ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Mar
10

Belarusian Path to Transition: Lessons for Georgia?

“The lobby of the Metropole, Moscow's lovingly restored grand hotel a few blocks from Red Square, is almost deserted on this gray spring afternoon. That's just fine with Jeffrey D. Sachs, a boyish-looking 38-year-old Harvard professor who is now probably the most important economist in the world. He has appropriated a cluster of comfortable armchairs for a meeting with two members of his team, Americans who work full time in Russia. The agenda is Russia's safety net or, more precisely, whether unemployed workers will be able to make ends meet. Russia is ...
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Nov
21

Structural Transformation in Georgia – In the Right Direction at a Turtle’s Pace

  Structural transformation of the economy is one of the most important determinants of economic development. Almost invariably, nations that have managed to pull themselves out of poverty were able to diversify their economies away from low productivity sectors. In advanced countries, productivity differences between sectors are generally small, and growth mostly happens because of productivity improvements within sectors. Developing countries, on the other hand, are characterized by large productivity gaps between the sectors of their economies. ...
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Nov
14

Georgian Haves and Have-Nots. Who’s to Blame and What to Do?

Just like the World Bank’s Doing Business, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and many other international rankings, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Transition Reports have typically carried a very positive message for Georgia, Eastern Europe’s poster child of transition since the Rose Revolution of 2003. This year’s Transition Report, launched last week in Tbilisi by Alexander Plekhanov, EBRD’s Deputy Director of Research, is somewhat exceptional in this regard. Subtitled “Equal opportunities in an un...
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May
08

What Kind of "State" Does a Country Need?

When Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Georgia in late April 2015, we were once again reminded that history is not over yet, certainly not in the sense pronounced by Francis Fukuyama in his 1992 book End of History and the Last Man: "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human go...
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Nov
17

Kakha Bendukidze. End of an Epoch?

  The post-communist world lost one of its greatest sons last week – a freedom fighter who devoted his life to the daunting task of cleansing Eastern Europe and Eurasia from the shackles of Soviet thinking and bureaucracy. Like Che Guevara before him, Big Kakha’s legacy transcends national borders. His crusade for liberty and human dignity took him in 2004 from Russia to Georgia, and – in the last year of his life – from Georgia to Ukraine. He was eager to help revolutionaries and reformers all over the world, not sparing his time, money and effort...
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Nov
07

From Soviet to Post-Soviet Consumerism

In a sense, life was relatively simple back in the Soviet Union days. Consumers had few choices, and material aspirations were limited to the unholy trinity of “apartment, car and dacha”. That said, homo Sovieticus spent enormous amounts of time and energy in chasing material goods ranging from potatoes to nylon stockings and cars. A part of Soviet consumer behavior was about satisfying basic needs (as in the potatoes example above). But there was a discernible element of conspicuous consumption as well. Possession of a luxurious Pobeda car was deemed an...
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