ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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
23

Who Gets to Eat from the Growing Pie?

  2017 is shaping up as one of the best years in Georgia’s post-2008 crisis history. The economy is expected to expand by about 5%, beating early expectations and official forecasts by the likes of the IMF and the World Bank. Based on updated GeoStat figures for Q1 and Q2, ISET-PI’s annual growth forecast currently stands at 4.9%. Even that figure is likely to be revised upwards if Q3 growth turns out to be higher than suggested by GeoStat’s preliminary estimate of 4.4%. Georgia is not alone in experiencing a boom. In fact, it is rising with a tide ...
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Feb
27

Make Kutaisi Great Again!

Have you ever heard about a mysterious law that predicts the size of a city? If you tell me the population of the largest city in a country, I can tell you the size of the second and third biggest cities. In 1949, George Zipf came up with the simple theory called the rank-size rule, or “Zipf 's law.” Applied to the size of cities, this law says that the second city and following smaller cities should represent a proportion of the largest city. For example, if the largest city in a country is populated with one million citizens, according to the law, the ...
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Jan
28

Georgia and the Gravity of Migration

Whatever Kim Jong-un’s propaganda says about the greatness of his country, it is a fact that nobody immigrates to North Korea but almost everyone wants to get out. Likewise, whatever conservative Muslims say about the depraved West – there is a huge net migration out of Muslim countries into these rotten and decadent Western societies. And also the “socialist paradises” of the past had to take great efforts to make sure their lucky populations did not leave: the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 because the large-scale drainage of labor threatened Eastern Ge...
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Dec
19

What Chile teaches Georgia

In 1991, the former finance minister of Chile, Alejandro Foxley, said in an interview: “We may not like the government that came before us. But they did many things right. We have inherited an economy that is an asset.” About twenty years before, General Augusto Pinochet had toppled the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende. Pinochet’s rule from 1973 to 1990 was characterized by severe violations of human rights, yet finally he agreed to hold a referendum on his political future, and when the Chilean people voted against him, he ste...
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Nov
21

Structural Transformation in Georgia – In the Right Direction at a Turtle’s Pace

  Structural transformation of the economy is one of the most important determinants of economic development. Almost invariably, nations that have managed to pull themselves out of poverty were able to diversify their economies away from low productivity sectors. In advanced countries, productivity differences between sectors are generally small, and growth mostly happens because of productivity improvements within sectors. Developing countries, on the other hand, are characterized by large productivity gaps between the sectors of their economies. ...
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