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.

Jun
27

We'll Take Our Countries Back and Make Them Great Again!

For the likes of Boris Johnson, currently UK’s most popular politician and a leading figure of the Brexit revolt, “The European Union has become too remote, too opaque and not accountable enough to the people it is meant to serve.” But how about the UK itself? How close are 10 Downing Street or Westminster to the working class folks of England’s industrial north? How representative is Britain’s Eton-educated ‘political class’ of the people they are meant to serve? And if Boris Johnson is lauding the British people for deciding to take control of their ow...
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Jun
22

Georgian Consumers Outsmarting Supermarket Managers?

Seasons change, and so do Georgian food prices. In the second week of June, Georgia’s major food retail networks (Carrefour, Goodwill, Fresco and SPAR) lowered their prices by an average of 3.9% y/y and 1.8% m/m. Compared to the end of May, prices moved the most for the following food items: eggplant (-21%), pasta (-10.3%) and coffee (-5.7%); wheat flour (+11%), buckwheat (+10.5%) and garlic (+6.8%). THE LAW OF ONE PRICE … WHAT LAW? Why should exactly the same product sell at dramatically different prices in different shops? It shouldn’t. At least that’s...
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May
23

Georgia’s Revolutions and Economic Development: from 2004 to Present Time

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Georgian nation went through a process of rapid dis-investment and de-industrialization. It was forced to shut down industrial plants, sending scrap metal abroad, and workers into subsistence farming. Hunger has never become an issue thanks to the country’s moderate climate and good soil conditions, yet inequality and associated political pressures rapidly reached catastrophic dimensions, unleashing cycles of violence, undermining the political order and inhibiting prospects of economic growth. *   &nb...
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May
16

Georgia’s Revolutions and Economic Development: From Independence to Rose Revolution

Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary as an independent state, Georgia remains in a state of revolutionary flux. Just like a box of chocolate, this beautiful country is full of contrasting flavors, never losing the ability to surprise and fascinate at every twist and turn of its history.  Most paradoxically, while Georgia’s unprecedented reforms have become an export commodity, many Georgian reformers and revolutionaries are wanted at home for abusing the power of their office. Georgia’s laws and institutions continue to be constantly remodele...
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May
02

Will Georgia Be Able to Benefit from Bilateral Free Trade Agreements?

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and the EU, brought into effect in 2014, was hailed at the time by many as being of great importance to Georgian manufacturers and food/beverage producers. Yet, skeptics commented that 1) Georgia had already have more than 7000 articles duty-free and quota-free under the pre-existing GSP+ trade terms granted by the EU for many years, and 2) very few exporters had been able to take advantage of these concessions. Georgia’s wine and spirits exports are an excellent case in point. While constit...
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Apr
11

The Samtredia Redemption

Nino Kakulia was born in Samtredia on 15 October 1991, in the last days of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. By the time Nino and independent Georgia were celebrating their 13th birthdays, the Georgian government embarked on a series of long overdue reforms, one of which was about cleansing the country’s higher education system from corruption.  This was undoubtedly an excellent and timely reform for Nino, an ambitious student in Samtredia’s school. Until then, to get admitted into a public university, Nino or, rather, her family, would have h...
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