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Ten books for fall 2023

The other day I received a long-awaited latest book by Branko Milanovic and remembered that the Ten Books to Read list needed an update. So, here we go. I’m going to stick to some of the already familiar topics along the economic history, economic development, and diaspora lines, as well as some (usually classical) fiction.

My interest in “how it all” impacts small country development is still valid with this selection. As before, the list is a mixed basket of relatively new books and those published much earlier / some that I’ve read or re-read and some that are marked to be read soon. The point is to try minimize parallels with the generic bestseller lists that eventually end up repeating from one medial outlet to the next.

So, here’s the Fall 2023 list:

  1. Acemoglu, Daron and Simon Johnson. 2023. Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.
  2. Aslanian, Sebouh. 2023. Early Modernity and Mobility:Port Cities and Printers across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512-1800. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  3. Dalrymple, William. 2019. The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire. Bloomsbury Publishing
  4. Griboyedov, Alexander. 1823. (2020). Woe from Wit. New York: Columbia University Press.
  5. Keynes, John Maynard. 1919. The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Available via Project Gutenberg
  6. Milanovic, Branko. 2023. Visions of Inequality: From the French Revolution to the End of the Cold War. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  7. Nakamura, Yasushi. 2017.Monetary Policy in the Soviet Union: Empirical Analyses of Monetary Aspects of Soviet Economic Development. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan by Springer Nature.
  8. Nove, Alec. 1961 (2012). The Soviet Economy (Routledge Revivals). Oxford: Routledge.
  9. Roos, Jerome. 2019. Why Not Default? The Political Economy of Sovereign Debt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
    1. My review of Why Not Default? For the LSE Review of Books, here.
  10. Scheidel, Walter. 2019. Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

There are few pieces that I’ve recently completed (two co-authored) that may also be of interest, all released this year. The first one deals directly with the economic prospects of the post-socialist economies (emphasis on the small) as of now and with a review of the past five years since the Transition Economies publication:

Don’t read all at once  happy readings!

Interview for Orer – Armenian European Magazine || || Issue 1 – 4 / 95/ 2023

Dear editor, I’m responding to your questions about the Future Armenian convention.

What is the Future Armenian for you?

First and foremost, the FA is a platform for dialogue, a conversation, across the pan-Armenian world. It is this communication aspect that, to me, stands out as the essential element in the construction of the Armenian nation in its latest, post 1990s, history. For too long there was a lack of such objective platform bringing together Armenians of all walks, professions, diverse views, and opinions from Armenia and the diaspora. This is where the FA, leveraging the latest communication capacity, offers such an opportunity for the Armenians of the world to truly connect and 1) talk to each other; 2) learn about each other; 3) start putting together ideas for the benefit of Armenia and Armenian nation in general. This was what I saw at the Convention in March and had experienced while participating in the working groups meetings several months earlier in preparation for the convention. 

But the FA also has a strong potential of becoming a forward-looking civic entity that, absorbing the intellectual and professional potential of all contributors, can become an objectively effective policy setting unit. Again, this would be relevant both in Armenia and in the diaspora. One could imagine the outcomes of the FA Convention or other meetings, the synergies that have been built through the diverse mix of participants’ talent, to serve as solid foundation in a range of activities towards heritage preservation, sustaining diaspora and strengthening its link with the country, promoting inclusive socio-economic development, and, all together, contributing in some small measure of hope to the just right for Armenians to live independently and safely on their ancestral land.

What are your impressions from the FA Convention?

The organization of the convention – for its intended purpose of focused discussion of specific thematic issues – was quite impressive. It was encouraging to see under one roof so many Armenians who’d travelled from different corners of the world to Armenia investing their energy and time and putting their minds together and engaging with the questions. Also, in terms of the organization, it was good to see the discussions being moderated and all relevant comments recorded in the minutes of the meetings. One could tell organizers had prepared well and did their homework ahead of the meetings.

On a more conceptual level, there is much hope that all participants attached to the outcomes of the convention. Granted it is going to be a lot of work, but even if some small portion of the transpired discussions becomes relevant in more applied policy decisions today, that would be an important achievement. It would be natural to expect that additional follow ups would occur and such gatherings, either in person or online, may continue to contribute to the betterment of the country and the nation. The key, of course, are the continued open communication and pragmatic assessment of the realities faced by Armenia and the diaspora communities. 

So, generally, quite positive impressions with wishes to see even greater number of delegates and thematic discussions in the future. 

