Pop Up Economics (free podcast here). Enjoy and please spread the world. (You can also watch here.)

3rd of February, 2013HighlightsRadioVideoComments off

Thomas Schelling, game theory, and nuclear deterrence

Here’s a four-minute video, an extract from a forthcoming episode of Pop-up Economics – do please sign up for the free podcast! Next episode on BBC Radio 4 tonight, 8.45pm GMT. [EDIT: Full 14 minute video is now available.]



The Indiana Jones of Economics

This is an edited version (five minutes rather than thirteen) of my talk on the amazing life of Bill Phillips. [EDIT: The full-length version is now available.]

It’s part of the pop-up economics series – listen out at 8.45pm GMT, Radio 4, for the story of of two Nobel laureates – a doctor and an economist – who revolutionised transplant surgery. Podcast and other details here.

23rd of January, 2013RadioVideoComments off

How to support innovations that matter

That was the topic of the first episode of “Pop Up Economics“, and here’s the video!


Pop-Up Economics – new radio series

I’m delighted  to announce the arrival of “Pop Up Economics”, my new radio series for the BBC. I’m proud of it and I think my producers have made it sound exciting and very different.

The show is all about storytelling – and the stories are of remarkable lives or surprising ideas in economics. We’ll learn about the impromptu engineering genius Bill Phillips, the cold war guru Thomas Schelling, and life-saving market designer Al Roth. We’ll discover how the geeks took over poker, and what happened to them.

And the series begins with the innovation lessons from the London Olympics – or as we’ve called it, “Hot Pants vs. the Knockout Mouse”.

Here’s the free podcast page (or search on iTunes) and here is the series homepage. Please spread the word. First broadcast is tonight, 8.45pm GMT, BBC Radio 4.


Come and see live economics storytelling at St Pancras Station…

This is the second recording session for my brand new series, “Pop Up Economics”. Come along – it’s free and it will be lots of fun.

12.45pm, St Pancras Station, 14 January.


Details, and for free tickets, here.

EDIT: Sorry – oversubscribed five times over within a day. Gosh. Thanks to all who applied and I hope we get a chance to do some more. Listen out on Radio 4, 8.45pm, Wednesday from 16 January!

2nd of January, 2013MarginaliaRadioSpeechesComments off

Come and see me record a brand new radio show about economics!

I’m delighted to announce that the BBC will be broadcasting a brand new show called “Pop Up Economics” – just me telling short stories about important people and ideas in economics. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll optimise. Come along!

The first recording is in central London, near Piccadilly Circus.

Date: Tuesday 4th December.

Time: Drinks at 18.30. Recording starts 19.15 sharp.


Please email xxx to get your e-ticket and the venue details. First come, first served!



EDIT: All gone – sorry. There’ll be another event in January. Watch this space. – TH

29th of November, 2012MarginaliaRadioSpeechesComments off

A failure tour of New York

NPR’s Planet Money took me on a tour recently. Listen here.

On today’s Planet Money, we hit the streets of Manhattan with economist Tim Harford. In his new book, Adapt, Harford argues that success always starts with failure.

Harford takes us on a failure tour of New York. Highlights include a Gutenberg Bible (turns out the Bible business wasn’t so good to Gutenberg) and the Woolworth Building (Woolworth’s had some great innovations in its day, but eventually got beat by big-box stores).

Failure, Harford argues, is essential to economic growth. Old companies fail and are replaced by newer companies with fresh ideas.

Perhaps inevitably, we wind up on Wall Street.

“Of course we have this classic phrase now, ‘too big to fail,'” Harford says. “That really tells you what was wrong with Wall Street: We created institutions that couldn’t fail safely.”

Subscribe to the podcast.


5th of June, 2011RadioComments off

More or Less

Tomorrow’s “More or Less” presents the results of our alternative to the census, asks “What is GDP?” – and should it be replaced? – and meets the man Michael Gove says is the most important figure in British education. Tune in on Friday at 1.30pm BST on Radio 4 – or Sunday 8pm – or subscribe to our podcast.

21st of April, 2011RadioComments off
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