Joseph Larsen

I'm a policy analyst and freelance writer living in Tbilisi. My most passionate words pour forth when writing about politics, history and the cultural import of sports and gambling. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking a night on the town, travelling, and indulging my inner geek.

SME Performance in Georgia and Armenia

The CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey results demonstrate that Georgians exhibit relatively high levels of interpersonal and institutional trust when compared to their Armenian neighbors. Trust is an important component of “social capital,” which is widely perceived to be a necessary condition for a thriving entrepreneurial class and small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. Scholars of social capital such as Francis Fukuyama (1996) and Robert Putnam (1993) have written extensively on the effect of social trust on economic development, of which the growth of SMEs is important, finding a connection between trust toward fellow citizens and formal institutions and successful entrepreneurship. Other scholars such as Knack and Keefer (1997) assert that “if entrepreneurs must devote more time to monitoring possible malfeasance by partners, employees, and suppliers, they have less time to devote to innovation in new products or processes,” while Bjornskov and Meon (2010) express the view that “trust allows entrepreneurs, who move the productive possibility frontier forward through process innovation, to have more impersonal contacts and rely more on the market process.”

The Plight of the Fragile Five

One need not be a conspiracy theorist to feel uneasy about the power of the Federal Reserve. The American central bank is the world’s most influential financial institution, controlling the supply of the dollar, the global reserve currency. Its objectives aren’t always straightforward, as are those of the European Central Bank. The Fed’s board of governors makes financial decisions which reverberate throughout all corners of the globe. Inflation-wary voices in the United States have intermittent

The BRICS Development Bank: Does the Rise of the Rest Mean the Decline of the West?

The “decline of the West” has become an increasingly ubiquitous phrase in recent years. Depending on your perspective, you may cringe or express glee at the thought of the Western world going into relative decline and opening space for developing countries like China, India and Brazil to take on a more assertive role in shaping the international system. Contingent events like the American, British and NATO debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 2008 financial crash—which affected the US and E