Tell us about the work that you do:

Due to my research interests I became affiliated with the Future Armenian as an expert working with the diaspora group. We actively worked in the months before the Convention, brainstorming various ideas. My may proposition can be summarized in a triad of key categories, in this order: 1) identity; 2) trust; 3) engagement infrastructure [I develop these ideas in this paper]. The crux of the argument is that Armenian diaspora is multipolar, diverse, divided, and widely scattered. It is unlikely a large-scale repatriation (which for the most of diaspora-living Armenians would actually be immigration) wave may somehow magically build up a momentum. Instead, we should expect a more targeted approach. What does this mean?

Start with identity – it matters in a sense of determining who we feel comfortable connecting with, whom do we recognize as one of ours? For Armenian diaspora, which places a strong emphasis on the individual’s historical background origins, complicated by the layers of political, cultural, and educational factors, this becomes important. But in a simplest analogy, one could ask, for example, does this particular diaspora-Armenian consider Armenia is their homeland? You’d be surprised by the answer. I discovered that in my Armenian Diaspora Online Survey, which I ran between 2015-2018.

So that leads me to the second point – trust. Briefly, this is about trust relations among the individuals making up the broader diaspora group. So it is within the community and it is based on mutual identity recognition (e.g., just Armenian or some -tsi / -ցի Armenian?); time; and experience/interaction. But then, this category deals with trust between the diaspora community (in its broadest definition) with the ancestral (or perceived as such) country. That then leads to the third point.

Engagement infrastructure, today, is one of the most critical elements of this construction. A country’s diaspora strategy sets the engagement infrastructure and it can overcome any antagonisms that we might be picking up at the identity and trust stages above. Why? Because a country has the capacity to set up a mutually acceptable framework for all facets of diaspora definitions. And a clever, pragmatic, and country/nation centric engagement infrastructure inspires a diasporan to identify themselves with and develop, over time, some trust towards connecting with the country in whatever relevant capacity.

Incidentally, I spoke with FA in 2021 on the related topics

A general development view research paper on the topic  For more on my diaspora work For the economic history of the post-socialist world, see my book

My bio:

Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan, Ph.D. is a macroeconomist specializing in open economy, macroeconomic development, diaspora studies, and post-socialist transition economics. Dr. Gevorkyan is the Henry George Chair in Economics and Associate Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University. Prior to the academic appointments, Dr. Gevorkyan worked extensively in the private consulting and public policy sectors. He also serves as Economics Subject Matter Expert for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See To the United Nations. Dr. Gevorkyan is a member of the editorial boards at the Review of Political Economy and Keynesian Economics. He has authored several books, including Transition Economies: Transformation, Development, and Society in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (Routledge, 2018), and edited Foreign Exchange Constraint and Developing Economies (Edward Elgar, 2023). Dr. Gevorkyan is a board member at the Armenian Economic Association. For a complete list of publications and ongoing research please see

Please let me know if any other questions. Thanks for the opportunity!

All the best, 


Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan, Ph.D.

Henry George Chair in Economics

Associate Professor

The Peter J. Tobin College of Business,

St. John’s University

Senior Research Fellow / Vincentian Center for Church and Society

Research Fellow / Center for Global Business Stewardship

Expert (Economics), Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

Board: Henry George School of Social Science and Armenian Economic Association

e: | w: | @avgevorkyan

Неумолимый народ

Александр В. Геворкян (перевод с английского на русский Анна В. Минасян)

for English version click here

Сквозь глубину темной и изнурительной ночи, пассажирский самолет шел на посадку. В облаках еще была турбулентность, а внизу уже показались огни цивилизации. Сзади проснулся мужчина, набрал номер на своем телефоне, сообщая кому-то на другом конце линии, что все в порядке и скоро посадка. Через несколько секунд другой мужчина через проход сделал то же самое. Женщина встала и принялась разбирать свою ручную кладь, болтая с кем-то через несколько рядов. Бортпроводники поспешили вернуть пассажиров на свои места, попросили их с пристегнуть ремни безопасности, но это помогло лишь на несколько мгновений. Очень скоро уже другие пассажиры были на ногах, переговариваясь и шутя между собой. Единственным выходом из всего этого было посадить самолет и как можно быстрее вывести людей. Естественно, как только самолет приземлился, те, кто сидели на задних рядах, повскакивали прежде, чем сидящие впереди успели и глазом моргнуть. Эта сцена, так часто повторяющаяся даже на рейсах дорогих авиакомпаний, в данном случае была несколько необычной. Наконец-то мы прибыли в аэропорт “Звартноц” в Ереване, Армения…

