Tim Harford

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Full name: Tim Harford

Area of interest: Economics

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times

Email: undercovereconomist@gmail.com | FT/Tim Harford

Personal website: http://timharford.com/


Blog: 'Undercover Economist' (FT.com) | PSD Blog (co-founder, with Pablo Halkyard)

Representation: Sally Holloway | Knight Ayton | Leigh Bureau | J.L.A.

Networks: https://twitter.com/#!/timharford | Facebook


About: http://timharford.com/etc/biography

Education: Brasenose College, Oxford University: MPhil Economics, 1998

Career: International Finance Corporation (World Bank); scenario expert at Shell Oil; tutor at Oxford University; speechwriter for Stanley Fischer (Governor of Israel's Central Bank)

Current position/role: Economics leader writer and writes the “Undercover Economist” columns

  • also writes/has written for: Forbes, Slate, New York Times

Other roles/Main role: Author

Other activities:



Broadcast media:


  • Presenter of BBC2 Series 'Trust me, I'm an economist' (AUDIO/VIDEO)
  • New presenter of the Radio 4 series, More or Less ("More or Less takes you on a journey through the often abused but ever ubiquitous world of numbers.")





Books & Debate:

Tim Harford The Logic of Life.jpg
  • The market for aid OCLC 60558739, 2005 (with Michael Klein)
  • The Undercover Economist: exposing why the rich are rich, the poor are poor--and why you can never buy a decent used car! OCLC 59098699, 2006
  • The logic of life : the rational economics of an irrational world OCLC 159822206 , 2008 (see info at Tim Harford.com)
  • Dear Undercover Economist ISBN 978039121543, Abacus, June 2010

Latest work: Adapt: why success always starts with failure OCLC 712927033. Read a review here

Speaking/Appearances: Events schedule


Financial Times:

Column name: 'Undercover Economist'

Remit/Info: Revealing the economic theories at work behind our everyday experiences

Section: FT Weekend Magazine

Role: Commentator


Email: undercovereconomist@gmail.com

Website: FT.Com / Tim Harford

Commissioning Editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: 600 words

