ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Florian Biermann is assistant professor at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET). Until 2005, he studied economics at the Humboldt University Berlin and the Free University of Berlin. After working for a year at the Institute of Mathematical Economics of Bielefeld University, in 2006 he moved to Jerusalem to pursue his Ph.D. degree at the Hebrew University (degree awarded in 2012). His doctorate was supervised by Professors Eyal Winter and Bezalel Peleg. Florian is interested in game theory, microeconomics, and mathematical economics.

May
25

The Proposed Examination Reform: Don’t Change a Winning Concept!

Studying at Georgian universities in the 1990’s was ludicrous. The students or their parents negotiated with the heads of the exam committees and/or the deans of the faculties about the “terms and conditions”, i.e. the bribes that would have to be paid and the “services” that would be delivered in exchange. One could choose from a broad menu of different corruptive services, covering admissions, grades, and scholarships, and the price one had to pay varied according to what one had chosen. The law of supply and demand caused highly demanded professions l...
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Apr
24

Let Tourists Arrive and Georgia Thrive!

After the collapse of the Soviet Union it was believed that tourism might become one of Georgia’s “locomotive” sectors. While the Shevardnadze government failed to develop this potential, after the Rose Revolution, tourism became a top priority. Each year since 2005, the direct effect of tourism (i.e. the money spent by tourists) alone has contributed 6-7% of Georgia’s total GDP. Georgia is a net exporter of services, and tourism accounts for about 60% of these service exports. This is important income for the country, helping to finance the country’s la...
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Apr
20

Save the Mingrelian Language!

There are clear expectations in many cultures to marry somebody from their own group, and not living up to these expectations will at least cause a loss in reputation. This is nicely displayed in the movie Late Marriage by Dover Kosashvili, humorously depicting a young Georgian Jew in Israel whose parents want him to marry the “right” woman (the movie features extensive dialogues in Judeao-Georgian, another endangered language). In extreme cases, people who enter a relationship with members of other cultures may be victims of honor killings. In Europe, s...
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Apr
13

The Complexities Facing the Competition Authority

Economists disagree whether it was a good decision to reestablish the Georgian competition authority. When some years ago it was removed, the underlying logic was that a non-existing authority cannot be corrupt, and, more importantly, cannot harm the economy through misguided decisions. Assuming that corruption will not be a problem for the competition authority, neither now nor in the future, regulating markets is still a highly delicate issue which yields many possibilities to go wrong. WHAT IS THE RELEVANT MARKET? One of the central issues that have t...
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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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Mar
06

What Can We Do about the Lari Depreciation?

  Unlike most commodities that are provided by private actors competing with each other, a currency is provided by a monopolist. The only institution that is allowed to produce laris is the National Bank of Georgia (NBG). The task of the NBG-monopolist is made difficult by various peculiarities that cannot be found in other markets. First of all, lari once injected into the economy are not consumed or used up. They remain in the economy “until the cows come home”, as they say in Scotland. This is starkly different to what we observe in most other ma...
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