ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Florian Biermann is assistant professor at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET). Until 2005, he studied economics at the Humboldt University Berlin and the Free University of Berlin. After working for a year at the Institute of Mathematical Economics of Bielefeld University, in 2006 he moved to Jerusalem to pursue his Ph.D. degree at the Hebrew University (degree awarded in 2012). His doctorate was supervised by Professors Eyal Winter and Bezalel Peleg. Florian is interested in game theory, microeconomics, and mathematical economics.

Sep
06

Homo Economicus Sisyphus

In the last two decades, happiness has moved into the focus of economic inquiry. Frey and Stutzer (“What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research”, Journal of Economic Literature 20, 2002, pp. 402-435) argue convincingly that gross domestic product (GDP), unemployment, inflation, and many other indicators of economic performance are primarily interesting because they are correlated with the well-being of people. Without the assumption that these parameters are proxies for happiness, there would be no reason to pursue economic policies that maximize i...
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Jun
13

The Economics of Boasting

WHO BOASTS, AND WHY? As argued by Omer Moav and Zvika Neeman in a 2012 paper (Moav taught at ISET in the past), boasting is a way to pretend that one has hidden income (“Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital”, Economic Journal 122, pp. 933-956). While people may have a rough idea of the incomes of their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and other people they interact with, they usually do not know exactly how much they make. Hence, there is some wiggle room for speculation, and if one sees a colleague coming to wor...
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Jun
06

Shame on Europe!

When half a year ago, I predicted in my article “Georgia Exporting Crime” that the visa liberalization would be stalled in the last moment, I was called a grumbler and alarmist. Unfortunately, usually the pessimists get it right. This week, a whole bunch of European politicians, primarily from Germany, expressed their rejection of the visa liberalization for Georgian citizens. As Joachim Hermann, Minster of the Interior of the province of Bavaria, stated bluntly: “I can only advise against visa liberalization with Ukraine, Georgia, and the Kosovo”. ...
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May
22

On Rational Procrastination

One of the most fundamental assumptions in mainstream economics is the rationality of humans. Yet, as argued by Timothy A. Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, frequently observed procrastinating behavior, i.e. the “needless voluntary delay” (Pychyl), cannot be reconciled with the rational man paradigm.  Pychyl claims in his book The Procrastinator’s Digest that procrastinators violate a most fundamental axiom of rationality, namely the so-called transitivity of preferences. If a person prefers dogs to cats and cats to h...
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May
08

No Price Caps in the Electricity Wholesale Market!

This article is about a highly technical matter. To avoid losing all our readers in the very beginning, let us start with a famous doctrine by Montesquieu: Les lois inutiles affaiblissent les lois nécessaires. This principle, literally meaning “useless laws weaken the necessary laws”, should always be kept in mind by lawmakers and politicians. If a regulation is not beneficial, then it is almost surely beneficial to get rid of the regulation. Some great Georgians endorsed this principle, like Kakha Bendukidze, who is widely praised for having erased many...
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Apr
10

The Impact of Religion on Georgia’s Economy

According to a study from 2015 by WIN/Gallup, 93% of Georgians consider themselves to be religious. There is only one country in the world which has a higher rate, namely Thailand, where this number stands at 94%, while the same percentage of religious people as in Georgia could only be found in Armenia, Bangladesh, and Morocco. All other nations of the world are less enchanted about religion. Worldwide, on average only 63% of people say they are believers, and in some countries, like China and Japan, the number goes down to 7% and 13%, respectively. Giv...
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