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.

Oct
17

Handling Frozen Conflicts: the Economic Angle

It now seems more and more likely that Eastern Donbass (the area currently controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics) will become a frozen conflict zone, a territory in which the Ukrainian government will have little power to enforce its laws and where slowly a parallel governance system, an unrecognized ‘quasi-state’, will emerge. In the absence of a viable military alternative, one option likely to be considered by Ukraine and its Western allies is to exercise ‘strategic patience’. As discussed in a Foreign Policy article...
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Oct
10

How Much Regulation Does a Country Need?

Democracy and Freedom Watch reported October 9, that “Georgia’s controversial new immigration law may be changed”. The law, writes DFW, “has caused a wave of confusion and irritation in the country’s expat community. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili … told journalists that if any defects become apparent after the enactment of the new law, ‘we’ll surely correct it.” Just a month earlier, confusion, irritation and public outrage were caused by another piece of Georgian legislation – a law greatly limiting the sales of non-prescription drugs (see Florian...
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Sep
26

Georgia’s New Immigration Law: Many Losers and no Winners

This year, the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) admitted nine Armenian students and one from Azerbaijan. They came to Tbilisi for a preparation course in August and all of them applied for residency permits before the first of September. All applications were exactly identical. Out of ten students, seven got their permits, two were denied, and one is still in process. The reasons for rejection were stated in most general terms, relating to Article 18 of the new immigration law. That article reads:  “An alien may b...
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Sep
19

The Puzzle of Poverty and Wages in Georgia

POVERTY PERSISTING… Any Georgian growing up in the “dark” 1990s (a literally dark, and rather gloomy period in the recent history of our country) would remember the canned milk powder distributed, together with some other goodies, to families with children aged below 5. These black and white cans were often used as flower pots in many of these families… Being a kid from that dark age, one author of this blog was surprised to discover that, according to the World Bank’s poverty estimations, Georgia is doing worse today than it did then...
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Sep
12

Trade with, or Build Walls Around, Frozen Conflict Areas? That is The Question!

With Russia creating or helping sustain so many “frozen conflicts” on its periphery, it is crucially important for countries and nations finding themselves in this predicament to work a sound strategy of dealing with the situation. The military option has been taken off the table ever since the August 2008 attempt by Georgia to forcefully bring South Ossetia back into its fold. Thus, countries such as Moldova, Georgia and now also Ukraine, don’t have too many good alternatives to choose from. One possibility is to isolate and punish in the hope of erodin...
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Sep
05

Kazbegi Rooms: with a View to Improvement of Regional Development Policies

When planning a debate about the impact of the new Rooms hotel on the local community in Kazbegi we expected it to be a mixed bag. A colleague who visited Kazbegi Rooms on a private reconnaissance mission told us how much he enjoyed his stay, but added: “for some reason, the relationship between the hotel and the villagers is best described as complex”. As economists, we assumed that Rooms would be a major employer of locals and so the only issue could be competition for tourists between the hotel and the local bed & breakfast providers. And as is of...
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