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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Oct
30

Georgia’s Democracy: the Puzzle of a Red Country Turning Blue

On October 21, 2017, Georgia’s entire political map was painted in different shades of blue – the color of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. GD won in all but one race in the country’s municipal elections – achieving solid majorities in all sakrebulo (city councils) and placing party-backed candidates as mayors in all cities and self-governing communities. Such results are quite unusual, and nearly impossible to achieve nowadays in the politically polarized atmosphere of Western Europe, UK or the U.S. Do they suggest that GD has been except...
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Oct
23

Telavi, the Capital of Georgian Beer Drinking?

Telavi, the former capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti, is a beautiful town with spectacular views of the Alazani Valley and Caucasian mountains. In the 18th century, King Erekle II reigned from Telavi. The palace can still be seen, and the statue of King Erekle stands proudly in the middle of the city's town square. More importantly for the city dwellers, Telavi is the capital of Georgia’s traditional winemaking.  This month, however, the capital of Georgia’s winemaking has for a couple of days become the capital of Georgian beer drinking, in the bes...
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Oct
16

Strong Leader = Successful Team?!

The cooperative movement in Georgia started back in 2013 with EU support, through the launching of the ENPARD project, a major component of which is the development of agricultural cooperatives across Georgia. According to the Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency, there are 1,500 agricultural cooperatives in Georgia, and more than 250 of them have been supported by the ENPARD program (for locations of these cooperatives see the map). Not all those newborn cooperatives will be successful, and their sustainability depends on many factors. THE THEOR...
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Oct
09

One Notch More Attractive to Investors with Deep Pockets

Just recently, a rare occurrence made the headlines in Georgia: Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the government of Georgia’s local and foreign currency issuer ratings first time in seven years, to Ba2 from Ba3, with commentary that the outlook remains stable. This news was met with great excitement, but was soon overshadowed by the unfortunate news of Georgia’s downgrade on the Global Competitiveness Indicators, without fully appreciating or understanding the significance of the Moody's upgrade. SO WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT? Moody's Investors Service provid...
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Oct
02

The Long, Hot Summer: Why Did We Witness a Spike in Forest Fires and What Can Be Done About It – Part I

In the summer of 2017, Georgia experienced an unusually high number of forest fires across the entire country. 35 forest fires were recorded just in August (official data reporting the size of area burned by these fires is not yet available). In almost all regions of the country, several fires were reported. Among them, the conflagration in the Borjomi gorge had the most dramatic consequences: it lasted for seven days (20-27 August), and more than 100 hectares of forest were destroyed. Many people claim that these cannot be all accidental events. Is this...
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Sep
25

Is ISET’s New BA Program Winning the Fight for Best Brains in Georgia?

  It is no secret that global competition for the best brains is as intense as ever. Having adequate human capital can put a country on a trajectory of perpetual growth, say economists. The ‘brain wars’ typically play out in the setting of national and multinational companies competing for talent, but some of the most intense fights happen between universities struggling to recruit and retain the best young minds on the planet. Even elite institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge are only as good as the quality of their last ...
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