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The pencil claims to be a miracle product of the free market, but is that true? Why do engineers, as well as economists, think the pencil is underrated?

“I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove.”
So declares the slim, graphite-spined narrator of one of the most famous essays in economic history, “I, Pencil”. The pencil claims to be a miracle product of the free market – but is that true? Why, asks Tim Harford, do engineers, as well as economists like himself, think the pencil is so underrated? And how on earth do pencil-makers get the lead inside the wood?

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editor: Richard Vadon

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14 minutes

Last on

Last Friday 23:30

Broadcasts

  • Fri 31 May 2019 13:45
  • Last Friday 23:30

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