February 3, 2006
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects -- The Undercover Economist
The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why The Rich Get Rich, The Poor Are Poor--And Why You Can Never Buy A Decent Used Car! By Tim Harford, Oxford University Press, $26.00 hardcover, 276 pages, November 2005, ISBN 0195189779 If you read my reviews on a regular basis, you know that are pretty straight forward. Typically, I explain the book, how it relates to me, and suggest that you read it. That is what Tim Harford has done with "The Undercover Economist"; the book calls to be read. Now, economics books are usually not my cup of tea. Yet, the subtitle "Exposing Why The Rich Are Rich, The Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy A Decent Used Car!" along with the 1940's Dick Tracy-style cover art persuaded me to take a peek. Harford starts with a simple cup of coffee. According to Harford, your morning cappuccino has a nice markup (around 150%) and Starbucks isn't making quite as much as you'd imagine. The author follows his economic nose and finds that for coffee shops, a good location is vital. Ask any real estate owner and they'll tell you the same; hence, why the real estate folks are making the most money from your daily cup of joe. Now, before you get out of the first chapter you will find yourself reading about:
- Economic theory originally published in 1817
- The Green Belt around London
- The Mafia's overpriced laundry services a la "The Sopranos"
- The immigration of skilled workers into the United States.