ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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Georgian and Armenian “Deplorables” and "Desperados" Taking It to the Streets
On 18 April, 2016 ISET hosted Dr. Donghyun Park, a principal economist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), who presented his team’s research: the Impact of China’s Slowdown on the World Economy. The talk was attended by ISET students and faculty, as well as representatives of Georgia’s leading businesses and business associations. Dr. Park reviewed China’s growth over the past several decades, emphasizing the role of its very strong entrepreneurial spirit in development. He cited the example of more than 70% of top Chinese university students opting to start their own business rather than working in a large corporation, as opposed to Japanese and Korean students, who harbor much more modest entrepreneurial ambitions. Among possible factors contributing to China’s slowdown Dr. Park listed demographics; a structural shift away from manufacturing and exports to services and domestic consumption; weaknesses in external demand; and convergence in wages. As China become less attractive for low-cost production, it has to shift to higher quality and more sophisticated manufacturing activities.
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The FitCoin Revolution!
On June 15-16th, Oxfam organized and hosted the International Conference on Food Security and Nutrition in Tbilisi. ISET President Eric Livny was a panel member for the session on Food Security (FS) monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and discussed the major findings of a research piece entitled “Assessing Food Security Data Relevance and Collection Mechanisms in the South Caucasus” conducted by APRC at the end of 2015. He emphasized the importance of tailoring data collection to the needs of stakeholders and ensuring that (M&E) systems are not only created but properly utilized. He focused on the efficient allocation of resources and pointed out the importance of collaboration between various stakeholders in the field of FS.
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On Pepsi, McDonald’s and the Promised Land
ISET students Ana Akoposhvili and Ketevan Melkadze came second place in the Mariam Kutelia Research Grant competition. They took part during their internship at a USAID-funded project, Restoring Efficiency to Agricultural Production. The purpose of the competition was to write the proposals on how to improve the current state of the Georgian agricultural sector. The ISET students were awarded another paid internship at the Agricultural Policy Research Center (APRC) between April 15 and June 15. As an intern, Ketevan is responsible for conducting desk research regarding the best international practices on reporting agricultural commodity prices and their distribution among farmers. Based on her literature critique, Ketevan is hoping to write a literature review on the evaluation methods of cooperatives’ performance. Ketevan also works on indicators evaluating the performance of Georgian cooperatives and assists ENPARD team during the field work.
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Why Is Georgia Educating Future Unemployed?
ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI), as a part of the ENPARD project (under the CARE consortium), is involved in the collection and analysis of the market price information of agricultural products around Georgia. ISET-PI, in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia (MoA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), organized training for representatives from the MoA’s Information and Consultation Centers (ICC). The training programme was intended for price collectors, who collect and enter market price data for more than 100 primary agriculture products into a special website developed under this project. Data is collected from 56 municipalities across Georgia on a weekly basis.
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Who Gets to Eat from the Growing Pie?
In May 2016, the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian khachapuri declined to 3.08 GEL, which is 2.7% lower month-on-month (m/m, that is compared to April 2016), but 7% higher year-on-year (y/y, compared to May 2015). Due to seasonal factors, the Index declined m/m in all cities included in our survey (Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Telavi), except Batumi, Georgia’s Black Sea tourism hub. Instead of going down, the Batumi price of cheese – khachapuri’s main ingredient – almost doubled in May 2016, bringing the local Index well above the national average. In all previous years, we have observed Batumi prices shooting up a month or two later, in June-July, and staying at a high level through August and September. In this way, the Khachapuri Index mimicked the dynamics of seasonal tourism in Batumi and the nearby Adjara resorts.
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Your Guest Is My Guest, or Why Tourism Is Not a Zero-Sum Game
The South Caucasus is divided by high mountain ranges, often impassable political borders, and