What should I ask Tim Harford?

For a Conversation with Tyler.  Your assistance is much appreciated.


Sure he would agree that Brexit is a mistake brought about by a misinformed public. Where can we make most headway fixing the problem: the media, the education system, or the rules of democracy?

What an arrogant comment. Who is “we”? Continental Europeans jealous of Anglo culture and wealth?

No, Scotts and Irish afraid of English ignorance.

Taking the Scots as one example, do you see the irony of arguing against Brexit but for independence, as it seem a large minority of the Scots do? Most of the opposition I have seen to Brexit appears to come because of the economic impact due to the UK having more barriers to trade with Europe its biggest trading partner. But Scotland has even greater trade links to the rest of the UK, than the UK has with Europe. So independence would have an even bigger impact than Brexit on Scotland. In addition there is the economic disruption of switching to a new currency, and losing the subsidy that the rest of the UK pays to Scotland. Overall the economic impact of independence could be quite devastating to Scotland. If you argue that the price is worth it, because of the greater freedom that this would give Scotland (or Scottish politicians) then why are these arguments so reviled when they are proposed for Brexit? It is a real puzzle to me that Brexitteers are reviled as little Englanders, when the SNP get a free pass on their nationalistic tone.

Apparently, Scotland is willing to make sacrifices to be able to leave the sinking ship. I think it has become clear that the English regime can not be reformed and that Scotts and the Irish will always be treated as slaves by Westminster. Scotts have a right to national home.

Do you mean that a large collection of guys called "Scott" have a right to a national home?

No, the Scottish nation.

Independence made more sense when both Disunited Kingdom and Scotland would both have been part of the EU.

There would still have been the loss of subsidy (more than $25bn a year). Plus a real chance that the EU would not allow an independent Scotland to join since they don't want to encourage separatism like Catalonia. However I am prepared to accept that the ability to make more decisions locally is worth this, since I don't think national prosperity is really dependent on these things. But these arguments also work for Brexit.

What could possibly be mistaken about giving unelected globalist elites from another country full control of Great Britain?

Tim often make the case that focusing too much on narratives can often lead to wrong conclusions, he even wrote a book about the power of randomness to bring order.
Yet Tim still trades mostly on stories (50 things that share the Modern Economy, the plethora of examples in this Undercover Economist), does that mean that the narrative is still the most important?

It has become painfully clear that Labour and its Liberal Democrat fellow travellers will be able to impose a stalinist regime to England.

Could you ask Tim about what areas of recent Economics research he finds most fascinating and should be more widely known? (Say, research developed in the last five years). If he had to start his career over as a recent graduate today, what focus would he choose?

He has often written of his opposition to Brexit, but the EU is explicitly anti-free trade. In other words is it better to subsidise big business and organised labor to protect them against world competition (the national champion argument) even if this means high consumer prices? So is he a mercantilist, or is his opposition to Brexit based on other grounds, like cultural? If cultural why is one culture "better" than any other.

And a Brexited UK will be any less anti-free trade?

The initial proposals are more of that nature, yes. There are some tariffs but much less than the EU have imposed.

Ask him:

How do we solve the Constitutional crisis of the small states.
Wyoming, Alaska and Vermont scheduled to disappear in about six years. The states will not function anymore with populations below 200k. Unless we subsidize these states, the senate stops, the Constitution has an existential crisis.

What is the solution?

I like a lot to read the FT (suscriber) but I don't recall any T. Harford column. Does he choose less controversial issues or does less self-promotion when compared to other FT staff?

It is sad to see the United Kingdom having to choose between Kim Philby and Oswald Mosley. Who will win the battle for the soul of the Kingdom, the Nazis or the Stalinists?

Why is the North-South economic divide so stark? How was the south able to pull ahead when it was the cities of the North that pioneered the industrial revolution? What would the most effective policies be to close the North-South divide be in his view?

Make it snow in Brazil.

There is an existential issue here, seasons with 40 below are unsurvivable without an industrial revolution.

Tony Blair, the EPL, English cuisine, Oxbridge, the legacy of the British Empire, Keynes

Ask him to contrast EPL and NBA.

Because the sovereigns make the rules. They stack the deck.

What's you "take" on Basel III proposals compared to the final products?

What is the most likely way that the 500 year old miracle of capitalism ends?

Tim has said that what we don’t know about climate change is more important, and more dangerous, than what we do.   What's an example of something we might come to know in the next 10 years that might get policymakers, corporations and individuals to make changes needed to drastically reduce emissions?  Are carbon taxes gonna happen?  What else?

Please ask him how Soon solar will conquer the energy market. Thanks.

Does he like malt vinegar with his fish and chips?
What about mushy peas?

How do you find 'Truth' in economics?

Tim receives a lot of questions regarding relationships, love, and on-line dating. That would be a fun (and different) subject to ask Tim about.

Tim in his columns and the More Or Less podcasts understandably, given the formats of these two outlets, focuses on easily-digested short bits about very specific economic case studies. So I don't think I've heard him talk about broader topics: where is he on macro-economic policy generally (if anywhere), where does he place himself in the economic landscape... Keynes Hayek etc.?

What is his favourite things of his podcast https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04b1g3c/episodes/downloads ?

From presenting More or Less, does he not get disheartened about the lack of truth in so much of the media and in political claims? Or is he deep down more angry about it than he appears on the podcast?

Settlers of Catan: overrated or underrated?

Your book conflicts strongly with The Logic of Life on CEO pay. Maybe push him a bit on that.

The USA is having a trade war with the PRC. What is a trade war? 10% duties on incoming products? 50% duties on incoming products? The act of changing them upwards? And does this make entities like the EU a trade fortress?

How is your reading time distributed between economics, fiction and general non-fiction? Have the proportions changed over time?
What is your favourite novel?

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