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.

Mar
04

Lari Depreciation: Is a Financial Crisis on the Horizon?

The recent bouts of sharp lari depreciation caused much anxiety among the Georgian population, prompting fears of inflation, loan defaults, and bank failures, on the one hand, and the typically Georgian political speculations over “who is to blame”, on the other. In and of itself, a moderate lari depreciation is not necessarily a bad thing for the Georgian economy. It makes Georgia cheaper and more competitive relative to the rest of the world, reducing the current account deficit and carrying a promise of future investment and jobs. That said, a deep an...
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Feb
10

David the Economist (Repost from July 5th, 2013)

  In 1122, King David IV. reconquered Tbilisi from the Muslims. In those times, a bloodbath among the former oppressors would have been the logical consequence of such a victory. Leaders of the High Middle Ages took merciless revenge against their enemies once they had defeated them. Yet David did not! To the contrary, he did not only let the former rulers live, but David was even anxious that the Muslim population might leave Tbilisi after the fall of the city. In order to send a strong signal of appreciation and friendship to the Muslim population...
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Jan
27

Real Estate Prices in Tbilisi: No Bubble, No Trouble

Bubbles belong to the most fascinating phenomena in a market. Suddenly, people are willing to pay prices which are completely out of touch with the fundamental economic values of assets. In the stock market bubble of the 1920s, persons who had never before considered to become investors borrowed money and bought shares, so as not to miss out on the chance to become rich. Euphoria grew and grew, until even housewives, dock workers, and cleaning personnel had no other topic to talk about but the news from the stock markets. All this went on until in 1929 t...
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Dec
15

The Economics of Great Personalities

Some weeks ago, I was invited by a development bank to the Hotel Eden in Kvareli, Kakheti, where we discussed Georgia’s possibilities to develop economically. When we talked about the potential of the manufacturing sector, one of the attending bank employees said: “The problem is that Georgia does not have Rudolf Diesel and Nikolaus Otto.” I think that there is some truth in this sentence, which one might alter so that it fits better to modern times: “The problem is that Georgia does not have a Mark Zuckerberg/Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Larry Page” or, to rem...
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Dec
12

Traffic Traumas

Recently, one of the authors of this article was crossing a street with a crowd of people at green pedestrian light close to Marjanishvili metro station, when a Mercedes was accelerating and heading towards the people, ignoring the red light, making the crowd splash in all directions. A police car was standing nearby, doing nothing. Walking and driving in Tbilisi is usually dangerous and stressful. When walking around, pedestrians must continuously monitor the cars in their vicinity, even when walking on the sidewalks. The task of avoiding to be hit by c...
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Nov
28

Career Guidance for Unemployed Georgians

One of the most puzzling aspects of the Georgian labor market is what is known as the “qualification mismatch”. While unemployment is high, many positions remain vacant due to a lack of qualified applicants. There is plenty of casual evidence that there is such a mismatch. Recently, a World Bank delegation we hosted at ISET reported about a meeting they had with Georgian entrepreneurs. One of those businessmen, active in the construction sector, was bringing welders from Turkey to Tbilisi, paying them extraordinarily high salaries (Turkish wage level plu...
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