Undercover Economist

My weekly column in the Financial Times on Saturdays, explaining the economic ideas around us every day. This column was inspired by my book and began in 2005.

Can maintenance save civilisation?

Nearly two years ago, I made a costly mistake. I’d spent some time trying to fix up my bike at a local bike co-op, when one of the volunteers told me that the chain was worn, and I should come back soon to replace it. A week later, the first lockdown began and I put...

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Why do some great ideas just fail to scale?

Andy Warhol put it best. “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too,” he declared in 1975. “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke...

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How to make resolutions stick

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? If you’re persisting, good for you. Many people do not. I began musing on this problem in December when the writer David Epstein’s Range Widely newsletter asserted that “New Year’s Resolutions Actually Work Astoundingly...

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Hard truths about the gender pay gap

We all know that there’s a gap between the money men earn and the money women earn, but I hadn’t grasped quite how enormous that gap still is. Even in egalitarian Finland, men earn a third more than women. In the UK and the US, men earn two-thirds more. In the...

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How to stand up to your bullying inbox

Are you being bullied by your inbox? That was the question posed recently on the productivity podcast Change Your Game with GTD [Getting Things Done]. It hit a nerve, as on that particular day my email inbox had me in a corner, turning out my pockets for lunch...

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