Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford
Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford

Pushkin Industries

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Episodes

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We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable lessons, but these Cautionary Tales are for the education of the grown ups – and they are all true. Tim Harford (Financial Times, BBC, author of “The Data Detective”) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, and hilarious fiascos. They'll delight you, scare you, but also make you wiser. New episodes every other Friday.

Recent Episodes

WW2: How Britain Ignored the Mother of All Secrets
MAY 10, 2024
WW2: How Britain Ignored the Mother of All Secrets

Cautionary Tales will be LIVE on stage in London this May. Tickets are on sale now: https://www.tegeurope.com/events/cautionary-tales/

Neatly dressed in his suit, Hans Ferdinand Mayer was every inch the unassuming corporate executive. So, when he asked to borrow a typewriter from his hotel in Oslo, nobody could have guessed he would use it for one of the most extraordinary intelligence leaks in history.

Mayer's gloved fingers punched out the details of Nazi Germany's most sensitive military operations and, when he had finished, he immediately dispatched his documents to the British  —  who did nothing.

Why did the British ignore Mayer? Did they fail to pick out a crucial signal amid the noise of detail — or was something else going on?

This episode of Cautionary Tales is based, with permission, on Tom Whipple’s book The Battle of the Beams, which is available from all good booksellers.

For a full list of sources, see the show notes at timharford.com.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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43 MIN
The Fraudster's Guide to Magic Money
APR 26, 2024
The Fraudster's Guide to Magic Money

Cautionary Tales will be LIVE on stage in London this May. Tickets are on sale now: https://www.tegeurope.com/events/cautionary-tales/

Sam Israel had a problem. The investors in his hedge fund, Bayou Capital, were expecting spectacular returns. Sam himself had spent years proclaiming the fund's brilliant results. But in reality, Sam had been marking his own homework, publishing fraudulent accounts and using these to lure in new investors. 

What to do? Well, the logical thing of course: wait around for an extraordinary profitable streak, and in the meantime keep up the ruse...

This episode of Cautionary Tales was recorded live at the Bristol Festival of Economics and studies three incredible investment scams. How do pyramid and ponzi schemes snowball out of control, flattening victim and fraudster alike?

For a full list of sources, see the show notes at timharford.com.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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61 MIN