ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

A graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eric Livny has been living and working in Georgia since April 2007. Mr. Livny was the founding director and president of the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET) and the affiliated ISET Policy Institute over a decade, through July 2018. 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, Jan, Natalie and Tal. Eric is fluent in English, Russian, and Hebrew. His Georgian language skills are fast improving.

Oct
24

The Shortest Road to Strawberry Field Isn’t Always the Sweetest, or Quickest

Nino Kvirkvelia and her husband Irakli Todua are not exactly your typical Georgian smallholders. Both spouses are well-educated (both hold economics and business degrees from reputable Georgian institutions). More importantly in the context of Georgian agriculture, the couple owns 28(!) hectare of arable land in Georgia’s horticultural heaven, Samegrelo, best known for its hazelnuts. This is a fantastic amount considering that the average size of agricultural plots in Georgia is only slightly above 1ha. A natural born entrepreneur, Irakli was among the f...
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Oct
22

Back to the Future: Will an Old Farming Practice Provide a Market Niche for Georgian Farmers?

Back in ancient times, the moon was the center of everybody’s attention. People worshipped the moon and believed that it had mystical powers. Since then, the lunar effect on human mood and behavior has been an issue for psychological and astrological research. Surprisingly, many economic papers are also concerned about the influence of the lunar phases on stock returns. Yuan et al. (2006) found that stock returns (defined as the change in the value of a stock market index) are higher during the new moon period than during the full moon period. This ...
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Oct
17

Khachapuri Index, Exchange Rate Dynamics and International Tourism

One glance at the ₾Khachapuri Index chart (for locals) tells the whole story of Georgian agriculture. Left to fend for themselves during the cold winter months, Georgian cows produce very little milk, sending dairy prices through the roof. Conversely, milk production peaks with the arrival of sunny weather and green fodders in early spring, leading to a collapse of milk prices. In the absence of large-scale industrial milk production (that does not depend as much on climate and weather conditions), the roller coaster image repeats itself, year in and yea...
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Sep
20

ISET’s Consumer Confidence Index Shoots through the Roof

In September 2016, ISET’s Consumer Confidence Index added 13 points, the single largest monthly increase in the Index since its launch more than 4 years ago. Having risen from -28.7 to -15.7 points, the CCI rebounded to levels we have last observed about two years ago, in fall 2014 (i.e. at the outset of the GEL devaluation drama). Both the Expectations and Present Situation components of the CCI soared (up by 11.1 and 14.9 points, respectively), breaking historical records for monthly increases. On the one hand, the latest improvement in the CCI extends...
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Sep
12

To Bee or not to Bee?

  The economic significance of bees extends far beyond honey production. As the National Resource Defense Council writes in 2011 (“Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables”), the value of the honey that bees produced in the US in that year amounted to 150 million dollars, while the value of the harvested crops that were pollinated by bees was 15 billion dollars, i.e., greater by a factor of 100! Having bees around is not primarily beneficial for the beekeepers, but even more for anyone else who grows crops, fruits, or vegetable...
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2017
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Jun
30

Food Prices Reach Lowest Mark. At Least in Tbilisi

Retail food prices decreased by 7.6% m/m (compared to the last week of May) and 10.1% y/y (compared to June 2015). The biggest drops were observed for tomatoes (-65.5%), cucumbers (-63.3%) and eggplant (-33.7%). Only a few products gained in value. The highest increases were recorded for cabbage (12.8%), tea (7.3%) and rice (7.2%). TBILISI FOOD PRICES REACH MINIMUM?! Retail FPI reached its lowest mark at the end of June with the main drivers being fresh fruits and vegetables. On the one hand, price declines in the fresh produce category are always expect...
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