ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET

A graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eric Livny is the founding director and president of the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET) and the affiliated ISET Policy Institute – the first university-based economic policy think-tank in the South Caucasus. In addition to his positions at ISET, Eric serves as advisor to Georgia’s Minister of Economic and Sustainable Development, Dimitri Kumsishvili. He is also heading up the Economic Commission at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-Georgia).

Mr. Livny has been living and working in Georgia since April 2007. Prior to that, Eric held leading positions with the Moscow-based New Economic School (which he helped establish in 1992), and the Economics Education and Research Consortium. In 2000-2007, Mr. Livny served as the CIS representative of the Global Development Network (GDN), and led the GDN Bridging Research and Policy Project.

Eric’s policy research and consulting activities span a wide range of issues such as foreign direct investment (FDI), trade and national competitiveness, public private partnerships (PPPs) for economic development, inclusive growth, rural development and agricultural cooperation, economics of education, migration and labor markets, transport and economic geography.

Passionate about blogging and social media, Eric serves as editor-in-chief of, and is a frequent contributor to, the ISET Economist Blog, which he created together with other ISET faculty in 2011. Additionally, he is a columnist with Georgia Today, The Financial, and the Georgian Journal.

Eric was born in St.Petersburg (Russia) but grew up in Israel, where his family emigrated in 1977. He is married to Anna Sekowska Livny, and is the father of Katya (10), Jan (11), Natalie (23) and Tal (25). Eric is fluent in English, Russian, and Hebrew. His Georgian language skills are fast improving thanks to his excellent teacher Tamuna Koshoridze and ISET colleagues.

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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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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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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Sep
04

Crime and Punishment. The Georgian Version

Driving back home after a two-week family vacation in Turkey, a horrific surprise awaited us at the border-crossing in Vale (near Akhaltsikhe). We arrived just before midnight on Saturday, August 26, 2017. What we knew to be a very efficient procedure lasted much longer than the expected 2-3 minutes. And then came the shocking verdict: – Dear Mr. Livny, you will not be able to continue your journey. According to our records, there is an order to have your car impounded. We are not yet sure why, but perhaps you haven’t paid a fine. The officer in charge o...
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Apr
19

Bread Should Be Baked By the Baker!

"Sixty-Eight Million Dollars Were Given for Colleges Last Year: – if  the Mania for College Education Continues We May Soon Expect the Above State of Affairs" American and Western European visitors to Georgia are fascinated by the fact that middle-aged Georgian taxi drivers often brandish a couple of engineering degrees, while young hotel receptionists and shop assistants frequently come with law, business and international relations education. Having spent a couple of days in Tbilisi, visitors may come to imagine that Georgia is so abundant in huma...
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Apr
01

"Georgian Railways" Reach a Critical Crossroads

  By Eric Livny, Georgia Today’s special correspondent in Tehran River Astarachay, which divides the Azerbaijani and Iranian nations, is no Rubicon, and its crossing over a newly constructed bridge by an Azərbaycan Dəmir Yolları’s GE/LKZ TE33A Evolution locomotive was hardly noticed by Georgian media. Yet, the project has immense implications for the future of transportation across the Caucasus.  President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Tehran on March 5, 2017 (his third visit to the Islamic Republic in just as many years) was timed to provide him and...
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