В этом месте есть какая-то неумолимая воля к жизни: жить в быстром темпе. Об этом можно судить по машинам, проносящимся на скорости через перекрестки – очевидно, речь о последнем мгновении, чтобы повернуть, иначе будет слишком поздно, а может, так только кажется? Спонтанное хаотичное скопление людей в торговых центрах тоже естественное явление: признак чего-то дефицитного и заслуживающего внимания, что потенциально может оказаться “решающим” в улучшении условий жизни. Рядом с одним из торговых центров находится древняя гробница царства Урарту (VIII в. до н.э.) – мало кто из персонала знает о ней, впрочем не такая уж она и древняя по сравнению с крепостью или другими, еще менее известными археологическими памятниками… Например, кожаный башмак возрастом 5500 лет древнее нашей цивилизации…

Туман и холод отупляют разум. Вдобавок к ним идет чрезмерное потребление кофе по завышенным ценам, который, кажется, не помогает справиться с надоедливым джетлагом. Кстати, кофе тоже превратился из напитка по особому домашнему рецепту, коим он оставался даже в кустарных кафе, в стандартизированное промышленное производство многофункциональных кофемашин. Остался лишь редкий запах жареных кофейных зерен, измельченных для приготовления бесчисленных капучино (с обязательным фирменным рисунком на пенке) … Это место неумолимо, и его жители не останавливаются в своем стремлении ко всему новому и совершенному.

Можно пройти всю Аппалачскую тропу или же Тропу слез в одних шлепанцах, в изношенных и разбитых ботинках, а в дороге питаться лишь дикими ягодами. Но здесь восхождение на Арагац превращается в негласное соревнование в удобной походной одежде, с использованием снаряжения, подготовкой запасов и тщательном планировании каждого занятия и возможных трудностей, которые могут возникнуть на пути. Постсоциалистическая потребительская экономика берет верх над миражом жизни со средним доходом. И там, где реальность не дает надежды, возникает неутолимая жажда вырваться из удушливых гор и жить… Возможно, это уже сам по себе урок.

Днем здесь серо, а встречи с друзьями – это дипломатическое упражнение в балансировании между предпочитаемыми кафе, которые находятся всего в нескольких минутах ходьбы (если идти по городу быстрее, чем мчатся автомобили). Здесь и стремительность, и отсутствие движения одновременно – странное состояние.  Что-то делать между встречами просто бессмысленно– кто-нибудь из прохожих заметит вас и проведет следующий час, выражая свою искреннюю радость от случайной встречи. А может, наоборот, сделать вид, что не заметил вас, и пройти мимо, обиженный, что вы лично не предупредили его о своем приезде. Но наградой за любую получасовую встречу, возмещающей любой ущерб комфорту путешественника, будут несколько часов разговора, который начинается со сдержанного оптимизма, переходит в отчаяние, заканчивается трагедией, но всегда завершается громче горного грома “приезжай еще, и поскорее!..”.

Как такое вообще возможно?! Разве этот человек только что не провел несколько часов, подробно рассказывая о том, как все идет кувырком, летит в бездну? Эти люди неистовы в своей воле к жизни.

И они создают. Новая экономика потребительского блеска открыла рестораны, которые предлагают свои фирменные блюда, правда, без ключевого ингредиента… ну, потому что такая трава растет только весной, так что… “приезжайте еще, и поскорее!”. Экономика блеска также создала параллельный мир возрастающего неравенства, невиданного ранее и затаившегося в недавно открытых объятиях потребительского кредитного блаженства с различной доступностью. Только многовековые христианские монастыри стоят в безупречном строю в милях друг от друга на вершине массивного ущелья, как невероятный символ стабильности, мудрости, настойчивости и таланта. Вновь созданные бизнес-школы с растущим числом студентов пытаются подражать древнему ремеслу.

Но работа уличных ремесленников, как и средневековые рукописные манускрипты, беспрецедентна по своему качеству – мастер узнает свою работу издалека, потратит столько времени, сколько вам потребуется, чтобы обсудить эскизы и примерки. И даже если вы не собираетесь ничего покупать, он попросит вас “прийти еще раз…”, ну, когда вы сможете.

