Dear Economist

The problem page where personal dilemmas are “solved” with the latest economic theory, “Dear Economist” ran in the FT from 2003 to 2011

Is the stock market the way to go green?

Dear Economist, As an economics graduate from Hong Kong, I wonder whether we are doing enough to protect Mother Nature. I have considered donating money to Greenpeace. Then I had a better idea. Why don’t we donate shares of polluting companies to Greenpeace? By doing...

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Why is a bag of weed always $10 (man)?

Dear Economist, I have been a client of weed dealers in North America since the mid-1980s and no matter who the vendor, the price has remained $10 a gramme. I don’t think anything in 25 years has stayed fixed in price like weed has. Dealers might have some power to...

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What’s your approach to picking toilet stalls?

Dear Economist, When I travel I am faced with a difficult choice: which of the toilet booths to use in offices or hotels. I always try to guess which one is the least used. Probability theory should tell me that all the booths should be equally used, but perhaps human...

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Is garlic bread really fungible?

Dear Economist, Having bought identical garlic breads for my wife and myself, I proposed that we should equally share one immediately and equally share the second later. She was unhappy with this, proposing that she eat half of hers and that I eat half of mine. When I...

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Is my dream win worth a lotto punt?

Dear Economist, In Holland we’ve got a “postcode-lottery”: every month, people living in a certain postcode win – provided, of course, that they’ve bought a lottery ticket. As a rule, I don’t buy lottery tickets. The chances of winning are small. In my view you only...

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When should I drink my six special bottles?

Dear Economist, I have inherited six bottles of excellent wine, which I plan to consume, over time, on special occasions. But how do I know when to open a bottle when I don’t know what occasions lie ahead? I don’t want to use up all the bottles within a few months on...

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Supply and demand, yes. But polygamy?

Dear Economist, I live in a place where polygamy is allowed, but generally avoided. One of my friends has two wives. When asked why, he once quipped “more suppliers means more competition and better service for the customer”. Now I know, both intuitively and through...

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I’m 13 and smart, but my family ignores me

Dear Economist, You may be surprised to receive a question from a 13-year-old reader of the FT, but I always steal the weekend paper from my father, who is an economics professor. Everyone in my family is well educated, which is why simple dinner chit-chat usually...

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Should I risk the fine and travel first class?

Dear Economist, My daily journey requires a change of train at Mumbai station, which is extremely crowded. One day I was in a hurry and jumped into first class without a ticket. As luck would have it, the inspector arrived. I admitted I did not have a ticket and paid...

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