Phishing for Phools

Full Name
Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception

Phishing for Phools hits an extremely new direction in economics, premised on the ingrained idea that markets both give and take away. Nobel Prize winners, George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, bring this notion to life through stacks of stories that prove how phishing impacts everyone, in almost every walk of life. From spending money up to the limit, and then worrying how to pay the next month's bills. The financial system soars, then crashes. Since Adam Smith, the main teaching of economics has been that free markets provide us with material prosperity, as if by an invisible hand. In this book, Akerlof and Shiller deliver a fundamental challenge to this perception, arguing that markets harm as well as help us.

"One of The Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2016, chosen by Paul Collier"

"Selected for Bloomberg View’s “The Writing that Shaped Economic Thinking in 2016”

"Winner of the 2016 Gold Medal in Economics, Axiom Business Book Awards"

"One of Foreign Affairs’ Best Economic, Social, and Environmental (Economics) Books of 2016"

"Honorable Mention for the 2016 PROSE Award in Economics, Association of American Publishers"

"One of The Independent’s Best Economics Books 2015"

"One of LinkedIn’s Best Business Books of 2015"

"One of’s Best BusinessInsider. Books of 2015"

"In an entertaining and lively account, Akerlof and Shiller show that while the pursuit of profits may lead to products that enrich our lives, it may also lead to manipulation and deception. Much of recent innovation has led to products that make cheating the public easier. The implications are complex and profound."

⁠— Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Phishing for Phools is an intellectual tour de force. It may change your image of the invisible hand into an invisible phoot, always looking to trip you up. Read it for phun; read it for wisdom."

⁠— Alan S. Blinder, author of After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead

"A phabulous book! This is economics after the behavioral revolution at its best."

⁠— Samuel Bowles, Santa Fe Institute

"Akerlof and Shiller provide a phenomenal guide to the pitfalls of the phree market. This redemptive revision of economic theory explains the built-in risks of rip-offs in a profit-maximizing world."

⁠— Nancy Folbre, professor emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"As Akerlof and Shiller remind us, the same incentives that lead sellers to introduce innovations that improve quality and reduce costs also ensure that no profitable opportunity to cheat us will remain unexploited. This highly readable and insightful book will transform how we think about the role of government."

⁠— Robert H. Frank, author of The Economic Naturalist

"Akerlof and Shiller extend the standard ‘market failure' theory--which says that there is a potential role for government intervention when markets fail--by showing that markets fail not only because of the familiar reasons of externalities and unfair income distribution, but also because of the pervasive phenomenon of ‘phishing for phools' (profit-seeking through manipulation and deception). They point the way to a new paradigm freed from the constraints of market failure theory, able to illuminate ‘control by capital' (partly through phishing) and to prescribe for ‘control of capital' (partly by techniques for limiting phishing suggested here)."

⁠— Robert H. Wade, London School of Economics

"This insightful book exposes a fundamental contradiction in the market system. Consumers and policymakers beware: profit-seeking businesses foster efficiency and innovation, but have strong incentives to manipulate you and sophisticated new data tools allow them to do so in personalized ways."

⁠— Laura D'Andrea Tyson, University of California, Berkeley

"This fun but serious book tells how the standard story about free markets often gets it wrong. Indeed, Akerlof and Shiller suggest that we should drop the view of markets as generally benign institutions. The argument is laid out with the help of fascinating anecdotes, the language is conversational, and the book is easy to read. It is addressed to a broad audience, but economists will enjoy it too."

⁠— Dani Rodrik, author of The Globalization Paradox

"Phishing for Phools is a coherent and highly plausible explanation of why markets--although usually beneficial--can lead to undesirable outcomes. The book takes an intriguing approach and gives many interesting examples."

⁠— Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History