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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Oct
15

Georgia’s New Gold Rush: Or the Economic Prospects of Export of Medical Marijuana

  This article continues the theme of ISET Economist blog “Decriminalize Marijuana?” written by my colleague Saba Devdariani in June 2015, where he described the philosophical aspects related to marijuana state regulations and medical consequences of its consumption. RECENT CHANGES IN LEGISLATION Three years after the blog was published, regulation of cannabis became the hottest topic of discussion in the social-political life of Georgia. On July 30th 2018, the Constitutional Court de jure legalized personal consumption of marijuana by declaring tha...
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Mar
12

Does Georgia Have One of the Largest Shadow Economies in the World?

In January 2018, an IMF Working Paper published new results on the shadow economy situation for 158 countries from 1991 to 2015. According to Medina and Schneider (2018), the shadow economy in Georgia during that period constituted, on average, 64.9% of GDP - the highest indicator in the world! In 2015 (the last year available), things were slightly better for Georgia, with the share of shadow economy standing at 53%. Still, our country was “outshone” only by Zimbabwe (67%) and Haiti (56%) in the world rankings. To add insult to injury, Georgia’s results...
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Dec
04

Your Guest Is My Guest, or Why Tourism Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The South Caucasus is divided by high mountain ranges, often impassable political borders, and ethnic conflict zones. In addition to three independent states, the region also includes three unrecognized territories. Nakhichevan is separated from Azerbaijan’s mainland by Armenia’s Syunik region. Armenia’s border with Turkey and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is sealed for political reasons. Though trampled by politics, the economic arguments for greater regional integration in the South Caucasus are truly powerful. For one thing, thanks to its strategic l...
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Recent Comments
Simon Appleby
The Vine and Wine Foundation of Armenia recently held its inaugural International Wine Conference in Yerevan, backed by GIZ. Guest... Read More
Saturday, 09 December 2017 7:07 AM
Simon Appleby
An interesting market for Georgia, oddly enough, is the Armenian Diaspora market (around 8 million people). Many diaspora Armenian... Read More
Saturday, 09 December 2017 7:07 AM
Eric Livny
Sounds really interesting, Simon! Ive recently interviewed Ia Tabagari, head of the Georgian kvevri (or natural) wine association,... Read More
Saturday, 09 December 2017 5:05 PM
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Jun
26

In debt and broke in Georgia

  An individual living in Kutaisi took a 1500 USD real estate secured loan from one of the microfinance institutions in 2011 and had to pay 75 USD interest rate for the following 6 months. The purpose of taking this loan was to finance treatment of her child. She was unable to cover monthly payments and prolonged the term to 10 month, but failed to cover this payments again and was fined several times. In the end, loan was restructured and monthly interest raised to 83 USD, while the amount of total loan nearly doubled to 2700 USD. As a result, she ...
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Jun
10

Is Less More When Hosting International Events in Your Home Country?

In just a couple of weeks Baku is going to host the second Formula One Grand Prix in its history. Being in love with motor races and inspired by the fact that for the first time in my life I will attend such an important race (and the Land of Fire); I tried to explore the economic impact of hosting expensive international events for one’s country. In 2017, the Formula One Championship will take place in 20 countries. Nineteen of these countries are either in the top 15 by the level of GDP, or are (net) oil and gas exporters. The only exception here is Hu...
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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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