First confession: I am a seasoned smoker.
Next confession: I have long dreamed of adding “former” to that status. From time to time, my inner struggle reaches a crescendo, but then the momentum vanishes until the next wave of self-examination.
Smoking is the worst, if not the most stupid habit I have. I definitely understand that the damage caused to my health from smoking cannot be undone. I suspect my habit is a bit generational: my father was a smoker – until the doctors came up with a verdict – and the smell of smoke has been at home since my childhood. My son picked it up too, unfortunately. The only change between the generations is that my dad smoked at the table; these days we lean on the balcony.
A huge wave of celebration engulfed Georgia recently because, on March 28th, 2017, Georgians gained visa-free travel to most EU countries. This is a significant achievement for the country, 26 years after independence was restored.
Visa-free travel is one of the most tangible benefits for every citizen of Georgia, obtained from the Association Agreement signed with the European Union in June 2014. This agreement will contribute to Georgia’s gradual economic integration into the EU Internal Market, notably through establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority group, and arguably the most discriminated-against one. Despite efforts to promote Roma inclusion over the last decades—including from the European Union institutions, governments, development organizations, and civil society organizations—a large share of the Roma remain poor, and have inadequate access to basic services.
What an experience! It started bright and early on a Thursday morning as we boarded the car in the basement of the Word Bank office in Tbilisi and set off for a two-day visit to the Imereti region in the west of Georgia.
The first stop along our route was the Gelati Monastic Complex – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which is an impressive conservation and restoration project supported through the World Bank’s Second Regional Development Project (RDP), the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and the State Municipal Development Fund of Georgia. Our contribution is to help build infrastructure around the monastic complex that will facilitate tourist access to this historical site, and by consequence help further develop the local economy.
Helping Moldova to stabilize an economic crisis, however, is only the beginning of growing the economy and improving people’s lives. So, where should we focus our efforts now?
April 7th is an Armenian national holiday celebrating motherhood and beauty. And it may not surprise you that, since it comes one short month after International Women’s Day, we tend to combine the two events into a 30-day celebration of opportunity.
We get a lot of oversees movies here in Armenia – conveniently located at geographic and cultural crossroads – so l discovered a charming film called Hidden Figures which has captured a lot of interest in this very scientifically-minded country. It is an inspiring story with a lesson that translates easily here – that if all Armenian students and workers are empowered with skills, opportunity, and family and community support, they too could reach for the stars!
In my previous two blogs – Policies Matter and The Rise of the Global Middle Class – I took inspiration from a recent conference and tried to think through some of the main charges against - and pleas by - economists when considering this new, more polarized world.
Here I will argue that, while economists should not take the blame for the rise of populism and subsequent backlash against globalization, the profession needs to assume the responsibility of producing a convincing (new) narrative to get people backing the idea that open markets can not only go together but also support an inclusive society.
And we can do this by going beyond ‘standard’ economics.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), complaints about the business climate are pervasive – and many blame the courts. Evidence suggests that poor court performance affects the economy in BiH more than almost anywhere else in Europe and Central Asia, and likely beyond.
By way of example, imagine you’re a local business and you have a dispute with a supplier worth less than 2,500 EUR. You’ll wait an average of 702 days before you hear your court decision...and that’s before the decision is even enforced!
So what can be done?
Action is needed to address these problems and ensure that everyone – regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity - has an equal chance to live a healthy and prosperous life
This is not only the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense: a growing body of evidence indicates that discrimination against LGBTI people has a negative economic impact on society.