“You need to think carefully before you jump into this deep sea,” said Professor Daniel Levy at the very beginning of a presentation entitled “PhD Studies - Who Is It for?”. While this statement sounded frightening to those who were planning to pursue a PhD or other further studies, it appeared to be more bemusing for others who were not considering a career in academia.

Based on his personal experience, Dr. Levy explained that substantial difficulties come with academic life: a PhD is not a continuation of an MA, and it constitutes an “unbelievable amount of commitment”. It requires “focus, and lots of patience, time and energy”. Dr Levy recalled that during his studies, he took most of his meals sitting in front of a computer or with his nose buried in a book.

On Wednesday January 23, ISET hosted the Governor of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), Mr. Koba Gvenetadze. Mr. Gvenetadze delivered a profoundly informative lecture about the importance of monetary policies for economic well-being, discussing issues such as the importance of the price stability objective, inflation targeting frameworks (specifically why it is so crucial to avoid both deflation and high inflation), and the efficiency of monetary policy transmission mechanisms under a flexible exchange rate.

Since Milton Friedman, in his Presidential Address to the American Economic Association, presented a clear description of the role of monetary policies, economists (theorists and policymakers) have concentrated on studying the importance of price stability as a primary objective of monetary policies, and designing an optimal policy to achieve it. The economic costs of high and unstable inflation can be enormous. First, high inflation creates uncertainty in prices and distorts price signals, which leads to the inefficient allocation of scarce resources. Secondly, uncertainty related to high and volatile inflation complicates long-term planning, which forces businesses to invest in short-term projects, instead of investing in more productive long-term activities. Thirdly, lower inflation reduces interest rates and contributes to financial stability. However, moderate inflation is a result of economic growth.

Did you know what Georgia produces most and what is the share of its production worldwide? Wine and copper seem the obvious answers – but these would be wrong. The answer is, in fact, cryptocurrency: 15% of all Bitcoins in the world are mined in Georgia, perhaps a disproportionate figure given the country’s small size. On December 4, Andrew Thornhill, a co-founder of Spotcoin, gave a lecture at ISET entitled “What is Bitcoin and why will it change the world”.

Mr. Thornhill has built high volume payment networks on three continents, and more than one billion dollars of payments have cycled through Andrew’s networks. Leveraging his vast experience, he is now concentrating fully on the digital currency ecosystem. ISET was very fortunate to host such an authoritative speaker on cryptocurrency.

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