Economics 101; for the Savvy Consumer

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 13, 2005 | Go to article overview

Economics 101; for the Savvy Consumer


Byline: William H. Peterson, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Oscar Wilde once defined a cynic as "someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." In "The Undercover Economist," Tim Harford notes that the line is now commonly applied to economists. An ex-economics tutor at Oxford University, Mr. Harford should know. He writes the "Dear Economist" column for the Financial Times Magazine and also works for the World Bank in Washington as a lead writer on economics.

Mr. Harford's fetching book is part a field guide to economics in action and part an expose of Economics 101 principles lurking beneath the action. As he says in the introduction, he is out to convert his reader into a more savvy consumer, no matter how hard advertising puffs, and into a more savvy voter able to dig out the truth behind the tall stories that politicians may tell.

The savvy consumer sees, for example, the wisdom of comparison shopping. He spots the role of price elasticity in supply and demand in the way that, say, Disney World discounts admission tickets by more than half to Orlando locals than that charged to mostly out-of-state tourists. The Disney people know locals are more likely to come regularly at a reduced price while the tourists are relatively price-insensitive and will likely still come at least once, even if the price is a bit steep.

And since economics early on was known as "political economy," Mr. Harford's insight into politics is also keen. He tells the story of a Soviet official visiting Britain not so long ago who was trying to comprehend the capitalistic system of the West, asking "Tell me: Who is in charge of the supply of bread for the population of London?" The question strikes the author as comical, and the answer - "nobody" - strikes him as dizzying. It must have been especially so to that Soviet official.

Mr. Harford ponders why countries are rich or poor. And if poor why sweatshops as stepping-stones may be preferable to nothing at all, or to their governments banning them, or for Westerners to fight poverty in developing countries by boycotting their athletic shoes or clothes. A few decades ago South Korea was in a fix of sweatshops throughout the land. But today South Korea is a world technology leader and has just built a billion-dollar Hyundai auto assembly plant in Alabama. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economics 101; for the Savvy Consumer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.