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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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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Jun
10

Is Less More When Hosting International Events in Your Home Country?

In just a couple of weeks Baku is going to host the second Formula One Grand Prix in its history. Being in love with motor races and inspired by the fact that for the first time in my life I will attend such an important race (and the Land of Fire); I tried to explore the economic impact of hosting expensive international events for one’s country. In 2017, the Formula One Championship will take place in 20 countries. Nineteen of these countries are either in the top 15 by the level of GDP, or are (net) oil and gas exporters. The only exception here is Hu...
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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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Apr
25

Are Working Women Happy Women? View from the Greater Caucasus

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – Aristotle WHY STUDY HAPPINESS? Already in ancient times philosophers debated the nature of happiness and the recipes for a happy and fulfilling life. Today this question is also hotly debated by scientists and politicians, who are particularly interested in what can be done to increase the happiness of their voters (and citizens, more generally). Happiness has become so important nowadays that four countries: Bhutan, Ecuador, UAE and Venezuela went so...
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Feb
20

Did Azerbaijan Enter the Post-Oil Era?

Sometimes, transformation requires a crisis. Economists in particular are very well aware of this maxim. We are reminded of it every time a country undergoes an economic shock. A country in those times is a bit like a patient who gets the last warning from a doctor to drop the unhealthy habits or face irreversible consequences. One of these scenarios has been unfolding in front of our eyes during the past year. Georgia’s neighbor and one of the largest trading partners, Azerbaijan, has been going through tough times. THE UNFOLDING OF A CRISIS In the last...
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Oct
29

Nagorno-Karabakh: Peace ex Machina?

Negotiation support systems (NSS) let computers be brokers in multidimensional and highly complex negotiation problems. In the last 20 years, platforms like Smartsettle and Inspire were used in thousands of serious negotiation cases around the world, many of which were successfully resolved. Some years ago, the first author of this article was involved in an attempt to use NSS for settling a dispute between the Israeli government, which wanted to shut down one of its departments, and a labor union, which represented the employees who were affected. The m...
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