Phishing for Phools

  • by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
  • 7 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ever since Adam Smith, the central teaching of economics has been that free markets provide us with material well-being, as if by an invisible hand. In Phishing for Phools, Nobel Prize-winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller deliver a fundamental challenge to this insight, arguing that markets harm as well as help us.
As long as there is profit to be made, sellers will systematically exploit our psychological weaknesses and our ignorance through manipulation and deception. Rather than being essentially benign and always creating the greater good, markets are inherently filled with tricks and traps and will "phish" us as "phools".
Phishing for Phools therefore strikes a radically new direction in economics based on the intuitive idea that markets both give and take away. Akerlof and Shiller bring this idea to life through dozens of stories that show how phishing affects everyone in almost every walk of life. We spend our money up to the limit and then worry about how to pay the next month's bills. The financial system soars then crashes. We are attracted, more than we know, by advertising. Our political system is distorted by money. We pay too much for gym memberships, cars, houses, and credit cards. Drug companies ingeniously market pharmaceuticals that do us little good and sometimes are downright dangerous.
Phishing for Phools explores the central role of manipulation and deception in fascinating detail in each of these areas and many more. It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation. At the same time, the book tells stories of individuals who have stood against economic trickery - and how it can be reduced through greater knowledge, reform, and regulation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

1 good insight, a long and dull list of examples.

The authors explain with a very long list of examples how free market is bound to exploit our weakness.
The book is not well structured in my opinion and the dull narration makes it hard to keep interest.
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- VALANTIN

A revolution in behavioural economics

An interesting study of behavioural economics with an interesting take against the now widely discredited notion that markets tend toward equilibrium.
Rather than positing that all trade is good for me, good for you, the book examines the ubiquitous, though not too often discussed, phenomena, that many transactions are good for me, bad for you.
Akerlof and Shiller use the analogy of "the monkey on one's shoulder" and examine a variety of scenarios in modern life, through the often difficult to cancel gym memberships, to the discrepancies between popular perceptions on smoking (almost universally regarded as unhealthy, and by many as dumb) but the equally harmful practice of alcohol consumption, which is not nearly as frowned upon as smoking.
Another interesting aspect of behavioural economics is the targeting of black customers by user car salesmen as they are aware that blacks are less likely to already be in possession of a vehicle, thereby having less mobility to shop around.
While this may be similar in scope and idea to Freakonomics, there are subtle differences., and not just the authors of this book being Nobel Laureates.
A key strength of Phishing for Phools is the examination of the causes of the crash of 2008, and how they liken the selling of faulty loans and toxic mortgage backed securities as the psychological manipulation of grocery sellers convincing customers to buy bad avocados.
Overall, Phishing for Phools is an important book in a behavioural science and economic revolution. We need very much to change our thinking to become responsible adults who live within our means and not lead reckless lives of economic speculation.
The only flaw is that one can get occasionally lost.
Phishing for Phools is an eye opener, and an important work in behavioural economics.
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- Adrian J. Smith

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-02-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios