ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Feb
03

Does Competition Spoil People?

Many of the influential critics of capitalism shared a sentiment that life under competitive pressure is not good for human beings. Marx felt deep uneasiness about the fact that workers have to “sell” their workforce -- he feared that this would contribute to “alienation” between the worker and their work. One of the main objectives of the Socialist society was therefore to create a new kind of human, a human who would not compete with others in the market arenas and who would not be driven by selfish motives. Rather, the human grown in Socialism would c...
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Jan
27

Real Estate Prices in Tbilisi: No Bubble, No Trouble

Bubbles belong to the most fascinating phenomena in a market. Suddenly, people are willing to pay prices which are completely out of touch with the fundamental economic values of assets. In the stock market bubble of the 1920s, persons who had never before considered to become investors borrowed money and bought shares, so as not to miss out on the chance to become rich. Euphoria grew and grew, until even housewives, dock workers, and cleaning personnel had no other topic to talk about but the news from the stock markets. All this went on until in 1929 t...
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Dec
15

The Economics of Great Personalities

Some weeks ago, I was invited by a development bank to the Hotel Eden in Kvareli, Kakheti, where we discussed Georgia’s possibilities to develop economically. When we talked about the potential of the manufacturing sector, one of the attending bank employees said: “The problem is that Georgia does not have Rudolf Diesel and Nikolaus Otto.” I think that there is some truth in this sentence, which one might alter so that it fits better to modern times: “The problem is that Georgia does not have a Mark Zuckerberg/Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Larry Page” or, to rem...
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Nov
28

Career Guidance for Unemployed Georgians

One of the most puzzling aspects of the Georgian labor market is what is known as the “qualification mismatch”. While unemployment is high, many positions remain vacant due to a lack of qualified applicants. There is plenty of casual evidence that there is such a mismatch. Recently, a World Bank delegation we hosted at ISET reported about a meeting they had with Georgian entrepreneurs. One of those businessmen, active in the construction sector, was bringing welders from Turkey to Tbilisi, paying them extraordinarily high salaries (Turkish wage level plu...
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Nov
17

Kakha Bendukidze. End of an Epoch?

  The post-communist world lost one of its greatest sons last week – a freedom fighter who devoted his life to the daunting task of cleansing Eastern Europe and Eurasia from the shackles of Soviet thinking and bureaucracy. Like Che Guevara before him, Big Kakha’s legacy transcends national borders. His crusade for liberty and human dignity took him in 2004 from Russia to Georgia, and – in the last year of his life – from Georgia to Ukraine. He was eager to help revolutionaries and reformers all over the world, not sparing his time, money and effort...
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