ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

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Mar
17

It’s Not Who You Trade With – It’s Who You Produce With: Measuring Georgia’s Integration into Global and Regional Value Chains

  GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS AND THE CHANGING NATURE OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE We live in the world where production of a single good typically involves manufacturing inputs from many different countries around the globe. For example, a typical iPhone production takes place in as many as 7 countries, including USA, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and even Switzerland. This is what is known to economists as global value chains (GVC). The emergence of GVC more than two decades ago transformed the way economists think about countries’ comparative advanta...
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Jan
17

Making a Break-Through in Gender Equality Will Not Be Easy – That’s Why Evidence-Based Approaches to Policy Should Be Taken Seriously

On November 15-16, 2019, FREE Network and ISET Policy Institute organized and conducted an international gender economics conference in Tbilisi, Georgia1. The conference brought together researchers, policy-makers, and the broader development community to discuss obstacles to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, and policies to remove the existing constraints, focusing on Eastern Europe and Emerging Economies. The conference’s opening remarks were offered by two prominent keynote speakers: Dr. Caren Grown, Senior Director for Gender at the W...
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Dec
24

Holiday Gifts Are Extremely Inefficient, So Why Do We Bother?

Today and tomorrow over a third of the world’s population (around 2 billion people) will be celebrating Christmas1. Traditionally, the holiday season will inevitably feature an exchange of gifts. The sums spent on Christmas gift-giving are huge! For example, in 2018 the expected spending on Christmas gifts in the United States is around 885 USD per person2 - this is about 2.8% of what someone in the middle of income distribution earns per year. If we work backwards from these figures and assume that a similar share of an average family’s income is devote...
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Oct
30

Georgia’s Democracy: the Puzzle of a Red Country Turning Blue

On October 21, 2017, Georgia’s entire political map was painted in different shades of blue – the color of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. GD won in all but one race in the country’s municipal elections – achieving solid majorities in all sakrebulo (city councils) and placing party-backed candidates as mayors in all cities and self-governing communities. Such results are quite unusual, and nearly impossible to achieve nowadays in the politically polarized atmosphere of Western Europe, UK or the U.S. Do they suggest that GD has been except...
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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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Sep
19

What Do Politicians Promise Us: a Popular Guide to Political Platforms on Agriculture

“To win the people, always cook them some savory that pleases them.” ― Aristophanes, The Knights As the Election Day of October 8th approaches, we hear more and more about the platforms of Georgian political parties. Given that political competition is very fierce, one naturally expects to hear some blatantly populist statements – the kind of political promises (known to humanity from the times of Aristophanes) which are very popular among the voters, but are hard or impossible to implement in practice. Thus, for example, the reform of the tax syste...
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