Life's Little Questions
Why are there Braille dots on the keys of drive-through ATMs? and why don't the Japanese have many swear words? We found the man who can answer those questions -and others like them - economically.
Illustration by Carey SookocheffFORGET THE PIE CHARTS.
When Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, wants beginning economics students to help themselves to a heap of understanding of the subject's principles, he sends them off to conjure up a question that, eventually, they'll have to answer using economic principles. Though there are, to a certain degree, limits, Frank makes it clear that many of life's most confusing questions - like the ones asking why retailers start the holiday season when summer's winding down and why there is disparity in pricing between black and white MacBooks - can be solved with economics.
Thankfully, Frank doesn't just leave the questions in his desk drawer after dispensing grades; he delivers them in some truly entertaining books. Yes, Virginia, economics can be entertaining.
With Frank's latest book, The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas,
on your side (or on your bedside table), you won't need an Idiot's
or a Dummies
guide to get a grip on economic principles. And (shocker!) you'll even have fun along the way. Walking you through a world of odd questions, Frank provides all the economics you'll ever need to get through daily life. Plus, aside from a fun illustration on the front cover, there's nary a pie chart in sight. We asked Frank to answer some of the questions we've had on our minds - along with some of his favorites from over the years.