ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
May
22

Free or Fearful? The Fear of Floating in the South Caucasus

In economics there is a long-standing debate on whether emerging markets should adopt a fixed exchange rate currency regime or leave their exchange rates up to markets to decide. Intuitively, exchange rate is just another price, similar to the price on a sack of potatoes, a liter of milk or a kilogram of honey. Except that exchange rate is the price of 1 unit of foreign currency (say, 1 US dollar) in terms of our domestic currency. Textbook economics would tell us that price flexibility is essential for markets to function well, to quickly clear up any s...
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Feb
11

Is Lari Hitting Our Dinner Tables?

“The Arab Spring was a revolution of the hungry.” So stated The Boston Globe’s journalist Thanassis Cambanis in his 2011 article claiming that in countries where access to food was an issue, “hitting the dinner table” is not a good idea. In order to demonstrate the importance of food prices, he went even further, and reminded his readers that when food price inflation in Egypt reached almost 19%, the president of the country had to resign. Food price spikes like the grain price spike in 2007-2008 or some other shocks like currency depreciation, can lead ...
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Guest — GB
The lari started to depreciate in 2014, and by the end of 2016, the local currency had depreciated by almost 50% in nominal terms.... Read More
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 7:07 AM
Salome Gelashvili
Thank you for your comment. I talk about real exchange rates in one of the paragraphs of the blog in order to make clear that lo... Read More
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 8:08 AM
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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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Oct
25

Borrow in Dollar or Lari? That Is the Question!

The Georgian lari’s depreciation against the dollar has been a pressing issue for everyone: economists and policymakers, students, housewives and even the good-for-nothing “birzhavik’s”. The weaker lari may be good news for Georgia’s export competitiveness and trade balance, yet it also pushes up the prices of anything we import. This may include some luxury items we can do without, but also many things that are absolutely essential for the Georgian economy: primary commodities, production inputs and machinery, foodstuffs and medicines. And by raising th...
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Guest — StephanvonCramonUniversityofGttingenandGermanEconomicTeamGETinGeorgia
Interesting, thank you. However, perhaps it should be stated very clearly: if you earn your income in lari, borrowing in dollars m... Read More
Sunday, 25 October 2015 8:08 PM
Eric Livny
Yes, I agree with Stephan that borrowing in foreign currency is ultimately a gamble.But agree with Giorgi that this may be a gambl... Read More
Monday, 26 October 2015 9:09 AM
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Sep
14

Georgia’s Currency is Much More Than the GEL/USD Exchange Rate

It is easy to understand what it means for an economy to be weak or strong. We know that a strong economy is characterized by low unemployment and high growth rates. Other desirable traits are, for example, low levels of poverty and income inequality, when all citizens enjoy reasonable standards of living.  Things are less clear when we think about our national currencies.  When designating currencies as “weak” or “strong”, we usually think of the exchange rate against the dollar or the euro. Having a “weak” currency sounds like a bad thing, wh...
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Guest — JanFidrmuc
Good article. I wonder if dollarization (or euroization) might be the way forward, either by completely replacing the lari in circ... Read More
Tuesday, 15 September 2015 2:02 PM
Guest — Yasya
As far as currency is concerned I am of the opinion that adopting either USD or Euro may not have clear advantages for Georgia. Th... Read More
Tuesday, 15 September 2015 6:06 PM
Guest — Chase
I agree with Yasya that it wouldn't be the most advantageous. To add to the argument, I interviewed Matthias Matthijs of Johns Hop... Read More
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 10:10 AM
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