ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
May
22

Free or Fearful? The Fear of Floating in the South Caucasus

In economics there is a long-standing debate on whether emerging markets should adopt a fixed exchange rate currency regime or leave their exchange rates up to markets to decide. Intuitively, exchange rate is just another price, similar to the price on a sack of potatoes, a liter of milk or a kilogram of honey. Except that exchange rate is the price of 1 unit of foreign currency (say, 1 US dollar) in terms of our domestic currency. Textbook economics would tell us that price flexibility is essential for markets to function well, to quickly clear up any s...
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May
20

Who Said “First Duty, Then Pleasure”? When Happiness and Success (Individual and National) Go Hand in Hand

  According to the recent World Happiness Report 2017, Georgia ranks 125th among 155 countries with respect to peoples’ happiness. On a 0-10 happiness scale, the country scores only 4.29. Figure 1 below presents rankings and happiness scores for Georgia and its neighbors, as well as for the world’s best and worst performers. The top five countries - Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland - are clustered so tightly that the differences among them are not statistically significant; they could be merged in a single “top performing cluster” w...
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May
15

Best Pedagogy for Georgia!

  Given Georgia’s dysfunctional educational sector, it is impressive how many Georgians excel intellectually. For example, ISET regularly sends some of its graduates to the best Ph.D. programs of the world, proving that many Georgians succeed in realizing their intellectual potentials despite unfavorable conditions. At the same time, we notice that a considerable share of students who get enrolled at ISET are not well-endowed with essential knowledge and competencies, lacking, for example, presentation skills, writing proficiency, and resourcefulnes...
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May
13

Hunger Games: Speculation in Food Markets

In the old Soviet movie, “Once Upon a Time Twenty Years Later,” a mother of ten who bought a lot of clothing and food in a local shop was suspected of being a speculator by the shop administrator, who immediately called police as the woman left the shop. The woman survived arrest after it was discovered that she bought so many goods exclusively for her big family, and not for resale or so-called speculation. In Soviet times, the word “speculator” had an extremely negative meaning. People who were deemed to be speculators could be jailed if the allegation...
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May
08

Yet Another (Questionable) Farewell to Street Vendors?

  Tbilisi residents have already experienced a fair number of cycles in street vending regulations where local authorities tolerate, then regulate, and then evict street vendors. These cycles correspond with economic trends and election cycles starting in 2006, when street vending was declared illegal by the Tbilisi Government and the first attempts were made to enforce the ban. Just recently, the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office restarted its efforts to restrict trading in the streets of Tbilisi, claiming that illegal stalls in the busiest places prevent mov...
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May
06

Not So Fast….Is The Nightmare of Geogian Road (Un)Safety About to End?

On April 21, the Parliament of Georgia approved changes to the Road Traffic law introducing the so-called demerit points system (DPS) in Georgia. Under the DPS every driver will receive a reserve of 100 points. For each traffic violation, in addition to monetary penalty, the points will be deducted from a 100 points “allowance”. Once the driver “burns” through all 100 points, his or her license will be revoked for one year. Those who do not burn through their points quickly will receive a new reserve of 100 points every year on January 1st. As a member o...
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