The Economist Who Realized How Crazy We Are

There's now a fairly long list of intellectuals responsible for the spread of this subversive idea. Somewhere near the top of it is the economist Richard Thaler, who has just published an odd and interesting professional memoir, "Misbehaving." It's odd because it's funnier and more personal than books by professors tend to be. It's interesting because it tells the story not just of Thaler's career but also of the field of behavioral economics -- the study of actual human beings rather than the rational optimizers of classical economic theory.

Why the NFL Should Draft Value

Bargains: The first pick in the draft gets around $5 million a year, while the first pick in the second round falls to $3 million. Illustration: William Waitzman for Barron’s http://www.barrons.com/articles/why-the-nfl-should-draft-value-1432349366

How a Bowl of Cashews Changed the Way You Save for Retirement

How can I make smarter money choices? It helps to have what I call nudges. The lesson of my field, behavioral economics, is that we need to understand the ways in which we differ from the rational human assumed in standard economic theory. I call this idealized person the “Econ.”

More Kirk than Spock

Human beings are not always logical. We treat windfall gains differently from our monthly salary. We value things that we already own more highly than equivalent things we could easily buy. Our responses to questions depends very much on how the issue is framed: we think surcharges on credit-card payments are unfair, but believe a discount for paying with cash is reasonable.

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