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.

Apr
10

About Smart People, Hard Work and Miracles

A year ago, in March 2014, I was invited to speak at an Israeli-Georgian innovation forum, organized by the Israeli embassy. For a number of reasons I chose 1977 as the starting point of my presentation. One of these was personal – my family immigrated to Israel from St.Petersburg, Russia, in that year. But, more importantly, Israel of 1977 is in many ways (though not in all) comparable to Georgia of today. ISRAEL in 1977: 29 years since independence in 1948 Four years after the trauma of Yom Kippur War (1973) The first democratic transition after 2...
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Apr
06

Georgian Tangerines

The Estonian-Georgian film, Tangerines, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014. While the film was shot in Guria, the story takes place in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia during the war in the early 1990s. In the film, two of the main characters are peasants from Estonia who are living and working in Abkhazia, one as a tangerine grower and the other as a manufacturer of wooden crates for transporting tangerines to markets (much like the one in the photo above). Unlike their families and neighbors, these two men ...
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Apr
01

President Margvelashvili and Cartu Foundation Unveil Plans to Usher a New Era in Georgia’s Public Schooling

April 1, 2015 A little-known experiment launched in 2009 is about to revolutionize Georgia’s countryside. “Teach for Georgia (TG)” [1] is a small program administered by the National Center for Teachers’ Professional Development, seeking to stream new blood into the public education system. With a tiny annual budget of 212,000 GEL, TG was initially conceived as a publically funded “startup”, an attempt to think and act out-of-the box. Though starting small and mainly focusing on schools in remote mountain communities, TG has always been seen as potential...
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Mar
26

What Happens When Institutions are Designed to Provide Bullet-proof Protection against Fraud?

DESIGNING LIBRARIES  “Shock and awe” is a US military term describing the use of overwhelming power to demoralize the enemy, as applied by the American military in Iraq. “Shock and awe” would also aptly describe my emotional state when I entered, at the age of 23, the magnificent reading room at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. This was the moment when I – a former paratrooper and an officer with one of Israel’s security services – understood how badly I want to acquire an education. Not technical knowledge or skills, but an education.    ...
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Mar
20

All the Roads Lead to Tskaltubo

FROM BADEN-BADEN “Roulette until six in the evening. Lost everything”, notes Leo Tolstoy on July 14, 1857. He did not pen these words in Moscow or St Petersburg”, writes Elizabeth Neu. “It was in Baden-Baden that Tolstoy closed his diary with a sigh that night.” “Tolstoy was not the only literary genius to have travelled thousands of miles from Russia to take the waters and enjoy the thrill at the roulette tables… and to leave with empty pockets. They all flocked here: the great realist Ivan Goncharov and the enthusiastic young ballad rhymer Vasili Zhuko...
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Mar
13

Save the Georgian Bazaar!

Open-air markets, so called bazaars, are considered by many Georgians to be relics of the past. Progressive people buy in supermarkets with all its amenities: clean areas, shiny floors, the temperature regulated at a convenient level, the products placed in order and often arranged tastefully. Only backward people buy in a bazaar if there is a supermarket available. This shift in shoppers’ preferences is illustrated by changes in the market structure. Five years ago the only big supermarket in Tbilisi was Goodwill, but the presence of supermarkets increa...
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