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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Jun
27

We'll Take Our Countries Back and Make Them Great Again!

For the likes of Boris Johnson, currently UK’s most popular politician and a leading figure of the Brexit revolt, “The European Union has become too remote, too opaque and not accountable enough to the people it is meant to serve.” But how about the UK itself? How close are 10 Downing Street or Westminster to the working class folks of England’s industrial north? How representative is Britain’s Eton-educated ‘political class’ of the people they are meant to serve? And if Boris Johnson is lauding the British people for deciding to take control of their ow...
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Jun
25

High Wages not Walls

People who decide to leave their country and test their luck elsewhere are usually no random sample of a population. In his 1987 paper “Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants” (American Economic Review 77, pp. 531-553), Harvard Political Scientist George J. Borjas discusses the so-called self-selection of migrants. As of 1987, the standard view among migration economists was that migrants, at least those who came to the United States, belonged to the “upper tails” of the income distributions in their home countries. As income reflects economic per...
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Jun
22

Georgian Consumers Outsmarting Supermarket Managers?

Seasons change, and so do Georgian food prices. In the second week of June, Georgia’s major food retail networks (Carrefour, Goodwill, Fresco and SPAR) lowered their prices by an average of 3.9% y/y and 1.8% m/m. Compared to the end of May, prices moved the most for the following food items: eggplant (-21%), pasta (-10.3%) and coffee (-5.7%); wheat flour (+11%), buckwheat (+10.5%) and garlic (+6.8%). THE LAW OF ONE PRICE … WHAT LAW? Why should exactly the same product sell at dramatically different prices in different shops? It shouldn’t. At least that’s...
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Jun
20

MINDSPACE: a New Way to Influence Behavior through Public Policy

WHEN SUCCESS SPEAKS TOO LOUDLY In November 2015, the National Audit Office of the UK has published a report saying: “The Department for Work and Pensions has successfully introduced automatic enrolment to workplace pensions for large and medium-sized employers.” The National Audit Office found that 58,000 employers have enrolled 5.4 million workers between October 2012 and August 2015. The huge increase in enrolment was due to a small policy change introduced by the UK government in October 2012. The Government switched the default option from one i...
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Jun
19

A Temporary ‘High’? Improvements in Business, Consumer Confidence Should Not Distract Policy-Makers from the Long-Term View

In the year of elections any piece of economic analysis is usually seasoned with a hefty dose of caution. Every analyst is aware of the fact that the incumbents will be too eager to oversell the ‘good’, while the opposition will pound on the ‘bad’. Weary of taking sides in political battles, economists usually switch on their primary defense mechanism: they start relying (heavily) on the annoying “on the one hand”, “on the other hand” kinds of phrases. I am of course referring to Georgia in the year of 2016. What people should keep in mind, however, is t...
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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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