Seminars & Lectures
On November 9, Daniel Levy, a professor of economics at Bar Ilan University, Emory University and a member of ISET’s International Faculty Committee, presented his paper ‘‘The real thing’: nominal price rigidity of the nickel Coke, 1886-1959“ (co-authored by his colleague Andrew Young) to ISET professors, students and researchers. Prof. Levy’s interesting topic and entertaining presentation kept the audience of the conference hall totally engaged throughout the seminar. We have all noticed that prices usually change; that's fundamental to how economies work. And yet in 1886, a bottle of Coke cost a nickel. It was also a nickel in 1900, 1915 and 1930. In fact, 70 years after the first Coke was sold, you could still buy a bottle for a nickel. Three wars, the Great Depression, hundreds of competitors — none of it made any difference for the price of Coke. Why not?
On October 20, members of the ISET community attended a guest lecture on international taxation from Ms. Femke van der Zeijden from PricewaterhouseCoopers Netherlands’ office. Ms. Zeijdenhas introduced issues of international taxation from legal perspective. This was particularly useful and interesting for the audience as it primarily consisted of economists, for whom the legal aspects and problems of different taxation policies are not well known. Ms. Zeijden tailored her lecture to show the challenges in international taxation coming from development of information technologies. Specifically, the lecture touched upon the following four important directions which present the most significant challenges: (i) Globalization, (ii) Digitalization, (iii) Transparency and (iv) Multinational corporations.
On October 10, 2017, Professor Hans Wiesmeth challenged ISET BA students to think about possible solutions to environmental issues, more specifically, how the country can deal with beverage packaging, which is a global environmental issue, with 1 billion plastic bottles produced each day (more than ten thousand every second). Only about 10% of these bottles are currently recovered and recycled. Professor Wiesmeth presented his joint work in cooperation with N. Shavgulidze and N. Tevzadze (CENN), and Levan Pavlenishvili (ISET), which was entitled “Drinks Packaging in Georgia: Design of an Integrated Environmental Policy.” Professor Wiesmeth reviewed the current situation in Georgia, where there isn’t any separate collection or recycling of drinks containers, where the most waste packaging is taken to landfills, creating health concerns regarding plastics (some 30,000 tons), and refillable drinks containers are (almost) non-existent.
In the world of the 21st century, the number of people living without electricity in their homes is 1.3 billion. Even among those who have access, many do not own basic assets such as refrigerators, motorized transport, or washing machines. However, it is anticipated that over the next several decades, wide-scale poverty alleviation programs, as well as continued economic growth, will lift the incomes of many of the world’s poor. As incomes increase, families formerly living in poverty will for the first-time purchase energy-using assets. How will the global demand for energy rise as a consequence? To answer that question, Dr. Alan Fuchs, Senior Economist in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank, made a presentation at ISET on October 5th.
“You need to think carefully before you jump into this deep sea,” said Professor Daniel Levy at the very beginning of a presentation entitled “Why can a PhD be bad for you?”. While this statement sounded frightening to those who were planning to pursue a PhD or other further studies, it appeared to be more bemusing for others who were not considering a career in academia. Based on his personal experience, Dr. Levy explained that substantial difficulties come with academic life: a PhD is not a continuation of an MA, and it constitutes an “unbelievable amount of commitment”. It requires “focus, and lots of patience, time and energy”. Dr Levy recalled that during his studies, he took most of his meals sitting in front of a computer or with his nose buried in a book.
On September 7, ISET hosted the president and executive chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, Dr. Yaron Brook, for a presentation. The topic of the presentation was Free Speech and The Battle for Western Culture. During the presentation, Dr. Brook explained why and in what ways free speech is under attack and why it is important to defend this fundamental right. At the beginning of the presentation, Dr. Brook highlighted that free speech is a core value of civilization, and is what Western civilization stands for. One of the most important events in the history of civilization was the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights, the first political document that recognizes human rights. However, he claimed that there has been years is an obvious restriction of free speech in recent years: Newspapers cannot publish cartoons relevant to the news, just because they fear violent reprisals; Dr. Brook also claimed there were even greater restrictions of free speech at universities, which cannot invite speakers if the guests do not hold common political views.