A year of unknowns
01 January 2017
People made fun of it at the time, and long afterwards, but it’s a nice way of expressing a very important distinction. “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
Turkey under siege?
25 December 2016
All of us in Turkey are remnants of an empire that crumbled at the turn of the last century. I was born in Bursa, in western Turkey. My mother’s Tatar ancestors came to Bursa from Romania during the Balkan Wars. My father’s Circassian ancestors came to Elazığ from the Caucasus just before the turn of the century. Both had been driven from their homes by the advances of the Russian Empire. They knew what it was like for their country to be under siege. They had felt it all their lives.
Welcome to the age of global reckless driving
18 December 2016
Donald Trump will become U.S. president in a few weeks. The silence is deafening. I feel a deep anxiety around the globe, twisting and turning under the surface. Trump has already made more than a few blunders just during the transition period. Portfolio managers and investment officers are now half-jokingly talking about the new phenomenon of “presidential tweet risk.” “Just wait until he gets his hands on executive authority,” people say. The talk in the global village is about a new age of uncertainty.
At the gates of Europe
11 December 2016
Last I checked, on Dec. 8, it had dwindled down to 0. Just 14 months ago, on Oct. 20, 2015, it was more than 10,000, mind you. Prefer long-term averages? The daily average was around 5,000 for November 2015 and 66 for November 2016.
Europe needs a Turkey strategy
27 November 2016
The European Parliament has recommended to the European Commission a temporary freeze of accession negotiations with Turkey. The resolution was approved overwhelmingly with 479 “yes” votes. Some say that the resolution is all bark and no bite, and that the EP is just trying to be important. I don’t think so. I think it’s indicative of long-standing strategic blindness in Brussels, and it will have serious consequences.
Why the Trexit debate?
20 November 2016
There have been many articles about “Trexit” in the Turkish media since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the possibility of a referendum on Ankara’s EU membership bid. The term, of course, is derived from “Brexit,” and implies that Turks will vote their way out of the EU, just as the British did.
13 November 2016
I have been hearing the same question a lot lately. CEOs of international companies, ambassadors, foreign visitors in any meeting about Turkey are asking me what I think of the Turks making plans to leave their country. With the coup attempt, state of emergency and wave upon wave of arrests, people want to leave. I understand why people are upset, however I just do not see an exodus of sorts. It looks like an optical illusion to me. 2016 has been an intense year. The fear of more Mexicans in the United States and the fear of Turks and other oh-so-disreputable people flooding Britain have been front and center. In both countries, both campaigns seem to – very purposefully – have touched a nerve. Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States and British national
Welcome to the Grand Hotel Abyss
06 November 2016
The day after that dreadful night of the failed coup in Turkey, tens of thousands of Venezuelans were crossing the Colombian border. The weekend of July 16-17 witnessed around 135,000 Venezuelans making the trip. They walked there, and they walked back. Why you may wonder?
Why the growth slowdown in Turkey now?
30 October 2016
Have you seen the Putinphone? Caviar, a Russian jewelry company, has designed a limited edition of them on the occasion of the 63rd birthday of the Russian president. It looks like the iPhone 6, except Putin’s face is encrusted in gold on the back, as is the seal of the Russian presidency and a few lines of the country’s national anthem. This is all on top of a titanium base that is supposed to reflect the national will of the Russian people, as embodied by their omnipresent president. Here’s the rub though: When you turn the phone on, it’s just a regular iPhone, “designed by Apple in California” and manufactured by Foxconn in China. That’s because there are two types of countries in the world: Countries that make iPhones and countries that make iPhone covers. It’s a pity that Russ
A small but decisive step towards rule of law in Turkey?
23 October 2016
“The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind,” writes John Maynard Keynes in the opening sentence of The Economic Consequences of the Peace. “Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the … organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century.”