Есть новая прослойка экспатов, которая пытается решить, как справиться с суровой реальностью, примириться с судьбой… почему бы не сходить в кино, чтобы на время забыть о настоящем за просмотром нового фильма? Есть столь же внезапный приток блудных соотечественников (иногда их называют диаспорой) с ограниченными горизонтами прогнозирования и еще не определившихся, получают ли они гражданство всей страны (нации) или их интересует лишь центральная часть столицы со всеми вытекающими из этого впечатлениями. Но стремление к новой жизни неустанно, и некоторые надеются на лучшее в вихре этих быстро меняющихся, но похожих на театр кабуки, социальных условий.

Есть бурно развивающийся, но, в основном, ориентированный на экспорт, сектор новых технологий, минимальный по размеру экономики. Однако по ожиданиям и требованиям денежной компенсации его можно сравнить с «Титаником». Есть также альтруистическая и недостаточно финансируемая поддержка семей ветеранов и тех, кто был перемещен в результате конфликта или живет сейчас, в 2023 году, в условиях физической блокады. В подвале звучат звуки новой фольклорной группы, невероятный профессионализм, качество и, да, воля к жизни, к победе и к выживанию! Это неумолимый народ.

Восклицательные знаки, восклицательные знаки, а в горячем котле смятения – одни вопросы. Ответов сейчас нет. Возможно, есть надежда, но это стандарт, которым больше не руководствуются, да и не в этом дело.

Жизнь реальна, хотя непроходимые горные хребты отделяют нас от тех, кто остро нуждается, отрезан от других, живет сейчас в настоящей блокаде! Это люди одного рода, празднующие громче и красочнее, чем те, кто занят покупками в торговых центрах или спешит через службу безопасности аэропорта на европейские курорты.

Ибо это неумолимый народ, который не раз был опустошен жерновами истории, но его не победить…

A relentless people

Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan

[in Russian / на русском]

Piercing through the depths of a dark and exhausting night, the passenger plane was on its final approach. The plane was going through turbulence in the clouds, as some civilization’s lights appeared down below. Two rows behind a man woke up dialing his phone informing someone on the other side of the line that things were fine and landing was soon. Within seconds another man across the aisle did the same. A woman stood up sorting through her carry-on, chatting up with someone else from few rows away. Flight attendants rushed to get the passengers back into their seats with seatbelts fastened but only for few moments. Within minutes another group of passengers was up on their feet chatting and joking with others. The only way through all that was to land the damn thing and get the people off as fast as possible. Naturally, once the plane was in “parking position” those from the very back rows ended up impatiently standing in the alley before those in the front rows could blink their eyes. The scene, so frequently repeated on even the most refined of flights, was somewhat unique on this occasion. We have finally arrived to the Zvartnots airport in Yerevan, Armenia…

In this place, there is some sort of relentless will to live: to live in the fast lane. One can tell that by the cars speeding through the intersections – clearly, it is the very last moment and at no time else that the driver can make this turn, or so it seems. Spontaneous chaotic crowding in the shopping malls is also normal because it may be a sign of something in deficit and worthy of attention, which could potentially be “crucial” in improving one’s living conditions. There is an ancient tomb (from the Urartu kingdom of the 8th century BCE) adjacent right next to one of the shopping centers—few of the staff would know about it but then it is not so old compared to the fortress or other even lesser known archaeological sites… The 5,500-year old leather shoe itself is older than life…

The fog and cold are mind dumbing coupled with excessive amount of over-priced coffee that doesn’t seem to be helping with the annoying jet lag. By the way, coffee too has transformed from once a home-made delicacy, even when served in artisanal cafes, to a now standardized industrial production of multi-functional coffee machines. What remains is just the occasional smell of roasted coffee beans crushed to make countless cappuccinos (with a required signature foam patterns)… This place is relentless and its people just don’t rest in their push for everything new and perfect.

The slopes of Aragats

One might hike the entire Appalachian Trail or walk the Trail of Tears in just flip-flop-like worn-out and broken shoes eating wild berries to get by. But here, the ascent to the Aragats is an unannounced competition in comfortable hiking wear and gear, supplies preparation and careful planning of each activity and challenge to arise on the way. The post-socialist consumer economy takes over its reigns with a mirage of middle income living. And where the reality offers no hope, there is an unsatiated thirst to break out of the stifling mountains and to just live… Perhaps, that is a lesson in itself.

