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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
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Jun
19

Decriminalize Marijuana?

  According to a recent study, smoking marijuana for many years leads to a severe loss of intelligence: compared with people who did not consume cannabis, the IQ’s of smokers were lower by 13-38 points (Meier et al.: “Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife”, PNAS 109, 2012). Moreover, after a long time of consumption, cognitive abilities and memory do not recover when smoking marijuana is eventually given up.  Recently, decriminalization of marijuana became a hotly discussed topic in Georgia. The opi...
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Jan
27

Real Estate Prices in Tbilisi: No Bubble, No Trouble

Bubbles belong to the most fascinating phenomena in a market. Suddenly, people are willing to pay prices which are completely out of touch with the fundamental economic values of assets. In the stock market bubble of the 1920s, persons who had never before considered to become investors borrowed money and bought shares, so as not to miss out on the chance to become rich. Euphoria grew and grew, until even housewives, dock workers, and cleaning personnel had no other topic to talk about but the news from the stock markets. All this went on until in 1929 t...
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Sep
30

The Ice Bucket Challenge: Does Motivation Matter?

In summer, social media were flooded with videos showing your friends (and celebrities of all levels of prominence) pouring buckets of icy water over their heads. While some people enjoyed watching this (and even participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge), many were unnerved by this charity campaign which was hardly distinguishable from an ordinary spam attack, were it not for the fact that now your friends and acquaintances were spamming you. A third group however, showed the most interesting reaction: they became moral about it. For those who do not kno...
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Sep
09

The New Prescription Rules: Repeating Western Mistakes

So far, many Georgians solved minor health problems in a non-bureaucratic way. Instead of consulting doctors, they asked friends, relatives, and the internet what medicine should be taken as a remedy for a given issue. Once they had received enough information, they went to a pharmacy, and, with some additional advice from the pharmacist, bought the medicine they expected to be helpful. This practice has now come to an end. From September 2014, a large number of pharmaceuticals labeled as “second group medicines”, including painkillers and antibiotics, w...
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Jun
13

The Economics of Prostitution

When thinking of “market distortions” we typically imagine government regulations, taxes and subsidies that prevent market mechanisms from achieving an optimal outcome. For example, if you pay $100 for a 30-minute taxi ride (as is the case in many European capitals), you can easily relate it to a government regulation requiring all taxi drivers to be licensed (at a very high cost). In the absence of such a requirement many more drivers would be able to enter the taxi driving profession, increasing supply and reducing prices. However, the government is no...
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