The Undercover Economist

Who really makes money from fair trade coffee? Why is it impossible to buy a decent second hand car? How do the Mafia make money from laundries when street gangs pushing drugs don’t? Who really benefits from immigration? 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 booming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the sleepy canals of Bruges.
The Undercover Economist has been translated into 30 languages and sold nearly one million copies worldwide.
A new edition with a brand new chapter on the financial crisis was published in the UK in 2011 and in an ebook edition in the US in 2012.

STOP PRESS: You can download the new chapter free. Enjoy!


This is a book to savor

The New York Times

Distinguishes itself from the pack…lively and insightful

Wall Street Journal

Succeeds in taking the chalkdust out of the subject

The Economist

Dulcet Stuff

Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada)

Harford is smart. Scary smart. So smart he can illuminate, in clear, entertaining English, ideas and forces of mind-boggling complexity


Beautifully written

Chicago Sun-Times

Pacy, wide-ranging and readable

Management Today

As lively and witty an introduction to the supposedly ‘dismal science’ as you are likely to read

The Times

Economists do indeed think differently from the rest of us. This book gives an excellent introduction as to quite why they do

The Daily Telegraph

A blessedly simple introduction to this dazzlingly complex world

The Herald-Sun (Australia)

Great wit and clarity

The Press (New Zealand)

A totally delightful book that educates as well as entertains

Financial Express (India)

The Undercover Economist is a rare specimen: a book on economics that will enthrall its readers. Beautifully written and argued, it brings the power of economics to life. This book should be required reading for every elected official, business leader, and university student.

Steven D. Levitt – Professor of Economics, University of Chicago – author of Freakonomics

Harford writes like a dream – and is also one of the leading economic thinkers of his generation. From his book I found out why there’s a Starbucks on every corner, what Bob Geldof needs to learn to make development aid work properly, and how not to get duped in an auction. Reading The Undercover Economist is like spending an ordinary day wearing X-ray goggles.

David Bodanis – author of E=mc2 and Electric Universe

Most people think economics is boring, difficult and irrelevant. In fact, economics is fascinating, comprehensible and highly relevant. As Tim Harford demonstrates brilliantly in this enjoyable book, the powerful underlying ideas of economics can, in the hands of the right person, illuminate every aspect of the world we inhabit.

Martin Wolf – Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times – author of Why Globalization Works