It is grey during the daylight and meeting friends is a diplomatic exercise in balancing between preferred cafes that are only few minutes away, if one walks across the city faster than speeding cars. There is a rush and lack of motion at the same time, a strange state to be in. Getting any work done in between the meetings is pointless – someone passing by would spot you and spend the next hour expressing their sincere joy of seeing you or might pretend to not notice and insulted for the lack of advance private notice of your arrival be on their way. But a reward from the actual half-an-hour meeting, repairing any injury to the visitor’s comfort, is a few hours-long conversation that starts with reserved optimism, jumps into desperation, landing in tragedy but always concluding with a louder than mountainous thunder “come back again, and soon!..”

How is this even possible?! Hasn’t this person just spent hours by detailing how it all was going down the drain? These people are relentless in their will to live.

And then they create. The new economy of consumer glitter has created restaurants that offer their signature production without the key ingredient… well because it only grows in spring, so… “come back again, and soon!” The glitter economy has also created a parallel world of worsening inequality unseen before and hushed away by the newly discovered cuddle of consumer credit bliss with varying affordability. Except, that the centuries old Christian monasteries stand in a perfect line formation miles apart from each other on top of massive gorge in their incredible sign of stability, aged-wisdom, perseverance, and talent. The newly created business schools with swelling enrollment try to emulate the ancient trade.

Mount Ararat and Monaster of Tegher (c 13 century), Armenia 2022
Tegher monastery & Ararat

But the work of street craftsmen, just as the medieval hand-written manuscripts would have it, is unprecedented in its quality—the master recognizes her work from a distance away, spending as much time as you might require to talk through designs and try-ons, even IF one has no intention to buy anything but asking you to “come back again…” when you can.

There is a new expat substratum struggling to decide how to process the harsh realities, to accept the fate or to go see a new movie in a forgetful state of mind. There is an equally sudden inflow of prodigal compatriots (sometimes, known as a diaspora) with limited forecast horizons and not having yet thought if they are acquiring citizenship of a country (nation) or that of the capital city’s center with all the subsequent excitements. But the push for new life is relentless and some hope for better in this whirlwind of these fast changing, yet kabuki-like, social settings.

There is the booming but largely export-oriented emerging tech sector, minimal to the size of the economy but, nevertheless, a Titanic in its expectations and monetary compensation demands. There is also the altruistically and underfunded support to the families of the veterans and those displaced by the conflict or living, now in the 2023 in a physical blockade. In the basement there are the sounds of a new folklore band, incredible professionalism, quality, and, yes, the will to live, to overcome, and to persist! They are a relentless people.

Exclamation marks, exclamation marks, and in the hot stew of confusion are only questions. There are no answers now. Perhaps there is hope, but that is a standard that guides no more and that is not the point.

Life is real, even though the impassable mountain ranges separate from those in dire need and cut-off from others, living now in a real blockade! Those people are of the same kin, celebrating louder and with more color than those busy shopping in the malls or hurrying through the airport security to the European resorts.

For this is a relentless people that have been devastated more than once by the millstones of history but they are not to be won over…

Ten books for spring 2023

Mount Ararat and Monaster of Tegher (c 13 century), Armenia 2022
Mount Ararat (in the distance) and the 13th century monastery of Tegher, Armenia

“Holidays are best for getting work done,” is the often-repeated adage in the academic world. And, no doubt, it is sad and ironic for such an observation to be true, yet it is.

It is in the “down” time between the semesters that the bulk of reading and research work is done, with scholarly papers written at the time threaded in between the lines with feelings of guilt for not partaking in celebrations. The latter have been hard to enjoy since the pandemic.  And in the post-socialist Europe and the former Soviet Union regular life has been oscillating around the promise of the consumer bliss and devastating tragedies. The fate of the small states still matters.

Adding to the earlier editions of the “ten books” lists, here’s a selection for the upcoming spring. As before, I’ve tried to stay away from the common bestsellers (it is indeed tiring to see every major newspaper recommending the same books to read) and have spiced this list with a range of topics. But hopefully, an attentive reader spots a common trend: economic development in its multifaceted diversity.

Omitting a lengthy explanation, the books in this selection touch on the problems of industrial and competition policies, political economy, economic history, poverty and inequality, as well as the new favorite in the economic development – diaspora for development.

Happy New Year and let’s hope it’s a good one! Enjoy your readings!

