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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Jan
29

Fighting Drug Addiction: Can Georgia Do It Better? An Economist's View of Georgia’s Drug Policy Reform

Drug policy reform is now at the center of a heated debate in Georgia. Despite the importance of the subject, however, most of the discussions I have heard so far are based on phobias and myths, rather than on evidence. This is a pity, as society will ultimately have to decide on the subject by voting YES or NO on this reform, thereby choosing between very different potential outcomes. Having an informed opinion on the issue is, therefore, extremely important. Let’s start from the beginning - what are Georgia’s major drug-related problems? 1. Georgia ran...
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Jan
22

Is the Georgian Beef Market Becoming More Western?

*  This article below summarizes the observations and recommendations of the Georgian Ministry of "Meet the Meat Demand" study  funded by the French Ministry of finance, implemented by France Génétique Elevage and executed by the International Technical Cooperation Bureau of the French livestock organizations (BCTI). When visiting Georgia, the son of a French farmer may feel like cows are invading the countryside. They seem to be everywhere, roaming in little herds, cows, heifers and calves all together, searching for every blade of grass ...
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Dec
25

Is Less, More? On “Usakhelauri” Wine

  This summer I bought a small piece of land (0.15ha) in the village of Okhureshi to grow a vineyard. About 700 “Usakhelauri” vine seedlings planted on that land in November this year will soon provide the most scarce and expensive grapes in Georgia. In just in a couple of years the vines will mature, and I will enjoy something as nice as the neighboring vineyard depicted in the photo. NO NAME… Usakhelauri is an ancient red-wine grape variety unique to Georgia. The grapes are cultivated in just a couple of villages in the Lechkhumi region (West Geor...
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Dec
23

Who Gets to Eat from the Growing Pie?

  2017 is shaping up as one of the best years in Georgia’s post-2008 crisis history. The economy is expected to expand by about 5%, beating early expectations and official forecasts by the likes of the IMF and the World Bank. Based on updated GeoStat figures for Q1 and Q2, ISET-PI’s annual growth forecast currently stands at 4.9%. Even that figure is likely to be revised upwards if Q3 growth turns out to be higher than suggested by GeoStat’s preliminary estimate of 4.4%. Georgia is not alone in experiencing a boom. In fact, it is rising with a tide ...
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Dec
18

Behavioral Economics of New Year’s Resolutions

“January is always a good month for behavioral economics: Few things illustrate self-control as vividly as New Year's resolutions. February is even better, though, because it lets us study why so many of those resolutions are broken.” Sendhil Mullainathan, Harvard University. It is that time of a year when we take time to reflect upon our flaws and weaknesses to find areas where we can make positive changes for the New Year. In our imagination, there is an old self who we will leave behind on the New Year’s Eve, and we will welcome our new 2018 self, hea...
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Dec
11

Do You Have Questions About the Upcoming Pension Reform? Here Are Some Answers

Over the past months, we have been asked several times questions about the upcoming pension reform. Here are some answers. For whom is the contribution to the fund mandatory? Who can join/contribute to the fund? All those individuals who receive their salary net of taxes because their employer pays the income tax for them are automatically enrolled in the fund. Those who are 40 or more years of age will have – after 3 months in the fund – the possibility to opt out. However, this “window” to opt out will close after the 5th month in the fund. Those who a...
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