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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Apr
08

Bashar al-Assad’s Three Puzzles

In 2007, an American businessman and friend of the then Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, was visiting Damascus before continuing his journey to Jerusalem. On the morning of his departure to Israel, the Mukhabarat, Syria’s secret service, knocked at his hotel room. The Syrian agents calmed down the scared businessman – he was not to be taken to some torture prison, of which there were many in Syria. Instead, they wanted to know what was Ehud Olmert’s favorite dish. Surprised about this question, the businessman answered “hummus”, and half an hour la...
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Guest — ZeevJabotinsky
The article is very intelligent. Indeed, Assad is the least terrible alternative in the Syrian scenario. There is no viable altern... Read More
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 1:01 PM
Eric Livny
Yuval Noah Harari on the subject of terrorism and fear mongering, the terrorist flies and the anti-terrorist bulls that wreak havo... Read More
Sunday, 16 April 2017 6:06 AM
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Mar
06

Economic Freedom (Act): Do We Need It or Not?

The so-called “Economic Freedom Act” (EFA), which has been a matter of public discussion in recent weeks, refers to two pieces of legislation: (i) a Constitutional amendment from 2010, which requires a referendum for introducing new taxes or increasing the tax rate, and (ii) the Law on Economic Freedom (2011), in force since 2013, setting a number of additional restrictions to government fiscal policy (Table 1). Table 1. Law on Economic Freedom in Short Number of Tax...
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Feb
13

Modern Quagmire and Georgia's Trump Card?

  “The fundamental problem for Georgian security is that Russia holds all the major cards and no one is reshuffling the deck in Georgia’s favour”, writes Neil MacFarlane in his 2016 article on Georgia’s security situation. Georgia has a mighty neighbor that is not democratic, does not respect the right of self-determination of nations, and, most importantly, actually brings its military power to bear whenever Russian (legitimate or illegitimate) interests are not sufficiently honored. To add insult to injury, Russia’s military strength is unconteste...
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Guest — Leqso
Dear Eric, Georgias history is basically a story of survival between two strong neighbors and rather than looking at the examples ... Read More
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 11:11 AM
Eric Livny
And vice versa, dear Leqso :-) None of this is surprising, however. According to Rufus Miles, “Where you stand depends on where yo... Read More
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:10 AM
Guest — Leqso
It might be indication of something interesting that mostly pro-Russian politicians, with good track record of relations with Puti... Read More
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:10 AM
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Oct
03

On Predicting Election Results

  Forecasters, professionals and amateurs alike, all got it wrong. The Brexit came as a surprise because the bookmakers (people who organize bets on developments in politics, economics, and sports) reported that about three times more money was put on the event that Britain would stay in the EU than on its alternative. With poll results being inconclusive in the weeks before the referendum, this led many pundits to believe that Britain would stay in the EU. Also in the United States, the predictors were dramatically embarrassed when Donald Trump pr...
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Quji Bichia
It's easy to predict U.S. presidential elections. The one who spends more on a campaign always wins (with couple of exceptions whe... Read More
Monday, 03 October 2016 8:08 AM
Florian Biermann
Thank you, Quji. Money is surely an issue. Lets see whether you are right that it is decisive. Personally, I believe that Trump wi... Read More
Monday, 03 October 2016 11:11 AM
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Sep
26

Less Taxes = Higher Growth? Or not?

    Cutting taxes and achieving higher economic growth as a result is every politician’s dream. The 2016 parliamentary elections of Georgia showed just how important and controversial the question of taxation can become.  On the one hand, the Global Competitiveness Index Report that came out this month puts Georgia in the top 10 (9th place) among the countries with lowest tax rates. The current administration’s plans to abolish taxes on undistributed profit is likely to improve this ranking even more. On the other hand, many politicians a...
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Sep
19

What Do Politicians Promise Us: a Popular Guide to Political Platforms on Agriculture

“To win the people, always cook them some savory that pleases them.” ― Aristophanes, The Knights As the Election Day of October 8th approaches, we hear more and more about the platforms of Georgian political parties. Given that political competition is very fierce, one naturally expects to hear some blatantly populist statements – the kind of political promises (known to humanity from the times of Aristophanes) which are very popular among the voters, but are hard or impossible to implement in practice. Thus, for example, the reform of the tax syste...
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Hans Gutbrod
very useful. Thanks for your analysis and sharing this. I thought the UNM had updated their policies over the summer, as they had ... Read More
Monday, 19 September 2016 8:08 AM
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