Seminars & Lectures
On March 21, ISET hosted Dr. In Kyung Kim, Assistant Professor of Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, who presented a recently-authored paper entitled 'Effects of chain affiliation in the movie theater industry'. According to the paper, one of the most salient features in retail and service industries in the past few decades is the rapid spread of chain establishments. In the U.S., for example, the sales of chain firms ($1.3 trillion) were 9.2 percent of the total GDP in 2009 (Kosova and Lafontaine, 2012). As chain firms have been constantly replacing independent, stand-alone establishments, there is also a growing concern regarding the retail sector becoming more concentrated over time. For instance, the Korea Fair Trade Commission and the National Commission for Corporate Partnership imposed restrictions on the entry of new franchisees in the bakery industry in 2013. Despite its importance, however, there is little empirical evidence on the implication of chain affiliation.
On February 14, Prof. Muhammad Asali delivered a research seminar and presented his work on the relationship between the labor market and the healthiness of the economy. The paper, entitled “Labor Market Discrimination and the Macroeconomy,” which is a joint work with his former student Ms. Rusudan Gurashvili, aimed at measuring and documenting the discriminatory wage gaps in Georgia within gender and ethnic dimensions. Second, and more importantly, the study aimed at exploring the relationship between the found wage gaps and the macroeconomic performance of the country (as proxied by economic growth and unemployment). Unlike the usual approach in literature of this kind, which examines the growth-discrimination relationship in the framework of a cross-section of countries, the presented study introduced an innovative, time-series-based approach to study this relationship, in the short-run, the long-run, and the steady-state.
One of ISET’s core values is to provide its students with an international academic environment. One of the key aspects of this mission is the academic seminars the institute periodically hosts; many outstanding scholars have visited ISET to present their research results and discuss issues in the focus of academic circles all over the world. This helps students with their studies, find their own interests, and remain up-to-date with the most recent academic trends worldwide. It is, however, doubly special when an alumnus returns to meet his fellow ISETers. Dr. Lasha Chochua, who graduated from ISET’s MA program back in 2008, just recently defended his PhD thesis with the job market paper entitled ‘The Farsighted Stability of Global Trade Policy Arrangements’ in Bielefeld University, Germany.
“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 January 29, ISET was pleased to host Prof. Michael Beenstock for a seminar-workshop. Prof. Beenstock is the author of ten books on topics including time series and spatial econometrics, macroeconomics, the global economy and economic development, as well as writing more than 100 refereed journal articles. He presented the preliminary findings of a research project entitled “The Puzzle of Economic Development without Rural-Urban Transition in Georgia.” The project was undertaken by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation and an ISET research team. “Manchester is known for two things: 1) Manchester United and Manchester City, 2) I was born in Manchester,” said Prof. Beenstock at the very beginning of a presentation. The third point fame for the city, which is more important for Economic Science, is Victoria University of Manchester. Here, Arthur Lewis wrote his seminal work in Development and Growth Economics for which he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1979. Lewis provided a structural theory of economic development which explained the correlation between urbanization and development in the past, and which would also predict it in the future. The Lewis and Harris-Todaro (Harris and Todaro 1970) models have become canons of textbooks on development economics, and rural-urban transition is now regarded as an inevitable and ubiquitous consequence of economic development.
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.