Dear Economist

The problem page where personal dilemmas are “solved” with the latest economic theory, “Dear Economist” ran in the FT from 2003 to 2011

How long to wait for the perfect espresso?

Dear Economist, I just popped out of my office to grab a coffee from the best local place, a minute’s walk away. When I got there I found a sign saying “Back in ten mins”. It’s quite cold, and since I hadn’t expected to be out for more than a few minutes, I’m not...

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Should I save on a shave?

Dear Economist, I was thrilled, like many men, with the arrival of three-blade shaving razors. But, of late, I feel that the cost of shaving with the three-blade is high compared with the value derived from it. Do you think it would be better to shift to a twin-blade...

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The economics of urinal cakes

Dear Economist, Whenever I go to the gentlemen’s toilet in a pub, I’m unsure how to behave. The question is: Should I urinate on the urinal cakes or not? At first, I think that if I urinate on them I’ll help to finish them earlier, thus making the publican purchase...

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Dear Economist: an announcement

All good things must come to an end, and this is the last "Dear Economist" to be published in FT Magazine, after a more-than-decent run of over seven years. That's the bad news. However, there's also good news. First, I'll now be writing "Outside Edge" roughly once a...

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How can I guarantee a good reference?

Dear Economist, My old university tutor often complains when he has to write references – they take up a lot of his time, and he doesn’t get paid for them. Since he’s doing my prospective employer a service, he thinks they should pay him. However, that means he’s...

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Do loyalty schemes damage the economy?

Dear Economist, Frequent-flyer programmes are very popular here in Australia, where people often travel long distances for work and can subsequently be rewarded with large perks by selecting their preferred airline ahead of cheaper offers from other carriers – and to...

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