  1. Elo, Maria and Indianna Minto-Coy (eds.). 2018. Diaspora Networks in International Business: Perspectives for Understanding and Managing Diaspora Business and Resources. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.
  2. Galbraith, John Kenneth. 2007 (1967). The New Industrial State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  3. Ironside, Kristy. 2021. A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  4. Mirak, Robert. 1988. Torn Between Two Lands: Armenians in America 1890 to World War I. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  5. Philippon, Thomas. 2019. The Great Reversal: How America Gave up on Free Markets. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  6. Pritchett, Lant; Sen, Kunal; and Eric Werker (eds.). 2017. Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  7. Ravallion, Martin. 2016. The Economics of Poverty: History, Measurement, and Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  8. Sen, Amartya. 1987. On Ethics & Economics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  9. Suny, Ronald Grigor. 2020. Stalin: Passage to Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  10. Tonoyan, Artyom. 2021. Black Garden Aflame: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in the Soviet and Russian Press. Minneapolis, MI: East View Press.

By monopoly power here, I’d also like to share the news on the upcoming publication that I had the privilege of editing and working with some of the most brilliant economists – and yes, it again deals with problems of economic development, debt, international capital flows, (dominant-periphery) currencies, and more.

Gevorkyan, A.V. (ed.). [in press]. Foreign Exchange Constraint and Developing Economies. Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Ten books for the fall 2022

Noravank Monastery, Vayots Dzor, Armenia (June 2022)
Noravank Monastery in Vayots Dzor province, Armenia (June, 2022). (c) AVGevorkyan

To keep up the practice of reading and sharing some interesting books that are likely not to appear in the most prestigious Top Ten platforms, here comes a fall 2022 installment. Previous suggestions can be found here (summer 2022), here & here.

It is incredible how much of the economic history that we think we might know and understand is relevant today. In fact, hardly anything else matters as much as a critical analysis of the economic (i.e., social) past to our interpretation of contemporary economic developments, especially in an “small open economy” context. We discussed the difficult choices facing such economies earlier, e.g., here.

As usual, this selection of books avoids the obvious blockbuster issues, though some books are new and may be more popular than others. Motivated by exchanges with colleagues, students, and friends, this list subjectively, reflects what I’ve read (or aim to read) and find relevant in the confusing intellectual web of economic development and economic history.

  1. Chang, Ha-Joon. 2002. Kicking Away the Ladder. Anthem Press.
  2. Eichengreen, Barry. 2006. The European Economy Since 1945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  3. Glaeser, E. and D. Cutler. 2021. Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation. New York: Penguin Press.
  4. Herodotus. 2013. The Histories. New York: Penguin Press.
  5. Horak, Sven. 2022. Informal Networks in International Business. Emerald Publishing Limited.
  6. Iandolo, Alessandro. 2022. Arrested Development: The Soviet Union in Ghana, Guinea, and Mali, 1955–1968. Cornell University Press.
  7. Mokyr, Joel. 2012. The Enlightened Economy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  8. Perez Caldentey, Esteban and Matias Vernengo (eds.). 2017. Why Latin American Nations Fail: Development Strategies in the Twenty-First Century. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
  9. Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1942) 2008. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.
  10. Taylor, Lance. 2011. Maynard’s Revenge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ah! And (yet, again, claiming that monopoly right) this summer Transition Economies was released in an audio format by Tantor Media (Yay!) and narrated by Peter Lerman (Yay, again!), and can be listened to here or on Amazon.

The red table

From the ninth-floor balcony the view opened at another unremarkable high-rise across the street, followed by few others on all sides. The mountain breeze, sneaked into the city’s center through the towering urban structures and car exhaust, occasionally brought that rare mid-day freshness one imagines would be natural in high-altitude location. The two doves courting each other and, probably, building a nest around the balcony, gave a hopeful feel to the trip.

It was visibly hot, draining all energy and tiring. By mid-day things would turn to the worse by absolutely insane traffic pattern and lack of natural shade. The cars were on top of each other in a Brownian motion, though luckily, managing to advance in the same direction on a one-way street. The breeze also delivered a mix of sounds from a far. Amidst random conversations, some odd noise from what seemed to be a passing protest accompanied by a cacophony of sirens meshed with the sounds of wine-drinking public at a festival along the “wine street”…

Every early, by city’s standards, morning, at about 8AM, a red table would be rolled out in front of a barber shop across the street from the ninth-floor balcony building. That barbershop had two different flags attached to its awning. The red table would be out every morning in a ritualistic manner, rain or shine (well, it didn’t rain much). It was a basic metal summer table, often used in public parks or less-so trendy restaurants for outside seating. Yet, that was the most remarkable part: it was a red table.

