ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Dec
24

Holiday Gifts Are Extremely Inefficient, So Why Do We Bother?

Today and tomorrow over a third of the world’s population (around 2 billion people) will be celebrating Christmas1. Traditionally, the holiday season will inevitably feature an exchange of gifts. The sums spent on Christmas gift-giving are huge! For example, in 2018 the expected spending on Christmas gifts in the United States is around 885 USD per person2 - this is about 2.8% of what someone in the middle of income distribution earns per year. If we work backwards from these figures and assume that a similar share of an average family’s income is devote...
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Guest — EricLivny
A very nice piece, Yasya! From now on, dont expect any cash from me!
Friday, 11 January 2019 4:04 PM
Guest — Yasya
Thanks, Eric! Of course! In the old days books were considered the best gifts to give to friends and family. I dont know why this... Read More
Monday, 14 January 2019 7:07 AM
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Nov
20

Money Can’t Buy Happiness. Or Can It? A Case Study from Yerevan

I have been living away from Yerevan for four years. Over these years, every time I visited my city, I noticed more and more new (and fancy) cafes. Over time, I also noticed that café visits seemed to grow in numbers and I started wondering whether it was just my impression or the reality. I have been particularly puzzled by the paradoxical nature of the fact that people always complain about their wages and living standards, yet they do not mind spending money in cafés. Wouldn’t they be better off by saving money and use it to improve their long-term li...
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Guest — Hovakim
Good job Laura, thanks for an interesting study.
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 2:02 PM
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Mar
26

On Pepsi, McDonald’s and the Promised Land

Back in 1991, I attended a big “Does Socialism Have a Future?” conference hosted by my alma mater, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The session I remember most vividly featured a Hungarian dissident, a poet, ridiculing ineffective communist propaganda. “Communists”, he told a sympathetic audience, “tried to convince us that jeans can cause impotence in young males, and that Coca Cola is bad for people’s health”. At this point, a trembling female voice could be heard in the back of the conference hall: “But Coca Cola is bad for people’s health! ◊ ◊ ◊ ...
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Oct
19

ISET Consumer Confidence: Anticipation Beats Realization

The CCI, which is computed by ISET-PI on a monthly basis, monitors how Georgians feel about their personal financial situations and the economic well-being of the whole country. Roughly speaking, the index is computed as the difference between the frequencies of positive and negative answers to 12 questions covering the present and expected economic situations of the households surveyed, as well as general economic parameters of the country, such as inflation and unemployment. It ranges from −100, a result that would follow if all respondents answered al...
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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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Guest — MartinSmith
A beautiful piece of explanation. Since four years... is not said: for the last four years is how this clause should read. I wil... Read More
Thursday, 08 September 2016 1:01 AM
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May
30

Patience, Genatsvale!

“The one who is patient, wins.” Georgian proverb One of the first things tourists in Georgia notice is how crazy that drive from the airport to the city is. Jumping red lights, breaking rules to take over the jeep in front, the Georgian taxi driver risks his (and not only his!) life to deliver his passenger to the destination. As a distraction from the dangerous ride, the driver might offer the famous “dzhigit” (a brave equestrian) joke: a dzhigit passes on red light, but stops on green – in case another dzhigit is crossing the road. Dzhigit-style d...
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