Why pilot schemes help ideas take flight

There’s huge value in experiments that help us decide whether to go big or go home

The kettle conundrum

The problem of saving the environment, then, is also the fundamental social problem: how do we come together and co-operate?

Pick a fund, any fund…

Most active managers do not manage to outperform passive funds – particularly not when their fees are deducted

Illustration by Harry Haysom of list of regulations over a pot of stew
©Harry Haysom

When regulators are all out to déjeuner

Just because a problem exists does not mean that a new regulation will solve it

Illustration by Harry Haysom of workers on a top of a pile of boxes
©Harry Haysom

Crushing the competition – at any price

It was Selten’s chain store paradox that first attracted me to economics, with a heady mixture of logic, psychology and military strategy

Illustration by Harry Haysom of two mean doing the icebucket challenge and donating money to an old woman
©Harry Haysom

Ice bucket challenge: the cold facts

In a world of limited generosity, who is to say which cause should be at the head of the queue?

Illustration for Tim Harford's 'Here today, gone tomorrow'
©Angus Greig

Here today, gone tomorrow

Don’t draw up your task list in the morning – do it the evening before, when you will have a more distant perspective

When crime stops paying

To an economist, tougher sentencing in the wake of the 2011 riots offers a fascinating natural experiment

A very early version of Google’s self-driving prototype vehicle
©Google

Pity the androids snarled in a moral maze

Robotic cars do not get tired, drunk or angry but there are bound to be hiccups, says Tim Harford

©Harry Haysom

What tech jerks can teach us

Added to the familiar gallery of corporate monsters are those making money from parasitic smartphone apps

Why tax is trickier than Martian algebra

Only radical restructuring has a chance of creating fair taxation, writes Tim Harford

Crime prevention: where’s the evidence?

It may seem mind-bendingly obvious but we need to test and evaluate ideas

Underperforming on performance

State education in Britain consists not of families choosing the best schools but of good schools choosing the best families

All aboard the volatility express

Should we treat low volatility as a portent of disaster, or as a sign that the world economy is finally on the right track?

Let’s play economics-by-metaphor

The patient was seriously ill. Dr Balls advised antibiotics but Dr Osborne argued it was a virus

A good economic bet

Pundits who make wagers may look grubby but at least they are accepting a cost for failure

There’s more to life than money

Too often the debate over public policy becomes a toy argument, dressed up as the grown-up version

The four lessons of happynomics

‘Happiness is surely important, but the case for letting economists loose on the subject is less clear’

An astonishing record – of complete failure

‘In 2008, the consensus from forecasters was that not a single economy would fall into recession in 2009’

The man who put a price on everything

The Nobel Prize winner believed that no matter what the subject, economics always had something insightful to add

ABOUT TIM

Tim HarfordTim Harford is economics leader writer for the Financial Times and writes the “Undercover Economist” columns on Saturdays. He first joined the FT as Peter Martin Fellow in 2003 and after a spell at the World Bank in Washington DC he rejoined the FT’s leader writing team in 2006.

Tim’s book, The Undercover Economist, is a Business Week bestseller and a Sunday Times bestseller, and was number one on Amazon.co.uk. It has been translated into sixteen languages. He is now working on a sequel.

Tim is also the presenter of the BBC2 series, Trust Me, I’m an Economist.

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