Tim Harford

Tim Harford

Financial Times’ Undercover Economist

Synopsis

The presenter of BBC’s More or Less, FT columnist, Oxford Fellow and million-selling business author is a compelling storyteller on economics, management and psychology. 2014 brings more Pop Up Ideas for Radio 4 and films for Newsnight, as well as the new book, The Undercover Economist Strike Back, looking at the big economic headlines now that we’re all interested in economics. Besides his long list of speaking themes (see separate panel), Tim homes in on a fundamental challenge: “We’re in danger of becoming obsessed with the forest but missing the trees; what counts is individual customers and staff.”

Biography

Tim Harford is a world renowned behavioural economist and award-winning Financial Times columnist. Frequently described as ‘Britain’s Malcolm Gladwell,’ his first two books, The Logic of Life and The Undercover Economist, have been translated into 30 languages and sold well over a million copies. He is also presenter of Radio 4’s More or Less, and Pop Up Economics.

Revealing the everyday realities of economics, Tim considers how the world, people and organisations work and the truth behind risk, decision making and commerce. Whilst he’s a ‘serious’ economist with a career spanning Oxford, Shell and the World Bank, Tim’s FT columns dwell on the economics of daily life and offer tongue-in-cheek solutions to readers’ problems.

Tim’s first book, The Undercover Economist was likened to Freakonomics in its examination and explanation of the workings of everything from coffee shops to organised crime to development aid. In The Logic of Life, he applied economic theory to the world adding to the store of theories from the likes of Richard Thaler and Daniel Kahneman on how rational (or otherwise) our decisions are.

In Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, Tim showed how the challenges we face can't be solved with simple ready-made solutions; we must learn to improvise rather than plan. Drawing on psychology, evolutionary biology, physics, maths and economics, he shows how adaptive, trial-and-error processes can help tackle everything from innovation to financial crises. Gillian Tett described it as "required reading for anyone trying to navigate an increasingly complex world." Whilst in The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, Tim looks at the truth behind the headlines now that economics has become front-page news. He explains how a national economy really works, why all countries are in debt, how a job is created, and whether the bonus culture works.

Drawing on the frontiers of economic research, Tim’s speeches cover everything from theories on how to save the world from disaster to how we can match odd socks, lose weight and find happiness. He might also reveal the hidden logic of the world around us: when a teenager commits a burglary or a smoker lights a cigarette we seem to be a million miles from common sense - or are we? Weaving evidence from sources like casinos and speed-dating, Tim shows that human behaviour is actually surprisingly logical in the same highly accessible style as in his BBC2 series Trust Me, I’m an Economist.

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Agent Recommendation

The Undercover Economist was the first book I read when I joined JLA – since then I’ve never failed to be impressed by Tim. He makes you look at everything differently. Hearing his new speech on Big Data was a revelation: you realise the challenge is not to get the biggest data set, but the right data! He has a knack for making the seemingly impenetrable blissfully clear. JLA Agent Nicola Twiston Davies

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