ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

A graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eric Livny has been living and working in Georgia since April 2007. Mr. Livny was the founding director and president of the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET) and the affiliated ISET Policy Institute over a decade, through July 2018. Prior to that, Eric held leading positions with the Moscow-based New Economic School (which he helped establish in 1992), and the Economics Education and Research Consortium. In 2000-2007, Mr. Livny served as the CIS representative of the Global Development Network (GDN), and led the GDN Bridging Research and Policy Project.
Eric’s policy research and consulting activities span a wide range of issues such as foreign direct investment (FDI), trade and national competitiveness, public private partnerships (PPPs) for economic development, inclusive growth, rural development and agricultural cooperation, economics of education, migration and labor markets, transport and economic geography.
Passionate about blogging and social media, Eric serves as editor-in-chief of, and is a frequent contributor to, the ISET Economist Blog, which he created together with other ISET faculty in 2011. Additionally, he is a columnist with Georgia Today, The Financial, and the Georgian Journal.
Eric was born in St.Petersburg (Russia) but grew up in Israel, where his family emigrated in 1977. He is married to Anna Sekowska Livny, and is the father of Katya, Jan, Natalie and Tal. Eric is fluent in English, Russian, and Hebrew. His Georgian language skills are fast improving.

Mar
10

Khachapuri Index as a Predictor of Structural Changes in the Economy

  In February,  the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian Khachapuri fell to 3.29GEL, which is 3.4% lower month-on-month (compared to January 2015), and 4.8% lower year-on-year (compared to February 2014). The main ingredient of Khachapuri is Imeretian cheese, and, naturally, its price is the main driver of ISET’s Khachapuri Index. Over the years, we have been observing a sharp upward movement in the price of cheese from July till January, and an equally sharp downward movement from February till June.  These seasonal price dynami...
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Feb
23

Should Georgia Sell its Agricultural Lands to Foreigners?

A BIT OF HISTORY: THE GOOD… Until 2012, Georgia has been encouraging foreigners to purchase land, bring modern technology and management to the country’s ailing agricultural sector. On the one hand, Georgia’s extremely liberal approach was a boon for investment by global food industry giants such as Ferrero (4,000ha hazelnut plantation in Samegrelo) and Hipps (growing of organic apple and production of aroma and apple concentrate in Shida Kartli). On the other, it catalyzed the creation of joint ventures in agricultural production and food processing wh...
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Feb
13

Harmonize, but do not Harm!

The “do no harm” (primum non nocere) principle is well known to students of medical schools. It is one of the most fundamental maxims in medicine, as formulated, for example, in the Epidemics book of the Hippocratic Collection: “The physician must ... have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm". Doctors are taught that medical interventions are not risk-free. Thus, when facing a “problem” one should consider whether to use a particular procedure (e.g. surgery or chemical treatment) or do NOTHING. Not surp...
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Feb
06

New Labor Migration Law – Homemade Explosive Device in the Making

LEGISLATING GEORGIA’S WAY INTO THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY – LESSONS FROM RECENT HISTORY On September 1, 2014, the Georgian society woke up to a very unpleasant reality – after years of extremely welcoming visa regime which put the country on the map as an attractive tourist and foreign direct investment destination, a new migration law regulating foreigners admission and stay in Georgia came into effect. Business owners, foreign students, employees of large and small companies, and even residents of Georgia’s border areas found themselves in a very uncertain...
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Dec
25

Georgia: Exporting Christmas Tree Seeds to Europe and Cutting Trees at Home?

Exporting the seeds of the Nordmann fir – a very popular species grown for Christmas trees – is a thriving and fiercely competitive Georgian industry, perhaps the only one in which Georgia has a near monopoly of the European market. According to an industry expert, more than 80% of all Christmas trees sold in Europe have their origin in Racha (Tlugi and Ambrolauri) and Borjomi forests. In 2013 Georgia exported more than 60 tons of fir tree seeds, with a total value of almost $US 2 million ($32/kg on average). Denmark is the largest buyer of Georgia’...
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Dec
19

Bringing Light to Georgia’s Darkest Corners

Nodar Dumbadze has a reputation for bringing tears and laughs out of his readers. Yet, when watching his “Hellados” performed in the tiny municipal “Culture House” in Terjola, we were laughing and crying not only in appreciation of Dumbadze's rare ability to weave tragedy and comedy into a single narrative. We were certainly moved by Dumbadze’s story of teenagers growing up in the tough multiethnic environment of Sukhumi, the love-hate relationship between the Georgian Jemal and the Greek Ianguli, and their ultimate love for their homeland. But, perhaps ...
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