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.

Dec
04

Agriculture: An Engine of Inclusive Growth in Georgia?

Any observer of the Georgian economy would probably agree that the country has too many people employed (or, rather, under-employed) in agriculture. Historically, many countries have experienced a secular decline in the share of employment (and GDP) related to the agricultural sector. Yet, Georgia has seen limited structural change out of agriculture (other than, perhaps, into seasonal or permanent labor migration). For more than a decade, the share of employment in the agricultural sector has been around 52-54%. As illustrated in the figure below, the r...
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Nov
21

Agricultural Cooperatives Fishing for Competitiveness

Located in a beautiful gorge between Nabeghlavi and Bakhmaro, Chkhakaura village is home to tough Guruli trout fishermen. The village is difficult to reach even in a sturdy 4x4 SUV, but this does not prevent locals from taking advantage of dilapidated Soviet infrastructure and unique natural conditions to grow trout. They are five men, ages 20 to 45, who have been in joint trout farming business for more than 4 years, selling fish, roe and fry in the nearby Nabeghlavi and Bakhmaro villages. Nabeghlavi and Bakhmaro happen to be premier Georgian mineral wa...
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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
14

The Spinning of Georgia’s Political Carousel, 2004-2014

The sacking of Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s Defense Minister since October 2012, sent shock waves through the country’s political system. But it should not have. After all, Alasania is one of 9 incumbents in this key ministry since 2004. Moreover, with 2 years and one month in office he is tied for second place with David Kezerashvili as the longest serving Minister of Defense after Bacho Akhalaia (2 years and 11 months). Fourth on the list is Irakli Okruashvili (one year and 11 months). All other ministers served between 3 and 8 months. Neither should Ala...
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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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Oct
28

Crime and Punishment in Georgia

According to CRRC Barometer surveys and other opinion polls, police has been until quite recently one the most respected institutions in the Georgian society. With 88% of the population holding a favorable view of its performance, police came second after church (93%) in the 2011 survey conducted by the International Republican Institute. In 2013, as little as 9% of Georgian citizens said they do not trust the police (an improvement of 2 percentage points over 2012). There are, indeed, good reasons for Georgian citizens to be happy with the quality of la...
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