Was the table needed to attract new customers or provide the workers with an opportunity for mild gossip before full day’s work? Perhaps both. But every day, coffee was served and barbers, hairdressers, patrons, friends, friends of friends, bystanders, neighbors, and just random tourists… anyone could stop by the red table. The table gave a different perspective than the balcony view of course. The former was a street level, on the ground, connected with the exhausted and expressive drivers stuck in choking traffic jam.

That traffic was due to part of the city center being blocked for either protests or celebrations. Most of the time the two events occurred at the same time, just a block apart and yet always separate from each other. Often, faster than some sports cars, the scooters ran over pedestrians on the sidewalks, which was quite audible up at the ninth-floor but barely making the local news. “You’ll get used to it,” was the common refrain.

The city breathed and exhaled heat. Anyone drinking water from the drinking fountains, scattered along the narrow streets, was up for a new sensation of their life never having had to try water of such distinct taste, coolness, and freshness. In this heat the street fruit sellers watched their produce ripe in a matter of minutes. It was best to enjoy the true taste of apricots and mulberry before the dust settled and choked off oxygen to the tiny worms found in the fruit’s natural core. In this rushing cacophony of sounds and colors, the loudest was the unspoken silence of the flags, out there, on the hill, thousands of them… Seemed the same from a far, the flags trembled and danced in the wind each to their own tune and character as individual they were…

Few steps outside the city there was a different world ripe for discovery. That was the world of mysterious five-thousand-year-old past and three millennia old fortresses the laid the foundation to the city. It was the world of sleeping volcanoes towering the city but invisible from the other parts of the country where the mountains rival that of any other place in their magisterial height, relevance, and history. That was the world of bad roads, crane nests, and most hospitable sincere people living very simple modest lives. It was the world of grand high elevation freshwater lakes and myriads of hiking paths: the world of sheep overrunning highways and picturesque mountain views frozen in time and memory of anyone who might had a misfortune of seeing those cliffs at least once. Every color known to a human eye and every that is yet to be explored would reveal itself in those mountains through the day and late into the night when the moon would take over the sun. But much of that world would largely be left unknown to the urban dwellers busy buying electronic cigarettes and sipping cappuccinos in the narrowly seated cafes.

Back in the city, not counting the tourists, there were roughly four groups at any given moment. The first was active, out there in the sun and immeasurable heat demanding to be heard. The second group was busy either setting up for or attending some event or celebrations or planning Mediterranean vacations. The third was meeting for business lunches or working from remotely in coffee-shops (though at some point one realizes the coffee was losing its taste). And the fourth was busy toiling through the day with philosophical stamina of taxi drivers or that framed by poorly air conditioned offices and the overpaid computer screens. The tourists, some staying longer than others, were everywhere and spread across all four groups; some might argue forming their own movement. Often, the same people would cross over from one to another group multiple times during the day and that was just ok…

Just like the mountainous rivers relentlessly rushing through anything in their way, the evenings brought fresh respite from the day’s heat. The mind was functioning again. People walked the streets late into the night with hope and smiles, meeting up with old and new friends, but also distancing from the reality, persevering through the day. As one climbed up the stairs the air tasted fresher and cooler. That delicate afternoon mountain breeze was now turning into a wind. That was enough for a day.

It seemed that none of the past [or even the present] mattered at that moment. But it was the past that determined absolutely every action, spoken word, and thoughts for everyone at that every split of the moment.

The following day the red table would be out again and city life would resume its cycle. There is no end to history. For now…

Ten books for the summer 2022

Summer 2022 just can’t get here fast enough; with hopes of ending that long year of 2020 and an opportunity to read more [and travel, of course]. Adding to the previous suggestions [here & here], listed below are my ten books to read this summer.

View of Tolors, Armenia. July 2019. (c) AVGevorkyan

So far, we have been talking economic systems, development patterns, and competitive pressures across industries, … and more. There are two rising economic issues: 1) new social contract in the advanced economies and 2) the fate of the “small economy.” The global economy is likely to go through major realignments in economic policy, trade patterns, supply chains, consumer markets, and, importantly, access to new technology. Much of it has already been happening since (and before) 2020, and intensifying recently [some preliminary thoughts here and here].

