ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Apr
13

The Complexities Facing the Competition Authority

Economists disagree whether it was a good decision to reestablish the Georgian competition authority. When some years ago it was removed, the underlying logic was that a non-existing authority cannot be corrupt, and, more importantly, cannot harm the economy through misguided decisions. Assuming that corruption will not be a problem for the competition authority, neither now nor in the future, regulating markets is still a highly delicate issue which yields many possibilities to go wrong. WHAT IS THE RELEVANT MARKET? One of the central issues that have t...
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Dec
25

Georgia: Exporting Christmas Tree Seeds to Europe and Cutting Trees at Home?

Exporting the seeds of the Nordmann fir – a very popular species grown for Christmas trees – is a thriving and fiercely competitive Georgian industry, perhaps the only one in which Georgia has a near monopoly of the European market. According to an industry expert, more than 80% of all Christmas trees sold in Europe have their origin in Racha (Tlugi and Ambrolauri) and Borjomi forests. In 2013 Georgia exported more than 60 tons of fir tree seeds, with a total value of almost $US 2 million ($32/kg on average). Denmark is the largest buyer of Georgia’...
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Nov
11

Armenia Generates Windfall Profits for Georgia

When Armenia entered the Russia-dominated customs union in 2013, fear spread among the Georgian public and policy makers. It looked as if Georgia would be economically squeezed in between Russia and Armenia, the latter being one of Russia’s staunchest allies in the region and, given its geopolitical dependency on Russia, sometimes seen as a little more than a Russian agent. Being wary about Russia’s economic influence in the region, it was straightforward for Georgia to respond to this development by upgrading economic ties with our Western allies. There...
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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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Nov
29

Clean Air is Lifetime

Lifetime is one of the most precious assets. People are paying huge amounts of money to extend their lifespans, sometimes for gaining only weeks or months. And imprisonment and death penalty are so widely applied punishments throughout all cultures and ages because people are scared off by the prospect of losing lifetime. As lifetime is such a valuable good, it is surprising that it is largely ignored in the policy debate. According to the World Populations Prospects report, published in 2010 by the United Nations, Georgians have a life expectancy at bir...
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