How to become a freakonomist

November 10, 2009

What do you do when you are trained as an economist, but find economics too complex?

Become a freakonomist, of course.

Steven D. Levitt, co-author of  the freshly published  SuperFreakonomics, decided to “take the tools of economics and apply them to the kind of questions that no self-respecting economist would ever want to be related to — like: does the name that you give your children affect their life outcomes; what are the underlying economics of prostitution; or, is your estate agent ripping you off?”

Levitt, who teaches economics at the University of Chicago, co-wrote SuperFreakonomics and an earlier book titled Freakonomics with New York journalist Stephen J. Dubner.

Before a talk at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London, Levitt explained to Reuters how he became a freakonomist.

Related vlog: A freakonomic view of climate change


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I subscribe to a theory known as Chumponomics.

The global market consists of chumps. Essentially, the secret of wealth is to indentify a group of chumps and enter the chump market. You purchase something from a chump for as little as he will accept. Then you need to find another chump, and sell that good for as much as the chump will pay. The result is profit.

Eventually you will soon have more money. This will allow you to purchase and sell more things to chumps. Eventually your chump profits will be large enough to identify new groups of chumps and open new markets.

Your ultimate goal is to have so much money, you can then pay some chumps to do all the work for you. Then you spend your days relaxing in a holiday resort, getting some chumps to massage your feet and mix your drinks.

Posted by Helavaname | Report as abusive

Helavaname – Ha, that was funny, yet very true. Nice one.

Posted by Cheesey1 | Report as abusive

To helavaname :

Beautiful analysis. THEN, you take those huge profits and throw them into the black hole called DERIVATIVES, where they’ll never be seen again.

Posted by Robin Hood | Report as abusive

After which you can go to government and have them take more money from the chumps they represent so you can keep drinking those mixed drinks again. :-)


Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

That’s nonsense and a cop out, we must just stick to the most basic principles and KISS. This should be topped up with common sense surrounding present conditions, moving forward, rather than over analyzing the past. The big problem that we face is that we exclude +- 14 G20 members when we do analysis, no wonder we freak and chump out. There is more to World Economics than the US, China, UK, Russia, Japan and the Euro Zones.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

[…] of their lecture at the London School of Economics is now online. So are their interviews with Reuters TV, Channel 4, and Telegraph TV, as is the BBC’s piece on how SuperFreakonomics fits into the […]

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[…] authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner argue in their new book SuperFreakonomics that humanity can take an […]

Posted by A freakonomic view of climate change  | Report as abusive

Problem with the so called economist traders. There is no substance to what they think they own, and everything is at risk all the time. It is called a house of cards and will fall down if a small breeze or shake comes along. This is not wealth. True wealth is when people own things and for businesses that produce a product for the common good of all. Just trading is what it is; “Just Trading” with no particular value. I have seen companies exchange their livelihoods for paper, and then they die. We have just seen what traders can do if left to Just Trade.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

I guess the best application of freakonomic is prior to birth of a baby. If the baby-to-be understands freakonomic, it will choose the country, the parents to ensure a headstart in life.

Posted by scheng1 | Report as abusive

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