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.”

Bosch Bullish on Georgia, but Russia Holding Back Regional Market

Business is good in Georgia and the South Caucasus, according to Gerhard Pfeifer, President of the Bosch Regional Group in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Central Asia and the Caucasus. At a 26 November press briefing in Tbilisi, Pfeifer referred to the South Caucasus as a “strategic market” and highlighted that sales in Georgia are up 17% on the previous year. The executive also touted Georgia’s recent signing of the association agreement with the European Union as a major step forward, declaring tha

George Soros to Georgian Students

“The EU is broken, but it can be fixed,” George Soros said to a group of students in Tbilisi on November 14th. He expressed the view that the European Union’s internal problems deserve much of the blame for the recent geopolitical crises in Eastern Europe. The billionaire philanthropist was in Tbilisi for two days over November 14-15 to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the launch of the Open Society Georgia Foundation. On November 14th he met roughly 250 current and former students for a d

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

LED House Numbers

Standard house numbers are made to be seen during the day. They are usually plain to the eye during the daylight hours but almost impossible to see after dark. That can pose a problem. Recall all the times you’ve waited for someone to find your home late at night, whether it be a new friend or colleague visiting for the first time, a cab driver picking you up before a night on the town, a delivery driver bringing some late night Indian or Chinese, or heaven forbid a policemen or ambulance responding to a distress call.

Toronto bathroom vanities that are the popular choice

After the kitchen and bedroom, the bathroom is the most important room in any home. It’s also one of the most complicated to design and remodel. From the internal plumbing to tile floors and walls to the outer fixtures, there is a lot that goes into making a bathroom functional and aesthetically pleasing. One fixture which is both integral and multi-purpose is the bathroom vanity. If you’re considering bathroom construction or remodeling and are in the market for a new vanity, consider these in

How Can You Minimize Your Central Air Conditioner Bill This Summer?

Summer in Toronto is hot. Really hot. Having a central air conditioner isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. That being said, most of us prefer to keep energy costs to a minimum. Is it possible to keep your home comfortable while also keeping costs manageable? Luckily, the answer is yes. Follow our simple steps, and both your family and your budget will thank you. How to Run Your Central Air Conditioner While Keeping Costs Down Your central air conditioner uses your home’s ventilation system to c

Avoid This Air Conditioner Repair Scam This Summer

When your central air conditioner goes out during the middle of summer in Toronto, your first priority is to get it up and running again before you lose your sanity. The desire for a quick fix leads many to hire the first low-cost repair offer they can find. While most repair services out there are both qualified and trustworthy, each year some people fall prey to scams. Don’t be one of them. Look Out for Too-Low Air Conditioner Repair Prices Sometimes a company will offer a one-time maintena