Articles: 2017

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

All articles

Articles: 2011

All articles

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

Articles: 2008

  • Can the free market give you moral backbone? - An economic system where competition is key tends to reward hard work, risk-taking, applied creativity, amiability and honesty - 27th December 2008
  • Shock news? The media didn’t get us into this mess - The news is powerful enough to tip us into recession only if consumer and business spending is tied less to income and more to the front pages of the tabloids - 13th December 2008
  • Is unemployment benefit a good thing after all? - At its worst, jobseekers’ allowance pays people to watch daytime TV; it is pernicious if unemployment becomes unemployability. Yet, at its best, it is a life-saver - 6th December 2008
  • What will we buy to help us through hard times? - When spending falls, some products do well and others do badly. The jobless save on ‘small durables’, but once employed, replace their old socks - 29th November 2008
  • Africa’s route to prosperity is not just a rocky road - Extortion, trucking cartels, and the time and expense involved in securing permits and licences explain why the continent remains in economic isolation - 22nd November 2008
  • How to win the Nobel prize by a whisker - for example Avinash Dixit, without whom Paul Krugman might have abandoned economics 30 years ago and so never formulated his new trade theory - 15th November 2008
  • The stock-market generation game and how to win it - Here are the chief investment lessons of the financial crisis for today’s young people: they should be buying more shares and running up debts to do so - 8th November 2008
  • The future? Your guess is as good as mine - Claiming that the stock market is efficient is by far the most sensible way for an investor to look at the world - 1st November 2008
  • It might be a brainwave, but what on earth does it mean? - Trials aimed at understanding ‘neuroeconomics’ are hardly unlocking the deepest secrets of thought - 25th October 2008
  • Why extortion is a hard game to master - 18th October 2008
  • Why are some prizes more Nobel than others? - A long history and sharp public relations help in adding prestige. The winner must also beat an impressive field - 11th October 2008
  • Time to drop the baggage that comes with moral hazard - Bail-outs can save the innocent as well as the culpable. It is fantasy to expect governments to refrain from them - 4th October 2008
  • When it comes to foreign workers, some ideas aren’t so crazy - It is laughable for the British government to rely on a centrally planned list of what sort of work migrants should be allowed in to do - 27th September 2008
  • Will the price of oil put a brake on globalisation? - There is some anecdotal evidence that transportation costs are having an impact on trade: for example, some container ships are reported to be slowing down to save fuel - 20th September 2008
  • Why it’s dangerous to be a witch in a recession - Tough times may result in women – typically elderly widows – being blamed for bad weather or sacrificed to free resources - 13th September 2008
  • Houses cost more in the summer. Here’s why - Buyers prefer to shop in ‘thick’ markets, when lots of houses are for sale and a good fit is more likely to come up quickly - 6th September 2008
  • Logic tells us we’re Simpsons not Spocks - Economists are exploring different brands of irrational behaviour as products intended for the impulsive and self-destructive Homer Simpsons of the world are becoming more common - 30th August 2008
  • Nudges are for markets not nations - Rather than understand behavioural economics, the UK Conservative party has adopted nudging as a label for a jumble of gimmicks - 22nd August 2008
  • Harvesting the fruits of your labourers - For many business owners, getting the most out of staff is a perennial problem. In the case of fruit farmers, perhaps perennial is the wrong word - 16th August 2008
  • Never trust an economic forecast - When people discover that I am an economist, they rarely ask me for my views on subjects that economists know a bit about - 9th August 2008
  • Bankers are laughing all the way to the bank - Going overdrawn can be an expensive business. In the UK, unauthorised overdrafts averaged £680m on any given day in 2006 – just over £10 per bank account - 2nd August 2008
  • The cost of curbs on immigration - Humans don’t take kindly to outsiders: history is heaped with the corpses of those who were lynched, bayoneted or gassed because of their race, religion or nationality - 26th July 2008
  • At last, a sensible way to measure poverty - Seebohm Rowntree was the son of the wealthy Quaker businessman Joseph Rowntree, but acutely aware of the poverty that surrounded him in late-Victorian York - 19th July 2008
  • Why the world needs more speculators - When the economy is in turmoil, no one is demonised more than the speculator - 12th July 2008
  • Why small prizes make it easier to win - We’ve known for a century that laboratory rats choke under pressure - 5th July 2008
  • Why the rural idyll doesn’t come cheap - My mother-in-law’s favourite complaint is that the government ignores the interests of rural communities in favour of cities - 28th June 2008
  • The Profits Of Political Connections - In the early hours of november 8 2000, the vice-president of the united states, al gore, was travelling to Nashville to make his concession speech. But then the messages began to arrive on Gore's pager, suggesting that perhaps he wasn't behind. Having already conceded, informally and in private, Gore called Bush again to tell him that he'd changed his mind - 21st June 2008
  • How Can I Tell If I'll Have A Decent Pension? - last week i mused about whether people in general were saving enough for retirement. (The answer: as far as we can tell, most people are.) This week I have decided to take on a far more important question: am I saving enough for retirement? - 14th June 2008
  • Maybe our pension worries are overdone - Here’s the conventional wisdom on pensions: you’re a weak-willed and short-sighted fool who isn’t saving enough, and as a result you will spend your retirement in poverty - 7th June 2008
