ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Oct
30

Georgia’s Democracy: the Puzzle of a Red Country Turning Blue

On October 21, 2017, Georgia’s entire political map was painted in different shades of blue – the color of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. GD won in all but one race in the country’s municipal elections – achieving solid majorities in all sakrebulo (city councils) and placing party-backed candidates as mayors in all cities and self-governing communities. Such results are quite unusual, and nearly impossible to achieve nowadays in the politically polarized atmosphere of Western Europe, UK or the U.S. Do they suggest that GD has been except...
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Sep
25

Is ISET’s New BA Program Winning the Fight for Best Brains in Georgia?

  It is no secret that global competition for the best brains is as intense as ever. Having adequate human capital can put a country on a trajectory of perpetual growth, say economists. The ‘brain wars’ typically play out in the setting of national and multinational companies competing for talent, but some of the most intense fights happen between universities struggling to recruit and retain the best young minds on the planet. Even elite institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge are only as good as the quality of their last ...
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Jun
10

Is Less More When Hosting International Events in Your Home Country?

In just a couple of weeks Baku is going to host the second Formula One Grand Prix in its history. Being in love with motor races and inspired by the fact that for the first time in my life I will attend such an important race (and the Land of Fire); I tried to explore the economic impact of hosting expensive international events for one’s country. In 2017, the Formula One Championship will take place in 20 countries. Nineteen of these countries are either in the top 15 by the level of GDP, or are (net) oil and gas exporters. The only exception here is Hu...
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May
06

Not So Fast….Is The Nightmare of Georgian Road (Un)Safety About to End?

On April 21, the Parliament of Georgia approved changes to the Road Traffic law introducing the so-called demerit points system (DPS) in Georgia. Under the DPS every driver will receive a reserve of 100 points. For each traffic violation, in addition to monetary penalty, the points will be deducted from a 100 points “allowance”. Once the driver “burns” through all 100 points, his or her license will be revoked for one year. Those who do not burn through their points quickly will receive a new reserve of 100 points every year on January 1st. As a member o...
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Mar
13

How to Prevent the Tobacco Law from Going Up in Smokes?

BACKGROUND After a hike in excise tax on cigarettes in January 2017, Parliament of Georgia is going to introduce legislative changes to the existing tobacco control law (TCL) in March. Since its enactment in 2003, TCL has been modified several times. However, the recently proposed changes can be considered the most radical step towards a tobacco-free society in Georgia. New draft law comprehensively covers production, packaging, marketing, advertising, selling and consumption of tobacco, and other activities of tobacco businesses. The main changes can be...
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Feb
20

Price and Prejudice on the Georgian Market for Cigarettes

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet we have a tax that could prevent hundreds of millions of premature deaths. It is time to use it more effectively. -Prabhat Jha It is a truth universally acknowledged, that cigarettes are bad for human health. Yet, whenever the government tries to regulate consumption of cigarettes by increasing their price, it gets a very mixed reaction from the public. Some people (mostly non-smokers) welcome these policies, while others accuse the government of ...
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