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.

Nov
29

On Education and the Sacred Duty of Defending One’s Motherland

GEORGIA’S ‘DEAD SOULS’? Rati, Lasha and Irakli are first year engineering students at the Georgian Technical University (GTU). Rather unusual students, one should add. At 22-23, all three are very much alive. Yet, they never attend classes and are not taking exams. BSc in engineering would be their third educational degree, yet neither one of them has any intention of completing his studies at GTU. And one more interesting detail: their ‘studies’ at GTU are paid for by the Georgian taxpayers because engineering (as well as mathematics and natural science...
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Nov
16

Less Bureaucracy Is Good, But Not Good Enough!

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” – Thomas Wayne to his son (Batman).   The Georgian Government’s pride and joy of the previous years has been its high standing in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. Investors, policymakers, and economy-watchers around the world have opened editions of magazines like The Economist to see full-page advertisements about why Georgia is ‘different’ among Post-Soviet countries when it comes to doing business. A line such as “Georgia is different because we are the World Bank’s ...
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Nov
14

Tax Inspection With A Human Face?

Apostle Matthew was a tax collector in Galilee -- perhaps the most hated occupation in the ancient world.By quitting his job and deciding to follow Jesus, Mathew accomplished one the greatest transformations possible in a person’s life. Modern tax inspectors are certainly not expected to follow Jesus. However, by following insights from behavioral economics, they may gain in respect and social status while also improving tax collection, in Georgia and elsewhere around the world. As discussed in our previous article, Georgia’s tax administr...
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Nov
07

Georgian Tea: Finding New Strength in Unity?

After many years of chaos and utter collapse, Georgia’s once glorious tea industry is again showing signs of life. More and more individual farmers and businesses – mostly very small, but some quite ambitious, such as Geoplant (known for its “Gurieli” brand) – grow, process and pack tea. Despite competition from major producing countries and international brands, Georgian tea has great export potential because of the value attached to it all over the former Soviet Union.  While the potential is clearly there, it is not at all clear what strategy sho...
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Oct
17

Thin but Strong: Georgian Silk

DEEP ROOTS Silk production, or sericulture, has deep Georgian roots, going all the way back to King Vakhtang Gorgasali, who not only founded Tbilisi in the 5th century A.D. but also introduced Georgia to silk (and silkworms), which he brought from India.  Silk production is as rooted in Georgia as are wine and honey. According to a survey conducted in 1848, some 210,000 Georgian families were involved in silk production. The industry went into a deep crisis in 1860s, when the ancient Caucasian species of silkworm was practically wiped out by a disea...
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Oct
15

The New Silk Road Chain is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link

Speaking at the opening of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, Georgia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgi Kvirikashvili evoked electric circuitry as a metaphor to describe the future of rail and road connections between Europe and Asia. A graduate of the prestigious math and physics Komarov School, Kvirikashvili explained that a sequential circuit – a simple chain – crucially depends on each and every one of its links. A parallel circuit, on the other hand, allows to redirect electricity flows (or cargo and passengers) through alternative routes.  Th...
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