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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
May
27

Short-Term Swings of the Georgian Lari: A Guessing Game with High Stakes

In the last two weeks lari depreciated, once again, against the US dollar. Georgian currency lost about eight tetri against its American counterpart, causing quite a stir in the media, among political groups and economic experts. While government authorities claimed that the recent developments are short-term fluctuations driven by negative expectations, Turkish lira depreciation, dollar’s global strengthening, and are therefore not connected to the fundamentals of the Georgian economy, the members of opposition were quick to blame incompetent fiscal and...
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Oct
25

Borrow in Dollar or Lari? That Is the Question!

The Georgian lari’s depreciation against the dollar has been a pressing issue for everyone: economists and policymakers, students, housewives and even the good-for-nothing “birzhavik’s”. The weaker lari may be good news for Georgia’s export competitiveness and trade balance, yet it also pushes up the prices of anything we import. This may include some luxury items we can do without, but also many things that are absolutely essential for the Georgian economy: primary commodities, production inputs and machinery, foodstuffs and medicines. And by raising th...
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Sep
14

Georgia’s Currency is Much More Than the GEL/USD Exchange Rate

It is easy to understand what it means for an economy to be weak or strong. We know that a strong economy is characterized by low unemployment and high growth rates. Other desirable traits are, for example, low levels of poverty and income inequality, when all citizens enjoy reasonable standards of living.  Things are less clear when we think about our national currencies.  When designating currencies as “weak” or “strong”, we usually think of the exchange rate against the dollar or the euro. Having a “weak” currency sounds like a bad thing, wh...
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Dec
08

Lari Winter Blues – Should We Worry?

In the past two weeks Georgians have been waking up with a sense of déjà vu. In a matter of days, the Georgian currency lost over 8% of its value against the US dollar, and reversed the course of appreciation against the euro. The lari winter blues are reminiscent of the last months of 2013, when, after a long period of stability, the lari lost about 5% of its value against the dollar in the course of ten weeks. The current episode of sudden depreciation sent ripples of worry through the Georgian society and prompted opposition parties to sharply critic...
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