Seminars & Lectures
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.
On February 19, Sandro Shelegia, an Associate Professor of Pompeu Fabra University, presented to the ISET community a study by Joshua Sherman and himself entitled “Bargaining at Retail Stores: Evidence from Vienna”. The Associate Professor discussed the step-by-step procedures researchers had to follow to collect reliable data, and the theoretical bases upon which the truthfulness of the analyses strongly depended. The former stage posed major challenge for Shelegia and Sherman as the data they needed — such as the name, scale, and profile of the shop, the price range of the goods sold, etc. — was not available (in a structured form) in any of the existing databases. To tackle the problem, the researchers trained 12 RAs, and identified nearly 300 different retail shops throughout Vienna, Austria, and constructed the valuable database themselves.
On Thursday, February 15, ISET hosted Dr. Vytautas Kuokštis, an Associate Professor at Vilnius University and the Institute of International Relations and Political Science. Dr. Kuokštis gave a presentation entitled “The Political Economy of Internal Adjustment in the Baltics in 2008-10 in the Light of Models of Currency Crises”. This presentation was focused on the Baltic countries' experience during the Global Recession in 2008-10, and how the nations reacted. The global financial crisis hit the Baltic States much harder than other countries in the EU: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all faced a very deep economic downturn, with many outside observers predicting they would devalue and/or default; in other words, they these countries would fail to implement the strategy of internal devaluation/adjustment.
Dr. Tamila Nutsubidze, a consultant at the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, visited ISET to talk about the challenges of the non-contributory pension system in Georgia. In the first part of the presentation, Dr. Nutsubidze gave a short overview about social/non-contributory pension schemes. According to existing literature, there are possible connections between social pensions and poverty reduction among old age populations. Dr. Nutsubidze highlighted that in most middle-income countries, dependence on a non-contributory pension is caused by the expansion of a substantial coverage gap due to a reduction in the number of workers who contribute to pension schemes.
On November 22, President of ISET and ISET-PI, Mr. Eric Livny gave an insightful presentation to the very first cohort of ISET BA Program students, regarding the importance and perks of coordination. Mr. Livny opened his speech with a famous quote by Adam Smith, and then discussed whether it is always enough for the match of Supply and Demand that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”. Mr Livny stressed that “chicken and egg” problems frequently hinder the process of metaphorically delivering a dinner to a consumer’s table from the butcher due to a lack of coordination between the two; this is keenly felt in economics, and Mr. Livny explained the necessity for the World Bank to develop well-organized and managed Value Chains in Georgia.