Fraser Institute professor visits ISET, discusses Georgian economic progress
Friday, 25 October, 2019

On October 25th, ISET was visited by Dr. Robert A. Lawson of the Fraser Institute. In a highly entertaining and often humorous lecture, Dr. Lawson discussed a wide variety of topics, including the notion of economic freedom, research into economic liberty, as well as Georgian reforms since 2004, and recommendations for future development.

One of the most important aspects of Dr. Lawson’s presentation was the fact that Georgia, as a small country, is highly dependent on international trade for future growth. This is in contrast to the United States: as Dr. Lawson explained in a hypothetical scenario, if the US was to hypothetically abruptly cease all trade with other countries, it would still retain something of an economy, albeit one far reduced in size. This is simply due to the fact that the US has such a large population; small countries such as Georgia, meanwhile, would collapse without foreign trade partners. With this in mind, Dr. Lawson then discussed Georgia’s case specifically and attributed the country’s economic success over the last two decades to successfully deepening ties with other countries.

Dr. Lawson is one of the key authors of the Economic Freedom of the World annual report series, and his research has shown that Georgia is the only country in the region to be declared in the top category, ‘Mostly Free’. This group comprises 25% of the countries of the world, the rest being distributed in three other ranks, the third and last being ‘Mostly Unfree’. On the list, Georgia is ranked twelfth out of 162.

As a supporter of Adam Smith and the ideas laid down in his Wealth of Nations, Dr. Lawson is no fan of socialism – an opinion he himself has cemented by authoring Socialism Sucks!, a tale of his travels to ten socialist countries all over the world. While the objective of the book was to argue against socialist ideology when applied to economics, Dr. Lawson – a self-professed lover of beer – also devotes time to record his impressions of socialist countries’ beer output; it is, he says, invariably poor compared to beer produced in capitalist societies. Although the title of the book points to its humorous elements, the work is also serious; socialism has gained traction as a concept in the West, and Dr. Lawson is keen to dispel any myths surrounding its alleged merits.

ISET is very grateful to Dr. Lawson for taking the time to speak to the institute’s community, and for giving a presentation that was as entertaining as it was enlightening.