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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
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Feb
27

Make Kutaisi Great Again!

Have you ever heard about a mysterious law that predicts the size of a city? If you tell me the population of the largest city in a country, I can tell you the size of the second and third biggest cities. In 1949, George Zipf came up with the simple theory called the rank-size rule, or “Zipf 's law.” Applied to the size of cities, this law says that the second city and following smaller cities should represent a proportion of the largest city. For example, if the largest city in a country is populated with one million citizens, according to the law, the ...
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Nov
12

Thinking Forward through the Past

Under the Soviet system, farmers worked under strong central control; everyone knew what to do. Important economic decisions were not left to the market, or decided by self-interested individuals. Instead, the government, which owned or controlled much of the economy’s resources, decided what, when and how to produce. Along with providing necessary inputs, the state ensured that farmers had access to markets for their goods. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, state-provided coordination was abolished. The newly shaped market system brought a lot of ...
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Oct
17

Khachapuri Index, Exchange Rate Dynamics and International Tourism

One glance at the ₾Khachapuri Index chart (for locals) tells the whole story of Georgian agriculture. Left to fend for themselves during the cold winter months, Georgian cows produce very little milk, sending dairy prices through the roof. Conversely, milk production peaks with the arrival of sunny weather and green fodders in early spring, leading to a collapse of milk prices. In the absence of large-scale industrial milk production (that does not depend as much on climate and weather conditions), the roller coaster image repeats itself, year in and yea...
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Sep
12

To Bee or not to Bee?

  The economic significance of bees extends far beyond honey production. As the National Resource Defense Council writes in 2011 (“Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables”), the value of the honey that bees produced in the US in that year amounted to 150 million dollars, while the value of the harvested crops that were pollinated by bees was 15 billion dollars, i.e., greater by a factor of 100! Having bees around is not primarily beneficial for the beekeepers, but even more for anyone else who grows crops, fruits, or vegetable...
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Apr
05

XXI Century Arrives to Kakheti, with soplidan.ge

Have you ever had a problem of buying healthy products or being lazy to go shopping in open air bazaar? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to order natural and fresh food that gets delivered straight to your door that is not of the fast-food, take-away variety? There might just be reason for optimism with the story of soplidan.ge (“from the village”).  This is a story of a small-business with an innovative idea. Soplidan is the first Georgian internet portal to offer online shopping for agricultural products. Consumers can choose goods they wa...
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Jan
23

Mandatory Flour Fortification in Georgia: a Boon or a Burden for the Poor?

We are what we eat – in the near future Georgians are likely to be reminded of this universal truth.   Soon the Georgian Parliament will be discussing a small but important change, which will affect something as significant and vital as bread, along with pasta, khachapuri and anything made with wheat flour. The Georgian legislators will be considering a law, according to which flour fortification will become mandatory in Georgia. Mandatory food fortification is a contentious issue. The proponents of the law argue that this change is a great way to d...
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