ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
May
17

Chess Is to Play and Math Is for Life

  At times math teachers use a legend, “mathematics in the game of chess”, as an introduction to Exponential Functions. The original myth tells of a mathematician in India who invented the game of chess and was subsequently bestowed a vast reward for its creation. The king of India was so impressed by the game that he offered the mathematician to “name your reward!” The inventor responded, “My wish is simple. Just give me one grain of rice upon each square of the chessboard, such that one grain is placed on the first square, two on the second, four ...
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Mar
25

IT Flu in the Armenian Labor Market

This article is based on field research and interviews with IT experts. We are living in an era of advanced technology, and with such rapid development the changing landscape of the online world has dramatically changed our daily lives. There is no doubt that over the years technology has created amazingly useful resources, which has placed all the information we could need at our fingertips. Software is devouring the world, and you can imagine that this is great news for IT professionals. It’s not just Facebook and Google that need IT professionals. Alm...
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Nov
20

Money Can’t Buy Happiness. Or Can It? A Case Study from Yerevan

I have been living away from Yerevan for four years. Over these years, every time I visited my city, I noticed more and more new (and fancy) cafes. Over time, I also noticed that café visits seemed to grow in numbers and I started wondering whether it was just my impression or the reality. I have been particularly puzzled by the paradoxical nature of the fact that people always complain about their wages and living standards, yet they do not mind spending money in cafés. Wouldn’t they be better off by saving money and use it to improve their long-term li...
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Jun
18

Georgian and Armenian “Deplorables” and "Desperados" Taking It to the Streets

Georgian and Armenian ruling parties have been until recently basking in the glory of high GDP growth rates. Armenia’s stellar growth performance of 7.5% in 2017 and Georgia’s respectable 5% are, indeed, worthy of praise. However, do these figures really matter for the objective well-being of the majority of Georgians and Armenians? Second, how does economic growth, as measured by GDP, affect people’s subjective perception of happiness? Third, what does it do to crime rates and people’s appetite for political representation, social justice and fairness? ...
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Dec
04

Your Guest Is My Guest, or Why Tourism Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The South Caucasus is divided by high mountain ranges, often impassable political borders, and ethnic conflict zones. In addition to three independent states, the region also includes three unrecognized territories. Nakhichevan is separated from Azerbaijan’s mainland by Armenia’s Syunik region. Armenia’s border with Turkey and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is sealed for political reasons. Though trampled by politics, the economic arguments for greater regional integration in the South Caucasus are truly powerful. For one thing, thanks to its strategic l...
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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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