Famous Quotes & Sayings

Tim Harford Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 50 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Tim Harford.

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We still don't have a good word to describe what is missing in Cameroon, indeed in poor countries across the world. But we are starting to understand what it is. Some people call it 'social capital, or maybe 'trust'. Others call it 'the rule of law', or 'institutions'. But these are just labels. The problem is that Cameroon, like other poor countries, is a topsy-turvy world in which it's in most people's interest to take action that directly or indirectly damages everyone else. — Tim Harford

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Failure is inevitable; it happens all the time in a complex economy. — Tim Harford

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I never understand why 'economist makes forecast' is ever a headline. Whether the economist in question is from the International Monetary Fund, a City forecasting group or the Treasury - a forecast is still not news. — Tim Harford

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and tightly coupled than the banking system; Charles — Tim Harford

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We should not try to design a better world. We should make better feedback loops. — Tim Harford

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Esther Duflo, a leading randomista. 'Sometimes — Tim Harford

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wanted to build a toaster from scratch. He started by taking apart a — Tim Harford

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Economists have allowed themselves to walk into a trap where we say we can forecast, but no serious economist thinks we can. — Tim Harford

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gamble in a wartime prison camp should serve as an example to the staff of the World Bank today. We'll discover what the disasters at Three Mile Island and Deepwater Horizon have to tell us about preventing another Lehman Brothers crisis. We'll learn from a watchmaker, — Tim Harford

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I think the association of economics with forecasting is unfortunate and is down to the fact that one great way to get an investment bank's name on business television is to hire a guy called a Chief Economist who will go and prognosticate. — Tim Harford

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The Most successful industry of the last forty years has been built on failure after failure after failure. — Tim Harford

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The more grotesque your boss's pay and the less he has do to earn it, the bigger the motivation for you to work with the aim of being promoted to what he has. — Tim Harford

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The supermarket chain Whole Foods has quite a radical employee empowerment program, where employees get to decide whether another employee can work in their team or not. If they think this person's a slacker, doesn't have good ideas, they can vote and say, no, we don't want this person to be working with us on the vegetable aisle. — Tim Harford

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We now have political chaos. We've got parties in Ireland saying they want to merge with Northern Ireland. You've got parties in Scotland saying you want to leave the U.K. You've got the Spanish government saying it would like to take ownership of Gibraltar which is a British overseas territory. So that - just the politics of this is a mess. — Tim Harford

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If it had been up to Von Neumann's purely intellectual reasoning alone, many of the bombs he helped to create would have exploded on the Soviet Union.Thankfully, there was another thinker on hand whose deeper grasp of human foibles added a new dimension to game theory that, among other things, helped save the world from mutually assured destruction. Enter Thomas Schelling. — Tim Harford

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Consider the situation: Money that was provided because of social networks rather than need; a project designed for prestige rather than to be used; a lack of monitoring and accountability; and an architect appointed for show by somebody with little interest in the quality of the work. The outcome is hardly surprising: a project that should never have been built was built, and built badly. — Tim Harford

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No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt. — Tim Harford

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People today don't become economists to make the world a better place. — Tim Harford

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Cory Doctorow should be too busy for lunch. He's co-editor of, and a prolific contributor to, one of the most influential blogs in the world, Boing Boing. Over the past decade the Canadian-born writer has published 16 books, mostly science fiction novels. He campaigns vigorously on the politics of the digital age. — Tim Harford

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It's difficult because we tend to overrate the pain of failure. We fear it too much. That's research that emerges from psychology. We think it's going to be worse than it really is. And, I think, as we get a bit older, really after we leave school or college, we quickly stop experimenting. — Tim Harford

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Bill Phillips was this nervous, chain-smoking student. He had signed up to be an engineer, he had gone away to fight in the Second World War, he had come back. He had switched to sociology because he wanted to understand how people could do these terrible things to each other. And he did a little bit of economics on the side. — Tim Harford

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Failure in Innovation - it's a price worth paying. — Tim Harford

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Success Comes Through Rapidly Fixing our Mistakes Rather than Getting Things Right the First Time — Tim Harford

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we don't ask what works, we simply gravitate to what sounds miraculous. — Tim Harford

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Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations. — Tim Harford

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I see the God complex around me all the time in my fellow economists. I see it in our business leaders. I see it in the politicians we vote for - people who, in the face of an incredibly complicated world, are nevertheless absolutely convinced that they understand the way that the world works. — Tim Harford

