Saturday, 2 August 2008

Are economists taken seriously?

In many areas of government, economists are called on to size up the issues involved in almost every policy. But should they be taken seriously? In this short audio from the BBC Today programme, Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, and Phil Collins, of the London School of Economics, discuss how much influence economists should have.


matt b said...

Is it just me or is The Undercover Economist just about the worst popular economics book ever?

I bought it shortly after reading and very much enjoying Freakonomics and tried to read Harford's book on a flight up to Calgary. I got half way and gave up (on the book, not the flight).

This is 2.5 years ago but my recollection is that Harford had dumbed down his analysis by so much that parts of it were becoming untrue, and in any event it was a dead boring read.

Anyway by the time the ground outside had turned white I was onto something else and never went back. I've seen his book mentioned often enough but always in positive if not glowing terms. Perhaps I missed something. Thoughts?

Paul Walker said...

Personally I'm not a great fan of either The Undercover Economist or Freakonomics. I still think the best general reader type book is the Armchair Economist.

matt b said...

I love the chapter on environmentalists in Armchair Economist. Landsburg put it near the back, probably because it wasn't about economics IIRC, but I thought it was spot on and ahead of its time.