  • Why a tax cut just isn't fair on teenagers - Alistair darling did something rather strange recently, to baffling applause from his own backbenchers, and cries of "bribery" from the opposition: he announced a tax on teenagers - 31st May 2008
  • The tax that might just save the world - The Financial Times has been calling for a credible price to be put on carbon emissions, either through a carbon tax or a serious cap-and-trade scheme. Most economists – including this one – would agree - 24th May 2008
  • Why economic forecasts are so hard to get right - Economic forecasting is a long-standing joke, but the laughter has turned harsh and bitter in the wake of the credit crisis. The conventional wisdom seems to be that economic forecasting is impossible, and that economic forecasters are charlatans - 17th May 2008
  • Happiness is a more expensive nicotine hit - Would smokers prefer that cigarettes be expensive? The Office of Fair Trading seems to think so, to judge by its recent announcement alleging that some supermarkets and tobacco companies had been fixing the price of tobacco - 10th May 2008
  • How markets keep abreast of the news - If markets are efficient, you will never make profitable trades as a result of reading the Financial Times - 26th April 2008
  • Of Income And Incomers - How do you compare the wealth of different nationalities? It isn't as easy as ABC - 19th April 2008
  • Cost of living - My family’s experience of the local hospital has been mixed. Sometimes it is impressive; at others it falls below the standard one would expect in the capital of a developed country. Our rule of thumb is that it’s much safer to get sick in Cumbria, where my wife’s parents live - 12th April 2008
  • Piracy’s hidden treasures - What should top record labels, software giants and other media companies do about digital piracy? There are two obvious options - 5th April 2008
  • Green lite - I recently discovered that I am entitled to an occasional tax-free breakfast, because I cycle to work - 28th March 2008
  • Eternal enigma - Friends of mine, husband and wife, once argued over the price of a branded packet of lemon slices bought at some convenient corner shop or petrol station - 22nd March 2008
  • Moments of truth - The three most familiar economic statistics are all measures of change: inflation, the growth of gross domestic product, and the daily rise or fall in the price of shares. Even so, they do not begin to capture the mad churn of the economy - 14th March 2008
  • Meltdown economics - So much hot air has been spouted over climate change it is a wonder the ice caps haven’t melted already - 8th March 2008
  • Tim Harford: Wealth generations - My father and my mother met at a venerable English university. I went to the same place, as did two of my sisters. Now that my stepbrother has followed in our footsteps, I am starting to think that there may be more than coincidence behind the whole business - 1st March 2008
  • It’s the way they sell ’em - Here’s what I like about insurance: you pay the insurers money when you do not desperately need it, and then the insurers pay you money just when you need it most - 23rd February 2008
  • Virtual virtues - Nurses leave Nigeria and come to the UK, hoping for a better career. Farmers leave Mexico to work in construction or catering in the US. Such migrants can have a profound impact on the economy, as well as the society and politics both of the country they leave and the country to which they move. Social scientists, naturally, take an interest - 16th February 2008
  • Start making sense - Family Harford has just put in an offer for the house next door, to hoots of scorn from my colleagues, who know me as a bear among bears. It is true that the London housing market seems (who knows?) to be in the final stages of its biggest-ever bubble. But there are special circumstances involved here, one of which is that no rational economic actor disobeys an order from his wife - 9th February 2008
  • A corporate own goal - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama notwithstanding, the world still seems to be ruled by white men. Is this the result of racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace? Or are other factors more important - for instance, that few black kids go to good schools, or that women usually interrupt their careers to have children? - 2nd February 2008
  • First things first - Running for president is a little like releasing a new DVD format - taking an early lead can really pay off - 26th January 2008
  • Cash for answers - In 1737, John Harrison, a self-taught clockmaker from Yorkshire, stunned London’s scientific establishment by presenting an idiosyncratic solution to the most important and notorious technological problem of the 18th century - 25th January 2008
  • Table talk - Feng shui is all very well, but the next time you decide to redesign the layout of your office space you might consider calling an economist - 19th January 2008
  • Tape measure of success - Roughly five years after internet users caught on, the bookshops are suddenly full of books about the user-generated content that “Web 2.0” makes possible: the blogs, Wikipedia, Facebook and the rest. Well, you can forget them, because easily the world’s most profitable enabler of user-generated content opened the doors of its first superstore 50 years ago, in Almhult, Sweden - 12th January 2008
  • A measured approach - The aid industry faces a dilemma. On the one hand, countries are more likely to grow rich if their citizens are provided with some important basics, such as a legal system that works, or protection from corrupt officials. Such basics might seem the priority for aid money. On the other hand, it is much easier to measure success in simpler projects, such as building roads and laying pipes - 5th January 2008

Financial Times: 'Dear Economist'

Column name:

Remit/Info: Solving readers' problems using economics

Section: Web / FT.Com

Role: Commentator


Email: economist@ft.com

Website: FT.Com / Tim Harford

Commissioning Editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format: Letter / response

Average length: 300 words


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