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Ten percent of American businesses disappear every year ... It's far higher than the failure rate of, say, Americans. Ten percent of Americans don't disappear every year. Which leads us to conclude American businesses fail faster than Americans, and therefore American businesses are evolving faster than Americans. — Tim Harford

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Norway has a relationship with the EU which is very close. It has to accept most EU rules. It has to pay EU membership fees. It has free movement of people just like other EU countries, but it's not actually in the EU. — Tim Harford

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The evolutionary algorithm
of variation and selection, repeated
searches for solutions in a world where the problems keep changing, trying all sorts of variants and doing more of what works. — Tim Harford

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enough pieces of cheese and you can be fairly sure that the — Tim Harford

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Swiss cheese model' of accidents. Imagine a series of safety — Tim Harford

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How did the economy produce all these amazing things that we have around us - computers and cell phones and so on? There were a bunch of ideas, and the good ones grew and prospered. And the bad ones were pretty ruthlessly weeded out. — Tim Harford

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Hours are long. Wages are pitiful. But sweatshops are the symptom, not the cause, of shocking global poverty. Workers go there voluntarily, which means - hard as it is to believe - that whatever their alternatives are, they are worse. They stay there, too; turnover rates of multinational-owned factories are low, because conditions and pay, while bad, are better than those in factories run by local firms. And even a local company is likely to pay better than trying to earn money without a job: running an illegal street stall, working as a prostitute, or combing reeking landfills in cities like Manila to find recyclable goods. — Tim Harford

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You show me a successful complex system, and I will show you a system that has evolved through trial and error. — Tim Harford

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Isn't the initial loss that does for him, but the stupid plays he makes in an effort to deny that the loss has happened. The great economic psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky summarised the behaviour in their classic analysis of the psychology of risk: — Tim Harford

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British politicians used to be good at misleading people without actually lying. — Tim Harford

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Pluralism matters because life is not worth living without new experiences - new people, new places, new challenges. But discipline matters too; we cannot simply treat life as a psychedelic trip through a series of novel sensations. — Tim Harford

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The dictator has to keep the economy functioning in order to keep stealing from it. — Tim Harford

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Funnily enough, the Federal Reserve produced comics about monetary policy, and there is a good comic book guide to microeconomics and macroeconomics out there. But it is not really appropriate for younger readers; it is really aimed at economics students. — Tim Harford

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Our society is intertwined with the economy that we've built, which is a fantastically complex system. I hope that my writing about it might do some good, but that's not why I do it. — Tim Harford

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If the whole process of learning from failure means discarding stuff that's not working, but in fact, our natural reaction is to keep going, to throw more money behind it, to throw more emotional energy behind it ... that's a real problem. — Tim Harford

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In certain businesses, I would say 10 failures to one success is a perfectly acceptable ratio. Because the failures die pretty quickly, they're not that expensive, and the successes can be really huge. — Tim Harford

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A lot of international companies invest in the U.K. as a base for doing business with the rest of the European Union. — Tim Harford

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I am aiming my books at anybody with no economics background. — Tim Harford

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I don't think Brian Cox does 'The Wonders of the Solar System' because he believes the world would be a better place if people understood about the rings of Saturn; I just think he finds physics extremely interesting. It brings him joy, and he wants to spread the love. I feel the same about economics. — Tim Harford

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There is much more to life than what gets measured in accounts. Even economists know that. — Tim Harford

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It was a dismal mismatch: Hitler had been single-mindedly building up his forces in the 1930s, while British defence spending was at historical lows. The Luftwaffe entered the Battle of Britain with — Tim Harford

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Accepting trial and error means accepting error. It means taking problems in our stride when a decision doesn't work out, whether through luck or misjudgment. And that is not something human brains seem to be able to do without a struggle. — Tim Harford

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According to one story, Von Neumann was asked to assist with the design of a new supercomputer, required to solve a new and important mathematical problem which was beyond the capacities of existing supercomputers. He asked to have the problem explained to him, solved it in moments with pen and paper and then turned down the request. Von — Tim Harford

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other tendency emerges because we rarely like the idea of standards that are inconsistent and uneven from place to place. It seems neater and fairer to provide a consistent standard for everything, whether it's education, the road network or the coffee at — Tim Harford