ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Nikoloz Pkhakadze has not set their biography yet
Apr
24

Let Tourists Arrive and Georgia Thrive!

After the collapse of the Soviet Union it was believed that tourism might become one of Georgia’s “locomotive” sectors. While the Shevardnadze government failed to develop this potential, after the Rose Revolution, tourism became a top priority. Each year since 2005, the direct effect of tourism (i.e. the money spent by tourists) alone has contributed 6-7% of Georgia’s total GDP. Georgia is a net exporter of services, and tourism accounts for about 60% of these service exports. This is important income for the country, helping to finance the country’s la...
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Feb
27

Making Sense of FDI Dynamics

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is critical to every developing county, and Georgia is no exception in this regard. Georgia wants to grow out of poverty and catch up with the economically more developed regions of the world – for this to happen, foreign resources are needed, in particular if the domestic savings rate is as low as in Georgia. Yet FDI is not only about the capital which is made available to the economy but also, and even more importantly, about trust foreigners have into the Georgian economy. It is one thing to make cheerful statements abo...
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Jul
11

The Multigenerational Country

What is a family? Posing this question to a child in, say, Sweden, would almost surely lead to the answer “mum, dad, and children”. What would be the answer in Georgia? In Georgia, a child would most likely answer “grandmother, grandfather, mum, dad, and children”.  The multigenerational family, nowadays almost unknown in the economically more developed parts of the world, is still very common in Georgia. 2013 data of UNICEF derived from a sample of roughly 3000 Georgian households reveal the extent of this phenomenon. According to these data, in ab...
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Jun
06

Georgia Caught Between the Russian Rock and the EU Hard Place

“I’m Georgian, and therefore I am European.” These were the words late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania chose to express Georgia’s EU aspirations when speaking in front of the Council of Europe in 1999. Reading very much like Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”, Zhvania’s dramatic statement conveyed twin desires: i) to join the European family of nations and ii) to break out of Russia’s traditional sphere of influence, its political, economic, and cultural domination of Georgia since early 19th century. On June 27, the European Union plans to sign...
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Mar
31

The Ethics of Empty Stomachs

At the end of Act 2 of Bertolt Brecht’s Three-Penny-Opera, the proletarian petty criminal Macheath and his prostitute Jenny reply to the bourgeois representatives of the establishment urging them to uphold moral standards: “First comes a full stomach, then comes ethics!” This aphorism echoes the widely held contention that ethical behavior is a privilege of those who have satisfied their material needs. How can one expect somebody who is fighting for survival to be decent and honorable? Indeed, when civilization broke down during wars and disasters, huma...
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Feb
14

When Morals Constrict the Markets

It is well known that government intervention, be it through taxation or regulation, can obstruct the functioning of markets. Yet there is another kind of influence that may also have strong effects on the efficiency of an economy but is much less discussed, namely the set of values, traditions, and moral standards a society subscribes to. To some extent, the moral framework of a society is reflected in its legal system and in this way affects the economy, but more often an informal consensus that some things should or should not be done in certain ways ...
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