Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy by Tim Harford

Published September 6, 2020

Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy by Tim Harford

Book info

  • Title Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy
  • Author Tim Harford
  • Year 2017
  • Genres Economics, History

From the tally-stick to Bitcoin, the canal lock to the jumbo jet, each invention in Tim Harford's fascinating new book has its own curious, surprising and memorable story, a vignette against a grand backdrop. Step by step, readers will start to understand where we are, how we got here, and where we might be going next. Hidden connections will be laid bare: how the barcode undermined family corner shops; why the gramophone widened inequality; how barbed wire shaped America. We'll meet the characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, or were ruined by them. We'll trace the economic principles that help to explain their transformative effects. And we'll ask what lessons we can learn to make wise use of future inventions, in a world where the pace of innovation will only accelerate.


This is such a good idea for a book - not just a list of important inventions, although there are a few of those in here obviously, but more a list of things that changed the way we think, the way businesses transact, the way the world works.

Some of these felt very familiar, I guess I must have listened to the podcast, and I felt they got a little bit broader and perhaps even a little repetitive towards the end. But hey, fifty things is a lot and I’d still rather it was fifty than forty-eight or something.

Great job, well researched and really well described so that you don’t have to be an economist to understand how much impact these things have made on us.

Rating: 5 / 5

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