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Book Review: The Airport Economist

Looking for a fun summer read? Look no further. This is one of the best books from which to grasp a slightly better understanding of cultural dynamics around the world but also learn a little about how international economics actually works, in practice. And the bonus: the book will get a laugh out of you as you read!

BY Braingain Staff Writer |   09-07-2013
The Airport Economist Tim Harcourt

The Airport Economist
by Tim Harcourt

Did you know that Australia is helping Singapore ‘be creative’ to address its imbalance of ballet dancers to engineers and that there is a Transylvanian Cricket Club full of Aussies in Romania?

The blurb on the back of the book was asking me so many questions, very loudly. I didn’t know. I didn’t know why I needed to know. But it turns out, I did.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not often you can say that reading about economics is actually fun. Not often at all. But here we have an anomaly. Here we have a book about international trade patterns. It’s a book about an author in chase of Australian international business success (and export-import patterns around the world). And more importantly, it’s a book that makes you feel like you’ve just hopped on a plane and done a 180-days around the world in a whirlwind tour, taking in a myriad of sights and sounds through an economist’s eyes. Fascinating.

The author, Tim Harcourt, is in fact the Chief Economist at the Australian Trade Commission, among several other roles he holds. During his time there, he wrote The Airport Economist in a bid to explain the pros of globalization to Australians – it turns out, he’s managed to explain a whole lot about cultural nuances and supply and demand to the rest of us as well.

From Sydney to Singapore, Seoul to St. Petersburg, Seattle to Santiago – the book narrates discussions with various business leaders, government officials, academics, entrepreneurs, and celebrities to discuss how economic trade is of benefit to a nation – and the chain-effect it can have on other countries.  Although it is written almost like a diary of the author’s travels, and is of course entirely pro-Australia in its narrative (this is of course the reason behind the writing of the book) – but it is just as good for the rest of us to understand why and how such globalization affects all of us.

I won’t say much more than it is a must-read for anyone planning to leave the shores of South Asia – as it gives a lot of interesting perspective on the diversity of the lives in other countries (yes, even through their shopping and eating habits) – but I will say that even Sachin Tendulkar makes an appearance. Reason enough to read The Airport Economist? I think so!



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