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.

Nov
25

Economic Reflections in the Kakheti Mountains

Over the last weekend I was invited by an international development bank to run a workshop in the nice Hotel Eden in Kvareli, Kakheti. The topic of the workshop was “Georgia’s economic future”. We started the workshop by discussing the great promise of development economics: “Do the right policy, and you’ll be fine”. Economists like Thorvaldur Gylfason like to show the growth paths of pairs of countries with somewhat similar characteristics, like Mauritius and Madagascar, Singapore and Malaysia, Botswana and Nigeria, and Ireland and Greece. In these pair...
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Nov
03

Georgia Needs Punitive Damages

A few days ago, I was walking in Kostava Street towards the Philharmony when I passed a construction site that was separated from the sidewalk by a wooden fence. Suddenly, I heard the ugly sound of fabric torn apart. Yes, it had happened! My nice winter coat was ripped up by a rusty nail that stuck out of the fence, causing a huge hole in the coat that went down to the lining. Was it my own fault? Well, it was already dark and the nail could hardly be seen, and I was speaking with somebody walking next to me. Therefore, I think I am innocent. One rather ...
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Oct
21

Market Twilight

Last week, I began to discuss the question whether Francis Fukuyama’s hypothesis about convergence to liberal democracy and capitalism is at least partially right. While the countries of the world have not been moving towards democracy in the last 25 years, he could still be right that the future belongs to the markets. This week, however, I will argue that this is not the case. CAPITALISM OF THE PAST: WARM AND COZY In the works of libertarians like Ayn Rand and David Friedman, one can find a deep-rooted conviction that the outcomes of markets are not on...
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Oct
14

Is Capitalism the Final Stage of History?

No. In this two-part article I will argue that there are challenges to capitalism on the horizon which are virtually unsurmountable. There are good reasons to believe that in 30 years from now we will not see global dominance of market systems anymore. FUKUYAMA VS. MARX A few weeks ago, one of the worldwide most influential thinkers of the last 30 years visited Tbilisi to give a speech at the Free University: Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama became famous through his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992) which offers a reinterpretation of Hegelian id...
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Sep
30

The Ice Bucket Challenge: Does Motivation Matter?

In summer, social media were flooded with videos showing your friends (and celebrities of all levels of prominence) pouring buckets of icy water over their heads. While some people enjoyed watching this (and even participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge), many were unnerved by this charity campaign which was hardly distinguishable from an ordinary spam attack, were it not for the fact that now your friends and acquaintances were spamming you. A third group however, showed the most interesting reaction: they became moral about it. For those who do not kno...
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Sep
26

Georgia’s New Immigration Law: Many Losers and no Winners

This year, the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) admitted nine Armenian students and one from Azerbaijan. They came to Tbilisi for a preparation course in August and all of them applied for residency permits before the first of September. All applications were exactly identical. Out of ten students, seven got their permits, two were denied, and one is still in process. The reasons for rejection were stated in most general terms, relating to Article 18 of the new immigration law. That article reads:  “An alien may b...
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