How have Gaziantep’s exports to war-torn Syria quadrupled since 2011?
24 October 2015
Turks seem to be fed up with the number of Syrian refugees coming to Turkey. According to a recent survey by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center, 67 percent of Turks believe that “Turkey should allow fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq.” Does that mean that Turks now consider Syrians as a burden? After so many years of Turks migrating to Europe, have we adopted European anti-immigration attitudes ourselves? No, not really. Let me tell you why.It is true that the number of Syrian refugees has reached around 2 million, and we are now expecting more from Aleppo, as Russian bombing displaces more people. As it becomes clear that this is not a short, or even medium-term crisis, Ankara needs to devise a mechanism to integrate Syrians into Turkish society. So far it has failed spectacularly. Yes, T
What will Erdoğan, Putin, Obama and Merkel discuss in Antalya?
23 October 2015
The G20 comes to Turkey mid-November this year. As you know, Turkey chairs the G20 this year. World leaders will be meeting in Antalya in three weeks but I don’t sense any buzz around. Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama will be in Antalya. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also come to Turkey three weeks after her prior visit. President Erdoğan will be hosting them. And what will they do in Turkey? What will they discuss?
The Syrian civil war has come to Turkey
17 October 2015
Last weekend’s bomb attack was a rude awakening for Turks, who are now beginning to realize that the Syrian civil war has come to their doorstep. Turkey is now one of the battlegrounds for the war between ISIL and the PYD, the Syrian splinter group of the PKK. Both groups see the Turkish state as their secondary, and each other as primary enemies. Neither has any trouble undermining Ankara’s sovereignty by moving their war to Turkish soil. This is a new stage of the Syrian Civil War.
Intended for Europe, destined for MidEast
12 October 2015
We are going through tough times. We lost some 100 citizens to two bombs that went off in Ankara on Saturday. We do not have definitive numbers yet but hundreds of people were also injured. Once upon a time, such incidents would only happen in Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus or Al Raqqah. Such remote places, we would think. We would follow what happened through our televisions or the internet. It would happen in Aleppo. Aleppo is quite close to Gaziantep, but not at all for Ankara or Istanbul. When Suruç was hit, we would still discuss the regional limits of the impact of the incident. But the explosion on Saturday was in Ankara this time.
Are we going through the Sevres syndrome all over again?
10 October 2015
Being in Turkey these days feels like a permanent déjà vu. And not in a good way. Turks once again have that feeling of being encircled by enemies and threats. They feel insecure. That feeling often is referred to as the “Sevres syndrome,” after the treaty that broke up and partitioned the Ottoman territories among European powers. Our Founding Fathers launched a war of independence to tear up that treaty, and that is how we are still here. But the anxiety that someone could come at any moment and take it all away never really dissipated. In the last few years it seemed like we might start outgrowing it, but now that Russian jets are buzzing over our heads, the Sevres syndrome may be back in full force.
Diverging paths: Turkey and Indonesia
03 October 2015
Turkey is no Indonesia, Standard & Poor’s declared this week. But the two countries have many things in common. Both are composed of Muslim majorities, both are listed under the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) grouping, trailing the BRICS. Both countries have received a BB+ from S&P recently. But the similarities end there, says Standard & Poor’s. In a press release, the ratings agency noted that Indonesia and Turkey are taking divergent paths. Turkey’s outlook is negative while that of Indonesia is positive. So as developing markets are being shaken up and we are waiting for the imminent decision of the Fed, Turkey is negatively discriminated while Indonesia is positively discriminated. Why?
Misfortunes never come single
26 September 2015
Comparisons are useful to pinpoint your place in the stream of events. These days, it’s often comparisons between two evils. You try to think about which problem is worse, and prioritize accordingly. After President Erdoğan’s Moscow visit, here is my new comparison: Which one is worse for Turkey, becoming the biggest refugee-hosting country, or seeing a united front of support around PYD, the Syrian Kurdish organization fighting ISIL?
Which one is worse?
19 September 2015
Is it the delay in the imminent policy decision by the Fed, America’s Central Bank? Or is it that in early 2016, Erdem Başçı, the governor of the Central Bank of Turkey, will have ended his term? Which one is worse for the Turkish economy? Let’s weigh the potential impact of each.The United States Federal Reserve is still on hold. This week’s meeting kept interest rates at zero. Why? Beats me. It’s as if the Fed is waiting for every economy in the world to reach bliss before taking rates back up. With the Fed’s inaction, I see a glimmer of hope in the eyes of some commentators in Turkey. Is there any reason for countries like Turkey to be hopeful with the delay in the Fed’s imminent policy decision? No. First of all, it is only a matter of time until the Fed does raise rates. No
No Country for Economists
12 September 2015
Is Turkey an interesting case of economic fluctuations? No. There is nothing mysterious about the slowdown in the Turkish economy. Anyone paying attention could and did see it coming miles away. All it took was a decline in the political stability, followed by the all too predictable decline in the quality of ministries’ decisions. The economy itself is not interesting, the way say, the American derivatives markets, or London’s housing market is interesting to economists.
China has what Turkey had in the late 1980s
05 September 2015
I started my career as an economist at the Capital Markets Board of Turkey. It was the 1980s, I was fresh out of school and excited to be part of a milestone in my country’s economic policy: opening the Turkish stock market to foreign investors.