ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Jun
26

The Brutal Revolution

  When offered the ISET director job back in March 2007, I did not think twice. Everything I’ve read about Georgia until then was incredibly positive. Livable, hospitable, beautiful, corruption free, etc. etc. The latter part sounded particularly promising given that during my last days in Moscow (I lived and worked in Moscow from 1993 till 2007) I had my brand new BMW motorbike stolen in broad daylight by a local police officer (sic!) who knew that I am about to leave the country and probably thought that there would be no use for motorbikes on Geo...
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Mar
20

All the Roads Lead to Tskaltubo

FROM BADEN-BADEN “Roulette until six in the evening. Lost everything”, notes Leo Tolstoy on July 14, 1857. He did not pen these words in Moscow or St Petersburg”, writes Elizabeth Neu. “It was in Baden-Baden that Tolstoy closed his diary with a sigh that night.” “Tolstoy was not the only literary genius to have travelled thousands of miles from Russia to take the waters and enjoy the thrill at the roulette tables… and to leave with empty pockets. They all flocked here: the great realist Ivan Goncharov and the enthusiastic young ballad rhymer Vasili Zhuko...
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Feb
27

Making Sense of FDI Dynamics

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is critical to every developing county, and Georgia is no exception in this regard. Georgia wants to grow out of poverty and catch up with the economically more developed regions of the world – for this to happen, foreign resources are needed, in particular if the domestic savings rate is as low as in Georgia. Yet FDI is not only about the capital which is made available to the economy but also, and even more importantly, about trust foreigners have into the Georgian economy. It is one thing to make cheerful statements abo...
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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
03

Does Competition Spoil People?

Many of the influential critics of capitalism shared a sentiment that life under competitive pressure is not good for human beings. Marx felt deep uneasiness about the fact that workers have to “sell” their workforce -- he feared that this would contribute to “alienation” between the worker and their work. One of the main objectives of the Socialist society was therefore to create a new kind of human, a human who would not compete with others in the market arenas and who would not be driven by selfish motives. Rather, the human grown in Socialism would c...
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