ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

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Feb
20

Did Azerbaijan Enter the Post-Oil Era?

Sometimes, transformation requires a crisis. Economists in particular are very well aware of this maxim. We are reminded of it every time a country undergoes an economic shock. A country in those times is a bit like a patient who gets the last warning from a doctor to drop the unhealthy habits or face irreversible consequences. One of these scenarios has been unfolding in front of our eyes during the past year. Georgia’s neighbor and one of the largest trading partners, Azerbaijan, has been going through tough times. THE UNFOLDING OF A CRISIS In the last...
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Feb
06

Decent Income in Old Age: Georgian Dream or Reality?

If you visit any post-Soviet country after spending some time in the West, one thing strikes you immediately: the average age of visible poverty. Not only are you more likely to see old people begging on the streets, but old people are also dressed more poorly, and tend to buy the cheapest things on the market. Georgia is no exception. The main source of income for most Georgian elderly is the state pension. The level of benefits is extremely low and can barely lift people up above the poverty line. And yet, for many households, state pension is the only...
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Jan
18

Men Are Rational, Women Are Adaptive?

INSIGHTS FROM GEORGIA’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX For over three and a half years, the ISET Policy Institute has been tracing the trends in the Georgian consumer sentiments. Every month a team of callers dial randomly generated telephone numbers to interview around 330 people from all over Georgia. The interviewer first asks the basic questions about the respondent’s age, level of education, place of residence, and then follows up with questions about the current financial situation of the household and the person’s expectations about the future economic...
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Oct
15

The New Silk Road Chain is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link

Speaking at the opening of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, Georgia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgi Kvirikashvili evoked electric circuitry as a metaphor to describe the future of rail and road connections between Europe and Asia. A graduate of the prestigious math and physics Komarov School, Kvirikashvili explained that a sequential circuit – a simple chain – crucially depends on each and every one of its links. A parallel circuit, on the other hand, allows to redirect electricity flows (or cargo and passengers) through alternative routes.  Th...
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Sep
24

Azerbaijan Economy and the Oil Prices: a Blessing in Disguise?

International crude oil prices, which have hovered at $110 per barrel for the last three and a half years, started a sudden and abrupt downfall in August 2014, reaching a $50 per barrel mark in just five months. More than a year after the event, it looks like the oil price of $50 per barrel is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. BLAME THE TECHNOLOGY The primary reason behind the drop was undoubtedly the technological advances in shale oil and gas extraction in the United States – a boom so big, that the US is now poised to become a net ene...
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Sep
14

Georgia’s Currency is Much More Than the GEL/USD Exchange Rate

It is easy to understand what it means for an economy to be weak or strong. We know that a strong economy is characterized by low unemployment and high growth rates. Other desirable traits are, for example, low levels of poverty and income inequality, when all citizens enjoy reasonable standards of living.  Things are less clear when we think about our national currencies.  When designating currencies as “weak” or “strong”, we usually think of the exchange rate against the dollar or the euro. Having a “weak” currency sounds like a bad thing, wh...
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