ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Mar
14

A Portrait of a Tushetian Farmer as an Entrepreneur

We first met Gogi Elanidze in winter 2015, when interviewing farmers in Rati’s village, Kvemo Alvani. Located in Akhmeta municipality, Kvemo Alvani and its twin, Zemo Alvani, are not your usual Kakhetian villages. The two serve as the winter base for the people of Tusheti, an isolated valley separated from Kakheti by the 3000m high Abano mountain pass. Getting settled. Kvemo Alvani’s rectangular shape and straight parallel streets betray a fairly recent, Soviet or...
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Feb
01

Let It Be

When Saint Nino, one of Georgia’s most venerated saints, traveled to Mtskheta back in the fourth century, she stopped to erect a grapevine cross in Foka, a small settlement on the shores of Lake Paravani some 2000 meters above sea level. Saint Nino must have traveled during the summer since, even today, Foka is very difficult to reach for about 6 months of the year. Heaps of snow block all major access roads during the long and cold winter.  In 1992, as Georgia was going through the most painful period in its recent history, six young Georgian ...
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Pati Mamardashvili
Let it be! Let all Georgian villages be inspired by Poka example! As a synonym to Let it be! (dae asec ikos) Georgians often use t... Read More
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 5:05 PM
Eric Livny
I could not agree more. There are plenty of talented people across Georgia's countryside, but instead of doing good for the commun... Read More
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 6:06 PM
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Jan
25

If Moscow Can Beat the Traffic, So Can Tbilisi!

When I left Russia back in late 2006, attempting to cross a busy Moscow street bordered on suicide. Instead of slowing down before a zebra crossing, Russian drivers were in the habit of accelerating so as to signal their intention NOT to stop. Understandably, pedestrians had no choice but to adjust their street crossing strategies accordingly. The result was what an economist might call a “bad” equilibrium. Moscow drivers would not even consider letting pedestrians cross. And pedestrians would not even try.  When visiting Moscow for the New Year hol...
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Hans Gutbrod
A wonderful example of why you kind of have to stick with the bad equilibrium: I nearly got an elderly lady killed a few weeks ago... Read More
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 1:01 PM
Guest — JanFidrmuc
I didn't find crossing the road in Tbilisi much more of a challenge than in other Eastern European cities. Now that could have thr... Read More
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 2:02 PM
Eric Livny
Jan, thanks for your comment. Your option (1) does not seem plausible. (2) and (3) do apply. I am also quite assertive when crossi... Read More
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 3:03 PM
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Oct
01

On Innovation, Coffeehouses and Georgian Supras

According to Steve Johnson (a popular American science writer and media theorist, the author of Where Good Ideas Come From), coffee and coffeehouses were a significant contributor to Europe’s scientific and industrial revolution. The first coffeehouses opened in London in 1650, and quickly mushroomed all over Europe. The coffeehouse had two major positive effects. First, it provided a healthy alternative to water (heavily contaminated) and alcohol (heavily abused at the time). And, second, as more and more intellectuals switched to coffee, the coffe...
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Lasha Lanchava
If physical distance reduces knowledge diffusion why not use the internet that would eliminate the former? In general, over relian... Read More
Thursday, 01 October 2015 3:03 PM
Eric Livny
The internet and face-to-face interactions are not substitutes but complements. I agree that kids and youth are glued to the same ... Read More
Thursday, 01 October 2015 4:04 PM
Lasha Lanchava
Not a bad idea. Especially in remote villages, where the (old) monasteries are built over beautiful landscapes, is a big potential... Read More
Thursday, 01 October 2015 4:04 PM
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May
29

Georgia’s Underground Economy

Economic activities which are not registered (and therefore not taxed) are commonly called Shadow Economy or Underground Economy. Are there shadowy corners in Georgia’s economy? Not just corners! According to Schneider, Buehn, and Montenegro (“Shadow Economies All over the World – New Estimates for 162 Countries from 1999 to 2007”, Policy Research Working Paper 5356, The World Bank 2010), based on estimates for 2007, Georgia has by far the largest shadow economy (as a share of GDP) among all surveyed 21 transition countries. 62.1% of all economic activit...
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May
15

The Paradox of Soviet Excellence

Here is a question that has bothered me for a while and I am surprised that nobody else seems to have asked it before: How comes Western countries had the better orchestras (collectives) and Soviet Union the better classical music soloists during the Cold War? Would one not expect the contrary? And, perhaps more importantly: can economists learn something relevant from this observation? MUSIC AND SPORTS There were great orchestras both in the East and in the West and one could argue endlessly who were the greatest soloists. However, Van Cliburn is still ...
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Guest — Gia Bib
Interesting viewpoint, however I would restrain from generalizations. In terms of orchestras, for instance it is a well known fact... Read More
Friday, 15 May 2015 12:12 PM
Guest — Eric Livny
I would agree with Gia that such a sweeping generalization may be difficult to defend. The individualistic West produced plenty of... Read More
Friday, 15 May 2015 2:02 PM
Guest — mfmsm
Yes, you highlight some of the very best parts of Communism. What was wrong was the unaccountability of the oligarchy, and the des... Read More
Friday, 15 May 2015 8:08 PM
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