But back to the readings… This selection [as before, avoids the latest blockbuster issues and] is motivated by the above and exchanges with students, colleagues, and on social media [for which, I’m sincerely grateful], but still, subjectively, reflects what I find relevant to the confusing intellectual and policy web of economic development.

  1. Assa, Jacob. 2016. The Financialization of GDP: Implications for economic theory and policy. London: Routledge
  2. Darby, Paul; James Esson; and Christian Ungruhe. 2022. African football migration: Aspirations, experiences and trajectories. Manchester University Press.
  3. Eichengreen, Barry; Asmaa El-Ganainy; Rui Esteves; and Kris James Mitchener. 2021. In Defense of Public Debt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. Grossman, Vasily. 2013. An Armenian Sketchbook. New York: New York Review of Books.
  5. Horvat, Branko. 2017 (1976). The Yugoslav Economic System: The First Labor-Managed Economy in the Making. Oxford: Routledge.
  6. Russell, Bertrand. 2004. In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays. Oxford: Routledge.
  7. Samuels, Richard. 1996. Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  8. Sen, Amaratya. 1997. Resources, Values, and Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  9. Thirwall, A. P. 2013.  Economic Growth in an Open Developing Economy The Role of Structure and Demand. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
  10. Zeidan, Rodrigo. 2018. Economics of Global Business. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Hopefully, the diversity of the book list will be sufficient for potential readers to find at least one book to add to their readings. Oh, and claiming monopoly powers, I hope you might challenge your priors and look through my Transition Economies: Transformation, Development, and Society in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. The linearity of economic thinking has led on the false path of crushing hopes. The book is an attempt to provide a holistic analysis of the region’s economic history nonlinear trajectories, explaining the present and peaking into the future…

Winter readings__2021-2022

Winter [with snow] makes for more pensive pass times… Following up to my summer 2021 book list, here’s a modest attempt to a thoughtful winter reading motivated in part by recent Twitter exchanges on economists reading (or not)… the classical authors.

This year, 2021, has been an oddly difficult one…filled with hope, promise, disappointment, and more tragic disappointment and hope again. Perhaps, these books may help one shift their thoughts, albeit temporarily, away from the hard realities outside and gain emotional strength and practical wisdom to carry on.

Carry on we must…

The books are listed alphabetically by author. Very subjectively, reflecting my current interests, mixed with the classics and books about them are the readings on New York City, the post-socialist transition economies, and modern international economics.

Happy New Year and Happy Readings!

  1. Ivan Berend. 2009. From the Soviet Bloc to the European Union. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Thomas Dyja. 2021. New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess, and Transformation. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
  3. Henry George. 1879. Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy. Available online: and
  4. Robert L. Heilbroner. 1999. The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers. 7th ed. New York, NY: Touchstone by Simon & Schuster
  5. Tarron Khemraj. 2014. Money, Banking and the Foreign Exchange Market in Emerging Economies. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
  6. Janos Kornaj. 1992. The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
  7. Hyman Minsky. 2008 [1986]. Stabilizing an Unstable Economy. New York, NY: McGraw Hill [New Haven and London: Yale University Press].
  8. Susie Pak. 2013. Gentlemen Bankers The World of J. P. Morgan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  9. Steven Pressman. 2013. Fifty Major Economists. 3rd ed. London and New York: Routledge.
  10. Adam Smith. 2010 [1759] The Theory of Moral Sentiments. New York, NY: Penguin.

Of course, for more recently published popular books, one option may be a list produced by Financial Times, click here.

Happy New Year! :-)

Books_Summer 2021

I was recently asked to recommend few books on general topics in economics to read over the summer. Well, there is a lot out there that is exceptionally interesting and thematic but would not fit into a “top ten” list…

So, instead of listing some of the newest highly ranked bestsellers, which in any case one can easily find elsewhere, here is a mixed selection that has motivated some thinking over the past year or so. These are the first ten that came to mind listed alphabetically by author and with no pretense for originality.

And yes, there are a couple that might not strike one as purely on “economics” but that’s the challenge to overcome perhaps. Happy readings!

  • Duncan Foley, Thomas Michl, and Daniele Tavani. 2019. Growth and Distribution, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb. 2014. Antifragile. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Oh… and because I was also asked to recommend something on game theory, but can’t decide which is better, here’s a list prepared by Ariel Rubinstein who’s clearly a way more respected authority on the subject!