This book claims to offer the hidden story behind the forces that shape our everyday lives – it’s like spending the day wearing x-ray goggles and suddenly understanding the economic incentive that drives everything. In theory economics can illuminate every aspect of the world ewe inhabit – if it is explained clearly enough. This covers, among other things, why the gap between rich and poor nations is so great, why it’s so difficult to get a foot on the property ladder, or why you can’t buy a decent second-hand car.

Supermarkets have price targeting down to a fine art: walk 500 metres in Liverpool Street and you can save 15 per cent on pretty much everything. Coffee shops are the same, but who would walk that distance to save 30p? Price targeting in products goes to extremes: IBM have to put an additional chip in their low-end printer to slow it down and justify the lower price. Pricing strategies encounter snags when they ‘leak’ – either when rich customers buy cheap products, or when products leak from one group to another. Group price targeting is inefficient because it takes products away from customers who are willing to pay more, and gives them to those who pay less.