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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Giorgi Kelbakiani has not set their biography yet
Dec
07

If You Are So Smart, Why Are You Stuck in Kutaisi?

Rachvelis, the natives of a beautiful highland region in western Georgia, have a reputation for being slow but thorough in speaking and behavior. Whether slow or not, Rachvelis are certainly not dumb. At least according to their performance in the national General Ability Test (GAT). In 2012, students from Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti (R-L-KS) were 2nd (!) after Tbilisi on the average GAT performance (Chart 1). Yet, not as many Rachvelis as one would expect end up in the best Georgian universities (Chart 2), which, judging by the average GAT perform...
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Feb
28

Access to Electricity: Is Off-the-Grid an Option?

Assuring access to modern energy services for the whole population is a crucial step to improve human well-being and stimulate economic and social development. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has identified the lack of access to modern energy services as one of the main obstacles to overcome in order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook, the IEA argued forcefully about the need to find and mobilize the resources required to extend access to modern energy services to the poor around the world. Transition c...
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Dec
16

The Georgian Egg of Discord

While ISET’s Khachapuri Index continues to climb up in a perfectly predictable fashion – driven by the seasonal increase in the price of cheese – a bit of drama is being provided by the ups and downs in the price of eggs. According to ISET data, egg prices, which for a couple of years hovered around 29 tetri a piece, suddenly collapsed in June and July 2013 to a minimum of about 26 tetri. A month later, however, egg prices started increasing in a very sharp manner, reaching an all time high of more than 32 tetri in October. In November egg prices stabili...
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Nov
18

Georgia Riding the Waves of a Political Business Cycle

In our last week’s article we examined Georgia’s economic growth in the 12 months before the 2012 parliamentary elections.  In particular, we reviewed the popular argument that much of this economic growth was driven by the “political business cycle” effect of public (over)spending prior to the elections. Our analysis showed that the construction sector (the prime suspect for politically motivated spending) did in fact exhibit an atypical growth pattern just before the elections, and that growth rates in construction collapsed right after October 20...
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Nov
10

Georgia's Growth Slowdown - The Case of a Political Business Cycle?

October 27, 2013 heralded a new era in the Georgian politics. The year of power sharing between the two main rival political forces, the so-called “era of cohabitation”, has officially ended, and we can now start to look back and take the stock of how the political developments in the country affected economic growth. In two articles that we publish today and in the next week, we will aim to provide an overview of some specific trends. We will first look at the general economic trends in the year between the parliamentary and the presidential elections (...
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Oct
11

Electricity Generation in Georgia II: Blowing Wind into the System

In the first part of our article we pointed out that electricity generation by hydropower is subject to strong seasonal variations. We argued that the seasonality of hydropower reduces the profitability of new plants, as they deliver the highest output in the time of the year when electricity is relatively cheap anyway, while they produce rather little when electricity is expensive. There are other problems why the potential of additional hydro power plants to solve Georgia’s energy problem are limited. Chart 4 shows a simple projection for 2020: The pro...
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