Dear Undercover Economist: Priceless Advice on Money, Work, Sex, Kids, and Lifes Other Challenges

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At least, such is the traditional image of the economist, and who is Dear Economist to disappoint? He is blunt.

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He is rude. He loves jargon. When confronted with a woman who enjoys the dating game but worries that she might leave it too late to settle down, Dear Economist offers not a shoulder to cry on but a frank explanation of optimal experimentation theory. When a dinner party guest wonders how much to spend on a bottle of wine, Dear Economist ignores the Good Wine Guide and reaches for the Journal of Wine Economics.

And yet, his advice can be surprisingly sound. In the six years since the Financial Times entrusted me with the awesome responsibility of answering letters to Dear Economist, I have even—whisper it—been known to take some of his counsel myself. Modern economics is no longer dominated by unworldly mathematical supermen but by streetwise statistical detectives focused on real-life problems.

And the current debate between behavioral economists and rational choice theorists is throwing ever more light on what rational economic behavior looks like, and what happens when people behave less like Mr. Spock and more like Homer Simpson. As a result, modern economists understand much about both how we should behave and how we sometimes fall short. If anyone is going to dispense advice with the supreme confidence of the superrational know-it-all, who better than an economist?

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Speed Dating With a Money-Back Guarantee It is not for nothing that sex, dating, and relationships have traditionally formed the staple of the agony column. Wise words on these subjects are not easy to find. Not many people want to ask their parents for tips about losing their virginity. It is no less embarrassing to seek the opinions of colleagues as one contemplates an extramarital affair. But economists do not dismiss love. On the contrary, we are unorthodox experts in the romantic arts.


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Economists understand decision-making in the face of uncertainty. We understand the dangerous blandishments of cheap talk and the value of binding commitments. Above all, economists understand the concept of non-zero-sum games, interactions in which both sides can expect to benefit from the bargain. When it comes to love, you could even say that we economists are optimists. What would you advise? Then, commitment was made in the form of a marriage proposal.

But when courts in the U. But if you apply a spot of screening theory to your domestic situation, you will discover exactly where you are. Screening, the theory of which won enfant terrible Joe Stiglitz a share of the Nobel Prize in , is the art of finding out hidden information by forcing people to act rather than simply murmur sweet nothings. If your boyfriend is enjoying the perks of living with you but lacks real commitment to your relationship, then he enjoys a high option value from owning an apartment to which he can return.

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This is true even if he loves you but doubts the constancy of that love. If, on the other hand, he is convinced that you will grow old together, the option value of a spare bachelor pad is minimal. Pundits can argue about the merits of this, but clearly the potential rewards are trivial compared with the loss of his soul mate.

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The art of successful screening is to impose a demand that one type of person is unwilling to meet. Yours credibly, The Undercover Economist. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Anchor Canada. Condition: Very Good. A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition.

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Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name. Pustaka saya. Buku di Google Play. Account Options Log Masuk. Pustaka saya Bantuan Carian Buku Terperinci. Pustaka saya Buku di Google Play. Tim Harford.

Dear Undercover Economist

Throughout history, great philosophers have been answering profound questions about life. But do they know why your socks keep disappearing from the dryer, or how to choose the quickest line at the supermarket? Probably not, but Tim Harford does.


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  • ISBN 13: 9780385667432.